Friday, May 31, 2013

FFB: "Shield for Murder" by Willam P. McGivern (novella version, BLUE BOOK, February 1951)

Mark sat in the waiting room in the hospital, chain-smoking, and wondering what he would do if [someone else] died. Nothing, probably, he thought. You just didn't do anything when people died, he knew. You just wished they hadn't....

--William P. McGivern, "Shield for Murder"

The novella version of this takes the last densely-packed 39 pages, not counting the back cover, of the 2/51 issue of Blue Book...Raymond Thayer's occasional illustrations don't take up much room, nor what I take to be (legendary) editor Donald Kennicott's blurb about how the corrupt cop at the heart of this story was the exception who proves the rule...whether that was a figleaf to deflect criticism or genuine concern...but it's a point McGivern himself makes from time to time in the story itself, though McGivern, already a veteran crime beat reporter on the Philadelphia Bulletin when he published this, also notes at least as fervently that police insularity...blind loyalty to each other in the face of perceived public disdain or hostility, is even more the engine of police corruption and abuse (that and the temptations driven by their license for violence, potentially dangerous work, and low pay). The novel version, published later in 1951, is not one of McGivern's most popular (I hadn't heard of it till just before receiving the Blue Book issue as a contest prize), and perhaps was puffed up from the novella, rather than the novel cut down to fit the magazine...there were two adaptations for a/v media, a 1951 Studio One adaptation on CBS-TV, and a 1954 film starring and co-directed by Edmond O'Brien (with Howard Koch); McGivern would use the title again for a Kojak script in the 1970s. 

Having published fiction with Ray Palmer's Ziff-Davis fiction magazines going as far back as 1940, at least (young McGivern, Isaac Asimov and Damon Knight getting their professional starts in those magazines, among not a few others, in those years), McGivern joined a crew of Chicago-based writers who would regularly turn out copy for the magazines, including Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures, Mammoth Mystery, Mammoth Detective, and Mammoth Western...(the only slightly older) Robert Bloch was probably the best writer to also participate thus, but McGivern was able to learn his craft with any number of often routine stories under his and "house" names, though sometimes rather oddly distinctive work as well, even as he mustered in for WW2 service. After the war came his sojourn in Philadelphia (along with enduring marriage to fellow writer Maureen Daly), where he gathered inspiration for such notable novels as The Big Heat, Rogue Cop and Odds Against Tomorrow...and he eventually followed fellow Palmer-stable writer (and Palmer's editorial successor at Ziff-Davis fiction magazines) Howard Browne out to Hollywood, where McGivern flourished.

But Ziff-Davis's crime-fiction pulps were dead by the time the short form of "Shield for Murder" was published (sadly, the first great inpulpation of Blue Book would fold within a few years, too), so this well-written, heartfelt and not terribly melodramatic account of a bad cop, out of the streetgangs of Philly in the 1930s and, through service as a street thug for the Republican machine, put into service as a cop, then through good fortune driven in part by nonchalance and abetted by those earlier political connections promoted to detective, and his attempts to garner some of the good life any way he can. With what would be his fourth novel in boards (some of his earlier longer stories for the fantasy magazines have been reprinted as public-domain texts recently), McGivern was still learning how to pull every aspect of a story together (assuming that some of that feeling isn't driven by it needing to be cut down for the magazine), but the pacing, the grace of the prose, and the attempts to portray all the characters in the story as realistically human as possible, with even our McGivern-analog journalist protagonist given to small pettinesses and thoughtlessness at his worst, and a rather better portrayal of the women characters (as actually complex, thinking adults) than is often the case in hardboiled fiction of this vintage (or too often even now), all give this a strength that shouldn't be ignored. I'm not sure whether this form of the story has ever been reprinted...but the Blue Book issue isn't Too expensive from the more reasonable vendors (and, hey, you get Jim Kjelgaard and Nelson Bond stories, too).

Philadelphia, as it currently is, suffering from a rash of police shootings of civilians, this novella (and its cousins) takes on an unfortunate currency...

For more (and more prompt!) reviews of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.

