Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links

Below, the links to this week's reviews and citations--a larger than usual number of (I suspect valuable) warnings among the recommendations...and a number of memories of James Garner.  As always, please let me know in comments when I've missed yours or someone else's...and, as always, thanks to all our contributors and to you readers...

Anne Billson: The Ten Most Pretentious Films

Bill Crider: Marlowe [trailer]

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Corey Redekop: Alex Cross
I Love Trouble

Dan Stumpf: The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery

Ed Gorman: character actors; John Sayles on Anthony Mann

Ed Lynskey: 87th Precinct

Elizabeth Foxwell: Knight without Armor

Evan Lewis: I Love Trouble

Strange Days
George Kelley: Life Itself

How Did This Get Made?: Gooby

Iba Dawson: underrated movies

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: The Killer that Stalked New York; checking in

Jackie Kashian: Rhea Butcher on Back to the Future and the Magical Strong Woman & such

Jacqueline T. Lynch: The Student Prince

Jake Hinkson: Snowpiercer; Noah

Jayme Lynn Blaschke: Babylon-5: "The Parliament of Dreams"

Jonathan Lewis: Horizons West: Border Incident; The Raid

James Reasoner: herding cats

Jerry House: The Adventures of Long John Silver: "The Necklace" (pilot)

The Long Summer of George Adams
John Charles: Beast of the Yellow Night

John Grant: Blind Alibi; Wonders in the Dark

Kliph Nesteroff: Betsy Palmer

Laura: The Girl in White; TCM on James Garner; The Long Summer of George Adams

Lucy Brown: The Happiest Days of Your Life

Martin Edwards: Headhunters

Marty McKee: Strike Force

Max Allan Collins: James Garner; SD ComicCon

Michael Shonk: Petrocelli: "The Golden Cage" (pilot)

The Food Guide to Love
Mystery Dave: Coneheads

Prashant Trikannad: The Food Guide to Love; The Odd Life of Timothy Green

Randy Johnson: Nancy Drew...Trouble Shooter; A Taste of Vengeance (aka I vigliacchi non pregano)

Rick: The Western Film Fair

Rod Lott: The Diabolical Dr. Z

Sergio Angelini: Circus of Fear

Stacia Jones: Fort Apache

Stephen Bowie: Universal TV's syndication butchery

Steve Lewis: The Naked Jungle; The Cyclops

Yvette Banek: Tom Conway as The Falcon

The Girl in White

Friday, July 18, 2014

FFM: P.S. #1, April 1966: contributions from Avram Davidson, Alfred Bester, Nat Hentoff, Gahan Wilson, Jean Shepherd, Ron Goulart, Charles Beaumont, Russell Baker, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, et al.; Edward Ferman, editor; Gahan Wilson, associate editor; Ron Salzberg, assistant editor

This is a magazine I've been looking for copies of (in a casual way) for about 35 years, maybe a little more. I've written about it a little previously in the blog (and received some interesting and helpful comments there), and here's the (slightly corrected) index from the FictionMags Index previously reprinted at that occasion: 

P.S. [v1 #1, April 1966] ed. Edward L. Ferman (Mercury Press, 60¢, 64pp, 8" x 11") Gahan Wilson, associate editor; Ron Salzberg, assistant editor
    Details supplied by Cuyler Brooks (and augmented by me).

