Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films And/Or Other A/V: a few more links

With probably a few more stragglers to come, here's this week's collection of links to reviews and citations to (mostly) overlooked audio/visual experiences, or at least items overlooked by the writers up till now...thanks, as always, to all the contributors and to all you who read (and comment if you like) these...and please let me know in comments here if I've overlooked your or someone else's review.

Bill Crider: Morgan the Pirate (trailer)

Brent McKee: The Life of Riley (1949 television series)

Brian Arnold: Mumford; Adventure Time

Cullen Gallagher: NoirCon 2012

Dan Stumpf: The Bat Whispers

Ed Gorman: James Wolcott on Lee Marvin; My Favorite Films (after Max Allan Collins)

Evan Lewis: Westworld

George Kelley: The Adventures of Tintin; Match Point

Iba Dawson: Street Scene

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Flame in the Streets

James Reasoner: Jungle Jim; Hawai'i Calls (television version) featuring Martin Denny

Jeff Swindoll: The Dead (2010)

Jerry House: Beulah

John Charles: Killing Machine (aka Shorinji Kenpo)

Kate Laity: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore; An Appointment with the Wicker Man

Michael Shonk: Awake (2012)

Mildred Perkins: The Dead (2010)

Patti Abbott: Trouble in Paradise (1932)

Randy Johnson: In Old Arizona

Rod Lott: Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs

Ron Scheer: The Man from Colorado

Scott Cupp: The Animation of Tex Avery

Sergio Angelini: Twilight (1998)

Stephen Gallagher: The Reprisalizer and "A Gun For George"

Steve Lewis: There Ain't No Justice

Todd Mason: Ten Teen-Focused Horror and Suspense Films That Are Better Than We Have Any Reason to Expect; Girl K(iller) (aka Killer Girl K); "They're Made Out of Meat" (2006); Sound Opinions

Girl K{iller) (as the onscreen-title has it) or Killer Girl K (as Hulu and cable channel MNet have it), and there are more title variations for this Korean miniseries, is yet another child of The Professional and to a lesser extent Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with a remarkably adept adolescent assassin manipulated by a corporate private security/assassination force. The choreography of the fights is deft, the Korean soap-style approach to the young Cha Yeon Jin (Han Groo)'s existential crisis isn't too obtrusive and only slightly sticky, and her quest to avenge the murder of her mother makes for kinetic if not terribly groundbreaking viewing...but it's fascinating, to at least some extent, to see how these materials are handled in this context, particularly with such typically Korean elements as the most conventionally beautiful woman in the cast being perhaps the most ruthless single character (not unknown elsewhere, to be sure, but particularly common in the Korean materials I've seen). And it does move, and only has five episodes in the current series...with MNet cablecasting them a week or two ahead of clearance on Hulu.

"They're Made Out of Meat": Terry Bisson's very short story has been adapted by a number of folks, I see...perhaps as Stephen King (iirc--or was that Joe Lansdale?) does with some of his short stories, Bisson has been renting his story to any earnest filmmakers for a dollar; before seeing this version on an apparently fading On-Demand service called Illusion, the only a/v version I'd encountered was the Seeing Ear Theater audio version (which was over-frantic as this version is laid-back). Sadly, the online postings of this short film seem to varying degrees to be slightly out of focus, but this posting the least distractingly so of those I've checked; this film is worth seeing, even with that flaw (if you don't have access to what's left of Illusion)...

Sound Opinions fatuously misidentifies itself as "the world's only rock and roll talk show," and that's not where the fatuity ends...I haven't forgiven the hosts, Chicago-based rock reviewers, for not bothering to learn how to pronounce Miriam Makeba's name nor the title of her biggest US hit ("Pata Pata") in their otherwise also clumsy attempt to eulogize her at the time of her death. But in the episode which played locally Monday night, their guest Dessa made an excellent showing for herself, and didn't allow the hosts to go into their usual dim verbal noodling (they often come across as the kind of people who want you know, hey, get this...man, Grass is green!), or at least over came that hurdle. Deborah Harry was able to do likewise, to some extent, a few weeks earlier. So, these guys can be ameliorated by their guests. Seems a very weak recommendation, and it is, but I hadn't heard Dessa's work before, and I'll give them that.

Walter Albert: The Actress

Yvette Banek: Angels and Insects

Sunday, February 26, 2012

1968: Judith Merril and Kate Wilhelm put together an ad against the Vietnam War...

...and it appears in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and in Galaxy, Worlds of If and International Science Fiction magazines (the latter three of which are published by the same publisher, Robert Guinn of the Galaxy Publishing Co., and edited by Frederik Pohl, the first edited by Edward Ferman and published by his father Joseph Ferman), along with a corresponding ad from "hawks" who are moved by Wilhelm and Merril's canvassing.

Frank Hollander was kind enough to transcribe the lists from the ads for the FictionMags list:

We the undersigned believe the United States must remain in Vietnam to
fulfill its responsibilities to the people of that country.

