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Art of Noir: The Posters And Graphics From The Classic Era Of Film Noir Hardcover – October 9, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Stanley Kubrick's The Killing touted as being "In All Its Fury and Violence...Like No Other Picture Since 'SCARFACE' and 'LITTLE CAESAR'!" Bay Area mystery writer Muller (his novel Shadow Boxer will be reviewed in the Dec. 9 issue of PW) describes the various styles employed by the studio system, all designed for, in the charming vernacular of theater owners, "putting asses in the seats"; the idiosyncratic promo for Sudden Fear has Joan Crawford staring luridly over a male figure's shoulder at a miniaturized Gloria Grahame embracing Jack Palance. With a clear love for and expertise in his subject matter, Muller tracks the evolution of the form through 275 posters (338 full-color illustrations in all), many of them full-page plates, which look nothing short of smashing in the book's oversize, 10 x 14 format. A series of foreign posters reveal how artists outside the studio system were able to convey a great deal of the films' psychological complexity in a single, giant image. The variety, style and color here, representing films familiar (The Postman Always Rings Twice) and forgotten (The Big Tip Off, starring Cathy Downs), will be enticing to any fan of noir or mid-century American history.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

It is hard to quibble with this gorgeous movie-poster album. Fans of the gritty '40s and '50s flicks that made the reps of Humphrey Bogart, John Garfield, Alan Ladd, Lizabeth Scott, Gloria Grahame, and Ida Lupino, and burnished the already risen stars of Joan Crawford and Barbara Stanwyck, will roll in the 10-by-14-inch volume like cats in 'nip. Collector Muller is suitably systematic about his passion, displaying the book's riches in chapters on various movie studios' poster styles, poster styles outside the U.S. (the Swedish examples are unnervingly up-to-date looking), noir poster iconography, the biggest noir stars, the biggest noir writers (Hammett, Chandler, Cain, and a bevy of obscure screenwriters), and the best noir directors, among whom a director of photography, chiaroscuro virtuoso John Alton, is given pride of place. All this is great, so why kvetch? Well, the text could have been more thoroughly fact checked, edited, and proofed. There are many tiny errors and grammatical gaffes, and one caption ends not only midsentence but midline. (Ah, quit readin' an' lookit th' pitchas.) Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 271 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press; 1 edition (October 9, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585670731
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585670734
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 1 x 14.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #795,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Robin Benson on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A superb showing of 338 color film noir posters in a marvellous (oversize) book. None of the posters are angled or overlap each other and they all have credit and comment captions, all this thanks to book designer Bernard Schleifer who handles this rather garish material in a restrained way, though he did make a mistake with the ridiculously small page numbers. Author Eddie Muller writes just enough to back up the posters without making the book too text heavy and he has come up with some neat ideas, like using posters from other countries, grouping posters according to the director or actor or writer and a chapter that I thought fascinating, `Noir Around The World: Exploring how artists in other cultures rendered a peculiarly American style'.

Look through the book and you'll see how tacky so many of the American illustrations look, whereas the artists used in Europe seem technically better (is this a cultural thing?) and in many cases the poster design is more competent, the Spanish version of Dragnet (1954) on page sixty-three is really graphic yet uses all the usual ingredients, painting of the star, smaller illustrations (in this case the New York skyline and a couple of gangsters) bold type for the title yet turn over the page and a huge American version hits you and it looks a mess in comparison. However, all these posters capture the spirit of this American movie genre and the book looks so stunning that I don't think the subject could be covered better.

The perfect companion to `The Art of Noir' is `The Noir Style' by Alain Silver and James Ursini (and also beautifully designed by Mr Schleifer) it uses dozens of film stills to explain just what was so special about these movies. I found it fascinating to see the black and white photos the artists used to create the poster art. Both books should be in your `noir' collection.

***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By William Hare on October 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Film noir is a fascinating field with a deserved faithful and ever widening audience. Eddie Muller scored impressively with "Dark City Dames," a study of the women of film noir with intimate portraits of such notables as Jane Greer, Marie Windsor and Ann Savage.
Muller returns to a familiar theme here and achieves mightily in two respects, with glossy pictures which practically jump off the page at you, giving one a feel for time and place, as well as being a part of the scene, along with a text providing valuable information on the memorable films being showcased.
San Franciscan Muller is one of the genuine authorities of the genre. He has a real feel for the world of darkness beset by flashing neon lights, smoke-filled bars, detectives in trench coats, and dangerous women.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By mirasreviews HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"The Art of Noir" is a big, beautiful book of 338 posters and lobby cards for crime films 1940-1960, plus a handful of later films. All the film noir greats are here, from A-list films to Poverty Row, though not every film represented is strictly "noir". "The Art of Noir" is 14 1/4" x 10 1/8" -too big even for oversized book shelves- but the results are stunning: Hundreds of full-page posters in bold, eye-popping color, along with a handful of 2-page spreads and some 2-to-a-page layouts. I could not overstate how great these posters look, and author Eddie Muller has made them more fascinating with informative captions and short essays. Each poster is captioned with the film's title, year, and studio, the size of the original poster, a brief analysis of the poster's style, and a little about the film.

The posters are divided into six chapters, each with an introduction by Muller. Chapter 1 introduces us to the distinctive styles of different Hollywood studios. Chapter 2 takes us on a tour of film noir poster art around the world, with examples and explanations of how artists abroad altered or redesigned the posters for their markets. Chapter 3 focuses on thematic and iconographic elements in the posters. The icons are guns, racy women, and automobiles. The themes include bad cops, private eyes, and femmes fatales, among others. Chapter 4 showcases posters that feature the prominent stars of film noir, 9 actors and 9 actresses, with an introductory essay for each. The art of Chapter 6 is organized by writer -not only the famed Hammett, Chandler, and Cain, but also prominent noir screenwriters. Chapter 6 features the films of prominent noir directors and cinematographer John Alton.

American and international posters are featured throughout the book.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By popular culture lover on December 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As an admirer of Muller's earlier books on Film Noir, I looked forward to this new effort. I was not disappointed; this is a fabulous book. The posters and graphics depicted are as lively and lurid as you'd expect. But Muller's analysis and way with words makes it fun to read as well as look at. If you have any interest in film noir, you MUST get this book. Superb.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Wesley Clark on January 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This man started owning noir with his "Dark City - The Lost Art of Noir," and he is the best possible advocate/interpreter for our era.
This is just a fabulous book, with sensational art. And I look forward to each new book of his, be it fiction or non-fiction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anthony McGill on August 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A simply dazzling collection of more than 350 posters and lobby cards devoted to the history of film noir, assembled by the "Czar of Noir" Eddie Muller. A large scale book beautifully designed by Bernard Schleifer and a credit to the publisher, Overlook Duckworth. Generally when you think about film noir you think in black and white but this book is all in gorgeous color and though we've had a lot of poster and film noir books published in recent years, lovers of either or both, will not be able to resist this one. Each poster and film gets a capsule comment by the author and there are more detailed sections devoted to noir directors, writers, actors, themes and recently discovered gems. And one of the joys of this collection is the amount of graphic material gathered from around the world with a special chapter devoted to American noir advertising in foreign countries as well as an abundance of international posters throughout this nearly four hundred page tome. Once you pick up "The Art of Film Noir", you'll find it too engrossing to put aside.
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