The Lost B Movies of FILM NOIR                

By Arthur Lyons

This important book not only reviews the most obscure of noir titles but also explains the historic forces at play in Hollywood when many were being made.  'The book loaded with movie stills, also features a witty and informative filmography (including video resources) of B films that have largely been ignored or neglected - "lost" to the general public but now restored to their rightful place in movie history thanks to Death On The Cheap.' On the cover we find a photo of Leslie Brooks as, the femme fatale "Claire" in 'Blonde Ice' (1948).  What more can we say? 

Arthur Lyons is the author of eighteen fiction and non-fiction books including The Dead Are Discreet & Three With A Bullet. He lives in Palm Springs California where he directs the annual Palm Springs Film Noir Festival, June 7 - 9, 2002. 

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REVIEWS:  DEATH ON THE CHEAP  The Lost "B" Movies of Film Noir
Dean Koontz
" A terrific piece of work, the definitive book on its subject, and a body slam of nostalgia that knocked me out of my chair more than once. "

Otto Penzler  founder of The Mysterious Press and the largest mystery bookshop in the world.
" The past 20 years or so appear to have seen more books on film noir than any other movie genre. When people speak or write about film noir, they invariably invoke Laura, Double Indemnity, The Maltese Falcon, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Third Man, and a handful of other iconic examples of the popular genre. These are A movies, however, made with substantial budgets by the major studios and featuring the headline actors and actresses of the time. The B films, with a few notable exceptions, have largely been ignored. Arthur Lyons, who really knows his stuff, figured that the world didn't need to read again about Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain, or Humphrey Bogart and Lizabeth Scott. Instead, he devotes his intelligent pen to helping us rediscover the B films, the second features that helped keep movie theaters full in the 1940s and 1950s. Made for budgets that frequently fell short of $100,000, with cheap sets and costumes, these plot-driven movies had little in the way of special effects and nothing in the way of super-star actors and actresses. Republic was famous for its low-budget films and serials, as was Monogram, but even the major studios had B units.

Hugely fascinating information impossible to find without devoting an inordinate amount of your life to research, which is clearly what Lyons must have done, fills every page of this tome. In addition to an overview and chronological history of B films noir, Death on the Cheap has a comprehensive filmography with title, date, studio, running time, alternate titles, credits, plot outline, and critique for each film. There is also a chronology of every B noir film (Lyons credits 1939's Blind Alley as the first and reckons 1959 as the end of the genre). Although an unapologetic fan of B noir films, Lyons has no problem warning potential viewers from the really bad ones, and he doesn't exactly make his opinions known in a subtle fashion. Take this example, used to describe Hit and Run, a 1957 movie involving twins, produced, directed, written by and starring Hugo Haas: "Yet another smell-o by Haas.... Haas, of course, had to play the parts of both twins, doubling the pain for the audience."

Lyons, a well-known writer of the superb series of private-eye novels about Jacob Asch, demonstrates that his writing skills remain equally high whether he's writing fiction or nonfiction. Death on the Cheap is one of those rare pleasures, like a box of expensive chocolates that you can dip into any time and discover a genuine treat.": --Otto Penzler

Gerald Petievich, author of the books To Live and Die in L.A. and Shakedown
" Most books on the subject of film noir cover only well-known movies in their filmographies, such as The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, Out of the Past, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and so on. But these were all A productions. What Mr. Lyons has done is dust off those B films that have been sitting on studio shelves, those which rarely, if ever, appear on television, even at three in the morning, and has some fun doing it. Thankfully, the terms 'mise-en-scene,' 'aesthetic reversals,' and 'rhetorical form' do not appear in his text. "

Jay Fenton  
" Art Lyons has written an informative, entertaining book exploring the seldom-entered realm of "B" film noir. You won't find DOUBLE INDEMNITY, OUT OF THE PAST, or LADY FROM SHANGHAI in this book. Instead you'll read about SCREAMING MIMI, SO DARK THE NIGHT, WHEN STRANGERS MARRY, BLONDE ICE and many other "B" films that showed the gritty noir milieu their "A" production counterparts often smoothed over. The author has an obvious love of his subject and has taken the time to research the films, actors, actresses, directors and cinematographers that produced this most neglected segment of the film noir cycle. Some of the film could compete with "A" productions; one or two could better them; but few authors could write about them as well as Art Lyons has. And he's included a generous filmography, which will simultaneously make your mouth water while frustrating your efforts to find on video."

Dark Marc    
" There's a raging battle going on in the world of film noir. One camp declares that noir is a genre into itself. The opposing forces adamantly defend their stance that noir is not a genre, but a style of filmmaking that can be found in many genres including Crime, Westerns, & Melodramas. The smart bombs hurled by these film noir fans, during their debates, are the classic dark thrillers from the 1940's and 50's. Rare and lost films noir from obscure studios are resurrected, researched, analyzed and debated. Ultimately these "B" films are offered by both sides as evidence that, the understanding and classification of classic film noir is still a work in progress.

