Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I dunno know about this


Johnny Depp and director Rob Marshall will team for a remake of the classic mystery film The Thin Man. The original 1934 film starred William Powell and Myrna Loy as a married couple who dabble in solving murders and mysteries. The witty byplay between the two stars proved to be a sensation with audiences and spawned several sequels. It is not known who will be cast in the role of Nora Charles in the remake. (to see the original trailer go here and scroll down http://www.cinemaretro.com/index.php

Ed here: As much as I respect and admire Johnny Depp's enormous talents I have grave doubts about trying to duplicate or best a masterpiece that owes its legend not just to its talented writer, director and stars but to the era in which it was created. That time was several planets removed from our contemporary world. If nothing else today we would look at Nick as an alcoholic and Nora as his winsome enabler. And the mugs and thugs who appear throughout the film...after The Sopranos (if not The Godfather) mugs and thugs aren't so much fun any more.

I think this is a real bad call.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Getting Away With Murder; Cover

Another great Getting Away With Murder from Mike Ripley is available now: http://www.shotsmag.co.uk/column_view.aspx?COLUMNIST_ID=1

-----------------My favorite cover of the moment (thanks to James Reasoner)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dave Zeltserman and Lee Goldberg


The Myth of Publishing by Dave Zeltserman (first appeared in Jagged Edge)

When I was first starting out I believed I needed the validation from one of the large publishers to prove my books were worthy of being published. I was extremely naïve about the publishing industry then, and over the last five years I’ve learned quite a bit—I’ve also had every single book of mine rejected numerous time by the large NY publishers, and have instead have had six books published by the UK publisher, Serpent’s Tail, two books by the independent publisher, Overlook Press and two books by Five Star. Of those books that were rejected flatly by NY’s Big 6, one was picked by NPR as being one of the five best crime and mystery novels of 2008, two were picked by the Washington Post as best books of the year, and another was shortlisted by ALA for best horror book of 2010. I’ve won major awards, including a Shamus, I’ve had my books reviewed favorably by major newspapers around the world, and are seeing my books translated to French, German, Italian, Dutch and Lithuanian. One of my books has been optioned for film and should be going into production soon, and I just received an option offer for another book from a producer with a strong list of indie movies behind her. So what gives? If the large NY publishers are truly the gatekeepers of what’s worthy, how come they’re consistently rejecting me, yet my books keep getting significant acclaim? Well, as I said, over the five years I’ve learned more about how the industry works.

Let me talk about a few conversations I had with an editor when he was with St. Martin’s. This editor called me after Small Crimes was picked by NPR, wanting to let me know how much he liked the book and how much he wanted to publish me. It turns out he was only playing me; waiting to see if I broke out with Small Crimes or one of my other books so he could then sign me to a deal, but even still, I learned a lot from our conversations about how the large publishers work. First off, according to this guy, the large NY houses are ruled by fear. Editors are terrified of recommending anything different to someone above them—afraid that their careers could be irreparably damaged if they recommended something that their superior considers a waste of time. Because of that only the safest books are recommended. Let’s say an editor makes that leap and recommends a book that’s different than the norm; they then have to lobby support to try to get the book bought—try to prove that the book has commercial viability. With one of my books—a horror novel—I had an editor at TOR spend six months trying to lobby support so he could buy this book, but the final nail in the coffin was when they had a focus group look at the book and it was decided that the book had some scenes that were too upsetting (imagine that—a horror novel having upsetting scenes!).

I read this wonderful unpublished manuscript—a crime noir novel, The Dead Women of Juarez by Sam Hawken, and I told this editor at St. Martin’s about it. It turns out the manuscript had gotten to him also, and he told me it was one of the best submitted novels he had read that year, but that there was little chance anyone in NY would publish it because it was too different. I ended up recommending the manuscript to my Serpent’s Tail editor, who fell in love with it, and they’re now publishing this book. That’s the biggest difference between the large NY publishers and the smaller independents like SoHo Press, Akashic books, Overlook Press and Serpent’s Tail—the mindset at these smaller independents is to buy the books they love and trust they’ll find a readership, while the large NY houses making up the Big 6 have become all about buying what they consider the lowest risk books without any real regard to their quality, and even worse, they seem to have developed a very low opinion of the book buying public.

Here’s another reality about publishing today—most authors now are given one or two books by the Big 6 to make it or they’re done. It’s almost impossible for an author to break out with only one or two books, at least not without a lot of money behind them. If you look at most of the big names in crime fiction today—Michael Connelly, James Ellroy, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos—none of these authors would’ve survived in today’s environment. They all needed years to develop their readerships, yet new authors now aren’t being given that luxury. More often than not it’s one or two books, and then they’re done.

There might’ve been a time when the large NY houses acted as gatekeepers to what was worthy of being published, but the idea of them being any sort of gatekeeper now is only a myth. They’ve abdicated any role they might’ve once had about caring about the books they publish. Now it’s all business, and nothing more than that. The independent publishers are different—they’re out to publish the best books they can. They do this because nobody is going to be an independent publisher unless they truly love books, and they’re also smart enough to know they need to do this to survive. But with the large publishers it’s all bottom line, and it’s all become very shortsighted.

Dave Zeltserman won the 2010 Shamus Award for 'Julius Katz' and is the acclaimed author of the ‘man out of prison’ crime trilogy: Small Crimes, Pariah and Killer, where Small Crimes (2008) and Pariah (2009) were both picked by the Washington Post as best books of the year. His recent The Caretaker of Lorne Field received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, calling it a 'superb mix of humor and horror', has been shortlisted by ALA for best horror novel of 2010, and was a finalist for a Black Quill Award for best dark genre book of the year. Outsourced (2011) has already been called 'a small gem of crime fiction' by Booklist and has been optioned by Impact Pictures and Constantin Film and is currently under development. Dave’s latest book is the charming and fun mystery based on the characters from his award-winning stories, ‘Julius Katz and Archie’.


Ed here: Let me say that The Walk, as I said in a review here not too long ago, is one of the most intriguing exciting and character-rich novels I've read in a long time. This is Lee Goldberg at the top of his game. You'd be crazy not to buy this for 99 cents. Seriously. This is a grim, funny, sad, frightening, melancholy novel that you won'tbe able to stop reading. I sure couldn't. And yu get TWO books for that price.

From Lee Goldberg:

It was two years ago today that, at Joe Konrath's urging, I began my "Kindle Experiment" by making my out-of-print book THE WALK available as an ebook. I've sold close to 20,000 copies of THE WALK since then...and to celebrate, and in a blatant to attempt to propel THE WALK into the top 100 on Amazon for the first time, I am selling the book for just 99 cents for the next week.

But to make the offer even sweeter, and to promote my original ebook series THE DEAD MAN, anyone who emails me proof of purchase (at lee@leegoldberg.com) will get a free copy of FACE OF EVIL. That's two books for just 99 cents.

Here's the link to THE WALK on Amazon...


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pre-Pub Reviews: Axel Brand, The Dead Genius by Richard Wheeler

Ed here: I'd like to thank Ron Scheer for letting me reprint his review of the Axel Brand novel from his excellent website Buddies in The Saddle.

Axel Brand, The Dead Genius Axel Brand a/k/a Richard Wheeler

Someone finds a dead body slumped over a desk. No sign of foul play. The examining physician says heart failure. Police detective Lt. Joe Sonntag is inclined to agree.

