Sunday, September 30, 2012
"THOSE FILMS from the late 1950s had another sour attitude in common: they seemed to wonder whether the movies have gone on and on for long enough, so don’t we know every story by now? If you look at Rio Bravo (and this held even in 1959 when it opened), it offers a whimsical, affectionate example of a “suspenseful” Western. (Will the sheriff win? It was intended as a corrective to High Noon.) But that is perfunctory compared with its witty and digressive parody of such a Western, and its cheerful admission that this is really some actors, writers, and a director questioning and mocking the cockamamie routines and rituals of a Western. It isn’t a story, it’s a movie commentary, edging toward pastiche and camp. Similarly, Anatomy of a Murder is less an authentic trial story than variations on the hackneyed theme of the courtroom film. North by Northwest and Psycho tease us for believing in their absurd stories while delighting in the trickery that prompts that belief. As for Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot, it was the first candid admission that movies came out of a madhouse, stupefied by inside references, but unaware and uninterested in any external reality."
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Saturday, September 29, 2012
An agent wrote me asking me if I knew how to contact anybody involved in the estate of deceased writer Richard Jessup. I always liked Jessup's wprk and was glad to see it when books such as his The Cincinnati Kid became big hits. Can anybody help with this?
A woman named Karen Downes wrote me an actual letter asking me to point her to an agent. I've misplaced the envelope so can't get back to her but invite her to write me at email@example.com
Friday, September 28, 2012
Thursday, September 27, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Monday, September 24, 2012
Sunday, September 23, 2012
On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.
Saturday, September 22, 2012
From the New York Times by Michael Connelly
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Friday, September 21, 2012
“[Randisi] doesn’t waste a phrase or plot turn…his prose
“The Western genre needs more writers like Randisi,
“Each of Randisi’s novels is better than its
Ed here: By the time I finish typing this sentence Bob Randisi will
doubtless finish a novel that will put him very close to the five hundred
mark. Yes, five hundred novels written and published in virtually
every genre though his main concentration has been crime and western.
Amazing as the number is what's much more startling is how consistently
good and sometimes GREAT his work is. The Gunsmith series, one of the
oldest and most revered of western series, would tucker most writers out
after book thirty or so. Not Bob. The series, written as by J.R. Roberts,
has just notched number three hundred and sixty-eight.
And the hooks are just as strong as the writing. In the new Bullets And Lies,
Talbot Roper helps prove that a man he knows, a man who
stands accused of lying about his record in the Civil War, is telling the truth.
Never thought of that before. I guess all wars produce men who lie about
their courage and honor.
Fast-paced and action-packed, rich in humanity and lore, this is a fine
sample of Bob's work. If you like realistic adventure, you'll want this book.
Thursday, September 20, 2012
I hope The Handle by Richard Stark was a pleasure for Donald Westlake to write because it sure is a pleasure to read.
The Organization has decided that it's tired of this German guy running his big casino on an island in the Gulf of Mexico. He's beyond the jurisdiction of the Feds and it's unlikely Cuba will do much about him. Thus Parker is hired to take the casino and its other buildings down--literally. To blow them up.
Now while The Handle is every bit as tough as Dick Cheney's heart, the hardboiled aspect is played off against the sorriest group of human beings Parker may ever have had to work with. And the sardonic way Westlake portrays them had me laughing out loud at several points.
Take your pick. There's the alcoholic hood who talks as if he's auditioning for a Noel Coward play; the mob gun dealer who had to quit drinking several months ago and has increased both his cigarette intake (four or five packs a day) while maintaining both his cancer cough and his enormous weight; the pedophile who turns out to be a ringer sent to spy in Parker and his friends; the Feds who are so inept both Parker and Grofield play games seeing who can lose their tails the fastest. And then there's the the married Grofield, Parker's professional acting buddy, who never passes up a chance to impose his charms on willing women. In this case he endeavors to put the whammy on the very sexy blonde Parker himself has been shacking up with. Isn't that called bird-dogging?
And then we have Baron Wolfgang Freidrich Kastelbern von Alstein, the man who owns the island and the casino and who, over the years, has managed to make The Third Man's Harry Lime look like a candidate for sainthood. Westlake spends a few pages on the Baron's history and it becomes one of the most fascinating parts of the book, especially his days in Europe during the big war.
The book is filled with the little touches that make the Stark books so memorable. My favorite description comes when Parker and the sexy blonde sit down to a dinner that Westlake describes as "viciously expensive."
A fine fine novel.
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
A friend, Bill Tangney, was reporting for the Princeton College paper when Einstein died. Einstein had an office at Princeton, so Bill rushed up to the office, soon as he heard the news, braced a chair against the door in case any other news hounds had the same idea, and began looking for something that would give him a "scoop." He started looking thru a bookcase, pulled out some serious tomes and found Einstein had stashed a couple of Perry Mason paperbacks behind them. Scoop de doop!
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Ed here: Thanks to Mark Evanier for the links to this three part article from the Chicago Sun-Times.
