Thursday, January 30, 2014

Noir’s Hard Luck Ladies: Martha Vickers JAKE HINKSON

Noir’s Hard Luck Ladies: Martha Vickers

Ed here: I watched The Big Sleep again the night and had the same reaction I always have. Marlowe is a prude and as beautiful and compelling and stylish as Lauren Bacall is I'm far more taken with Martha Vickers, an opinion shared by many people apparently. Here's the great Jake Hinkson from Criminal Elements.

If you spend enough time in the shadow gallery that is film noir certain faces start to haunt you. I’m not talking here about the icons like Mitchum or Grahame or Bennett or Andrews—their legends were set a long time ago, so we approach them with the expectation of greatness. And I’m not talking about recovered figures such as Lizabeth Scott or Ann Savage, who were forgotten in their time and then reborn as stars when noir enthusiasts discovered them and enshrined them as icons.
Yet, if you’re a noir geek, you can’t help but bump into her from time to time. She never made another film as good as The Big Sleep, but she pops up in supporting parts in interesting pictures like Raoul Walsh’s The Man I Love, or Edgar G. Ulmer’s Ruthless, W. Lee Wilder’s The Big Bluff or the Paul Wendkos adaptation of David Goodis’s The Burglar. The two constants in these films are that Vickers is always good and she is always underused.
I’m talking about Martha Vickers. She’s remembered today for two roles, one she played onscreen and one she played in life. The onscreen role was her firecracker performance as Lauren Bacall’s nymphomaniac sister in The Big Sleep. The real life role was her stormy tenure as Mickey Rooney’s third wife.

Her part in The Big Sleep got her noticed but didn’t do much for a career that began to flounder almost immediately. She always gets noticed by audiences watching the film—she’s weird and sexy at the same time, always an exciting combo—and people often ask, “Whatever became of that girl who played the sister?” The answer is: she made a few more films, did some television, married and divorced Mickey Rooney, had some children, retired from films, and died young at the age of 46.
for the rest go here:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

One of my favorite writers, one of my favorite film franchises

Interview with Tim Lebbon, Author, ‘Alien: Out of the Shadows’

Interview with Tim Lebbon BY  ON JANUARY 28, 2014
from the great website  Suvudu
Tim Lebbon is the author of Alien: Out of the Shadows, the first book in a new trilogy set in the terrifying science fiction universe depicted in the Alien film series. In the following short interview, Tim discussed his love of the original movies and what he’d do if he were a character in his own story.
On the planet LV178, Chris Hooper, and his fellow miners discovered a storm-scoured, sand-blasted hell, and trimonite, the hardest material known to man.
When a dropship crashes into the landing bay of the mining ship Marion, the miners learn that there was more than trimonite deep in the caverns of LV178. There was evil, hibernating—and waiting for suitable prey.
Hoop and his associates uncover a nest of Xenomorphs, and hell takes on new meaning. In a supreme touch of irony, they find that their only hope lies with the unlikeliest of saviors.
Ellen Ripley, the last human survivor of the salvage ship Nostromo.
What was your first experience with the Alien franchise?
My mum took me to see the original Alien when I was in my early teens. I guess she smuggled me into the cinema, or perhaps I looked older than I was. It was like nothing I’d ever seen before, and it affected me hugely. Then when I saw Aliens with a bunch of friends from school, that quickly became my favourite movie. It still is.
What kind of research did you do to get ready to write the book?
I watched the first two films again, though in truth I could probably quote them almost word for word. That didn’t really feel like work. Other than that very little, as my novel is based between those two films.

for the rest go here:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dave Zeltserman The next in the Hunted Series: The Interloper

Dave Zeltserman The next in the Hunted Series: The Interloper

The next in the Hunted Series: The Interloper

kickstarter project is underway to publish all three novellas in Dave Zeltserman's Hunted series as a 270-page paperback and ebook.