But his cheap-cigar-smoking captain Ackerman thinks otherwise. There’s a crime here somewhere, he keeps saying. Find it. And thus a skeptical Sonntag finds himself on another hunt for a murderer.

What I like about Axel Brand mysteries is the retro world of police work circa 1949 that it conjures. And the naked city his police call home is not the mean streets of New York, Chicago or LA. It’s the mainly placid Milwaukee, the beer capital of the Midwest.

Axel Brand, The Dead Genius

Someone finds a dead body slumped over a desk. No sign of foul play. The examining physician says heart failure. Police detective Lt. Joe Sonntag is inclined to agree.

But his cheap-cigar-smoking captain Ackerman thinks otherwise. There’s a crime here somewhere, he keeps saying. Find it. And thus a skeptical Sonntag finds himself on another hunt for a murderer.

What I like about Axel Brand mysteries is the retro world of police work circa 1949 that it conjures. And the naked city his police call home is not the mean streets of New York, Chicago or LA. It’s the mainly placid Milwaukee, the beer capital of the Midwest.

I also like Joe Sonntag. He’s a hard-working, decent man, who wears inexpensive suits and rides a streetcar to work. At night he returns, often late, to his wife Lizbeth, a drink, and meatloaf. It’s an empty nest, one son grown and gone. The other son only a memory of a boy who thrived and then died of polio.

His marriage is a mostly comfortable one, though not without signs of strain. For lack of a job of her own, Joe’s wife takes more than passing interest in his work. You get the idea she wouldn’t make a bad cop herself. She settles for packing his lunch every morning and the occasional night out on his meager salary. On Sunday she goes to church alone.

The crime is a nicely complex one, with just enough discoveries along the way to keep it intriguing. We meet three of Joe’s colleagues, who are assigned by Ackerman to the case. One is Frank Silva, who reads pulp westerns and is a young socialist with a vocal dislike for rich capitalists.

The dead genius of the title is a questioned document examiner. Often called upon as an expert witness, he could tell if a document was what it claimed to be. He could testify whether or not a will was forged. He could spot a phony contract, or a bogus signature. A walking encyclopedia of typewriter fonts, he could identify the year and make of the machine used to type a letter.

For all who knew him, he was also a man of mystery, claiming a past too far-fetched to be true and dying without heirs. The pieces won’t fit together, and there are those who might have had reason to do the man in. There's a disgruntled protégé with a desire to take over the business, and a doctor and lawyer in an unseemly hurry to cremate the remains.

Richard Wheeler (writing as Axel Brand) has said in an interview that he enjoys the police detective tradition as it was portrayed in Dragnet. This realistic police procedural started out as a radio series in 1948 and quickly transferred to television in the 1950s. (Read more here.)

Sonntag is not Joe Friday. The tone isn’t deadpan, but more like my favorite TV cop show, Barney Miller, which ran 1975-1982. (Read more here.) There’s humor and quirks among the men on the force, and Joe has a hidden side that haunts him each time he rides the streetcar between home and work.

Far from hard-boiled, maybe soft-boiled is what you call this kind of crime fiction. It’s love of its characters and the pitch-perfect evocation of the period make it thoroughly enjoyable. I hope Richard Wheeler has a whole lot more Joe Sonntag stories up his sleeve.

The Dead Genius will be released in August and is now available for pre-order at amazon.

Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Coming up: The Naked Spur (1953)

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe
There's a long, mesmerizing picee about Poe in the New Yorker by Jill Lepore. To me anyway--extraordinary that she could pack so much information and opinion in the space she was given. I've read full-length biographies of Poe that weren't as illuminating. From 2009

Jill Lepore:

"When Edgar was two, his mother died of consumption. Edgar and a brother and sister had little more to depend upon than the charity of strangers. The Poe orphans were separated, and Edgar landed in the home of a wealthy Richmond merchant named John Allan and his sickly, childless wife, Fanny. Allan, who ran a firm called the House of Ellis, never adopted the boy, and never loved him, either. Poe, for his part, took Allan’s name but never wanted it. (He signed letters, and published, as “Edgar A. Poe.”) In 1815, Allan moved his family to London, to take advantage of the booming British market for Virginia tobacco. Poe attended posh boarding schools. Then, during the Panic of 1819, the first bust in the industrializing nineteenth century, banks failed, factories closed, and Allan’s business imploded. Allan, plagued with two hundred thousand dollars of debt, returned to Virginia. Poe turned poet. The earliest verses in his hand that survive were written when he was fifteen: “Last night, with many cares and toils oppress’d, / Weary, I laid me on a couch to rest.” Adolescent melancholy, and nothing more. But on the same sheet of paper, just below Poe’s scrawl, Allan had calculated the compound interest on a debt.


"“I have an inveterate habit of speaking the truth,” Poe once wrote. That, too, was a lie. (That Poe lied compulsively about his own life has proved the undoing of many a biographer.) In 1830, he finally made it to West Point, where he pulled pranks. “I cannot believe a word he writes,” Allan wrote on the back of yet another letter from his wayward charge. Poe was court-martialled, and after that Allan, who had since married a woman twenty years his junior, cut him off entirely. Poe went to New York, but, unable to support himself by writing, he left the city within three months, returning to Baltimore to live with Mrs. Clemm and little Virginia. He published his first story, “Metzengerstein,” about a doomed Hungarian baron, his gloomy castle, and his fiery steed. He won a prize of fifty dollars from the Baltimore Saturday Visiter for “MS Found in a Bottle.” One of the editors, who met him, later wrote, “I found him in Baltimore in a state of starvation.” In these straits, Poe wrote “Berenice,” a story about a man who disinters his dead lover and yanks out all her teeth—“the white and glistening, and ghastly teeth of Berenice”—only to realize that she is still alive. It has been claimed, plausibly, that Poe wrote this story to make a very bad and long-winded joke about “bad taste.” Also: he was hungry."

for the rest go here:

posted by Ed Gorman @ 2:26 PM 3 comments links to this post

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Books: THE END OF BROOKLYN by Robert J. Randisi

From Robert J. Randisi:

The thing about Nick Delvecchio is that he sprang into being fully formed. When I wrote NO EXIT FROM BROOKLYN in 1987, there he was. His personality, his family history, all fully in tact. The second book, THE DEAD OF BROOKLYN, came out in 1991. Both of those books are now available from Ramble House Press (http://www.ramblehouse.com/).

And now there’s THE END OF BROOKLYN, 20 years later. (Couldn’t call it “The 20 years Later Affair.” Sounded too much like a Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie.)

The third Delvecchio has existed for some time in one form or another. In my mind, in my drawer (for a long time), in my computer, but the time never seemed right to publish it. I went on to other things—anthologies, many westerns, other series—but the third Delvecchio was always there, on the fringes. I thought about it, worked on it, when I had the time. As time went by I realized that by the time I did get it published it would be a “historical,”—set in the 90’s where the series had left off.

I never conceived the Delvecchio series as a trilogy. In fact, none of my series have ever run a planned length. There were 6 Miles Jacoby books, 5 Joe Keough books, 3 Gil & Claire Hunt” books, 2 Dennis McQueen books, 1 Henry Po book (a lot of short stories, though, to keep old Hank alive). There’s been a half dozen or so Truxton Lewis stories, 4 or 5 stories featuring 1920’s P.I. Val O’Farrell. There’ll be books in those series eventually. More books in ALL those series, if I have my day. None of them have ended.