The by-product of all this frenzy is that the canon has expanded into many film titles that haven't been seen in 50 years. 'DEATH ON THE CHEAP' by Arthur Lyons is absolutely the best and most up to date reference material on those obscure films that are now at the vanguard of the debate: What is this thing called film noir? The author's list of movies includes, dates, run times, directors, production staff as well as actors. A short review is given about each film and Lyons is realistic about the qualities of the B films listed. He separates the gems from the turkeys and explains why. In several chapters the book follows the evolution of the "B' movie and the studios that cranked them out. This background is essential in understanding why the classic noir looks like it does.

While the topic is the stuff that film academics ponder, 'DEATH ON THE CHEAP' is far from being difficult to read. Actually, this book is pure entertainment and Lyons' sense of humor fits right in as he reminds us, that after all, we are talking about films with titles like 'Blonde Ice', 'The Man Who Died Twice' and 'Please Murder Me' .

'Death On The Cheap' IS A MUST READ if you love vintage film noir or want to know more about it! "- Dark Marc

FILM NOIR   An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style 

By Alain Silver & Elizabeth Ward

Nothing less then the Bible of Film Noir. 

479 pages Co-edited by Carl Macek, Robert Porfirio and on the 3rd Edition, James Ursini.  Includes reviews and in-depth analysis of the major noir titles.  Lists of actors, directors, producers, directors of photography, composers and multitudes of others who created the classic films noir. Also in the 3rd Edition an essay on Neo-Noir.


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These are used books, but are in good shape and difficult to find or order.          


Film Noir Books and Hard Boiled Novels
REVIEWS:  FILM NOIR  An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style 
Richard Schickel
"'FILM NOIR' is that rarity, a movie reference book that is both sensible and readable. It is also very  enlightening , for by compiling this exhaustive, well annotated encyclopedia, listing hundreds of pictures comprising the noir tradition, the authors make us see that it was more significant in shaping a characteristically American way of making films - and of observing the world - than we probably realized before 

The Los Angeles Times
"Influenced by German Expressionism, McCarthyism, and nuclear-age uncertainty,  film noir is a term coined by French critics for a genre of uniquely American movies from the post-Word War II period through 1960. Defined by visual style and narrative structure, several hundred noir films are included here along with cast lists, crews, story lines, and a critically informed discussion of each work in the context of genre and cinema history. "

Lawrence Kaplan director of 'Body Heat'.
" It's what you always want in a film reference book, but rarely find: comprehensive, intelligently organized, voluminously illustrated, and possessed of it's own distinctive voice.. "



By Henry Edward Helseth

The story behind 'Cry Of The City' with Victor Mature, Richard Conte & Hope Emerson.  

"Martin Rome killed a policemen during a robbery. For this the State sentenced him to the electric chair. But before that bleak moment Martin Rome had business to finish outside the jail - matter of stolen jewels, some human rats and a girl whose very existence he denied to the detectives, but whose reality for him transcended all things"

This is a first edition paperback from POCKET BOOKS printed in September 1948. Condition is good with some yellowing on the pages and a crease down the front jacket at the binding .



By William Irish 

Penned under a pseudonym, William Irish, Cornell Woolrich's 'Phantom Lady'  pioneered the now-common "innocent-man-condemned" plot. In the often-overlooked noir drama adapted from the Woolrich novel, director Robert Siodmak successfully employs many of the genre's technical devices to create a dark urban atmosphere.

This is a first edition paperback from POCKET BOOKS Complete and unabridged printed in September 1948. Condition is very good with some yellowing on the pages some dog-earing on the back cover .

Buy It here:                                            Used Paper Back    $ 38.00 + $ 4.00 shipping



By William Lindsay Gresham

"Twenty years of research went into the book, plus two years of plotting and eight months of actual writing," Gresham once said of Nightmare Alley   "It put the word 'geek' into common language. It is nice to know that someone remembers it."  Tyrone Power insisted on playing the lead role of Stan Carlisle, a phony carnival clairvoyant who's rise and inevitable fall from, the carnival big time suffers the ultimate degradation of finding himself playing the geek in a sideshow. 

Signet Books used & good condition. Light browning to edges of pages. Some rubbing to tips of spine & corners of boards. Light tears to bottom tip of spine.



THE WOMAN ON PIER 13                         
Screenplay by:
Charles Grayson and Robert Hardy Andrews
Originally released as 'I Married A Communist', this was Howard Hughes' 1950 cinematic contribution to alerting America about "The Red Menace". Robert Ryan was the well meaning executive who got mixed-up in radical politics, turned away all that, and decided it's better to be dead than red!

This is a 86 paged used paper back booklet published by Fredrick Unger Publishing and contains the complete original screenplay with some terrific black & white photo stills of the RKO movie.

Excellent condition, both covers and pages

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Paper Back $ 30.00 + $ 4.00 shipping
Screenplay by:
Bernard C. Schoenfeld & Stanley Rubin
Josef von Steinberg started the direction of 'Macao', but was later replaced by Nicholas Ray. In a recent TCM interview Jane Russell and Robert Mitchum remembered working under von Sternberg and to quote Mitchum  "He was difficult". Included in this 81 page paper back booklet is a 2 page introduction that's worth every cent of the cost. 

Published in 1976 by Fredrick Unger Publishing. This is  the complete original screenplay with black & white photo stills of the RKO movie.

Both covers and pages are in excellent condition

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Paper Back $ 30.00 + $ 4.00 shipping
   A fantastic resource for pulp fiction and roman noir :
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