What some people have been saying about Dave Zeltserman's ultra hardboiled series:

"a swiftly paced story that rewards with tension, suspense, and surprise." Bill Crider, author of the Dan Rhodes mystery series

"dark tour-de-force of non-stop action and tension" Vincent Zandri, bestselling author of The Remains and The Innocent

"Stark meets Ludlum meets Forsyth in this tight and tricky opener to a new novella series from the always-innovative Dave Zeltserman." Roger Smith, author of Wake Up Dead and Dust Devils

"The Hunted rockets along, never boring for a second ... The Dame reads like a Reader’s Digest Condensed Parker, with all of the elements that we know and love crammed into a scant 70 pages" The Violent World of Parker

"Everything Dave Zeltserman writes is gold, and his new Hunted series is no exception." Evan Lewis, author of the Skylar Hobbs mystery stories

To read more about this project and an excerpt from The Interloper, click here.

DEAD END by Leigh Russell is available today!


DEAD END by Leigh Russell is available today! (Witness Impulse; $2.99 ebook original; ISBN: 9780062325631)
“All the ingredients combine to make a tense, clever police whodunit”—Marcel Berlins, Times
When headmistress Abigail Kirby’s corpse is discovered in the woods, police are shocked to learn that her tongue was cut out while she lay dying. Then, shortly after a witness comes forward, he is blinded and murdered. With mangled dead bodies appearing at an alarmingly increasing rate, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is in a race against time to find the killer before he claims his next victim....
LEIGH RUSSELL is the award-winning author of the Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson mysteries. She is an English teacher who lives in the UK with her family.
I hope you enjoy Leigh Russell’s DEAD END, and will consider sharing it with friends, or posting a review to your blog, Goodreads, or Amazon. Happy Reading!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Mark Evanier on Jay Leno


Ed here: It's not that I'm a big fan of Jay Leno's. But I wonder about NBC, well known for making some of the worst decisions in TV history, dumping him when he's number one by far in the late night wars. And I seem to be in the minority about Fallon. So unctuous. So frantic. Here's the most  eloquent and wise writer about show biz I know, Mark Evanier from his website.  News From ME.

Lots of messages about Leno, all from folks I'm not sure want their names used so I won't. This one's from a friend in the TV business…
What if the Jimmy Fallon show is getting a .5 rating six months in, and NBC goes back to Leno and says they'll double his paycheck he'll do the show one more time? Did anybody ask him that? (I'm not saying that Jay is planning it.)
If they'd asked Jay that, he would have given the most diplomatic answer — that's not going to happen — but it's also probably the true one. This isn't like last time when Jay was still up and running with his 10 PM show. He had a studio, offices, a full staff, etc. Going back to The Tonight Show was just a matter of bringing in a new desk, booking more guests and changing the name on the studio doors. A pal of mine there then said that if they'd called Jay at 3:00 in the afternoon and said, "Hey, instead of taping The Jay Leno Show in an hour, make it an episode of The Tonight Show," they could have pulled it off.
This time, Jay's whole infrastructure there is being dismantled. There'll be no studio, no offices, no staff, etc. The Tonight Show is moving to New York, remember. Jay would have to start from scratch. NBC couldn't just pop him back into the slot while they looked around for the young guy they think can do the show for the next decade or two. If Fallon bombs to the point where they can't keep him on — which I also don't think will happen — they'll have to go out and find that next fellow in a hurry. (Also, it'll be a little harder to get rid of Fallon than it was to get rid of O'Brien. Fallon has Lorne Michaels behind him.)
This message is from a friend who works with Mr. Leno…
You're right. Jay didn't want to go off the air. I'm surprised as you that he's ruling out another late night slot now because he doesn't have to do that. As recently as a few weeks ago, he wasn't ruling that out. He was just chuckling and saying, "I'm not going to think about that now." Apparently, he has thought about it. It has me wondering if he has a new gig but it doesn't exactly fall under the definition of competing with the other guys in late night.

for the rest go here:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

She Was Blond. She Was in Trouble. And She Paid 3 Cents a Word. By ED McBAIN

She Was Blond. She Was in Trouble. And She Paid 3 Cents a Word.
There used to be a time when a person could make a decent living writing crime stories. Back then, a hard-working individual could earn 2 cents a word for a short story. Three cents, if he was exceptionally good. It beat polishing spittoons. Besides, it was fun.
Back then, starting a crime story was like reaching into a box of chocolates and being surprised by either the soft center or the carmel or the nuts. There were plenty of nuts in crime fiction, but you never knew what kind of story would come out of the machine until it started taking shape on the page. Like a jazz piano player, a good writer of short crime fiction didn't think he knew his job unless he could improvise in all 12 keys. Ringing variations on the theme was what made it such fun. Getting paid 2 or 3 cents a word was also fun.