This, however, this is the last Nick Delvecchio.

I liked the idea of having the last one published by a small press. My friend John Boland had started his perfect Crime imprint, and I had published a short story collection, THE GUILT EDGE, and a stand alone, THE BOTTOM OF EVERY BPOTTLE, with him. When I told him I had a third Delvecchio that was looking for a home he said, “Let’s do it!”

I hauled it out and dusted it off, saw that it needed to be framed. I wrote a prologue and epilogue that take place in present day, and let the rest of the book stand on its own—with, like I said, a little dusting off.

The result, so far, is a starred Booklist review that said, "The final entry in Randisi's Brooklyn trilogy is dark, brooding, and thoroughly compelling [with] . . . clever plotting and an engaging narrative voice. Randisi has written hundreds of crime stories and earned numerous awards. This is among his finest efforts." (Wes Lukowsky, Booklist, May 2011).

Delvecchio is still Delvechio. Family man, man with a conscience, a man who cares. Give it a read. It’s the last one. I swear. Three and out. Now, I’ve got these others series that need to be wrapped up . . .

Thursday, May 26, 2011

An agent speaks out on current publishing and writing

From GalleyCat:

Andrew Wylie on ‘Devaluation of Quality Editing and Writing’
By Jason Boog on May 26, 2011 9:45 AM

In the new issue of WSJ Magazine, agent Andrew Wylie shared his thoughts about the contemporary publishing industry in an opinionated essay. We got a sneak peek at the essay where the famous agent pondered our digital future.

His essay stressed that despite self-publishing options, the writing profession needs “a chain of people who have authority and can help convey what is essential.” What do you think?

Here’s an excerpt: “The devaluation of quality editing and writing is sad and it’s inevitable. Each house has a large number of titles to publish, and with a difficult economy, fewer people to handle the publications. But publishers need to become smaller, leaner, and they will have to learn new disciplines. The whole one-year publication process must be reduced.”

UPDATE: Readers respond on Facebook:

Hookline Books: “Authors still need the endorsement of an outside party, be it a publisher, a prominent reviewer, advocate”

Leah Cummins Guinn “I’ve read quite a few self-pubbed books, and even though some were very good and most were average, all of them could have been greatly improved by a good editor.”

Olga Gardner Galvin “Some authors need outside validation; others less so. All authors need an editor and a proofreader.”

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misidentified the source of the essay.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Forgotten Books: Lemons Never Lie by Richard Stark

There are so many twists, turns, starts and stops in Lemons Never Lie by Donald E. Westlake as Richard Stark that the novel becomes a kind of crime picaresque filled with mugs, thugs, killers, victims and Parker's redoutable thespian friend, Alan Grofiled. There's also a lot of notably brutal violence.

The book begins with Grofield visiting Vegas to partake of a robbery that will give him the money to survive one more season in his summer theater. Grofield, in case you didn't know, is a "purist" when it comes to acting, his chosen profession. No movies or television for him. Stage only. But it takes his other profession, robbery, to support his theater. Only his long-supportive wife understands how hard he works at both careers.

A man named Myers has set up a robbery plan and has called in amateurs to help him. With the exception of a man named Caithcart and a dangerous man named Dan Leach, the group is a zero. As is Myers. Now Myers, who speaks with a boarding school accent, is one of the great villains in Westlake's world. He is a true sociopathic murderer; a serial killer of a kind. Grofield and Leach decide against working with him.

This is the set-up. There's an early twist that lets us know just how nasty Myers is. And then the various adventures start. Grofield resembles his friend (and fellow robber) Parker only occasionally. For instance, he loves chit-chat, feels sorry even for a guy who tries to kill him and lets another live that (as reader) you know should be killed on the spot, slowly and joyously.

There's also a lot of witty humor. Grofield gets into the damnedest conversations with people. Once in a while you may even forget you're reading a crime novel. Westlake has a great time riffing on all the cliche exchanges you read in most crime fiction. At a couple of point Grofield starts sounding like a TV shrink.

Lemons Never Lie is Westlake at his very best. While there's a screwball comedy-feel to some of the misadventures, the unrelenting violence reminds readers that the Richard Stark is the master of the hardboiled. The masterful plotting, the wry way the genre cliches are turned inside out, and the earnestness and humanity of Alan Grofield make this a pleasure from page one to the unexpected ending.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Traditional Publishing challenged big-time

From The Bookseller.com

Amazon's Kirshbaum move could reduce competition—BEA
24.05.11 | Gayle Feldman

Responses to Amazon.com's hire of Laurence Kirshbaum as publisher have varied from worried to fear of a "dampening" effect on competition among delegates at the BEA conference.

Word that started to spread Sunday night was confirmed first thing Monday morning with the announcement that Kirshbaum, former TimeWarner c.e.o.-turned-agent, would be heading up Amazon's publishing operation in New York.
Everybody knew that an Amazon push into frontlist publishing was coming: the move into original genre books and the cooperation with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was not enough to satisfy the giant's ever-hungry maw. Highly-placed executives from New York houses have been migrating to Amazon for a while, and the company ratcheted up expectations after circulating a recruiting letter for various personnel a few weeks back. The question was only when.

for the rest go here:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Two cool interviews

Ed here: Terrill Lankford's novels, especially Blonde Lightning and Earthquake Weather, strike me as a natural bridge between genre and literary fiction. The voice is true and modern, the prose is rich, Lankford's ability with both character and milieu are
remarkable. His detailing of La-La Land reminds me of an angry rather than forlorn Fitzgerald. Here he's interviewed by another fine writer, Alan Guthrie.

Can you sum up Shooters in no more than 25 words?

Horny guy gets his balls stuck in a pink bear trap. News at 11.

What was your motivation for writing it?

The greed I witnessed during the 1980s. When Reagan started what we're still paying for today.

How long did it take you to write?

It started as a screenplay in 1985. That probably took about two months to write and it eventually provided the spine for the novel. I think I started writing the novel in 1993 during a personal financial crisis. And it's the fastest book I ever wrote (but also the shortest). Probably about six months of writing and a year of rewriting.

for the rest go here: http://criminal-e.blogspot.com/

---------------------------------------- LES ROBERTS

In my fifteenth in a series about Milan Jacovich, "The Cleveland Creep," notice the Slovenian Cleveland private eye has grown wiser, more mature, and has the same physical problems most senior citizens have. He's started drinking tea, for one thing, and he watches what he eats. Maybe I've actually begun writing a fictionalized autobiography!

When I created Milan in 1987, I made him not quite 40 and a Vietnam vet, divorced, with two boys aged 12 and 7---never dreaming that here I'd be, twenty five years later, still writing about him. Unlike Raymond Chandler telling tales about Philip Marlowe, I began by writing myself into a corner and now I'm stuck with it. I can't avoid the groundwork I laid down in my first effort---so now, yes indeed, Milan has grown older.

Guess what: so have I.

for the rest go here:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My way or--

Ed here: Don't know how many of you saw this so I thought I'd run it. I like independent bookstores. I know they're having a difficult time adjusting to the astonishing success of e books. All of us are. But I don't think this is the right way to proceed.

