Review: 'Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir' A Guide Through Genre Darkness and into Light

by Bill Biss

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday August 13, 2021

Review: 'Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir' A Guide Through Genre Darkness and into Light

Eddie Muller brilliantly blows the lid off and exposes the darkness, shadows, and glimmers of light in film noir with his fascinating book "Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir."

This revised and expanded edition is a thoroughly entertaining journey of the genre, with more twists than Mulholland Drive. Leave it to Muller — author, film historian, and TCM host — to be your five-star guide. His writing style is fedora-fine, perfectly nuanced and factual to the utmost degree. Here's just one sample to wet your whistle, drawn from the opening chapter, "Welcome To Dark City":

"But the blurring of reality and imagination sometimes got so extreme it created a strange half-world, a mythological movie metropolis, in which the truth swung endlessly between what we think is real and what's merely a projection."

That's just the tip of the iceberg (or "ice cubes in a glass of scotch") that lures the reader into his lair.

This is no dry encyclopedia. Muller takes the time to place the "real" in step with the "reel" of these cinema streets. The situations of the film stars, directors, producers, writers, and studio heads at this time in motion pictures are revealed along with a synopsis of each film. Robert Muller has a way with words that is brisk, to the point, and cracks wise in his delivery as he reveals the storyline and the personal lives of each person involved. There are numerous riveting quotes to add to the ambiance of discovery.

How dark is "Dark City?" Don't start reading without a light or your glasses. Even if it was just a visual tour of photos and posters, the book would still be top of the line, and an insightful presentation. One thing about watching the very best of this genre: Always follow the story, and look for clues in the characters presented. One of the prime chestnuts of noir, and this notion, is "Out of the Past." You don't want to miss a minute as the scenario and the plot can sometimes be very sharp. If you look away, it can be a "What happened!?" moment, and be frustrating at the end.

"See? I told you Eddie should drive!" Don't try and find that line in one these noirs, as it's an honorary ode to Eddie Muller for his services rendered in "Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir."

"Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir," by Eddie Muller, is available now from Running Press.