  • 3 · Don Sturdy and the 30,000 Series Books · Avram Davidson · ar
  • 12 · Would You Want Your Product to Marry a Negro · Alfred Bester · ar
  • 16 · The Gentle Art of Brick Throwing · Ron Goulart · ar
  • 24 · Freaks · Gahan Wilson · ar
  • 32 · Child Things · Russell Baker · ar (The New York Times 1965)
  • 34 · The Lost Lovely Landscapes of Luna · Isaac Asimov · ar
  • 39 · Lugosi: The Compleat Bogeyman · Charles Beaumont · ar (F&SF 1956)
  • 42 · When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed · Ray Bradbury · pm
  • 44 · Joe Louis in Atlantic City · Jerry Tallmer · ar
  • 49 · The Thirties Quiz · Robert Thomsen · qz
  • 50 · Sweet and Lowdown: The Lost Jazz Years · Nat Hentoff · ar
  • 58 · Captain Ahab Is Dead; Long Live Bob Dylan, Or, Are the Beatles Really the Andrews Sisters, In Drag? · Jean Shepherd · ar
  • 62 · Now You See Them · Ron Salzberg · ar
As often the case with an example of this much delay in gratification, the contents of the issue don't quite live up to my expectations (I can see why Davidson's good, but not superb, essay hasn't been reprinted, for example), but nonetheless I'm not sorry I paid a reasonably high price (though not as exorbitant as prices often are on this title, when it can be found) to finally have it at hand. The Davidson essay deals with the series adventure books aimed at children from the first several decades of the 20th century, produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate (whose products have included Nancy Drew, Tom Swift and Hardy Boys novels)...several of the examples Davidson considers from a thrift-store scrounge were among such series as the Don Sturdy and Bomba the Jungle Boy books (durable creature in comics as well) that he'd read in his own childhood, and some attributed to the same "Roy Rockwood" house name that Rich Horton was treating with in his FFB last week. 

Bester's essay is telling about the delights of commercial (in at least two senses) practical censorship in the period when American apartheid, at least in certain areas, was still just beginning to come undone, and the pressures newly applied by the likes of the Congress of Racial Equality from their direction to further make things Interesting for those in the advertising and commercial radio/television industries in what we can now think of as the Mad Men era. (Bester also notes that the best actor who'd auditioned to play Charlie Chan in the radio series Bester was writing in the late '40s was spiked because the actor was black, and who'd dare have a black man play a Chinese-American detective...far safer to settle on eventual star Ed Begley, Sr.). And while there is a bit of mockery of what was already being tagged Political Correctness in certain quarters in both the Davidson and particularly the Bester essays, the Shepherd is an unsurprisingly unsubtle bleat about the then-new androgyny as seen by the radio and print satirist, with particular contumely expended toward Tom Wolfe and to a lesser extent Andy Warhol; mocking the claims to the brawling life by Bob Dylan seems a bit more grounded. 

Gahan Wilson's thoughtful essay about the history of the freak show (with special attention to the activities of P. T. Barnum and his associates), Isaac Asimov's survey of the end of Romantic Mars with new Mariner probe imagery and data, and particularly Charles Beaumont's memoir of his meeting with Bela Lugosi very near the end of the actor's life (and by the time of this reprint, presumably from Beaumont's film column in F&SF, Beaumont was already far gone in his fatal premature Alzheimer's), Ron Goulart's run through the history of George Harriman and Krazy Kat, and Nat Hentoff on the jazz legends of his youth are all fine, and some at least among the pioneering writing of the time about these matters. The magazine as a whole, in its first of only three issues, is more about nostalgic reflection than I expected, with the Shepherd blast (and to some extent the Bester) being the prime example(s) of the kind of pop-sociological consideration I expected to comprise more of the content, but it really is a pity on several counts that this magazine didn't flourish. It was a good start. 

For more actual books this week, please see Patti Abbott's blog. I'll be (rather more promptly) hosting the links over the next two Fridays at this one.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V on Thursday: the links

Starting Over
Below, the links to this week's reviews and citations; terribly sorry for the various delays this week (my computer in the shop, the press of work, various smaller distractions--I should be back on the Regular Schedule next week). As always, please let me know in comments when I've missed yours or someone else's...and, as always, thanks to all our contributors and to you readers...