Amazon.com announced the launch of Thomas & Mercer, publishing
mysteries and thrillers. The new imprint will begin with four books to
be released this year: “Resuscitation” by D.M. Annechino, “Stirred” by
J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch, “The Immortalists” by Kyle Mills, and
“Already Gone” by John Rector. As a bookstore that supports writers,
we also appreciate the writers who support bookstores. Therefore,
Mystery on Main Street will not carry these books; earlier books by
these writers available through other publishers will not be stocked
and those on our shelves will be returned. With limited shelf space
and financing, we do not intend to offer either one to Amazon.com. We
will be putting our energies into promoting other authors.
DavidMystery on Main Street

Friday, May 20, 2011

More from Noir City Spring 2011 Raymond Burr

One of the most amazing collections of noir-related articles and reviews I've ever seen. For information on how to get it here's the link to the Film Noir Foundation. www.filmnoirfoundation.org/

Ed here: The Burr article comes comes complete with a full filmology of Burr as a villain as well as interesting portraits of all the main players in the Perry Mason series.

From The Heaviest of Them All
Carl Steward

"It’s no secret that Burr grew weary of being always cast as a heavy, despite his constantly fluctuating weight. But he didn’t dismiss the period of his career in which he demonstrated his greatest range, and surely he would not have wanted it ignored. In a revealing 1963 interview on Canadian television, the actor admitted that a good number of his Ho lywood efforts were forgettable, but he lauded such films as Pitfall, Raw Deal, and Rear Window as as worthy productions.

"In the same interview, he maintained that it wasn’t being typecast as a villain that troubled him, as much as finding fresh ways to interpret vil- lainy. This is, after all, a guy who played creeps named Nick in three separate movies. “I began to run out of ways of being bad,” he said with a wry grin. Indeed, in movies that could be classified as noir, Burr played more than 25 bad-guy roles. On a few occasions, he got to play a cop, and in two memorable performances—A Place In The Sun (1951) and Please Murder Me (1956)—was cast as an attorney (a portent of his stardom as CBS’s courtroom icon.) But Burr’s bad guys deserve their own Wall of Fame, even if it’s the wall of a post office or an alley somewhere in the meanest district of Dark City. Here’s a Most Wanted list of the heaviest heavies, both well known and obscure, for the Raymond Burr Museum of Mayhem."

World’s Greatest Gal Friday
Vince Keenan
"Erle Stanley Gardner described Della Street, Perry Mason’s secretary, as “dependable” and “easy on the eyes.” It’s as if Gardner knew that actress Barbara Hale would one day embody the character. The Illinois-born former RKO starlet perfectly captured the blend of competence and confidence that kept the Mason practice running. Along with her one-time RKO stable mate Ray- mond Burr, she beautifully replicated the low-key attraction that coursed between their characters in Gardner’s books. As Della told Mason after one of several proposals in the novels: “You’re not the marrying kind. I don’t think you need a wife but I know damn well you need a secretary who’s willing to go to jail occasionally to back your play.” Both Hale’s Della and Gardner’s are all too aware that the only way to be close to Perry Mason is to be part of his work."

Vince also has another great article in this issue 5 Songbirds A Musical Survey of Romance, Ruin, and Remorse

Stephen King comments on possible "Carrie" remake

From Entertainment Weekly

Stephen King sounds off on new 'Carrie' remake -- EXCLUSIVE
by Jeff Labrecque

Image Credit: Everett Collection
Thirty-five years after Stephen King’s first best-seller roared into theaters and scared a generation of prom-going teens, MGM and Screen Gems have hired playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to resurrect Carrie with a more faithful adaptation of King’s novel, according to Deadline.

But King, who famously disapproved of Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining, tells EW he still has a soft spot for Brian De Palma’s original film: “I’ve heard rumblings about a Carrie remake, as I have about The Stand and It. Who knows if it will happen? The real question is why, when the original was so good? I mean, not Casablanca, or anything, but a really good horror-suspense film, much better than the book. Piper Laurie really got her teeth into the bad-mom thing. Although Lindsay Lohan as Carrie White… hmmm. It would certainly be fun to cast. I guess I could get behind it if they turned the project over to one of the Davids: Lynch or Cronenberg.”

Aguirre-Sacasa, who recently rewrote the Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark script, is an accomplished comic-book author familiar with the King oeuvre; he adapted King’s epic The Stand into comic-book form in 2008.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Edgar-winner Jack Vance's Mystery Novels

Forgotten Books: Bad Ronald by Jack Vance

Jack Vance is such a revered sf/fantasy writer his career as a mystery-suspense writer has largely been overlooked. One of his early mysteries won the Edgar, in fact, and at least one of his suspense novels was made into a TV movie, this being BAD RONALD which is a whole lot better than the 1973 Ballantine packaging would lead you to believe.

The era was still in the throes of Psycho. Numerous writers tried to run riffs on the basic Crazy Mama theme. Vance took the simple but suspenseful story of a seventeen year old kid named Ronald and paired him with an over-protective mother who had to hide him after Ronald committed an unthinkable crime, an event which Vance wisely skims quickly.. The only thing Mom can do is hide him in a hollowed out space in the house (a familiar trope in those days; in fact a more more celebrated novel was called CRAWLSPACE).

As grisly as the set-up is Vance deals with the rest of the novel (the police staking out the house; the nasty neighbors taunting her; and her near-breakdown) with, believe it or not, a healthy dose of black humor. All too soon Mom begins to understand Ronald is not only murderous but maybe even worse, he's a loser. He's pretty much happy to be hidden in the house. She feeds him three times a day (but makes him go on a diet); she gives him magazines hoping this'll keep him in contact with the real world--but he prefers working on his imaginary fantasy novel world; and he whimpers like a child when he can't get exactly the kind of "treat" he wants.

The dark humor only makes Ronald's psychopathology all the grimmer. We really are dealing with a freak here, one who should be chained to a dungeon wall for life. And the wily plot with many twists and turns shows just how many riffs you can run on freaky.

Unlike many of the PSYCHO riffs, there's a great deal of perceptive and nimble writing here. A very solid novel. The TV movie was straightforward and wasn't hip enough to include the humor.


Here's a beautifully made reasonably priced three-book collection from the premiere small press Subterranean (though at the rating they're growing they're no longer "small") that contains Jack Vance's three finest mystery novels, including Bad Ronald http://www.subterraneanpress.com/ I read one a night and was reminded again that Jack Vance not only deserved his first Edgar he deserved a couple more, too.

New Jack Vance in Stock and Shipping
May 9, 2011

Our mammoth (over 560 pages) gathering of three of Jack Vance’s mystery novels is in stock and shipping. Included in Dangerous Ways are the Edgar Award-winning The Man in the Cage, the unforgettable hider-in-the-house thriller Bad Ronald, and the exotic South Seas murderfest The Deadly Isles.

You won’t find a better example of an established author stepping outside the genre that made him famous—in this case sf—and putting his indelible imprint on another.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Ed here: A treasure of a collectable that will grow in value every years. The original covers, the black-and-white illustrations from the magazines...this is a true masterpiece of book production. For my taste the most impressive book Centipede/Millipede has produced to date.

HENRY KUTTNER: MASTERS OF THE WEIRD TALE by Henry Kuttner, intro by Stefan Dziemianowicz & Robert Morrish. Lakewood, CO; Centipede Press; 2011. 1st edition hardcover.