Karen K. Anderson
Poul Anderson
Harry Bates
Lloyd Biggle, Jr.
J. F. Bone
Leigh Brackett
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Mario Brand
R. Bretnor
Fredric Brown
Doris Pitkin Buck
William R. Burkett, Jr.
Elinor Busby
F. M. Busby
John W. Campbell
Louis Charbonneau
Hal Clement
Compton Crook
Hank Davis
L. Sprague de Camp
Charles V. de Vet
William B. Ellern
Richard H. Eney
T. R. Fehrenbach
R. C. FitzPatrick
Daniel F. Galouye
Raymond Z. Gallun
Robert M. Green, Jr.
Frances T. Hall
Edmond Hamilton
Robert A. Heinlein
Joe L. Hensley
Paul G. Herkart
Dean C. Ing
Jay Kay Klein
David A. Kyle
R. A. Lafferty
Robert J. Leman
C. C. MacApp
Robert Mason [not my father, but the Vietnam vet who would eventually write the novels Weapon and Solo, and the memoir Chickenhawk]
D. M. Melton
Norman Metcalf
P. Schuyler Miller
Sam Moskowitz
John Myers Myers
Larry Niven
Alan Nourse
Stuart Palmer
Gerald W. Page
Rachel Cosgrove Payes
Lawrence A. Perkins
Jerry E. Pournelle
Joe Poyer
E Hoffmann Price
George W. Price
Alva Rogers
Fred Saberhagen
George O. Smith
W. E. Sprague
G. Harry Stine (Lee Correy)
Dwight V. Swain
Thomas Burnett Swann
Albert Teichner
Theodore L. Thomas
Rena M. Vale
Jack Vance
Harl Vincent
Don Walsh, Jr.
Robert Moore Williams
Jack Williamson
Rosco E. Wright
Karl Würf [George Scithers]

We oppose the participation of the United States in the war in Vietnam.

Forrest J Ackerman
Isaac Asimov
Peter S. Beagle
Jerome Bixby
James Blish
Anthony Boucher
Lyle G. Boyd
Ray Bradbury
Jonathan Brand
Stuart J. Byrne
Terry Carr
Carroll J. Clem
Ed M. Clinton
Theodore R. Cogswell
Arthur Jean Cox
Allan Danzig
Jon DeCles
Miriam Allen deFord
Samuel R. Delany
Lester del Rey
Philip K. Dick
Thomas M. Disch
Sonya Dorman
Larry Eisenberg
Harlan Ellison
Carol Emshwiller
Philip José Farmer
David E. Fisher
Ron Goulart
Joseph Green
Jim Harmon
Harry Harrison
H. H. Hollis
J[oan]. Hunter Holly
James D. Houston
Edward Jesby
Leo P. Kelley
Daniel Keyes
Virginia Kidd
Damon Knight
Allen Lang
March Laumer [Keith Laumer was still in active service, I believe, and probably constrained from adding a signature to either]
Ursula K. Le Guin
Fritz Leiber
Irwin Lewis
A. M. Lightner
Robert A. W. Lowndes
Katherine MacLean
Barry Malzberg
Robert E. Margroff
Anne Marple
Ardrey Marshall
Bruce McAllister
Judith Merril
Robert P. Mills
Howard L. Morris
Kris Neville
Alexei Panshin
Emil Petaja
J. R. Pierce
Arthur Porges
Mack Reynolds
Gene Roddenberry
Joanna Russ
James Sallis
William Sambrot
Hans Stefan Santesson
J. W. Schutz
Robin Scott [Wilson, not yet retired from the CIA, already working on the first Clarion Workshops]
Larry T. Shaw
John Shepley
T. L Sherred
Robert Silverberg
Henry Slesar
Jerry Sohl
Norman Spinrad
Margaret St. Clair
Jacob Transue
Thurlow Weed
Kate Wilhelm
Richard Wilson
Donald A. Wollheim

Contributions to help meet the expense of future ads are welcomed, and
should be sent to:

Judith Merril or Kate Wilhelm Knight
P. O. Box 79
Milford, Pennsylvania 18337

Ten Teen-Focused Suspense and Horror Films Which Are Better Than We Have Any Reason to Expect

Having just seen again, after a decade or so, Night of the Comet, it strikes me as clever and well-worked-out for the most part, and while usually given the credit it deserves by most reviewers, it's an easy film to underestimate, in its utter lack of pretense. And while there are acknowledged classics involving such matters as teens and near-teens dealing with very grave peril indeed (such as, obviously, Lord of the Flies, or, with lesser crime involved, The 400 Blows), Night of the Comet is one of a number that might be slighted in one's memory, particularly if one didn't catch them when maximally willing to give them their best shot, i.e. when a teen one's self.

And it reminds me of others nearly drowned in the sea of slashers and similar drek (such as the "torture porn" children of the slashers), such as The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane, featuring the adolescent Jodie Foster as a prodigy who is doing quite well living a fairly isolated life with her father, whom no one ever seems to see. Sentiment akin to nostalgia will probably always allow me to forgive the rougher edges of this film, also clever and well-cast, with Martin Sheen as relentlessly creepish as he was in Badlands (a film which almost makes the cut for this list).

The opposite of prodigies populate the much later River's Edge, loosely based on the actual experiences of some small-town teens who covered for the murder of one of their friends by another. Perhaps the best single example to offer to those who enjoy insisting Keanu Reeves can't act, and the rest of the cast is impressive.

Meanwhile, even more blatantly satirical, a touchstone for many fans from its debut in the 1980s, is Heathers, which takes a few easy choices but also mocks the John Hughes sort of teen-stroking flick among many other targets.

Another mockery of most of the other most popular teen films of the previous decade is Not Another Teen Movie, which is apparently not currently being pirated on the web-clip services (this post being an exercise in part in demonstrating how many are), due to Universal keeping a close eye on this film, which was originally released by Columbia. This could be the choice among these ten that would generate the most disapproval, anyway, particularly from those folks who would insist this film is crude hack while describing the inane Scream films as deft.

Meanwhile, April Fool's Day (1986) is one of several films starring Deborah Foreman, best remembered for Valley Girl, which fall solidly into the Better Than You'd Expect Category. A witty reworking of the And Then There Were None... formula, and marketed incorrectly as a slasher, this still suggests more of a kinship with RKO/Lewton Unit The Seventh Victim than probably should be.

