Saturday-Sunday series showcases genre classics
If anyone is an appropriate guide for a weekly stroll down “Noir Alley,” it’s Eddie Muller.
The expert on film-noir pictures – with their questionable morality, shady ladies and business conducted in the shadows, often literally — established the Film Noir Foundation and oversees related festivals, and he’s also the author of several books on the subject. Additionally, he’s the host of the similarly themed showcase Turner Classic Movies presents Saturday nights and Sunday mornings, with Muller typically applying his sly humor to the wealth of facts he offers on the given week’s attraction.
“I’m very happy that they have given me so much freedom and latitude to do what I do, and the time to do it,” he says of his TCM association. “And they built me that fantastic set, and I couldn’t be happier.” Though he gives a bounty of information in his segments surrounding each movie, Muller allows, “I have to leave something for the repeats, so sometimes, I have to rein myself in.”
The “Noir Alley” feature the weekend of April 25-26 is 1953’s “Wicked Woman” with title star Beverly Michaels, who later married the film’s director (Russell Rouse). Subsequent weeks boast such evocative titles as “Fallen Angel,” “The Crimson Kimono” (directed by the legendary Samuel Fuller) and “Cornered,” plus the original version of “A Kiss Before Dying” and the Joan Crawford classic “Mildred Pierce” (which earned the actress an Oscar).
“I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to broaden the selection of films,” Muller notes, realizing he largely has to abide by titles TCM already has the rights to. “I’ll program a whole year at a time,” he explains, “but they’ve been very good about allowing me to choose five or six films a year that are outside of the licenses. We go after them and get them specifically for ‘Noir Alley.’”
The son of a boxing writer, Muller appreciates that “the titles are so great” in film noir. “I have actually programmed festivals just to see two titles on a marquee together. My all-time favorite was, ‘I Wake Up Screaming’ ‘In a Lonely Place.’”