A four-hundred-plus page collection of the horror stories of Henry Kuttner, including his classic “The Graveyard Rats” and a number of other stories that have not been reprinted since their original publication in the pulps over fifty years ago. This collection features a striking full-color cover by Erik Gist and a color frontispiece and endpapers by J.K. Potter. Each book is SIGNED by Gist, Potter, and editor Stefan Dziemianowicz. Most of these works are not in print anywhere else, and are essential reading for pulp and Weird Tales fans. The introduction features photographs of Kuttner and full-color reproductions of all the pulp covers in which the stories were original reprinted. Each book is fully bound in cloth and comes in a handsome two-tone slipcase to match your other volumes in the Masters of the Weird Tale series.

Issued in a SIGNED/LIMITED (SIGNED BY THE 2 ARTISTS, GIST & POTTER & EDITOR DZIEMIANOWICZ) hardcover edition. Fine in pictorial boards without dj as issued.

FOREIGN ORDERS: please note will only be sent by EMS (Expedited Mail Service) which will be $70.00. Shipping will be adjusted at checkout.

cent22Regular price: $225.00Sale price: $175.00

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Real Humphrey Bogart

Ed here: I want to thank Richard Wheeler for the link to this amazing review-essay about Stefan Kanfer's book on Humphrey Bogart. Jenny Diski writes not just about Bogart (whom she puts into the first realistic perceptive I've come across) but also the cultural and sociological influences that inspired noir and how the icons of the Thirties and Forties were of their time and can't be duplicated today. This appeared in London Review of Books.

"After the war, in books but most of all in old movies, these reluctant action heroes became perfect modern exemplars for the likes of Camus, who saw in them a stoic refusal to be held back by the status quo. Men who behaved as if there was a point in trying to right wrongs, even if they knew the world better than that. Mostly, in the early 1960s, we sat passively in the dark, in oversized black sweaters and tight jeans, watching the furious activity and dialogue, and then went home to read Being and Nothingness (or perhaps just its popularisation in Colin Wilson’s The Outsider). And maybe, later on, it was Marlowe and Spade who gave us the courage and foolheadedness to take to the streets. We were young and had energy to expend, so movies and books weren’t quite enough. We couldn’t all be private eyes. And the lurking socialism in Chandler and Hammett fitted well with a postwar generation’s fidgety need to blow holes in the self-sustaining establishment. I think they were part of the equation for the brief explosion of political and social activity."


Monday, May 16, 2011

Tales From The Crossroads, Volume One 99 cents!

Ed here: No better bargain anywhere. So far I've read Tom Piccirrilli's This, and That's The End of It. A chilling, powerful take on mortality, the idea of family and the ineluctable burden of loss. A true knock-out. I'm greedily looking forward to the rest.

Edited by David Niall Wilson & David Dodd, Tales From the Crossroad Volume 1 brings together ten short stories and five novel excerpts from a talented group of Crossroad Press authors. Consisting of obscure reprints and one original short story, plus chosen excerpts from the authors' novels, this is a great introduction to their work, as well as a valuable resource for locating their books. Each author's complete Crossroad Press catalog is linked in the book for your convenience.


Simple & All Souls Day by AL Sarrantonio
This, and That's the End of It & Woman in the Dark by Tom Piccirilli
The Three Srangers & NOK (previously unpublished) by Gerard Houarner
The Unmasking & How to Survive a Fire at the Greenmark by Steve Rasnic Tem
Jeaves & The Deteriorating Relations & "And So Will I Remember You" by Chet Williamson.

Exerpts from The Boy With Penny Eyes by Al Sarrantonio, Nightjack by Tom Piccirilli, The Beast That Was Max by Gerard Houarner, The Book of Days by Steve Rasnic Tem and REIGN by Chet Williamson.

Walk out onto the Crossroad...take that eBook reader in hand...enter, and read.

Look for future volumes of Tales From the Crossroad available soon.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Harold Q. Masur by Ed Lynskey

Harold Q. Masur: Hardboiled With a Lawyerly Touch
By Ed Lynskey

The late Hal Masur’s debut novel Bury Me Deep was published in 1947 the same
year Mickey Spillane’s hardboiled classic, I, the Jury, also hit the bookstands.
Otto Penzler brought out a reissue in 1984, probably the most widely available
edition. You can’t miss it. The cover features an alluring, half-dressed blonde
poised on a pink sherbet armchair.

Masur graduated from the New York University School of Law in 1934. He practiced
law from 1935-1942 when he then served in the U.S. Air Force. Starting from the
late 1930s, he honed his writing craft by publishing short stories in various
magazines like Argosy (1939), Popular Detective, (1941), and Detective Story
Magazine (1949). He was also President of MWA (1973-74) and the recipient of
MWA’s 1992 Raven Award (in part for his providing pro bono legal counsel to
mystery writers).

Bury Me Deep opens with Scott Jordan returning from Florida to his New York City
apartment. He discovers a half-nude blonde (“bright jonquil-yellow hair”) on the
sofa sipping brandy and batting her eyes at him. This attention-getting device
does Spillane one better by frontloading the undressed babe (“She was wearing
black panties and a black bra and that was all.”) in its pages instead of a
striptease at the end. The trouble only begins for the weary lawyer when he
ships her home in a cab and she turns up dead.

Masur’s Scott Jordan series spanned nine novels and one short story collection
over three decades, a respectable run. Comparisons of Scott Jordan to Erle
Stanley Gardner’s
Perry Mason can’t be helped. Critics such as Art Scott draw distinct differences
between the two sleuthing lawyers, citing Jordan’s more active investigative
role. Masur commented on how he created the protagonist: “The series character,
Scott Jordan, a New York attorney, was first conceived to fall somewhere between
Perry Mason and Archie Goodwin . . . with the dash and insouciance of Rex
Stout’s Archie.”

I admire Masur’s evocative yet controlled prose style. For instance, he writes
about New York City after-hours: “Broadway had pulsed into neon-glaring night
life. Swollen throngs milled restlessly with a rapacious appetite for pleasure.
Box-office windows spawned long queues, and the traffic din was a steady roar in
your ears.” This same
passage could’ve been just as easily lifted out of a Dos Passos, Fitzgerald, or
O’Hara novel.

This title was a top-notch inaugural effort from Mr. Masur to establish a crime
fiction series. Faint echoes of PI Max Thursday (Wade Miller) and Carney Wilde
(Bart Spicer) ring in its pages. Yet, Scott Jordan remains his own man. The
analytical turn of his legal mind and his broader understanding of jurisprudence
give him a dramatic edge over the typical PI tales of his time. Jordan is also
an affable personality. Though this first book didn’t make the cut for review in
Anthony Boucher’s “Criminals at Large” column in the New York Times, subsequent
Scott Jordan titles did. Finally, Bury Me Deep mustered enough interest to win
an entry in Bill Pronzini’s classic critical work 1001 Midnights.

The End

A longer version of this article appeared in CRIME SCENE SCOTLAND.

Ed Lynskey's new titles are LAKE CHARLES and QUIET ANCHORAGE.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cast in Dark Waters by Ed Gorman and Tom Piccirilli

CAST IN DARK WATERS by Ed Gorman and Tom Piccirilli
(Kindle $2.99)

From Bloodhound:

This jim-dandy little novella is just begging for a sequel, and I don’t want to be kept waiting. Cast in Dark Waters seems like it just came out of nowhere, but it has a history as a limited release hardcover book from Subterranean. I missed it then, but I’m glad I caught up with it now.

This is old-school pulp writing, folks, and it reads like something that would have come from the typewriter of Robert E. Howard or one of his contemporaries. The story is set in the Caribbean in the 16th century and feels like a pirate movie from the heyday of when Hollywood did them big and did them right. I love the current Pirates of the Caribbean stuff that’s going on now, but I still remember watching Errol Flynn in The Sea Hawk and being blown away.