The Chocolate War was a credible adaptation of Robert Cormier's YA novel about the rise of fascism in the microcosm of a private school, but while the novel remains one of the more popular in its class, the film seems to have been ostracized. (It probably doesn't help that, as with many of the other films cited above, its releasing studio is long dead.)

Massacre at Central High is a low-budget 1970s film with some remarkably inappropriate music, and it's been decades since I've seen it (cut for television), but I remember it as an eventually persuasive study of young psychosis (played by actors rather too blatantly superannuated, as too often the case). A legitimate YT posting, apparently, perhaps as it's in the public domain.

And two films of fairly recent release to round out the selections here, both more the focus of somewhat scandalized chatter rather than much close analysis, but both devoted to observations about sexual politics, exploitation, and no little challenging the blithe attempts of too many teen oriented films to highlight women, very much including young women, as still the Other...Deadgirl and Teeth. Neither a perfect film by any means, but both unafraid of controversy and more complex than they were often given credit for on first release...

Friday, February 24, 2012

FFB: Wilma Shore: WOMEN SHOULD BE ALLOWED: A Verbatim Report on the Imbroglio Between the Sexes (short stories) Dutton 1965

***This post has been slightly updated/corrected and combined with later posts on Shore's work at this link.

There are no images online (that I've found) for the cover of Women Should Be Allowed, the only collection of Wilma Shore's short fiction to be published during her life (or, ever)(on 28 November 2016, I've finally found one, along with a picture apparently of Shore with her husband Louis Solomon...see below. The jacket is a bit more cute than the fiction deserves, I'd suggest, and probably didn't help). My own second-(or third-)hand copy is missing its dust jacket, and there was no paperback edition, as far as I can tell. As the biography at the Jewish Women's Archive notes, she in 1929 as a 16yo left the US (having been born in NYC and spent high school years in California) and went to Paris to study painting, and "Leo Stein, Gertrude Stein’s brother, declared her a leading talent of her generation." However, as noted there, what she became, as a professional artist, was a writer.

She had made an apparently bad marriage to an actor in 1932, giving up painting as vocation at that time. 
had her first daughter, and by 1935 was married to writer and producer Louis Solomon, with whom she would have another daughter and with whom she wrote at least one radio script for The Orson Welles Almanac, "Something's Going to Happen to Henry" (12/1/41, as Welles's archivists date it). Meanwhile (quoting the JWA article):

'Shore’s second story "The Butcher" was included in The Best Short Stories of 1941, and she continued to receive their honor call [sic--honor roll] mention in subsequent years. Shore published widely in magazines, including The New Yorker, Cosmopolitan, Story Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, The Writer, Ladies’ Home Journal, The Antioch Review, McCall's and The Nation. In 1950, her story “The Cow on the Roof” was included in the O. Henry Awards Prize Stories.'

She and Solomon continued to write for electronic media, and he became a producer...in fact, "Shore also wrote for television, was commissioned to write a song for Carol Channing, and had stories included in the anthology series The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1965 and 1973. She also published autobiographical pieces in the New York Times Sunday Magazine and the Women’s Studies Quarterly.

"A dedicated teacher, Shore taught at the League of American Writers' School from 1942 to 1944 and at the People’s Education Center until its dissolution. She then taught from her home.

"Shore’s involvement with these schools, her work on the editorial board of the California Quarterly, a politically progressive publication, and other left-wing political activity caused her and her husband to be blacklisted during the House Committee on Un-American Activities hearings." Like most of the blacklisted, Shore and Solomon turned to other work, and also continued to work under other names in the blacklist-sensitive industries...Solomon was eventually a producer on The Great American Dream Machine for PBS.

Skipping ahead: a paid note in the New York Times, published May 12, 2006:

SOLOMON--Wilma Shore, 92. Writer, painter, wit and friend; wife of the late Lou Solomon; mother of Hilary Bendich, Berkeley, CA. and Dinah Stevenson, Hoboken, N.J; grandmother of Nora, Jonathan and Bridget; great grandmother of five; great great-grandmother of one. We welcome donations in her name to feminist, humane, or environmental organizations or those actively opposed to the Bush administration. A Memorial Gathering will be planned.

And, dated with the month of my birth, that first contribution to F&SF, the brilliant and gently caustic, if such a thing is possible, "Bulletin from the Trustees...", a story I first read ca. 1972 in my father's battered copy of Robert Silverberg's anthology Voyagers in Time. Meanwhile, note below the contents of that issue of F&SF, which include Shore's story as the lead, Fritz Leiber's important "When the Change Winds Blow" as the cover story, and early stories by Joanna Russ (her own gently caustic parody of Lovecraft) and Dennis Etchison (just after the start of his impressive career) and Thomas Disch (likewise). And editor Avram Davidson, noting the passing of artist and writer Hannes Bok, and otherwise brilliantly curating the issue (along with being my favorite writer on many days, his F&SF remains my favorite period of the magazine's long, impressive history).

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1964:

4 • Editorial (F&SF, August 1964) • [Editorial (F&SF)] • essay by Avram Davidson
5 • A Bulletin from the Trustees of the Institute for Advanced Research at Marmouth, Mass. • short story by Wilma Shore
12 • "I Had Vacantly Crumpled It into My Pocket . . . But By God, Eliot, It Was a Photograph from Life!" • [Cthulhu Mythos] • short story by Joanna Russ
22 • Books (F&SF, August 1964) • [Books (F&SF)] • essay by Avram Davidson
27 • Poor Planet • novelette by J. T. McIntosh
54 • Nada • short story by Thomas M. Disch
71 • Hannes Bok (Obit) • essay by Avram Davidson
72 • The Red Cells • [The Science Springboard] • essay by Theodore L. Thomas
73 • Epitaph for the Future • poem by Ethan Ayer
74 • A Nice, Shady Place • (1963) • short story by Dennis Etchison (Originally published in Associated Students, L.A. State College)
87 • Redman • short story by Robert Lipsyte and Thomas Rogers [as by Robert M. Lipsyte and Thomas Rogers]
95 • The Days of Our Years • [Asimov's Essays: F&SF] • essay by Isaac Asimov
105 • When the Change-Winds Blow • short story by Fritz Leiber
113 • In the Calendar of Saints • short story by Leonard Tushnet

You can now read several short stories, the cited radio play (or listen to it), and a couple of articles (so far) at a new post here.

