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

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  52 ratings  ·  11 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published November 2nd 2000 by Da Capo Press (first published October 25th 2000)
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3.79  · 
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 ·  52 ratings  ·  11 reviews

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Jill Hutchinson
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you are a "B" movie and film noir buff, you should grab this book when you see it.. It can be read in one sitting or can be a "lunch" read over a few days. It is packed with information for such a short begins with a brief introduction regarding "B" and noir films and how the two genres overlap. The author gives the reader an overview of the Poverty Row studios (Monogram, PRC, Mascot, etc.) and also explains the role that pulp books played in these cheaply made movies.

But the majori
Prima Seadiva
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: the-arts
Decent. Closer to 3.5 stars. The author gives some background of the how and why of the B movie, made to fill double features, like the B side of old single records. Yet again another list of films and description. Some I have seen quite a few I have not.
Many of these are are hard to come by for watching so while there are spoilers reading about them may be the best you'll get. The author did give his opinion of each film sometimes amusing. Some are so bad you may not miss sitting through them.

Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: film noir / rare movie fans.
This is required reading for film noir fans. Though some of the "lost b movies" have become available via DVD in the past few years, there are still a bunch that I am eagerly seeking out thanks for this book.

Worth the read (and purchase)...
Jul 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Death on the Cheap: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir (2000)

Arthur Lyons wrote this book, which has fifty or sixty pages of film theory and history and a 100 page filmography of plot synopses and commentaries on films that, for the most part, are forgotten for a reason. But he knows his stuff and this is a lot of fun to read. Lyons sort of makes the same claim that Eddie Muller makes in his book on film noir: that this genre about society’s losers, turns out to have had, behind the scenes, lots of
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: film
A great selection of films for the noir enthusiast - as
Robert Mitchum says "Hell, we didn't know what noir was...
..the big stars got the lights, we lit our sets with
cigarette butts!!" Of course the selections are personal choices
of the author and he has given detailed synopsis, credits and
a summing up to tell what he liked or didn't like about a
particular film. A lot of the time the films I had seen I
didn't agree with him about their merits (or more often
demerits!!) but that was okay because f
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: film-noir-theory
In the introduction Lyons argues for an alternate definition of Film Noir: “The only factors that unite all of these films under the film noir heading is their hard-bitten, cynical tone and their thematic content.” [8] And then goes on to link its origins to pulp crime fiction noting that many of those authors later ended up writing screenplays for both A and B movies. Lyons follows with excellent chapters on the formation of the “B” units at major studios - and later independents - to support t ...more
Apr 16, 2010 is currently reading it
Apparently I am the only person still alive on planet earth who has actually read Brett Halliday's first two Michael Shayne mysteries and seen the film series with Lloyd Nolan. On page 32 of this otherwise enjoyable book, Arthur Lyons repeats the oft-repeated but false statement that the 1940 film Michael Shayne, Private Detective was based on the first Shayne novel, Dividend on Death. It was not. It was based on the second Shayne novel, The Private Practice of Michael Shayne. This is not my opi ...more
Glen Hannah
Jan 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
There were dozens of Film noir movies made in the 1940s and 50s that really have been forgotten about and that's a shame. I'd love to see some of these films. B grade Sci-Fi and horror were often cheap and cheesy but B grade film noir and crime thrillers had a bit of grit and toughness and that's what made them interesting. This is a great reference for film fans hoping to seek out these films. It has a list of films by studio, an index and a small selection of photos.
Apr 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is informative and entertaining in equal measure. The film summaries alone (which are often hilarious in their plot twists) make the book a must-buy. Lyons has searched high and low for some excellent (and not-so excellent) film noir entries and gives us the lowdown on them all. Outstanding reference book with some great extras in the appendices. No film noir fan should be without it.
Alex Richards
Feb 26, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: movie people
I'm a noir junkie, so I thought this was a really good book. Well written with lots of fun facts and tidbits, and it'll give you tons of ideas for your Netflix queue.
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Jan 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: movies
I was expecting more of a historical analysis and discussion, or at least lots of juicy info, but the book is 4/5 movie summaries. It's exhaustive but kind of depressing in that I will never get the opportunity (nor will many others) to see 95% of them due to limited viewing availability.
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A member of the Palm Springs City Council from 1992-1995. Authored 21 books and numerous mystery novels. His 1986 novel "Castles Burning," which took place in Palm Springs, furnished the basis for the telemovie "Slow Burn" with Johnny Depp. Author of "Death on the Cheap -- The Lost B Movies of Film Noir.".