---------August 15 marks the 20th anniversary of the debut of "The Larry Sanders Show," episodes of which are available on Netflix Instant, Amazon Instant, iTunes, and DVD. This is the first part of Edward Copeland's extensive tribute to the show, including interviews with many of those involved in creating one of the best-loved comedies in television history.
by Edward Copeland
Over the course of my lifetime, I've watched a lot of movies -- an old computer contained a program with an editable database of titles and allowed for the addition of new films. Back when I used that PC, my total hovered in the thousands. "The Larry Sanders Show" produced a mere 89 episodes in its six season run from 1992-1998 that began 20 years ago tonight on HBO. "I know it sounds cliché but -- honest to God -- it seems like it was just about a week ago. It's so odd that it's 20 years," Jeffrey Tambor said in a telephone interview.
Despite the vast disparity between the quantity of films I've viewed and "Larry Sanders" episodes, when I recently took part in The House Next Door's"If I Had a Sight & Sound Film Ballot" series, I found it far easier to prune those pictures down to my ten favorites than I did when I applied the same task to "Larry Sanders" episodes. (Picking a clip or two from each show proved even more difficult as inevitably I'd want to include the entire half-hour.) Three or four episodes I knew had to be on the list, but then it got tough. I considered making a list of the best episode for each character such as the best Brian episode ("Putting the 'Gay' Back in Litigation"), the best Beverly ("Would You Do Me a Favor?"), the best Phil ("Headwriter"), etc. With all the priceless episodes centering on Hank and Artie, I imagined those two characters conceivably filling all ten spots alone.
A series that broke as much ground as "The Larry Sanders Show" deserves a grander tribute to mark the two decades since its birth than just a recounting of a handful of episodes -- and I had that intention. Unfortunately, my physical limitations and time constraints thwarted my ambitions. Rest assured though, that salute shall be forthcoming (MESSAGE TO BOB ODENKIRK: YOU STILL CAN TAKE PART NOW). As with any list, I'm certain my fellow "Larry Sanders" fans shall express outrage at my omissions (I already hear the shouts of "Where is the one with Carol Burnett and the spiders?" "No 'Hank's Sex Tape!' Hey now!"). Believe me, I'm as livid as you are and may join in the comments to give myself the thorough tongue-lashing I so richly deserve for these unforgivable exclusions. First, though, I'm going to fix myself a Salty Dog, using Artie's recipe of course. I want to be able to grab those olives, not fish for them. So, for good or ill, I submit my selections for my ten favorite episodes of "The Larry Sanders Show." Since bestowing ranks only leads to more trouble, I present these ten in chronological order.
for the rest go here:
Friday, September 14, 2012
The year 1949 was pivotal for RKO Radio Pictures. Just two years earlier, their balance sheet had showed a healthy, $5.1 million profit. But in 1948, that number had tumbled to $500,000, and the studio executives were desperately trying to find a way to reverse their financial misfortune. They weren't placing much confidence in Robert Mitchum, their number one star, because he was still dealing with some serious image problems. In the Fall of 1948, Mitchum was arrested and convicted for marijuana possession and spent nearly two months incarcerated, serving most of his term on a prison farm. Life magazine was nice enough to show up and snap some pictures of him mopping the floors in his prison uniform.
The studio was also dealing with some serious changes at the executive level. In March of 1948, Howard Hughes took over RKO and promptly fired most of the employees. He also shelved several “serious” pictures that were either set to shoot or already in production. He thought it was time to take the studio in a new direction. Starting in 1949, RKO would place a much higher priority on cranking out low-budget B films.
The Clay Pigeon was one of the first noirs that RKO released while Hughes was steering the ship, and it can be viewed as a template for many of the noirs that RKO released over the next several years. If you're watching a noir from the late forties or early fifties that runs approximately one hour, features little-known actors in the lead roles, moves the action along at a nice clip and ties things up neatly by the end, then you're more than likely watching an RKO film. And the chances are also good that it was directed by Richard Fleischer. Fleischer, who had worked for five years at RKO exclusively as a shorts director, got his big break in 1948 when, shortly after he completed a directing job on So This is New York(1948), the studio gave him the chance to direct Laurence Tierney in Bodyguard(1948). He impressed the brass enough that they gave him two B noir directing gigs in 1949 – The Clay Pigeon and the highly enjoyable Follow Me Quietly.
The Clay Pigeon fits neatly into a very distinct category: amnesia noir. At its most basic level, amnesia noir takes the typical elements of a noir and throws an amnesiac protagonist (usually a WWII vet) into the mix. The Clay Pigeon wasn't the first noir to attempt this type of story: Somewhere in the Night (1946) andHigh Wall (1947) both preceded it, and The Crooked Way (1949) was released in the same year as The Clay Pigeon. Because the amnesia element can be difficult to implement in a convincing way, these films vary in their levels of success. Fortunately, The Clay Pigeon is one of the better entries in the amnesia noir canon.