The next year, E. P. Dutton published Women Should Be Allowed, which includes the following stories, each with a long introduction in which Shore archly, wittily highlights a point or three the following story might support, mostly feminist points in those months after The Female Mystique and the Civil Rights Act and the ferment around the liberation movements of the previous decade-plus had no doubt given Shore at least some new hope, thus:

"A Mammal in a Black Crepe Dress" (published as "The Point of No Return of Gloria MacAdoo" in Good Housekeeping in 1957)

"All Sales Final" (as "The Dress from Bergdorf’s" (ss) Cosmopolitan Jun 1959)
"By the Still Waters of Ethel Wilkie" (as "Do You Take This Man?" GH 1955)
"Go and Catch a Falling Star" (Good Housekeeping Aug 1949)
"The Psychopathology of Everyday Life" (apparently first published in this collection)
"Some Kind of Lousy Cinderella" (as "It Was Different with Cinderella" (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Aug 24 1963)
"Good-bye Charlie" (as "What's Happened to Charlie?" GH, 1957)
"Yours Very Truly, (Miss) Leona Freemantle" (Antioch Review, 1960)
"I Can Get Along Fine" (as "I'll Get Along Fine" GH 1946)
"A Reasonable Facsimile" (as "Marry Me a Million" (ss) Cosmopolitan Feb 1949)
"May Your Days Be Merry and Bright" (The Saturday Evening Post Dec 21 1963)
"The Whole World Takes Off Its Hat to Sheree Wallach" (Ladies Home Journal May 1961)

--as the book's subtitle might suggest, the collection stands in at least partial refutation of the likes of James Thurber (and what might be called default attitude at The New Yorker and around the popular culture), and these stories, with their feminist messages unblunted by their titles being fiddled with by the women's magazines they were published in (when not the Saturday Evening Post or a little magazine), often cheek by jowl with their era's equivalents of today's "service" articles "How to Suppress Everything About Yourself to Snare That Man!" and "Why You Should Give In, For the Sake of the Marriage" and "How to Subvert the Fool without Him Catching On..." as well as more openly or tacitly feminist items, feature in most cases not so very enlightened young women learning better...about their current conditions, about the loutish swains they have been putting up with (and the often just as loutish if more polished men they aspire to) and their own often corrosively unsupportive families; about what really matters as opposed to Why It's Important to Be Married by 25 (though her characters almost to a woman do bristle, however subconsciously in some cases, at the notion that they need to be Safely Ensconced in marriage before they have had much chance to figure out what they need for themselves, while their potential mates have at least a decade or so more to come to some similar conclusions). A few stories deviate from this pattern, such as "May Your Days Be Merry and Bright," from the perspective of an empathetic woman in a retirement hotel, comparable to the upscale condo communities of today, watching the interactions of her colleagues and their families, the little power-plays and jostling for prestige--or the most savagely critical piece here of its female protagonist, "The Psychopathology of Everyday Life," about a boundary-free monster of ego and how she blithely "improves" the lives of her husband, son, and everyone else around her. Even the canniest of young women protagonists here, that of "A Reasonable Facsimile," finds her utter pragmatism in the face of Women's Estate in midcentury NYC shaken, probably if unsettlingly for the better, by the end of her story.

Wilma Shore was a hell of a writer, and her work richly rewards your attention. I probably should add to this critique, but I've my own pragmatic quotidian matters to attend to...though another, comparable writer I've not written well or enough about previously, Carol Emshwiller, is treated a bit more elegantly by James Sallis here.

Meanwhile, going to the FM Index at the link below and clicking through to the magazine issue contents, often seeing the context in which these satiric feminist stories were published (and often how much other fiction was published, even rather recently but not recently enough, by the women's magazines particularly, with Shore sharing space thus with John D. MacDonald and Daphne Du Maurier and A. A. Milne and Hughes Rudd and Hugh B. Cave, is another reminder of Times Changing).

from the FictionMags Index

SHORE, WILMA (1913- ) (chron.)

* The Butcher, (ss) Story Nov/Dec 1940

* Dress from Bergdorf’s, (ss) Cosmopolitan Jun 1959
* Go and Catch a Falling Star, (ss) Good Housekeeping Aug 1949
* It Was Different with Cinderella, (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Aug 24 1963
* Lock Stock and Barrel, (ss) Short Story Magazine #78 1951
* Marry Me a Million, (ss) Cosmopolitan Feb 1949
* May Your Days Be Merry and Bright, (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Dec 21 1963
* The Moon Belongs to Everyone, (ss) Short Story Magazine #70 1950
* The Ostrich Farm, (ss) Short Story Magazine #71 1950
* Someday I Have to Buy a Hat, (ss) Good Housekeeping Nov 1942
* Something of Her Own, (ss) McCall’s Mar 1944
* The Whole World Takes Off Its Hat to Sheree Wallach, (ss) Ladies Home Journal May 1961

From ISFDb:

Legal Name: Solomon, Wilma Shore
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Birthdate: 12 October 1913
Deathdate: May 2006
Webpage: http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/shore-wilma

Short fiction (in sf/fantasy magazines):

A Bulletin from the Trustees of the Institute for Advanced Research at Marmouth, Mass. (1964) (F&SF, 8/64)
Goodbye Amanda Jean (1970) (Galaxy, 7/70)
Is It the End of the World? (1972) (F&SF, 3/72)
The Podiatrist's Tale (1977) (F&SF, 4/77)

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

Wilma Shore contributions to The New Yorker (unless you're a subscriber, they want to charge you extra).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

February's Underappreciated Music: the links

What had been Scott Parker's meme lingers on, at least!

