TV Review: Noir Alley (2017- )

Original Run: March 5th, 2017 – current
Cast: Eddie Muller

Turner Classic Movies

Review:

While I’ve always been a fan of classic film-noir, it was TCM’s Noir Alley that really reinvigorated my love for them and pushed me towards covering them a lot more on Talking Pulp.

There are two reasons as to why I really gravitated towards this movie show.

The first is the host, Eddie Muller. The guy is quite possibly the greatest expert on the subject of film-noir that we have in modern times. He works towards restoring old noir films and is a literal Wikipedia of knowledge when it comes to the history of film-noir and really, film history in general.

Muller is the perfect host for this show, as he breaks the films down, talks about their history, their genesis and their overall impact. His extensive knowledge on directors, actors, cinematographers, writers, etc. is astounding. Plus, he’s well spoken, extremely likable and he really taps into what makes these films and this era in film history, so damn cool.

The second thing I love about Noir Alley is the film selection. Muller really digs up and dusts off some lesser known gems and showcases them alongside some of the more famous noir classics. Without this show, it’s possible I wouldn’t have discovered nearly half of the films it has featured.

I sincerely hope that this is a show that can keep going for years to come. One may think that they’ll eventually run out of films to show but once you go down the noir rabbit hole, you discover that there are so many movies worth talking about.

Rating: 9.5/10
Pairs well with: noir documentaries, primarily those featuring Eddie Muller.

Documentary Review: American Grindhouse (2010)

Release Date: March 13th, 2010 (SXSW)
Directed by: Elijah Drenner
Written by: Elijah Drenner, Calum Waddell
Music by: Jason Brandt
Cast: Robert Forster (narrator), Eddie Muller, John Landis, Joe Dante, Herschell Gordon Lewis, William Lustig, Lewis Teague, David Hess, Jack Hill, Fred Williamson, Larry Cohen, Jonathan Kaplan, various

Lux Digital Pictures, End Films, 80 Minutes

Review:

This was a cool documentary but the title may be a bit misleading, as it isn’t specifically just about grindhouse pictures. It actually goes much deeper than that and discusses the history of exploitation film in general, going back as far as the Pre-Code Era and explaining what that was, how it ended and then how films evolved in the aftermath.

The best part about this documentary is that it interviewed so many great creators that were all a part of exploitation filmmaking, as well as also bringing in several experts on the subject. I especially liked seeing Eddie Muller in this, as I mostly only see him involved in things specifically about classic film-noir.

American Grindhouse also gets extra points because it was narrated by the great Robert Forster.

In addition to all that, this documentary featured an absolute fuck ton of movies from all eras and it definitely increased my list of films I need to review, pretty exponentially.

This was well organized, well presented and gave me a lot of insight. Mind you, I say that as someone that is pretty well versed on the subject matter.

American Grindhouse was in my queue for far too long. I didn’t think that I would think highly of it, as documentaries like this are a dime a dozen. However, this one is far ahead of the pack and it impressed me and actually re-energized my love for this type of cinema.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Machete Maidens Unleashed, Corman’s World, Electric Boogaloo, etc.

Documentary Review: Los Angeles: City of Film-Noir (2015)

Also known as: Los Angeles: Cité du Film Noir (original French title)
Release Date: February 28th, 2015 (France)
Directed by: Clara Kuperberg, Julia Kuperberg
Written by: Clara Kuperberg, Julia Kuperberg
Cast: James Ellroy, Eddie Muller, Alain Silver

Wichita Films, 52 Minutes

Review:

This is a short one hour documentary that specifically focuses on film-noir that has encapsulated the City of Los Angeles.

The documentary features only three people, which doesn’t seem like enough but all three men do have extensive knowledge on the subject.

James Ellroy has lived in L.A. his entire life and has written noir-esque crime novels, two of which were made into major neo-noir motion pictures: L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia.

Eddie Muller is a film-noir historian that runs the Film-Noir Foundation, restoring lost noir classics to HD beauty, as well as having gone on to host the Turner Classic Movies weekly program, Noir Alley.