Courtesy the FictionMags Index

Blue Book [v 92 #4, February 1951] (25¢, 144pp, large, cover by John Fulton)
Information from an eBay auction description.
* But Death Runs Faster (Dodd Mead, 1948) (a.k.a The Whispering Corpse)
* Heaven Ran Last (Dodd Mead, 1949)
* Very Cold for May (Dodd Mead, 1950)
* Shield for Murder (Dodd Mead, 1951)
* Blondes Die Young (Dodd Mead, 1952) (as Bill Peters)
* The Crooked Frame (Dodd Mead, 1952)
* The Big Heat (Dodd Mead, 1953)
* Margin of Terror (Dodd Mead, 1953)
* Rogue Cop (Dodd Mead, 1954)
* The Darkest Hour (Dodd Mead, 1954) (a.k.a. Waterfront Cop)
* The Seven File (Dodd Mead, 1956) (a.k.a. Chicago-7)
* Night Extra (Dodd Mead, 1957)
* Odds Against Tomorrow (Dodd Mead, 1957)
* Mention My Name in Mombasa: The Unscheduled Adventures of an
American Family Abroad (Dodd Mead, 1958) (with Maureen Daly)
* Savage Streets (Dodd Mead, 1959)
* Seven Lies South (Dodd Mead, 1960)
* Killer on the Turnpike (Pocket Books, 1961) (short stories)
* The Road to the Snail (Dodd Mead, 1961)
* A Pride of Place (Dodd Mead, 1962)
* Police Special (Dodd Mead, 1962) (omnibus - contains ??)
* A Choice of Assassins (Dodd Mead, 1963)
* The Caper of the Golden Bulls (Dodd Mead, 1966)
* Lie Down, I Want to Talk to You (Dodd Mead, 1967)
* Caprifoil (Dodd Mead, 1972)
* Reprisal (Dodd Mead, 1973)
* Night of the Juggler (Putnam, 1975
* Soldiers of '44 (Arbor Hourse, 1979)
* The Seeing (Tower, 1980) (with Maureen McGivern)
* Summitt (Arbor House, 1982)
* A Matter of Honor (Arbor House, 1984) (completed by Maureen
* War Games (Arbor House, 1984)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Jack Vance, 1916-2013

Thanks, sir.

Jack Vance was one of the ten best literary fantasists in English of the last century, and an often brilliant writer of science fiction and crime fiction as well. (He ghosted three Ellery Queen novels, as well as writing his own suspense and mystery fiction.) His death, on Sunday, at age 96, was announced today. Further memoirs: Bill Crider; Carlo Rotella in the New York Times; Richard Robinson; Lawrence Person leading off covers with To Live Forever.

This one was adapted for the television series Thriller.

click on cover to go back
This one was filmed.

Click here to enlarge

From an interview/profile published last year.

book (and one magazine) covers and more by Tony Palladino

Saul Bass couldn't improve upon it:

Several of the images from this post have been removed without notice to me. Google thus does the pettiest sort of evil, along with other sorts. 

The Second Coming Magazine, June 1962 cover
June 1962 issue

further video adventures of THIS AMERICAN WIFE (episodes 3-5)

The frequently brilliant audio podcast parodists of US public radio continue their video parody of the Showtime cable version of This American Life,  This American Wife.

Episode 1: The Pledge Drive 
Episode 2: Reply Girls

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

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

In Your Hands
Below, today's set of reviews and citations of audiovisual works and related matter, with the posts at the links... as always, thanks to all the contributors and to all you readers for your participation. And, as usually, there are likely to be additions to this list over the course of the day, and if I've missed your, or someone else's, post, please let me know in comments...thanks again.This week, and while it's close, it's interesting that perhaps our least overlooked item is a stage play...

Bill Crider: Steamboat 'Round the Bend  ...trailer

Brian Arnold: The Original VJs of Classic MTV

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Dan Stumpf: Crime without Passion

Ed Gorman: TCM on The Prowler; Cannes's worst posters

Ed Lynskey: Acts of Violence (1948 film)

Allee Willis and Toni Basil
Elizabeth Foxwell: The Star and the Story pilot: "Dark Stranger"

Elizabeth Grace Foley: The Magnificent Ambersons

Evan Lewis: The Shadow (unaired tv pilot)

George Kelley: Borgen

Iba Dawson: The 2013 Columbia University Film Festival

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Naked City (tv); Ripchord and more...

Jackie Kashian: Allee Willis (composer and Detroit benefactor)

Jacqueline T. Lynch: You Are Here (and lectures)

Jake Hinkson: Top of the Lake

James Reasoner: Catlow

Jerry House: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916)

Kliph Nesteroff: Tomorrow: Sterling Hayden interviewed by Tom Snyder
The Palm Beach Story

Laura: Run Silent, Run Deep

Lucy Brown: Scott & Bailey, series/season three

Martin Edwards: The Mousetrap

Michael Shonk: The Manhunter (1974 tv)

Mystery Dave: The Sea Hawk

Patti Abbott: The Palm Beach Story

Prashant Trikannad: 35 Underrated Actors

Randy Johsnon: The Crowd Roars;  The Bounty Killer (aka El precio de un hombre)

Rick: The Long Hot Summer (1964 tv)

Two Rode Together
Rod Lott: The Frozen Ghost; Game of Death (2000 film)

Ron Scheer: Two Rode Together

Scott Cupp: Iron Sky; Orlando

Sergio Angelini: In Your Hands (aka Contre toi)

