Thursday, March 22, 2018

Noir City: Episode of Blonde

The latest issue of Noir City, the house rag of the Film Noir Foundation, went out to subscribers yesterday. I say as humbly as possible that it’s our best to date, boasting a broad range of subjects and contributors. I’ll double down on my candor: if you don’t like this installment of the magazine, address your complaints to me, because my fingerprints are all over it. And I’m proud of the result.

We didn’t plan for this to be our blonde issue. That’s just how it worked out, with a troika of fair-haired silver screen goddesses for you to (re)consider. Jake Hinkson kicks things off with our cover story on the noir films of Marilyn Monroe. Ray Banks follows up with a heartbreaker on Diana Dors. Then I (sort of) get into the act, interviewing Paul McGuigan, the filmmaker behind the BAFTA-nominated drama Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool about the sad final days of noir favorite Gloria Grahame.

Excuse me while I rant a moment, but I’ve got to get this off my chest: the botched release of Film Stars is the great cinematic crime of 2017. Annette Bening is transcendent as Gloria Grahame, giving hands down my favorite performance of the year. She’s perfectly paired with Jamie Bell as her much younger paramour Peter Turner, whose memoir provides the basis for the film. I loathe when movies are judged solely through the narrow lens of Academy Awards viability. But when a studio publicly declares an Oscar to be its goal and then can’t even make a worthy turn part of the conversation, well … someone screwed up. Probably multiple someones. Still, Bening’s work remains, to be discovered by audiences in due time. Years from now, people will marvel that her quicksilver brilliance paying tribute to another great actress went largely unrecognized at the time—except, of course, in the pages of Noir City.

Also in this issue: my interview with Laura Lippman, whose latest novel Sunburn is pure noir. Plus FNF founder Eddie Muller on the undiminished power of Steve De Jarnatt’s newly relevant Miracle Mile—and a bonus 5 Favorites from De Jarnatt himself. Then there’s Nathalie Atkinson on Agatha Christie for a new millennium; one legendary cartoonist (Trina Robbins) saluting another in TarpĂ© Mills; a look at the noir roots of Blade Runner and its sequel; profiles of filmmakers Vincent Sherman and the husband-and-wife team of Andrew and Virginia Stone; plus reviews, news, and my Cocktails & Crime column. All of it beautifully assembled by ace designer Michael Kronenberg.

Really, this issue is the son I’ll never have. Why aren’t you reading it now? Simply donate to the Film Noir Foundation and all this can be yours.