Dark City Dames: The Wicked Women of Film Noir

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9780060393694: Dark City Dames: The Wicked Women of Film Noir

Film noir was the dark side of the movies' happily-ever-after mythology. Sinister and sexy, it forged a new icon: the tough, independent, take-no-guff dame. Determined, desirable, dangerous when cornered, she could handle trouble -- or deal out some of her own.

If you thought these women were something special onscreen, wait till you meet the genuine articles. In Dark City Dames, acclaimed film historian Eddie Muller profiles six women who made a lasting impression in this cinematic terrain -- from veteran "bad girls" Audrey Totter, Marie Windsor, and Jane Greer to unexpected genre fixtures Evelyn Keyes, Coleen Gray, and Ann Savage. The book surveys the lives of these formidable women during the height of their careers circa 1950, as they balanced love and career, struggled against typecasting, and sought fulfillment in a ruthless business. Their personal stories -- teeming with larger-than-life characters like Howard Hughes, L.B. Mayer, Robert Mitchum, Otto Preminger, and John Huston -- offer an illuminating counterpoint to their movies, such as Out of the Past, Detour, The Lady in the Lake, and The Killing. Then Dark City Dames revisits each one of these women today, fifty years on, to witness their hard-won -- and triumphant -- survival. On every page their own voices ring through, reflecting on their lives with as much passion, pain, intelligence, energy, and humor as any movie script.

Dark City Dames re-creates the excitement and glamour of a group of gifted performers who lived out their youthful fantasies -- and, along the way, remade the image of the American woman.

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Penzler Pick, August 2001: Two years ago, I wrote a book titled 101 Greatest Films of Mystery and Suspense. In addition to watching every one of those movies again (not exactly a horrendous ordeal), I did tons of research, flipping through or reading more than a hundred books about film. The best book--the one with the most offbeat stories and anecdotes, the most accurate information, and the most entertainingly written--was Dark City by Eddie Muller. It was a fascinating study of the great films noir, and a page didn't go by without my learning something.

Now Muller is back with Dark City Dames. It's a very different kind of book, not offering the big-picture overview that Dark City did, but it's nearly as fascinating. It's a portrait of six of the greatest femme fatales of the wonderful black-and-white crime movies that filled the screens in the 1940s and '50s: Jane Greer (the star, with Robert Mitchum, of Out of the Past and The Big Steal), Marie Windsor (The Killing, The Narrow Margin), Ann Savage (Detour), Evelyn Keyes (The Prowler, Johnny O'Clock), Audrey Totter (The Lady in the Lake, The Unsuspected), and Coleen Gray (The Sleeping City, Kiss of Death, Nightmare Alley).

But these aren't rehashes of plots and quotes from the rave reviews of these stars. Muller personally interviewed each of them, and the second half of the book is a kind of "Where are they now?" Perhaps oddly--perhaps not--these wicked, lying, cheating, double-crossing, money-hungry temptresses of the screen turn out to be rather nice ladies, as normal as one could expect of beautiful movie stars, and Muller brings them fully to life.

There are regrets here, both on the part of the reader and of Muller, that space couldn't be devoted to many of the biggest female stars of film noir. There's no Barbara Stanwyck, or Gloria Grahame, or Veronica Lake, or Lisabeth Scott, or Claire Trevor, or Ida Lupino. Scott became a silent recluse, and the others had died. But that is only in real life. On the screen they will live forever, just as they do in Muller's marvelous love letter to them all. --Otto Penzler

About the Author:

Eddie Muller's previous book, Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir, was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Mecavity Awards for nonfiction -- the only book so recognized by all three major mystery writing associations -- and hailed by Mystery Scene magazine as "the best book ever written on film noir." A film historian, journalist, and graphic designer, he is also the author of Grindhouse: The Forbidden World of "Adults Only" Cinema and wrote and coproduced the documentary film Mau Mau Sex Sex. Muller lives in Alameda, California.

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Muller, Eddie
Published by ReganBooks (2001)
ISBN 10: 0060393696 ISBN 13: 9780060393694
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)

Book Description ReganBooks, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110060393696

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