The opening of the story is immediately intriguing, but it’s the female sea captain, Crimson, that steps onto center stage and owns the show. She comes in swinging, too, in a wild bar brawl that is a sheer pleasure to read and made me feel all of ten years old again discovering the pulp stories that shaped me into the man I am now. Growing up in southeastern Oklahoma meant there was a lot of cowboys architecture in my male role models, but thanks to the reading material I had at hand there was a lot of pirates, private eyes, and science fiction as well.

The relationship Crimson has with her father (although no one dares suggest to either of them that they’re related) is at once absorbing. Tangled relationships are great fiction fodder, and the one between Crimson and Welsh is a great one.

But Gorman and Piccirilli don’t stop there. Crimson’s husband, Tyree, has gone missing on the island of Benbow, which is believed to be the home to nightmares and bloodsuckers. In this first story, we think we know what the truth is, but we don’t receive the final answer. And in that, the authors have us snared. I hope to see a sequel soon.

The seafaring action and the fights on the island are very well done. I felt like I was staying in step with Lady Crimson when she set sail and when she set foot on the island. The mythology of the things she’s hunting is very well laid out and I enjoyed the “almost knowing” everything that was involved. After all 16th century pirates don’t know everything we know these days.

The atmosphere is very well done and the Caribbean landscape and the lifestyle of a pirate are marked on every page. The authors did some good research and blend it seamlessly into their pirate-horror-adventure concoction.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hard City by Clark Howard

Ed here: Clark Howard is one of my all-time favorite writers. And this, I think, is his most important novel. Truly a magnificent achievement of the kind few genre writers ever attempt let alone master.

Here's news about it:

Clark Howard is an award winning and acclaimed mystery writer. In 1981, his story The Horn Man won the Edgar Allan Poe award for best short story of the year from the Mystery Writers of America. In 2009, Howard won the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Short Fiction Mystery Society.

A professional writer for over 40 years, he has written sixteen novels, six books of non-fiction, and has two published collections of short stories, in addition to more than 200 uncollected short stories.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps at 17 and served as a rocket launcher gunner in the Punchbowl in Korea. He was one of eight survivors in a platoon that survived the battle of the high ground north of the Punchbowl. He was discharged from the marines at age 20.

In 1990, Dutton published Howard's novel Hard City in hardback. Hard City was never published in paperback, and the book is now hard to find even on the shelves of used bookstores.

Hard City was Howard's most personal novel. The semi-autobiographical novel features Richie, a young boy from a troubled family, who lives on the streets of 1940s Chicago at age 12 while sleeping in a bowling alley every night. Eventually, Richie's love of reading is key to Richie's surviving, and eventually leaving, the street life.

Writing about Hard City in a new Author's Preface for the publication of Hard City as an ebook, Howard writes, "Because much of it is based on my life as a wayward boy on the mean streets of Chicago's lower West Side, a life frequently fueled by truancy, petty thievery, gang membership, and other disreputable behavior, I had, as a respectable adult, left those bleak days far behind and buried them deep in my memory. The things I had done back then, the life I had experienced, as well as vivid recollections of my mother's drug addiction and my father's incarceration in federal prison and subsequent disappearance, had all melded together into some dark recess of my mind and, I thought, been locked away forever."

Now, Hard City is widely available as an eBook. For those who missed Hard City's hardback publication in 1990, you now have the chance to share Richie's life on the streets of Chicago, and his ultimate redemption via books, reading, and writing.

Here are links to the books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.



Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Marilyn Tapes now 99 cents

Back in 1993 I decided to write a historical novel about the Kennedy-Marilyn Monroe hookup. I wasn't going to write a serious historical novel as Max Allan Collins does with his Hellers (he's the master of the form), instead I was doing a kind of Harold Robbins pastiche. Middle-period Robbins when he crime began to appear in his books. I was a huge Robbins fan until he went whacky on drugs.

Months before the book appeared I got a call from somebody who claimed to represent The Marilyn Society or somesuch. They wanted to know if I planned to do right by her in my novel. Very strange fanboy stuff.

When the book appeared the trades were all over the place: PW gave it a mixed review, Booklist (this is from memory) liked it very much, Library Journal trashed it and the distributor (the big one back then) gave it a full page rave review. I also got solid reviews in the mystery magazines and a couple of the entertainment mags as well. Kirkus gave me a very enthusiastic thumbs up: "Mystery veteran Gorman sprays hot lead from the hip in this punchy historical thriller about a wild race to claim the secret recordings of the Blondest Hollywood Babylonia."

And then it was forgotten, not just by readers but by me, too.

About a year ago reviews began appearing on various blogs. "The worst book I could never stop reading" said (I think) the St. Louis paper. Some Marilyn-orientd site noted: "You'll feel ashamed for reading it but you won't be able to put it down." And my favorite from a source I can't find again: "Splashy, trashy and fun!" I meant for it to be Robbins-over-the-top and apparently I succeeded.

I got the idea for putting these quotes here from Norman Mailer. When his novel The Deer Park (which I've always considered his Raymond Chandler novel and admire very much) was totally trashed by critics, Mailer bought a full page ad in the Village Voice and printed quotes from all his terrible reviews. My favorite was Time's: "The biggest garbage heap of the year."

I think you'll have a good time with it. Many of the newspaper review cited my take on Marilyn as compassionate and moving even though she never appears on stage. And many of the same reviewers thought that my sketches of JFK, RFK and especially old Joe Kennedy were well done.

It's worth 99 cents if I do have to say so myself.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Neil Gaiman vs. The Whackjobs

Ed here: I remember when Minnesota was one of the most progressive states in the union. Now it's run by the tinfoil hats brigade.

Neil Gaiman hits back at US politician's theft accusation
Author, whom Minnesota Republican says he 'hates', insists that his $45,000 fee for a public appearance was market rate

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 5 May 2011 10.55 BST

. Neil Gaiman. Photograph: Sutton-Hibbert/Rex

Pencil-necked? Maybe. Thief? No way. Award-winning author Neil Gaiman has defended himself against Republican Matt Dean's extraordinary claim that he is a "pencil-necked little weasel who stole $45,000 from the state of Minnesota".

The astonishing attack from the Minnesota House of Representatives majority leader, published in the Star Tribune yesterday, centred on a fee of $45,000 (£27,000) paid to Gaiman – "who I hate," Dean added – from state art funds last year for a speaking appearance at Stillwater Library in Minnesota.

Describing the comments as "bullying schoolyard nonsense", Gaiman said Dean's assertion that he stole the money "is a lie". "Yes, I gave the money to charities – a sexual abuse one and a library/author one, long ago, when the cheque came in, well before this ever became a political football. But that seems completely irrelevant to this: I don't like the idea that a politician is telling people that charging a market wage for their services is stealing," the bestselling fantasy author wrote on his blog. "[But] it's kind of nice to make someone's Hate List. It reminds me of Nixon's Enemies List. If a man is known by his enemies, I think my stock just went up a little."

for the rest go here:


Sunday, May 08, 2011

Stuff & More Stuff

Debbie Reynolds and Albert Brooks in "Mother." Beatrice Henderson: "I love you." John Henderson: "I know you think you do, Mother."