Anne Billson: The Suicide Shop

Bill Crider: InnerSpace  trailer

Brian Arnold: AMC Pacer ads 

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Comedy Film Nerds: Allan Havey at the TCM Classic Film Festival

Dan Stumpf: Hell's Heroes

Ed Lynskey: Dillinger (1945 film)

Elizabeth Foxwell: The Bat

Evan Lewis: Johnny Ringo (tv series)

George Kelley: Monsters vs. Aliens: Supersonic Joyride

Entre Les Murs
Greg Proops Film Club

How Did This Get Made?: Peter Fonda on Easy Rider 2

Iba Dawson: In Honor of La Fête Nationale (Bastile Day)

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: The Prisoner of Shark Island

Jackie Kashian: Eric Hollerbach on the original Whose Line Is It Anyway? and RT (Russia Today), etc.

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Chip Off the Old Block; The Merry Monahans

Bettie Page Reveals All!
James Reasoner: Somewhere in the Night

Jayme Lynn Blaschke: Bettie Page Reveals All!; Babylon-5:  "Infection"

Jerry House: Tales of Tomorrow: "The Crystal Egg"

John Charles: Redline

John Grant: Baryshnya i Khuligan (aka The Lady and the Hooligan); Alias Mary Smith; Wonders in the Dark

Jonathan Lewis: Beyond the Time Barrier; Plunder of the Sun; The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Kliph Nesteroff: Jackie Mason on The Grube Tube (NYC public access television), 1980

The Pajama Game
Laura: The Swordsman: Five Came Back; Her Sister's Secret

Lucy Brown: The Pajama Game: conferences at Oxford and elsewhere

Martin Edwards: EQMM Podcast: "No Flowers"; Run, Lola, Run

Marty McKee: Asteroid vs. Earth

Michael Shonk: Counterspy; David Harding, Counterspy (tv pilots)

Mystery Dave: The Lawnmower Man

Patti Abbott: Starting Over; Best episodes of tv series

Peter Rosovsky: Get Carter and its peers.

Prashant Trikannad: Raid on Entebbe

Randy Johnson: The Big Steal: Apocalypse Joe (aka Un uomo chiamato Apocalisse Joe)

Foyle's War
Rick: Raymond Chandler on his a/v adaptations

Rod Lott: Single Room Furnished

Ron Scheer: Librivox audiobooks

Sergio Angelini: John Dickson Carr on radio

Stacia Jones: Cold in July: The Discoverers

Stephen Bowie: The Best TV Series of 2000-2009

Steve Lewis: Girl on the Run

Yvette Banek: Foyle's War: Season/series 8

Todd Mason: Nadine Gordimer Stories: as noted in this blog previously:

The Gordimer Stories
A selection of eight short films, including an interview with Nadine Gordimer herself, which was shown on at least some PBS stations as a series, all the drama set in South Africa in depths of apartheid and the small and large tragedies those laws force upon the characters, and the attempts to subvert and overcome the noxious racist regime.

...which included: 
City Lovers (1982): 
A short film based on Nadine Gordimer's story, and presented on public stations in the 1980s as part of the Nadine Gordimer Stories package, this was the most affecting of the group among those I saw, offering a charming yet telling liaison between a young "colored" ("mixed-race") South African woman and an older "white" German visitor to SA, back in the last years of apartheid, and how his foolhardiness and the insanity of the national institutional racism messes them over.

The Burglar
And I've just seen this past week the David Goodis-scripted (from his novel) The Burglar. This is, almost without question, the most ineptly-acted fully professional film I've seen; aside from an actually competent performance by Martha Vickers, Jayne Mansfield perhaps embarrasses herself the least. There is no scenery left unchewed by about 15 minutes in...if you've ever wondered why Philly looked so run-down by the 1970s, the mastication of locations by this film's cast was a minor but not insignificant factor.