Bill Crider: Young tv actors' music careers (mostly but not exclusively the Warner Bros Television folks of the 1950s)

Charlie Ricci: Daryl Hall and John Oates: Whole Oates

George Kelley: Whitney Houston

James Reasoner: Modern Silent Cinema: The Passion Killer Whose Prison Romance Set Off a Scandal

Jerry House: Tom Doyle

Kate Laity: Linear Obessional Recordings

Lee Goldberg: Arctic Air (opening theme/montage)

Lee Hartsfeld: Rhythm and Blues in the Night (with the worst professional studio photo of Julie Newmar ever taken)

Patti Abbott: The Turtles, "Elenore"

Todd Mason: Edge-of-twee filmmaker and composer Hal Hartley's "Opera No. 1". One of a short series of short films commissioned for an early anthology project on Comedy Central, this pleasant 1994 short operetta features the lip-synching talent of Hartley friends Parker Posey, the late Adrienne Shelly, James Urbaniak (in his first film work) and Patricia Dunnock. What's more, the "full-cut" YouTube video below is about a minute out of sync, so it's a slightly more useful audio then visual experience (the shorter cut, but actually in sync, is available on the Chinese site YouKu, but I'm not sure how one embeds from that). It's charming and amusing, and the women are pretty adorable (Shelly was famously murdered by a stalker just after completing her film Waitress some years back). Definitely better to hit the Watch on YouTube button at the bottom, to enlarge to full-size...it's a handsome bit of business.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films And/Or Other A/V: the futher links and a Bamford/Urbaniak/Avallone collaboration

As frequently, I suspect a few more links will be added over the course of the day, from folks who haven't had a chance to post yet (myself among them). But here are the prompt entrants, and, as always, thanks to those who contribute the reviews and citations below and those of you who read these...and please let me know if I've overlooked a citation of yours or someone else's...

Bill Crider: The Benny Goodman Story (trailer)

Brian Arnold: 1982 Saturday Morning Pac Preview Party; Frequency

Chuck Esola: Yor, Hunter from the Future

Cullen Gallegher: 2011 NoirCon David Goodis Memorial Video

Dan Stumpf: Hamlet at Elsinore

Ed Gorman: Carolyn Hart on Writing Out Loud; Max Allan Collins on louts

Evan Lewis: Robin Hood of the Pecos

Geoff Bradley: Trial and Retribution (fourth series)

George Kelley: Nude Nuns with Big Guns

Iba Dawson: Layer Cake

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: The Crime of the Century

Jack Seabrook: Robert Bloch on Television: "Bad Actor" (Alfred Hitchcock Presents:)

James Reasoner: Last Hours Before Morning

Jerry House: Chinatown After Dark

John Charles: (Zane Grey's) King of the Royal Mounted

Juri Nummelin: Plunder Road

Kate Laity: Thirst aka Bakjwi ("Bat") (2009) and Linear Obsessional Recordings

Mark Hand: Anarchism's Enemies on All Sides: Chris Hedges vs the Occupy Anarchists

Marty McKee: The Men from Mobius

Michael Shonk: Bold Venture (1958-59)

Patti Abbott: The Swimmer

Randy Johnson: Tony Rome

Rod Lott: Ruby (1977)

Ron Scheer: Rimfire

Scott Cupp: The Rocketeer

Sergio Angelini: Crescendo (1970)

Stacia Jones: List Inconsequential

Steve Lewis: Bedelia

Todd Mason: Shame (aka Skammen); The Devil's Eye (aka Djävulens öga) and "Maria, Me and a Monster" It's improbable that any of the mature films of Ingmar Bergman can be considered truly overlooked (a few of his early efforts, such as Monika, are slight enough that overlooking them might well be permissible to all but the serious student of his work), but I do tend to find relatively few fans of The Virgin Spring or Persona or Hour of the Wolf or Wild Strawberries or Fanny and Alexander or The Seventh Seal or even The Magic Flute (staggering just to list them, really, at least to me, and I'm not alone) have also looked further to Bergman's compelling sf film, Shame, a devastating and only slightly surreal It Can Happen Here for a small Swedish island community, caught up in the conflagration presumably sweeping the larger society, or my favorite of Bergman's comedies (contrary to common prejudice, this is not oxymoronic), the Don Juan fantasy The Devil's Eye. One might wish to turn to the charm and wit of Don Juan's deal with the Devil, who challenges the seducer to take advantage of a virtuous young woman, but she is more sophisticated than either of her opponents has expected...after the emotional wrenching that Shame induces. Skammen forms a sort of trilogy, I gather, with Hour of the Wolf (in its turn, the best of Bergman's horror films) and Persona (the most surreal of his works), at it's the equal of those masterworks. The Devil's Eye is certainly in the same league, and both are eminently worth seeing particularly if one is looking for further work from perhaps the most fully-realized artist we've had among writer/directors in film.

And now for something completely different: a pilot for a webseries, written by comedian/actor Maria Bamford and actor/comedian James Urbaniak, and starring them and such other fine hyphenates as the married couple Janie Haddad and Paul F. Tompkins, and I suspect the death of one of Bamford's pugs might've contributed as much as busy-ness and other commitments to only this episode having been produced so far...as directed by David Avallone, whom I wondered if he was any relation to Michael, till I noted that DA's YouTube handle is EdNoon, which seems to answer that question in the affirmative. Left-clicking below to get the image in full-screen is definitely recommended.