Seth Meyers got off the most memorable line of the night during Weekend Update: "Barack Obama will go down in history as the first black person ever to have to prove that he killed someone" (Nikki Finke)

I was reading Volume 10 of Stephen Jones' Best New Horror anthology when I came up to Nicholas Royle's story "Reunion." Royle is one of those writers who can be enjoyed line by line. His prose is elegant without ever getting in the way of the storytelling or sounding pompous. This is a strange and disturbing tale of the reunion of a class of med school doctors on their twentieth anniversary. Dark and engrossing. But what really animates it for me is the protagonist's hypochondria. Since I share that affliction Royle's claustrophobic take on it unsettled me.

Perfect formula for A movie Superhero by Brian Moylan: "Origin Story + Meaningful Conflict X Awesomeness of Powers - (The Number of Villains X The Number of Sidekicks) ÷ Amount of Time Spent on the Love Interest = The Quality of the Movie"

Joe Kenny reviews Blood Bath by Bruno Rossi: "Good Lord! If I had known this volume of The Sharpshooter was so lurid, so exploitative, so friggin' twisted, I would've read it a whole lot sooner."

For cat lovers: We watched our first episode of My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet last night at 8:00 p.m.CST last night. Jackson Galaxy's looks may put you off at first (remember when Kramer on Seinfeld was called a "hipster doofus?") but don't let all the tatts and the strange beard fool you. Jackson is the very bright and very cool feline equivalent of the Horse Whisperer. I learned more about cats in one hour than I'd learned in a lifetime of having cats (and dogs) around me. Here's the website link http://animal.discovery.com/videos/my-cat-from-hell-supertease.html

Saturday, May 07, 2011

The Legend of Forrest Tucker's Private Parts - Yes Indeed

Milton Berle is legendary for being well-endowed. But apparently Forrest Tucker's endowments challenged Berele's. This subject was never brought up on F Troop of course (yes I was an F Troop fan because of Larry Storch).

Here's a another swipe from Mark Evanier's News From Me. For one thing it's good to see Steve Allan again and for another there's a very funny outtake from F Troop with Tucker swearing. I know it's all childish macho crap but it IS funny. Just scroll down a few stories when you link to it.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Forgotten Books: Bad Ronald by Jack Vance

Jack Vance is such a revered sf/fantasy writer his career as a mystery-suspense writer has largely been overlooked. One of his early mysteries won the Edgar, in fact, and at least one of his suspense novels was made into a TV movie, this being BAD RONALD which is a whole lot better than the 1973 Ballantine packaging would lead you to believe.

The era was still in the throes of Psycho. Numerous writers tried to run riffs on the basic Crazy Mama theme. Vance took the simple but suspenseful story of a seventeen year old kid named Ronald and paired him with an over-protective mother who had to hide him after Ronald committed an unthinkable crime, an event which Vance wisely skims quickly.. The only thing Mom can do is hide him in a hollowed out space in the house (a familiar trope in those days; in fact a more more celebrated novel was called CRAWLSPACE).

As grisly as the set-up is Vance deals with the rest of the novel (the police staking out the house; the nasty neighbors taunting her; and her near-breakdown) with, believe it or not, a healthy dose of black humor. All too soon Mom begins to understand Ronald is not only murderous but maybe even worse, he's a loser. He's pretty much happy to be hidden in the house. She feeds him three times a day (but makes him go on a diet); she gives him magazines hoping this'll keep him in contact with the real world--but he prefers working on his imaginary fantasy novel world; and he whimpers like a child when he can't get exactly the kind of "treat" he wants.

The dark humor only makes Ronald's psychopathology all the grimmer. We really are dealing with a freak here, one who should be chained to a dungeon wall for life. And the wily plot with many twists and turns shows just how many riffs you can run on freaky.

Unlike many of the PSYCHO riffs, there's a great deal of perceptive and nimble writing here. A very solid novel. The TV movie was straightforward and wasn't hip enough to include the humor.

Forgotten Films: Odds Against Tomorrow

Ed here: William McGivern was one of the dominant voices of hardboiled crime fiction in the Fifties. He was reviewed widely and well.Dorothy B. Hughes no less compared him to Graham Greene. Several of his novels (including The Big Heat) became major movies. Today his books are nowhere to be found except on used book lists. A humber of them are well worth reading, including the basis for this movie, Odds Against Tomorrow.

As as Robert Ryan fan I have to say that the opening shot of Ryan walking down a city street toward us is one of the saddest and most disturbing moments in his film history. No male actor could look as psychotic or (as here) as physically and spiritually lost.

It took me a few viewings to appreciate how good Harry Belafonte is in the film; Ed Begley is straight from a Richard Stark novel.

If you're interested, here's an extraordinary interview with Harry Belafonte at Eddie Muller's celebration of Robert Wise. Belafonte talks about the movie, Robert Ryan, Marlon Brando, Martin Luther King and many other subjects. He also gets off some friendly jokes about Sydney Potier's squeaky clean image. I really enjoyed it and I think you will too. Belafonte's definitely a cool guy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h0xyWRct4k

As always, Noir of The Week not only reviews the film but puts it in context of its era.

Noir of The Week:

Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)

Released by United Artist in 1959, Odds Against Tomorrow is the compelling story of three diverse men and a “One roll of the dice and we’re through forever” heist that brings these unlikely bedfellows together.

This is the third film in Robert Ryan’s bigotry trilogy, the others being Crossfire and Bad Day at Blackrock. Odds Against Tomorrow, with screenplay by Abraham Polonsky pits Earl (Ryan), Dave (Ed Begley) and Johnny (Harry Belafonte) in a plan to regain the lives they all knew in better times. Each of them is burning in a private hell. This is brought on by them selves and, of course, the road to salvation is paved in money, lots of money by means of a “can’t miss” bank job orchestrated by Dave.

for the rest go here:

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Forgotten Books: What Makes Sammy Run by Budd Schulberg

Ed here: I was fourteen when I read What Makes Sammy Run. I bought it off the same wire rack where I bought some of my science fiction and mysteries. The back cover copy interested me enough to open the book. I liked the smooth realistic style of the book so much I finished it by the time I went to bed that night.

Budd Schulberg's take on American Success stories is more relevant than ever.


"Told in first person narrative by Al Manheim, drama critic of The New York Record, this is the tale of Sammy Glick, a young uneducated boy who rises from copy boy to the top of the screenwriting profession in 1930s Hollywood by backstabbing others.

Manheim recalls how he first met the 16-year-old Sammy Glick when Sammy was working as a copy boy at Manheim's newspaper. Both awed and disturbed by Sammy's aggressive personality, Manheim becomes Sammy's primary observer, mentor and, as Sammy asserts numerous times, his best friend.

Tasked with taking Manheim's column down to the printing room, one day Glick rewrites Manheim's column, impressing the managing editor and gaining a column of his own. Later he steals a piece by an aspiring young writer, Julian Blumberg, sending it under his own name to the famous Hollywood talent agent Myron Selznick. Glick sells the piece, "Girl Steals Boy", for $10,000 and leaves the paper to go to work in Hollywood, leaving behind his girlfriend, Rosalie Goldbaum. When the film of Girl Steals Boy opens, Sammy is credited for "original screenplay" and Blumberg is not acknowledged.

Glick rises to the top in Hollywood over the succeeding years, paying Blumberg a small salary under the table to be his ghost writer. "

Ed here: Glick reminds me of so many CEOs on Wall Street. They ride a rigged system that allows them to preen and pose and steal. They produce nothing. And what Glick does to poor Julian Bloomberg is exactly what Wall Street has done to us.

