The works of Eddie Muller, including his organization of the Noir Film Festivals, are indispensable to the genre. Few equal his knowledge of the subject, and fewer, if any, surpass it. He's probably done more for the field than the French. But then he's American, a native of San Francisco, and the modern roots of Noir lie here in this city by the bay. This is where Hammet pounded out his mysteries. Terse, hard-boiled affairs, soaked in prohibition whiskey, and seen through, if not entirely solved, in the shadows. But it was the movies, particularly those of the Post Second War, that gave expression to a new way of examining good and evil, filtered, as it were, through a lens of gray. For it was the war, the totality of it, the holocaust and the millions and millions killed and its atomic ending that shook the souls of a new wave of movie makers and artists and writers and poets - what if not the Second War could push a Jackson Pollack into such a degree of abstraction? What story or poem can adequately disclose the horror heaped by humans upon all other living things? But it was cinema, embodying all other arts, that allowed the moral creep to be observed and to sink into our consciousness where it is truly understood that as often as not we have only a few bad choices to make.
Muller's books examine the art, the women, and the stories. He loves this art form and he's one of the few authors to expose the rest of us to the myriad layers of this deceptively complex genre. A genre where morality is pummeled mercilessly, often betrayed, often at the hands of a beautiful woman, and redeemed only through sacrifice or a will to power.