Walter Albert: The Hot Heiress

Yvette Banek: The Classic Movie Dogathon; Murder, She Said (1961)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Donald Westlake Week: FFB/Overlooked Films: ENOUGH (Evans, 1977): ORDO (the film, 2004) among other Westlake films

Donald Westlake is one of those writers I've been reading all my literate life...my first experience of his work was almost certainly in reading "The Winner," his heavily metaphorical sf story (first published in Harry Harrison's anthology of new science fiction, Nova 1 [Delacorte, 1970]), in which a dissident poet named Revell refuses to knuckle under to his imprisonment, to the mild befuddlement of his prison warden, Wordman. (Even at a young age, I noted that Westlake could get a bit cute with character names.) It's the kind of story that has a wide appeal, and it's well-done, and it kept popping up in odd places, including classroom-use magazines, over the next decade. I'd find Westlake stories in Alfred Hitchcock Presents: anthologies, in the old back issues of Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and newer issues of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and I'd come across the likes of "Curt Clark"'s "Nackles" (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, January 1964) a story about an anti-Santa Clause who is not quite but not dissimilar to Krampus, in anthologies such as Terry Carr's New Worlds of Fantasy..."Curt Clark," as in "rude clerk" (perhaps one who'd Prefer Not To) being the name Westlake signed to some of his sf and fantasy after making a big noisy deal about quitting the fantastic-fiction field, in favor of crime fiction, in the early '60s. Of course, he did no such thing, but did publish his worst work I've read, by far, in Anarchaos (1967) as by Clark, a rather routine sf adventure novel that takes as its premise that a bunch of cutthroats supposedly inspired by a range of anarchists and not quite anarchists including among unlikely others Pyotr Kropotkin, the pacifist (very influential on Gandhi and MLK, Jr.) and biologist who was among the first to trace the importance of symbiosis and mutual aid in human and non-human matters, and who died under house arrest under Lenin, have set up a society on a planet they've dubbed Anarchaos, and engage in behaviors the most berserk of Ayn Rand's followers might find a bit sociopathic. Westlake could be snotty.

But he was also, almost invariably, acute and clever and inventive. In 1989, having just read in quick succession Elmore Leonard's Freaky Deaky, Westlake's Trust Me on This, and an Algis Budrys critique which in passing noted that Leonard's fiction was a bit less cartoonish than Westlake's, this last struck me on the fresh evidence to be exactly reversed (though Leonard's work was as charming and engaging), that Westlake's work could incorporate satiric elements without having to employ so "colorful" a cast of characters as Leonard seemed to prefer at all times; Westlake's work could offer more nuanced characterization, but perhaps was less consistently popular than Leonard's and some other writers of similar industry and talent because relatively few of Westlake's characters were sympathetically-drawn in the usual manner...they tended to be coolly-observed and deeply flawed, self-centered or -deluded, corruptible. And without much if any redemption from these flaws by the end of their stories, and sometimes without comeuppance, and frequently without becoming cartoons of evil ("Hello, Clarice"). This not the usual means of entering the bestseller lists.

By the '70s, though, Westlake was actively engaged in film work, with several adaptations of his novels by others already released and his own film work proceeding apace, and sometimes a treatment still being shopped or a script in turnaround would apparently find its way, transmogrified, into prose fiction, as apparently was his "Call Me a Cab," and "Ordo," the shorter of the two fictions in the 1977 book I've read for this week's FFB, Enough (M. Evans, paperbacked as above by Fawcett). "Ordo" the novella (83pp), along with A Travesty the short novel (184pp) collected in this volume, both deal with the periphery of the film industry: A Travesty, more of a conventional if "open" mystery than Westlake usually wrote, involves a self-centered, but not altogether unlikable, film reviewer who accidentally kills one of his girlfriends just before page one, and spends the rest of the novel dancing as fast as he can (and not always in self-preserving ways) to avoid, once cleared in the early going, becoming the obvious suspect again, in part through buddying up with one of the investigating detectives and helping him and his partner with several other murder cases, as a vaguely Holmesian consultant (albeit at least one of the critic's observations in that regard will almost certainly occur to most readers, and should've to any competent detective). In the course of this, critic Thorpe has plenty of time to share acidic observation not only of film culture but of our lives generally, engage in a bit of Dortmundering, and to anticipate such later Westlake sociopaths as those who inhabit The Ax or The Hook or such brilliant screenplays as the original of The Stepfather; the novel might eventually put you in mind of the O. J. Simpson/Brown and Goldberg matter, as well, some years before those ridiculously horrible events, the LAPD's actions as well as Simpson's.

"Ordo" is a somewhat more subdued effort, involving a Greek-named poly-ethnic American sailor, Ordo Tupikos, who learns from his shipmates that the teen bride he knew as a very young groom, their several-months marriage successfully annulled through the eventual intercession of his mother-in-law because the runaway girl was not yet at age of consent (she had lied to Ordo and the authorities), has now become, under another name and looking much different in full adulthood, a major Hollywood actress. Ordo has some difficulty reconciling the latter-day sex-symbol with his doting, insecure wife of sixteen years previously, as he's had no contact with her since the annulment (and shipping out to avoid legal complications) and decides to take leave and see if his ex will meet with him for a reunion. As it turns out, she will, but Ordo, a rather uncomplicated man, finds unsurprisingly that although they are, if anything, more sexually compatible (and, obviously, more experienced) than they were during their marriage, they are not as suited to each other...much is made of how little Ordo has changed, and how much Estelle Anlic has sought to reinvent herself, from bullied and insecure teen who found a refuge from her unpleasant family life with Ordo, only to have that taken from her, and then to make her current life for herself. After an utterly unpleasant reunion with Mother Anlic which takes its toll particularly on his ex-wife, Ordo realizes that their interrupted life together is now a thing of the past, even as the former Estelle realizes that she is still not over the early damage, and her new persona is too fragile for Ordo to be her mate again.