For me, Private Eye stories were the easiest of the lot. All you had to do was talk out of the side of your mouth and get in trouble with the cops. In the P.I. stories back then, the cops were always heavies. If it weren't for the cops, the P.I. could solve a murder -- any murder -- in 10 seconds flat. The cops were always dragging the P.I. into the cop shop to accuse him of having murdered somebody just because he happened to be at the scene of the crime before anybody else got there, sheesh!
I always started a P.I. story with a blonde wearing a tight shiny dress. When she crossed her legs, you saw rib-topped silk stockings and garters taut against milky white flesh, boy. Usually, she wanted to find her missing husband or somebody. Usually, the P.I. fell in love with her by the end of the story, but he had to be careful because you couldn't trust girls who crossed their legs to show their garters. A Private Eye was Superman wearing a fedora.

The Amateur Detective was a private eye without a license. The people who came to the Am Eye were usually friends or relatives who never dreamed of going to the police with a criminal problem but who couldn't afford to pay a private detective for professional help. So, naturally, they went to an amateur. They called upon a rabbi or a priest or the lady who was president of the garden club, or somebody who owned cats, or a guy who drove a locomotive on the Delaware Lackawanna, and they explained that somebody was missing, or dead, and could these busy amateurs please lend a helping hand?
Naturally, the garage mechanic, or the magician, or the elevator operator dropped everything to go help his friend or his maiden aunt. The Am Eye was smarter than either the P.I. or the cops because solving crimes wasn't his usual line of work, you see, but boy, was he good at it! It was fun writing Am Eye stories because you didn't have to know anything about criminal investigation. You just had to know all the station stops on the Delaware Lackawanna.

for the rest go here:

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Forgotten Books: Down There by David Goodis; Bob Randisi GIANT Gunsmiths


"Love between the ugly/is the most beautiful love of all."
--Todd Rundgren

I haven't kept up with all the Goodis mania of the past five years or so so forgive me if what I'm about to say has been said not only better but quite often as well.

To me Down There is one of Goodis' finest novels filled with all his strengths and none of his weaknesses. The world here is his natural milieu, the world of America's underclass. Yes, there are working class men and women in Harriet's Hut, the tavern in which a good share of the action happens, but most of the book centers on two people, Eddie Lynn, the strange protagonist and piano player and Lena, the strange somewhat masochistic waitress. They live on pennies. 

The story is this: Eddie's brother Turley is a criminal and a criminal being sought by two killers. In defending Turley, allowing him to escape, Eddie himself becomes a target. Not until well into the novel do we learn why the killers want to "talk" to Turley. It takes almost as long to learn Eddie's personal secret, that he was once a Carnegie Hall attraction with a golden future of him. What happened? 

Truffaut filmed this in the sixties. Much as I like Truffaut's films I was disappointed by this one. There is a purity of composition here that Truffaut missed entirely. Few crime writers have the skill to vary melodrama and comedy as well as Goodis did. Even fewer have the nerve to extend set pieces the way he does.

For just one example there's a scene where the two killers have captured Eddie and Lena and are taking them to find Turley. The two men, Morris and Feather, begin to argue about Feather's driving. This becomes a mean, bitchy Laurel and Hardy sequence with the heavy threat of violence. This is a kidnapping scene. The comedy isn't foreshadowed. A high risk break in mood. And it works perfectly. And it is three or four times longer than most scenes found in the paperback originals of the time.