Budd Schulberg is above all a great reporter as well as a great storyteller. Mannheim shows us the Hollywood of that era from the from offices that are run like war rooms to the constant attempts by the studio magnates to break writers every way they can to the ridiculously glitzy parties. The people we like in Sammy--and there are a lot of them; generally the people who do the actual work--are rarely invited to the splashy parties of course.

Just as Billy Wilder was attacked by studio heads for writing producing Sunset Boulevard, so was Schulberg attacked for Sammy.

From American Legends:

"When published in 1941, What Makes Sammy Run? was a best seller and was praised by Scott Fitzgerald, John O'Hara, and Dorothy Parker who said the book captured the "shittiness" of the film business.

Sammy hit Hollywood like a firestorm. Louis B. Mayer attacked the novel publically and privately and vowed to run Schulberg out of town. He almost succeeded. Budd was fired from the Samuel Goldwyn Studios where he was then working, and it was several years before he landed another screenwriting job.

Some critics feared that the book would contribute to the anti-Semitic stereotype of the Hollywood mogul or provide ammo to those who were persecuting the Jews of Europe.

Schulberg strongly objected to this criticism. To him, Sammy represented the dark side of the Horatio Alger legend: someone who was an "all- American heel," regardless of religion.

Indeed, Sammy himself was areligious, as well as apolitical and amoral. When a company informed him that it was not hiring "Hebes," without missing a beat, Sammy passed himself off as an Italian- American."

Ed here: Schulberg is especially good writing about women and the book boasts at least three fascinating females who offer interesting takes on all the would-be macho business games the men play.

To me this is one of the most vital novels of its era. It certainly spawned hundreds of imitators; none ever as good. And it shows how eloquent the American tongue was when used skillfully. As Mark Twain said write the way you talk and Schulberg certainly does that here.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Prison for life I say-just for being so fricking stupid

Barbara Lee, 45, and Marco Ibanez, 19, were arrested after the stabbing.

Group of deaf, mute friends stabbed at bar after thug mistakes sign language for gang signs


Sunday, May 1st 2011, 3:54 PM

Alfred Stewart, 31, who is deaf, and some friends were partying at a bar when a gang-banger mistook their sign language for gang signs.
A group of deaf friends were stabbed at a bar in Florida after a woman mistook their sign language for gang signs.

Alfred Stewart, 31, was partying at the Ocean's Eleven Lounge in Hallendale Beach, Fla., with some friends who were also deaf on Saturday night when the group's signing caught the eye of gang-banger Barbara Lee.

The 45-year-old Lee though the group was throwing gang signs at her, and responded by flashing gang signs back at them, cops said.

The group motioned for her to leave them alone.

Eventually, Lee left the bar but returned with two members of her crew, 19-year-old Marco Ibanez and a 17-year-old who was not identified, cops said.

Ibanez allegedly pulled a knife and began stabbing Stewart and his friends.

Stewart and three of his friends were taken to a hospital and treated for stab wounds.

A bouncer at the bar who had a bottle smashed over his head in the melee was also taken to the hospital. None of the injuries were life-threatening, officials said.

Lee, Ibanez and the 17-year-old were arrested and charged with aggravated battery.

Stewart's mother, Brenda, said there was no way her son was making gang signs.

"Only sign language," she told WSVN television. "That's the only way all of them, they do sign language."

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Winchester .73

Ed here: The Anthony Mann-James Stewart westerns are among my favorites. I'd recently run Winchester .73 then again watched about half of it on TCM this afternoon. I'm sure Vince Keenan can correct me if I'm wrong but I think it was Billy Wilder who said that people think of a good-great movie when it has three powerhouse scenes. By that measure Winchester .73 is a true masterpiece. It contains at least a dozen perfectly and uniquely written scenes.


"A 187, 44-40 caliber Winchester rifle is the star of the this motion picture. Every so often a rifle comes along that is just perfect - "1 in 1000" they call it. 'Winchester 73' was a revolutionary film in the development of Hollywood westerns. It almost single-handedly rescued the western genre and its box-office success acknowledged Anthony Mann for his key role in attaining its allure and stature. This was one of many westerns collaborating with Jimmy Stewart, helping to revive his post war acting image.

"Frontiersman Lin McAdam (Stewart) is out on the road with his buddy. What he needs is the-of-a-kind rifle that we won in competition - conveniently (eventually) stolen by his 'black sheep' brother. On the rifle's his journey we see many desperado individuals: a sociopathic highwayman bandit (Dan Duryea), an moral-less gun trader (John McIntire), a brutal jaded Indian (Rock Hudson) and a comely maiden (Shelly Winters).

"It remains a classic of the genre and Mann fans will love the development of 'mood'. Great cinematography shines through as well. Also note Tony Curtis in one of his first roles and Will Geer (Grandpa on 'The Waltons') as Wyatt Earp!"


I've come to prefer Stewart's work with Mann to most of Stewart's light comedy and his somewhat mawkish melodramas. Mann found an almost psychotic side of The Good Man and Stewart gave himself up to it.

Here's a bit from Wikipedia about the circumstances surrounding the funding of the film:

"Stewart had wished to make Harvey for Universal-International but when the studio wouldn't pay the $200,000 salary Stewart wanted, studio head William Goetz made an offer that Stewart could make both Harvey and Winchester '73 for a percentage of the profits that would be spread out over a period of time and qualify for a lower tax rate due to Stewart being taxed as a company rather than an individual.[6] Stewart's agent who was then Lew Wasserman was able to get his client 50% of the profits that eventually gave him $600,000 from the film's unexpected success.[7] The money from a percentage deal was taxed as a capital gain attracting a much lower rate of tax than a normal salary would incur.[8] Stewart's deal also gave him control of director and co-stars."

Ed here: Looking at the cast credits, you see how much this was a studio picture. Many notable young names here: Shelly Winters, Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, Charles Drake and James Best. They'd be seen in many many Universal films. The strangest casting to me was Will Geer (a very good actor) as Wyatt Earp. I'm not sure what writer Borden Chase and Mann had in mind going so much against the legendary (and false) image of Earp.

One of my top ten character actors has a major role here, Millard Mitchell. The picture he did immediately after this gritty western was as the studio head in "Singin' In The Rain" and he was every bit as snappy and good as the stars. I'm always checking TCM schedules for character actors so I've seen him in many films. He never missed.

Steven McNally had a run in the Fifties, mostly Bs. Apparently it was said somewhere by somebody that he was slated to be Universal's next Big Star. But (I think) it was Lew Wasserman (then the most powerful man in Hwood) who said--and this was widely quoted--"Steven McNally will never be a star." He was right; there was something small and nervous about McNally that ruled out stardom. Still having to work with that quote out there couldn't have been easy.

Jon Tuska would know this for sure but as I recollect writer Borden Chase (straight from the pulps to huge success in Hwood) was the guy who figured out how to write for Gary Cooper. Cooper was not a wizard with dialogue and when he had too much to say he couldn't cut it. The story goes that Chase and the director of a Cooper picture were having a hard time with Cooper and dialogue so Chase came up with the idea of putting the burden on the person in the scene with Cooper. Thus you had the sidekick saying "There's injuns on the hill and they're comin for us. I don't to tell you about injuns, do I?" And all Cooper had to say was "Nope."