Friday, July 11, 2014

FFF(emme)F(atale)B: BEYOND THE NIGHT: Six Tales of Horror by Cornell Woolrich (Avon 1959)

Of all the parents of modern horror fiction, the one most a creature of noir (in fact, the one essentially the primary progenitor of noir even as a label, much less as an approach, even if the initial Serie Noir imprint in France wasn't named directly after his "Black" series of novels) was Cornell Woolrich, who lived a noirish life himself even as he helped devise at least two forms of art...such colleagues as Robert Bloch and Patricia Highsmith and John Collier, and Fritz Leiber and Shirley Jackson and Muriel Spark farther away from the crime fiction heritage, didn't have the passion for doom that Woolrich had...perhaps even Lovecraft didn't, though he was one of the few who felt the existential despair as intensely (though Lovecraft was less good with character generally, while tending to make his characters' doom more obviously parallel with cosmic extinction, and while both at their worst could type in all caps and Gothic characters with their fists, Woolrich also was a vastly better prose technician at his best or his merely commonplace).  Two of the stories here were published in the most durable and perhaps the most important US fantasy-fiction magazines of the 1950s and the next couple of decades...both under the editorship of folks at least as much movers and shakers in crime-fiction as fantastic fiction.

Gathering Woolrich's horror fiction has been not quite as neglected as has been, say, discrete collection of Theodore Sturgeon's major efforts in the form, though this volume, a legacy of Donald Wollheim's efforts to establish a distinct line of horror titles at Avon Books while he edited there, was the first of only about three so far.  (Wollheim had already been at Ace Books for some years by the 1959 publication date of this book, but continued there and even more at his DAW Books starting in the early 1970s to help keep a market niche open for horror so labeled, even before the post Levin/Blatty/King boom.) Notable that Woolrich massaged, at least, all the earlier stories in this book before letting at least the shudder pulp story see print again. 

More a pity, probably, that Woolrich hadn't taken another run through the lead-off story here, "The Moon of Montezuma," which finds him in a B. Travenish mood and circumstances, only lecturing the reader to a distracting degree about the True Nature of women, and particularly the women native to what is now Mexico,  while telling of an American woman seeking her absent husband, prospecting down south, and tracking him as far as his new lover, who has just lost the infant child they had together...so the Mexican lover has designs on the infant child the desperate Yankee wife brings with her.  Woolrich is often given credit for his understanding of  women's psyches, but the portrayal here of a woman very much without mercy, and her apparently worn-down, guileless American adversary-without-realizing-it, is casually sexist as well as racist even for the time of publication (and it's indicative of Woolrich's skill as a writer that his brief take inside the skull of the roving man at the periphery of the story, whose inability to keep it in his pants drives at least secondarily most of the action, is in counterpoint a deft and convincing portrait of how such a man is less intentional monster than weak and obsessed inconsiderate fool). Though, as often in Woolrich stories, the woman wronged here has her revenge, even if she has to effect it via supernatural means.  (Despite an error in the acknowledgements page in the book, this is the story published in same issue of Fantastic as founding editor Howard Browne's ghost-job of an ostensible Mickey Spillane story; the next was in an issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction from the period where Anthony Boucher was turning that magazine over to Robert P. Mills.)

A better story, "Somebody's Clothes--Somebody's Life" is still nonetheless a relatively slight if interesting effort, notable for being in modified film script form (one could wonder if it had been salvaged from a rejected, or even refashioned from a produced, teleplay), involving a countess who is a degenerate gambler,  and her effort to break out of that cycle by attempting to heed the advice of a psychic she consults. Unfortunately, to take on a literally new life puts her into another all-too-deadening cycle...not altogether convincingly, but nonetheless the point is made, in a fashion one might expect from Woolrich (who not only gets to employ one of his favored tropes, an upper-class character struggling against her fate by a night-passage into the miseries faced by the lower classes--a major component of the first story as well, albeit without crossing national borders this time around--but also the magical affects of taking on another's wardrobe, as also in Woolrich's rather better novelette "I'm Dangerous Tonight" [once adapted for a telefilm starring the fine Maedchen Amick, but better on the page]).

I shall hope to take the time to comment on the rest of the stories later, but this collection is not quite the introduction to Woolrich's work, horror or otherwise, it could be, but is definitely an interesting selection for the fan to check into...I should quiz Francis Nevins or Barry Malzberg as to whether it's known if Woolrich himself choose these stories for the book, or if the Avon editor at the time made the calls...the scholar of CW will probably enjoy the comparison of the magazine texts of the older stories to their appearance here...