That this was a story aimed at filming is all but proven by the extremely faithful film adaptation, released in 2004, of Ordo, only (since it is a Canadian/French/Portuguese co-production) with the story relocated to France, and Estelle Anlic now a star of Francophone cinema, Ordo a French marine rather than a US sailor (the ethnicity of various characters adjusted to close analogs, accordingly). Ordo in the film (Roschdy Zem) is a bit more dense and impulsive than Ordo in the story, but only very slightly so; Marie-Josée Croze is excellent as the affectionate but brittle and moody Estelle/now "Louise Sandoli" (in the novella, "Dawn Devayne"). The script was adapted by (Ms.) Laurence Ferreira Barbosa and Nathalie Najem (I suspect Westlake provided a treatment or a draft, or could've, along with the novella), the film directed by Barbosa, and the home video release is from the Canadian titan Alliance Atlantis (CSI, etc.)...and yet this remains an even more overlooked film than I realized, with almost no theatrical arthouse play in the US and that dvd apparently out of print and with highish to ridiculous asking prices on Amazon (at least), and only one review on IMDb, where one Brit? "rowmorg" seems ready to go out of his? way to dismiss this film, noting it "suffers from having a phony story contrived from a Yankee pulp novel" (thus making, to paraphrase James Blish, four major errors in twelve words, and only two of those matters of subjectivity), but, then, he? also cleverly notes "There's plenty of Marie Josee Croze in the buff, if you like chilly 30-something blondes, swimming around her millionaire swim-pool and making out with hunky Ordo for old times' sake." Heaven forfend, that a 30-something should be engaging in such behavior, so old and all...and the Canadian Croze, lost to shame, going on to swim nude yet again in Tell No One. All in all, a film that is quiet and engaging, and worth the effort to see it, if not Too strenuous.

As noted, Westlake has been responsible for a number of excellent scripts during his career, most famously the adaptation of Jim Thompson's The Grifters, but his original script for The Stepfather, very deftly filmed and very poorly sequeled and remade with no input from Westlake, was even better yet. Another film, reviewed by Paul Brazill some time back for the weekly Overlooked Films exercise many FFBers also do, Grace of My Heart, the engaging fictionalized biopic not quite about the life and career of Carole King, carries a Thanks credit to Westlake...whether because he provided script assistance or advice or production funds or some combination is not spelled out. But an unexpected grace note to pop up after finally seeing that film in its entirety the other month.

For more of this week's Westlake and other books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films And/Or Other A/V: the links

Thanks, as always, to those who contribute reviews and citations to this weekly roundup, and to you readers (as I look forward to some Valentine's Day dentistry this afternoon, some of the late additions might be delayed more than usual into this evening).

Bill Crider: Wild at Heart (trailer)

Brian Arnold: Only You (1994)

Evan Lewis: Zorro (1957)

Iba Dawson: love stories

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Bend of the River and...

James Reasoner: The Duel at Silver Creek

Jerry House: "Ghost Story" (The Cisco Kid)

John Charles: Return of the Gladiator

John F. Norris: How to Murder a Rich Uncle

Kate Laity: Pop Hive; Galway Races

Michael Shonk: Bold Venture (1951)

Patti Abbott: Portrait of Jennie

Randy Johnson: Pete Kelly's Blues

Rod Lott: The Rapture

Ron Scheer: Night Passage (1957)

Scott Cupp: The Phantom (1996)

Sergio Angelini: The Nanny (1965)

Stacia Jones: Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street

Steve Lewis: The Scarlet Hour; The Small World of Sammy Lee

Todd Mason: Ordo; Grace of My Heart (Donald Westlake week)

Walter Albert: Nine Girls

Yvette Banek: Sayonara

Related matters:

Ed Gorman: Donald Westlake, a "lost" interview; Republic Pictures' horror tradition

George Kelley: Downton Abbey; Les Violons du Roy

Jackie Kashian: What Bugs Me About Men Who Hate Women/The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Prashant Trikannad: "Respect Your National Anthem"

Friday, February 10, 2012

FFB: STORYTELLER by Kate Wilhelm (2005); CREATING SHORT FICTION by Damon Knight; (1981/1985/1997); callback to Donald Westlake and Jody Scott rarities

Next week, The Donald Westlake Symposium among the FFB crowd...here's my review from some ways back (almost three years...goodness) of two all-too-forgotten works, novellas by (Mr.) Donald Westlake ("Call Me a Cab") and (Ms.) Jody Scott ("Down Will Come Baby") that were never reprinted from their initial magazine appearances, his in Redbook when that magazine still published ficiton, hers in Escapade in its last issues as a rather sophisticated Playboy imitator, while Barry Malzberg was editing there (a short tenure, just before his much less well-paid short tenure as editor of Fantastic and Amazing).

I didn't finish the book I was likely to write up this week, so instead I'll briefly cite two which are definitely in print, from a rather less coincidental gender-pairing, Kate Wilhelm and the late Damon Knight, married for decades and also partners in creation of the Clarion Writers' Workshops, now a multi-site annual tradition and the most sustained program within, but not restricted to, fantastic-fiction writing instruction. Much of Knight's primarily instructional Creating Short Fiction and Wilhelm's mix of instruction and memoir (favoring the former) Storyteller comes out of their experiences with Clarion, as well as their larger working lives as highly analytical fiction-writers, and to some degree (Knight vastly moreso over the years than Wilhelm) editors (though Wilhelm has been in her turn a much more prolific fiction-writer than Knight was, after his most productive years in the 1950s and early '60s).

