Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Character Actors; Jeremiah Healy Writing Award

I like to read while I eat. Lately I've been working my way through David Thomson's enormous Biographical Dictionary of Film at lunch time. Thomson is the most interesting and entertaining flm critic since Pauline Kael--and every bit as frustrating. When I disagree with him, I want to all him up and read him his rights--before violating every one of them.

Today I read his take on Edmond O'Brien. Thomson notes going in that movie stars aren't supposed to sweat. That makes them too much like everybody in the audience. Part of movie stardom is inaccessability, fantasy. But what a clever hook because beefy O'Brien sweated all the time, especially in his most memorable movie DOA. He was also fat, frequently out of breath, devoutly neurotic and often frightened. He was, in other words, pretty much like the people in the darkness watching him on the big screen. An Everyman of sorts.

In the course of his entry on O'Brien, Thomson makes clear that he enjoys the odd-ball actors and actresses far more than he does the stars. Thus he finds Warren Oates vastly more compelling than Robert Redford and Jeff Goldblum more intriguing than Paul Newman.

When I was a kid I rarely wondered about the lives of the stars. But I was always curious about character actors such as Elisha Cook, Jr. and J. Carrol Naish. There was a vitality to their performances that the stars were rarely capable of matching. And in the case of Cook, there was a melancholy and weariness that I recognized even then as being much like my own.

Same with the women. The ones I was always excited about were the second- and third-leads. They were the ones I got crushes on. They were often as pretty as the leading ladies, sometimes even prettier. And they frequently had more interesting roles, the bitch, the tart, the victim.

Barry Gifford once remarked that when you see a musical with all those young gorgeous girl dancers you have to wonder what became of them. The majority probably became housewives; more than a few probably took to the streets as parts became harder and harder to come by; and a lucky handful became the wives of powerful Hwood men.

I've been watching a lot of silent films of TCM and the same impulse grabs me then, too. Who were they? What happened to them? Did they know they'd become immortal? A full century later I sit in our family room and watch them as--most likely anyway--another century from now people will still be watching them. This is probably heresy of sorts but to me film immortality is far more imposing than literary immortality.

.absolutely amazing ebooks logo

and The New Atlantian Library

AAeN News:

Jeremiah Healy 
Mystery Writing 
Award  Announced

Award-winning mystery writer
 Sandra Balzo 
and Absolutely Amazing 
eBooks Publisher 
Shirrel Rhoades presented J. E. Irvin of 
Springboro, Ohio, with the 
inaugural Jeremiah 
Healy Mystery Writing Award
 on Saturday, 
August 15, during the annual 
Mystery Writers 
Key West Fest, a three day 
mystery genre 
festival set in the tropical paradise 
of the Florida Keys.
         Janet Irwin                                                                                        

Irvin was one of four finalists in a 
competition for the prize, which 
garnered her  
book-publishing contract 
with AAeB, free 2016 
Mystery Writers Key West Fest 
registration with
 hotel accommodations for two 
nights, and a 
bobble-headed Jerry trophy.
Sponsored by AAeB, the award 
salutes late author 
Jeremiah Healy's legacy as a 
beloved and influential 
mentor credited with helping and 
advising many 
aspiring authors. Writers from all 
over the country 
answered the call that invited 
candidates to submit 
the first three pages of a finished, unpublished 
mystery manuscript.
            M ystery Writer Sandra Balzo         Publisher Shirell Rhoades                               

"Jerry often said a book either 
captures a reader in the 
first three pages ... or it doesn't," 
commented Shirrel 
Rhodes, who co-produces the  Mystery 
Writers Key West Fest  
along with Mad Mick Murphy Key 
West Mysteries 
author Michael Haskins. "We agree 
with that assessment 
and decided to use it as a 
yardstick for a writing
 competition in his honor. He 
helped us get the first 
Fest off the ground, and this way 
we will keep him as a part 
of it in future years."
Irvin says her submission, titled "
Dark End of the 
Rainbow," is a portrayal of the 
corrosive effects of 
secrets and the healing power of love. The other 
three award  finalists and their titles are:  
"All Hocked Up" by Jack Bates 
of Rochester, MI; 
"Portside Screw" by Gregory S. Dew 
of Ponce Inlet,
 FL; and "Square Grouper" by Lewis 
(previously identified under the author's
 pen name, Crichton Lewis) of Key 
West, FL.
Unable to attend the Fest due to 
a recent surgery, 
Irvin accepted the honor via Skype.
Information on submission 
criterion for 
the second annual "Jerry" award can be found at
A gathering of noted mystery writers at the
2015 Mystery Writers Key West Fest ...

Mark your calendar 
to attend
 the 3rd annual M
week in June 2016 
at the 
Doubletree Marquee 
Hotel in 
Key West, Florida.

ctorctors; Jeremian Healy Writing Award

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