Update: from Barry Malzberg:
It is only a guess but pretty firmly based: Fred Dannay put this together.  Dannay was in effect Cornell's only market and protector in the last years.  There was a novel, I'd have to look it up, published also by Avon in the late fifties, the only novel after his mother's death and again I would guess that Dannay somehow assumed responsibility for getting it placed.

(Francis Nevins suspects that Dannay would be less likely to take a hand in a horror collection...but Dannay wasn't actually Against horror...and was certainly pro-Woolrich.)

For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

The ISFB Index:
Cover images from ISFDB and/or Galactic Central:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V on Thursday: more links

Sin Takes a Holiday
Below, the links to this week's reviews and citations; terribly sorry for the various delays this week. As always, please let me know in comments when I've missed yours or someone else's...and, as always, thanks to all our contributors and to you readers...

April Richardson and Paul F. Tompkins: Saved by the Bell: "Class Rings"

Anne Billson: The Tall Man

Bill Crider: The Big Easy  [trailer]

The Big Easy
Brian Arnold: City of Philadelphia Archival Films

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Dan Stumpf: The Hatchet Man

David Vineyard: Serenade; Moonlight Murder; My Gun is Quick

Ed Gorman: Decision at Sundown

Ed Lynskey: Kraft Suspense Theatre (aka Suspense Theatre aka Crisis): "Are There Any More Out There Like You?"  [a Kraft Suspense Theatre blog]
Jessica Biel in The Tall Man

Elizabeth Foxwell: A Shriek in the Night; Rod Serling

Evan Lewis: Here's Flash Casey

Francis Nevins: Mike Hammer (1950s tv series)

Gary M. Dobbs: My Name is Nobody

George Kelley: The Escape Artist

How Did This Get Made?: Mr. Nanny

Iba Dawson: Eli Wallach

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Pat Novak for Hire

Jack Seabrook: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "The Last Remains" (by Henry Slesar)

Jackie Kashian: Helen McCarthy and Andy Ashcraft and Josh Jordan at A-Kon

Jacqueline T. Lynch: The Great Caruso

Jake Hinkson: Raymond Burr

James Reasoner: Some Came Running

Jayme Lynn Blaschke: Farscape: "Till the Blood Runs Clear"

Jerry House: The Adventures of Superman (1940s radio); He Walked by Night

J. Kingston Pierce: You Tubing

John Charles: The Breed

John Grant: The Clock; The Young Captives; The Spy in Black; Out of the Past (1947 film); The Awful Truth; A Public Ransom

Jonathan Lewis: Battles of Chief Pontiac; The Amazing Transparent Man; Girls on Probation; Fire Over England 
American Gigolo

Kliph Nesteroff: Paul Mazursky; The Joey Bishop Show 1968: Susan Hayward; Don Rickles

Laura: West of the River; Chase a Crooked Shadow; The Counterfeit Plan

Lucy Brown: Kind Hearts and Coronets

Martin Edwards: American Gigolo; Frenzy

Marty McKee: Tarzan's Greatest Adventure; Harper Valley PTA

Mystery Dave: Under the Tuscan Sun

Patti Abbott: The Book of Mormon; Femmes fatales in film

The Last Seduction
Prashant Trikannad: Flight of the Phoenix (2004 film/remake)

Randy Johnson: Trial; It Can Be Done, Amigo (aka Si può fare...amigo)

Rick: Robinson Crusoe on Mars; Elizabeth R

Rod Lott: The Legend of Hercules

Ron Scheer: Jimmy P.

Sergio Angelini: Archangel

Stacia Jones: The Battered Bastards of Baseball; Coherence

Stephen Bowie: The Andy Griffith Show

Steve Lewis: Three Violent People; The King Murder; No Hands on the Clock

Yvette Banek: Sin Takes a Holiday

Michael Stamm notes: "[This is] a dark, lovely and enchanting short (just over 10 minutes) fantasy film with some very eerie elements:" "Premier Automne"
Premier Automne from Carlos De Carvalho on Vimeo.