Knight is clear and concise and witty as he lays out the various approaches to and strictures of short-fiction writing, and the highlight of the book, for me is the way in which he presents his fine novelet "Four-in-One" and breaks down what he was doing with it, and how, at every step of its conception and writing. Wilhelm is more meditative, if no less witty, as she deals with basic questions of both literature and writing instruction specifically (excerpts of her book have been posted, with permission, thus: "Can Writing Be Taught?"; "Trivia vs. Writing Real Stories"; and "My Silent Partner". They are, together, an excellent distillation of what the two have taken away from their instructional experiences, and useful and a pleasure to read in a way that the best criticism tends to be, as well...illuminating and genuine fun.

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the List of Links

As always, thanks to all contributors and to you readers of these reviews and citations, at the links below. Please let me know of any I might've overlooked!

Bill Crider: Helen of Troy (1956) (trailer)

Chuck Esola: Daisy Town

Dan Stumpf: The Naked Kiss

Evan Lewis: "Porky's Hare Hunt" (featuring a proto-Bugs)

Geoff Bradley: Without Motive (2000)

George Kelley: Odds Against Tomorrow

Iba Dawson: Love Jones

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Best television westerns...lists...

Jack Seabrook: Robert Bloch on Television: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (Alfred Hitchcock Presents:)

Jackie Kashian: Games for Change Festival

Jerry House: 1984 (1954)

John Charles: Cannonball

Juri Nummelin: City of Fear

Kate Laity: Red Cliff

Michael Shonk: They Call It Murder

Mike Tooney: Cannon: "The Proxy"; Rehearsal for Murder

Patti Abbott: Being There

Randy Johnson: The Stranger (1946)

Ron Scheer: Hour of the Gun

Scott Cupp: Monsters (2010); The Invisible Man (1958-1960)

Steve Lewis: PulpFest 2012; I've Got Your Number; Pitfall

Todd Mason: Web archives of latter-day radio drama: please see below.

Yvette Banek: Casanova's Big Night

Related Matters:

Ed Gorman (and Peter Bogdanovich): Hail the Conquering Hero

James Reasoner: Doctor Zhivago

Prashant Trikannad: A Passage to India

Sergio Angelini: Touch of Evil

The Not Quite As Big Broadcast: Radio Drama from the 1960s to Now (Part 2)

Among the archives of defunct shows:

Bay Area Radio Drama features such Pacifica Radio productions as the horror anthology The Black Mass, a selection of Eugene O'Neill's early shorter plays and other anthologies, readings, and one-shots produced by the unit headed by Erik Bauersfeld from 1961-2009. Link courtesy of Michael Stamm.

CBS Radio Mystery Theater The longest running of the commercial-radio revivals of radio drama in the US, from 1974 (twelve years after the last CBS network broadcasts of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar) to 1982. Link courtesy of James Reasoner.

Archive.org can be very annoying in the way things are tucked away in its vast sets of files...the NPR linchpin series Earplay (1972-1981) is basically unfindable unless one comes across its placement in the archive as EARPLAYNPR. However, such series as ABC Radio's eclectic mid-'60s anthology Theater Five are rather easy to find. Most of their selections are not comprehensive, but often decent if haphazard cross-sections, such as their Bob & Ray or Firesign Theatre slices.

Rod Serling's post-Night Gallery project Zero Hour (Mutual Broadcasting System, 1973-74--I've incorrectly referred to this as syndicated previously) is often credited with sparking the CBS projects a year later. It's first season saw five-part stories told in Monday-Friday episodes; the second season offered discrete stories each day.

I've not yet found episodes online of The National Radio Theater of Chicago (1972-1987) (though its successors, 2000x and the Hollywood Theater of the Ear have such items as their dramatization of Black Mask magazine stories for sale).

In 1977, the CBS Radio Mystery Theater group spun off a weekend series aimed at younger listeners, and sponsored for its first year as The General Mills Adventure Theater; for its abbreviated second season, it was known as The CBS Radio Adventure Theater.

The Sears Radio Theater joined the CBS Radio Mystery Theater as a Monday-Friday "strip" on CBS in 1979; for its second season, it moved over to Mutual and became the Mutual Radio Theater.

The Next Big Thing (1999-2006) was the last anthology from Public Radio International to feature a fair amount of radio drama in its mix, unless we count the running sketches of A Prairie Home Companion (since removed from PRI distribution, for that matter). Sadly, such fine radio drama as "Ten Past Eleven" (based on the Kitty Genovese murder) has not been preserved among the scattered episodes that have audio files at the link.

OTR.net features sound files of widely varying quality for a wide variety of series, including such late series as ABC Radio's Theater Five from 1964-65; a generous sampling of older series is available here, too.

Seeing Ear Theater was a web project of the SciFi (sic), now SyFy, Channel's corporate parent, beginning in 1998...SciFiction was their web magazine devoted to new and reprinted fantastic fiction and Seeing Ear was devoted to a mix of new and older radio drama, the latter leaning heavily on such fine series as X Minus One and Quiet Please, while the new drama included an ambitious adaptation of Octavia Butler's first novel, Kindred, starring Alfre Woodard. Most of the originals presented, including some of the author readings, are linked to or archived here.

And WAMU remains among the most prominent of terrestrial broadcast stations offering 1930s-'60s radio drama and variety, in their weekly four-hour showcase on Sunday nights and archived on the web for a week after broadcast, The Big Broadcast

And this would be a quick survey of some of the most obvious projects and series to have arisen nationally in the US from the mid-1960s onward...