Death on the Cheap: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir

Death on the Cheap: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir

by Arthur Lyons
     
 

Robert Mitchum once commented to Arthur Lyons about his movies of the 1940s and 1950s: "Hell, we didn't know what film noir was in those days. We were just making movies. Cary Grant and all the big stars at RKO got all the lights. We lit our sets with cigarette butts." Film noir was made to order for the "B," or low-budget, part of the movie double bill. It was

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Overview

Robert Mitchum once commented to Arthur Lyons about his movies of the 1940s and 1950s: "Hell, we didn't know what film noir was in those days. We were just making movies. Cary Grant and all the big stars at RKO got all the lights. We lit our sets with cigarette butts." Film noir was made to order for the "B," or low-budget, part of the movie double bill. It was cheaper to produce because it made do with less lighting, smaller casts, limited sets, and compact story lines—about con men, killers, cigarette girls, crooked cops, down-and-out boxers, and calculating, scheming, very deadly women. In Death on the Cheap, Arthur Lyons entertainingly looks at the history of the B movie and how it led to the genre that would come to be called noir, a genre that decades later would be transformed in such "neo-noir" films as Pulp Fiction, Fargo, and L.A. Confidential. The book, loaded with movie stills, also features a witty and informative filmography (including video sources) 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
While most studies of film noir focus on famous titles like Double Indemnity, mystery writer Lyons (The Dead Are Discreet) privileges the relationship, dating roughly from 1940 to 1959, between the rise of the low-budget B movies and the blossoming of film noir. Brief chapters assert the primacy of the story in defining film noir, the roots of the genre in popular literature, and the history of the B movie. Lyons is an outsider to academic film studies who nonetheless provides good insights for a general readership. Unfortunately, these insights soon give way to a filmography of "lost" B film noir titles that most general readers--and specialists--will never be able to watch. Although the filmography provides plot summaries, notes, and credit information for a welter of neglected titles, one wishes for further analysis of the overlap between the histories of B movies and film noir. Recommended only for libraries supporting large collections in film studies.--Neal Baker, Earlham Coll., Richmond, IN Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306809965
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
10/01/2000
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
1,025,494
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Arthur Lyons is the author of eighteen books of fiction and nonfiction, including The Dead Are Discreet and other mysteries featuring private eye Jacob Asch. He lives in Palm Springs, California.

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