Alain Silver is a film producer and author that has spent extensive time working in the realm of noir.

So there’s a lot of meat and potatoes here to chew on in regards to the subject matter.

Still, more talking heads would’ve been great and I think that this is something that could’ve gone on for longer than 52 minutes because of how interesting the subject matter is.

If you dig classic film-noir, this is certainly worth a watch. In fact, as opposed to just a trailer, I posted the full documentary below.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: other documentaries on film-noir. Several can be found on YouTube.

Comic Review: Batman In Noir Alley

Published: September 20th, 2017
Written by: Stuart Moore
Art by: Dan Panosian, Valentine De Landro
Based on: Noir Alley by Turner Classic Movies

TCM, DC Comics, 22 Pages

Review:

There was a cool little comic book that was given away at the DC Comics booth at this year’s New York Comic Con. This was that comic, a collaboration between DC and Turner Classic Movies.

Batman In Noir Alley is an Elseworlds tale. It sees Batman team up with the host of TCM’s Noir Alley program, Eddie Muller. Their story is pretty short and brief, even a bit one-dimensional, but it was amusing seeing Batman side-by-side with one of my favorite television personalities.

In the main story, Batman is in San Francisco trying to track down the Moroccan Raptor, which was stolen from the Gotham Museum. It starts with Bruce Wayne watching the film The Moroccan Raptor in a dark San Fran movie theater. Something pops off, Bruce becomes Batman and finds himself in the lair of Eddie Muller, his set for Noir Alley. The two then try to solve the mystery but there really isn’t any suspense and the story is over about as quickly as it started.

Part of the problem with this rushed narrative, is that the story only takes up the first half of the comic book, about ten to twelve pages. The second half of the comic is the story Gotham Noir, which is another Elseworlds tale, this one following Jim Gordon, a private eye in this, and Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman. It seems to be a better story overall but it ends on a cliffhanger, unresolved. The only way to get the story’s conclusion is to download the digital Gotham Noir comic on the DC Comics website. It isn’t free though, it costs $4.99. I felt cheated but this physical comic book was free at the New York Comic Con, so I shouldn’t be that upset about it. I had to buy it on eBay though, as I didn’t go to NYCC and I didn’t have a comic shop near me that got some of the free copies to hand out.

Still, this was a cool and unique concept. I’m a fan of Noir Alley and I’ve been a lifelong fan of Batman. I just wish the Muller story was something better and that this wasn’t just a ploy to get me to buy some other comic book. If DC wants my money, I can show them my collection that’s full of their comics going back to the 1960s. My Batman collection alone, is pretty astounding. You’ve got my money, DC.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: The Noir Alley television show.

Documentary Review: Film Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light (2006)

Release Date: July 18th, 2006
Directed by: Gary Leva

Leva Filmworks, 68 Minutes

Review:

Right out of the gate, I’ve got to say that this is one of the best documentaries that I’ve seen on film-noir. There was one other good one that was either on TCM or AMC back in the 90s but I haven’t been able to track that one down. This is pretty damn thorough though.

For only being 68 minutes, Bringing Darkness to Light is incredibly comprehensive and covers a lot of ground.

This goes through the history of film-noir, especially on how it developed and came to be. It discusses its roots in German Expressionism and gets into why the cinematography was done in the style that became synonymous with noir.

It also covers some of the stars, directors and has a section discussing the music style used in these films. It also clears up a lot of misconceptions on noir, especially in regards to how people somehow associate jazz with noir, even though most of these movies didn’t feature brass instruments in their soundtracks.

The film has real legitimacy, simply for the fact that Eddie Muller, the “Czar of Noir”, is one of the people interviewed. It’s also pretty cool to see Henry Rollins in this, expressing his views on film-noir.

The best thing about this, at least for right now, is that it is streaming for free on YouTube. Stuff like this pops up from time to time but can get pulled down, if someone puts a copyright claim on it. Check it out, while you can. Assuming you’re a fan of film-noir. But if you weren’t, why would you have read this far?

Rating: 7.75/10