The Todd Rundgren quote applies to many of Goodis' lovers and never more so than here. Even by Goodis standards these two people are ugly with failure, with distrust of the world, with contempt for the values most people hold dear and most of all with loathing for what they've become. Goodis breaks your heart with them, especially in the surreal scene in which they are forced to hide out. Lena touches Eddie's arm--one of the first time they have any physical contact of any kind--and it's powerfully erotic because it is charged with desperation and an inkling of trust and forgiveness. 

No matter where you look you won't find a novel as unique, and as shrewdly observed (there's a long bar scene that would fit perfectly into The Iceman Cometh) as Down There. I guess it's time I need to get all caught up in this Goodis mania after all.

FROM BOB RANDISI-------------

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Robert J Randisi joins Piccadilly Publishing

This is exciting news!

We have obtained the electronic books rights to the first twelve GIANT GUNSMITH novels Robert wrote as J.R. Roberts. They will be released with specially-commissioned covers by Tony Masero (the Searcher, The Sergeant and Herne the Hunter).

We are so thrilled that Robert, who has a prestigious track record, has allowed us to bring back this wonderful series.

Robert says: "I'm very excited to have Piccadilly Publishing bringing the first twelve Giant Gunsmith books to a new audience. And, hopefully, some of Clint Adams' old readers will want these new electronic editions, as well. And to think they'll have Tony Masero covers just adds to the excitement."

Clint Adams, The Gunsmith #1 Trouble in Tombstone will be released on May 1 2014 with forthcoming titles published every two months.

Friday, January 24, 2014


Brasher doubloon578.jpg

Ed here: This is a very long piece on the actors and director of The Brasher Dubloon. A real piece of Hwood history that I enjoyed.

Posted by Moira Finnie on February 18, 2009   FROM MOVIE MORLOCKS

“How I hate the summer winds. They come in suddenly off the Mojave Desert, and you can taste the sand for days.”
This is the promising voice-over one hears at the beginning of what may be the least known cinematic adaptation of one of Raymond Chandler‘s Philip Marlowe stories.  Made into a Michael Shayne mystery starring Lloyd Nolan in 1942′s Time To Kill, the author, still peeved at his story’s treatment in that decent, if workmanlike version and further miffed that he had no more income from any other movies made by the studio that owned the rights to the story, 20th Century Fox reportedly hoped to cash in on the ‘craze’ for crime stories set in the still exotic environs of a dark tinted Los Angeles following the great popularity of such films as Murder, My Sweet and The Big  Sleep.
George Montgomery, at 30, was one of the youngest actors cast to play the character in the movies, is seen in this opening scene approaching an ominously photographed mansion buffeted by the dry, swirling Santa Ana winds pushing the gnarled trees that surround the house against the walls. As he approaches the door, a sylph-like figure admits him into the house, swallowing him up in the same way that this movie seems to have been subsumed in a cinematic vault.
Never having been issued commercially on dvd and only broadcast rarely to the best of my knowledge, I was eager to see this movie when a friend recently lent it to me. In this case, The High Window, Chandler‘s third novel, published  in 1942, was fashioned by the stylish director John Brahm and his scenarists Dorothy Bennett and Leonard Praskins into a 72 minute dash through various film noir motifs and presented to a waiting public in the form of 20th Century Fox’s The Brasher Doubloon (1947). You have some of the same atmospheric elements of the other popular movies made from Chandler‘s novels in that period. Actually, after watching this movie recently, I started to wonder if the filmmakers at 20th Century Fox got together around this time to put together a film noir kit with ingredients that should have resulted in a memorable classic. Perhaps this hypothetical film noir kit might have been planned out neatly at a few production meetings that might have gone something like this…

The filmmakers knew that the following items were needed:
1.) A Detective to play Philip Marlowe
In retrospect, I admit that I’ve grown to like the callow George Montgomery‘s breezy style. After growing up seeing this skilled cabinet maker hawk wood polish on the tube, it was news to me that he was also an actor with a once-viable career.

