Eddie Muller, aka the “Czar of Noir” and recipient of the Raven Award from the Mystery Writers of America, is the host of Turner Classic Movies’ Noir Alley, and the author of novels, biographies, movie histories, plays, and films. He also programs and hosts the Noir City film festival series, and as founder of the Film Noir Foundation Eddie has been instrumental in restoring and preserving dozens of lost noir classics. He lives in Northern California.
City Lights, Tosca Cafe, Running Press, and TCM will celebrate the publication of Eddie Muller’s Noir Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the World of Film Noir by Eddie Muller, out now from Running Press, with a book signing and reception at Tosca Cafe on Tuesday, May 30, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. PST.
Where are you writing to us from?
From my home across the bay. I’m between travels at the moment and enjoying what, for me, constitutes “down time.”
What is bringing you joy right now, personally/artistically/habitually?
Same as always — embarking on new projects, giving my best, finishing, then venturing on to something else. I only feel fulfilled by a sense of accomplishment, by making things. It’s been a good year so far with the Noir Bar cocktail book; all the scripts and recording for Noir Alley on Turner Classic Movies; the reemergence of the Noir City film festivals post-pandemic, working on new restorations for the Film Noir Foundation, the children’s book I wrote (Kid Noir: Kitty Feral and the Case of the Marshmallow Monkey, which comes out this fall), and a documentary I’m making, Dangerous Citizen: The Life and Times of Abraham Polonsky. At least the doc doesn’t have “noir” in the title. For me, that’s stretching out.
Which writers, artists, and others influence your work in general, and this book, specifically?
Given that so much of what I do is noir-centric, I feel like I spend most of my time with the ghosts of all those writers, directors and performers. They are a pretty amusing and eclectic bunch, very amusing even though they’re mostly dead. But then, that’s the upside of leaving behind influential work. You’re never really dead.
What books are you reading right now and would you recommend any to others?
In keeping with the previous thought, I’m re-reading a lot of Jim Nisbet’s novels and poetry. Jim was a great friend who died of cancer last year. It was devastating. But his voice and prose style was so distinctive reading the books brings him back in a very deep, tangible way. I do so much research I’m reading constantly, virtually non-stop—but it’s rare when I get to read just for fun. My default is Georges Simenon. Eventually I’ll work my way through everything, the stand-alones and all the Maigrets. I’ve recently discovered another Belgian writer I’m fond of, Pascal Garnier. Noir novellas with an intense black humor.
If you opened a bookstore, where would it be located, what would it be called, and what would your bestseller be?
I’d buy an old movie palace and convert it into a combination bar, bookstore, and cinema. Finding the perfect venue would dictate where it would be, but odds are it’d need to be a university town if you really wanted to make a living at it. What would I call it? How about “Lush Life?” Four and four, good for the marquee. If I had an apartment upstairs, I’d never leave.