Today, as my ongoing cinematic education continues,  I’ve begun to enjoy his appearances. The musical delights and petty conflicts of Orchestra Wives (1942), the wartime romance and campiness of China Girl (1942), and Montgomery‘s ironic and funny turn in Roxie Hart (1942), as well as the many Westerns the Montana native made, have taught me that he was much more than singer Dinah Shore‘s ex-husband. Before being seduced into a Hollywood sojourn, his first career choice had been as an interior designer, an artistic path he later happily returned to with considerable success as he became a well known sculptor as well as craftsman.
Still, he was a strapping 6 feet plus presence and he had a good baritone–which is used particularly well for the voice-overs that are sprinkled throughout the narrative of this movie–but I must confess that I had moments of longing for the gravitas, the curdled romanticism and a certain ragged gallantry that the much older Dick Powell and Humphrey Bogart brought to the part of gumshoe Philip Marlowe so effortlessly. Of course, this may be because they were the first Marlowes I knew.  In Raymond Chandler‘s books, his creation is described as “slightly over six feet tall and weighs about 190 pounds” with an insubordinate air. The writer also mentioned once that “I think [Marlowe] might seduce a duchess, and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin.” This iconoclastic knight errant with a personal sense of honor and a fresh mouth does find expression in Montgomery‘s tender efforts at seducing the skittish girl in this story, but he never quite inhabits the role for me.

for the ret go here:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

FORGOTTEN BOOKS: Killer by Dave Zeltserman

KILLER by Dave Zeltserman

Before I say anything about Dave Zeltserman's new novel I have to note that a) Dave is a friend of mine b) the novel is dedicated to me and c) somebody not unlike me makes a brief appearance in the book.

Leonard March is a mob hit-man who turns state's witness to avoid a lifetime in prison. Despite giving evidence he serves fourteen years and emerges a much older man and not just physically. People familiar with his case are amazed that his former employers didn't manage to have him killed while behind bars. And only now, as he emerges from prison, is the public told of just how terrible a man he is. His photograph is everywhere. He is a pariah. He is even dragged into court on civil charges instituted by the loved ones of some of the people he killed. The press, loving a good story, depicts the victims as good citizens even though they were scum just like March. His prison counselor arranges for March to work quietly as a janitor at nights so he can pay rent on a seedy apartment and buy a few groceries.

Several times while reading Killer I forgot I was reading a novel. The book has the feel of an autobiography. Laid out in alternating chapters of present and past we see March at virtually every stage of his life. His father, his mother, his wife, his children are vividly and vitally portrayed here. His quiet father was a blue collar worker whose sixty and seventy hour weeks led only to a melancholy cynicism about the capitalist system. March's wife's death by cancer while March is in prison is especially haunting. She and the children spurned him after the DA's office revealed that he was a hit man. March in his early twenties was a street punk who, despite his self-denials, savored the deaths he visited on his targets.

All the mob tropes are here to be sure. Sleazy stupid parasites who do with pistols and knives what Wall Street and others do with computers and fancy boardrooms. Zeltserman makes you feel each death and there are plenty of them.

But what you take away from the novel is not the mob melodrama but the rich details of March's life. Zeltserman forces the reader to grant March his intelligence, his occasional eloquence and the remorse he feels but cannot understand. In some respects the man who took all these lives is even more monstrous because he's not a psychopath--as he reminds us several times--but a man who has convinced himself that he's just doing a job. His painful love for the children who have deserted him; the last time he spoke to his dying wife on the phone, her laughing despite her enormous pain, always trying to keep everything "nice;" the young waitress who comes to like this "crazy old man" until she finds out who he is--and is then horrified and angry--grueling, perfectly realized scenes . And then then are the shopping scenes where March buys a new bed, sheets, towels, etc. to make his tiny apartment tolerable--the homeliness of the shopping and the cleaning he has to do is the kind of touch that gives the books its unique truth. You don't find many hit-men scrubbing bathtubs and buying used furniture.

These are just a few of the indelible scenes that make the book so fresh and powerful. Killer is a major novel of crime and likely the book that will win Dave Zeltserman a much wider audience.