Stacia Jones: What Maisie Knew

Steve Badger: Anthony Mann

Television Obscurities: Accidental Family

This American Wife: Joel Hodgson; Peter Mehlman

Todd Mason: The Fred Allen memorial episode of What's My Line?, with Toshiko Akiyoshi and Cyd Charisse

Monday, May 27, 2013

Saturday Music Club on Memorial Day: random acts of video: Toshiko Akiyoshi on WHAT'S MY LINE, Twinkle and The Who on the last SHINDIG; 2 war songs

A young, newly emigrated Toshiko Akiyoshi had the unfortunate timing of appearing on the episode of What's My Line? memorializing Fred Allen, who'd passed in the week before taping (and whose last regular gig WML was).

The Dangerous Minds blog, in Richard Metzger's post yesterday, points us toward a video from the last segment of the last episode of Shindig!;  Metzger is highlighting "Twinkle" (as teen Lynn Ripley initially billed herself), and in this segment of the tv program, Twinkle is clearly lip-synching (and the backing track is probably of the most musical interest); the Who are clearly playing live, and Keith Moon threatens to blast the others off the stage (see here for better audio and worse visual of all three of the Who performances from that episode).

A historian on WHYY's Radio Times this week was rather cheerfully nominating "Over There" as the best war song ever, as it was ever so peppy and all...I'll countersuggest that at least these two are among the not actually antiwar songs that I might offer first:

some hyperrealist/figurative realist paintings

Lee Price:
part of a series of often nude self-portraits, usually with food, from directly above

Charles Bell:

Bell had a recurring interest in candy machines, colorful toys, pinball machines.

Marilyn Minter:
Wettest Pam (2009)


Alicia St. Rose:
Terracotta Jungle

Chesley Bonestell:
Saturn as Seen from Titan (1944)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Music Club: Some rock albums from the summer of 1966

Among the notable aspects here...nearly all of these allow, if one pops out the links to watch/listen to them at YT, track selection.

Also notable, perhaps, is that these key albums of the Byrds' and Beatles' careers are also their jazziest albums...for the Byrds, not solely "Eight Miles High" and "I See You" but even "Hey, Joe" feature heavily jazz (most obviously John Coltrane)-influenced guitar riffs on McGuinn's part, and McCartney reaches toward pop jazz in "Good Day Sunshine," "For No One" and particularly "Got to Get You into My Life," and while the tape loops and other experimentation running through "Tomorrow Never Knows" owes more to post-serial electronic music innovators in the classical world, that and some of the other Lennon songs (and Harrison's playing around with Indian classical influence) all have a certain free jazz flavor to them (not quite the MC5, but along the path).  Perhaps some of my fondness for these stems from the Wailers being essentially still a ska band, moving toward the creation of reggae, and that the Animals, the Stones, and of course the Yardbirds, while growing more adventurous, were still not quite ready to shed their partial identities as blues bands...

The Wailers: The Wailing Wailers (issued at the end of 1965 in Jamaica, but of uncertain date and availability in the US and elsewhere...leading off with special pleading)

The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (released May 1966)

The Rolling Stones: Aftermath (released in the US June 1966; UK April 1966)

The Animals: Animalisms (released June 1966)

The Yardbirds: Roger the Engineer (aka Over Under Sideways Down) (released July 1966)

The Byrds: Fifth Dimension (released July 1966)

The Beatles: Revolver (released August 1966)

Jefferson Airplane: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (released August 1966)

The Mothers of Invention: Freak Out (official release July 1966; this an alternately sequenced and produced album released as bootleg)

Friday, May 24, 2013

FFB: two by Charles Platt: FREE ZONE and TENDER LOVING RAGE (a partial reconstruction from memory of Alfred Bester's novel)

Charles Platt has been a mercurial and often challenging figure in sf, and on the fringes of it, for nearly half a the last decade or so, he has been much more active writing nonfiction for Wired and Make: magazines, and for them and others about his passions, very much including cryogenics, than he has any kind of fiction, but he'd already contributed rather impressively to several fields, not least with Free Zone (1989), which he cites as his favorite of his own novels, and his reconstruction of at least part of the "lost" Alfred Bester suspense novel published as Tender Loving Rage (1991); I have to seek out Platt's collection of essays Loose Canon, or my copy of the novel itself, where Platt explains to what degree he had to replace from memory missing pages in the manuscript, which had originally been written, iirc, in the year or so after Who He?, Bester's similar contemporary suspense novel dealing with life in advertising and commercial writing. Bester's original title for the long-unsold novel was Tender Loving Rape, and the events of the novel were often as brutal as the title suggests, while also being Bester's only attempt at an odd sort of love story, at novel length. While Bester was exorcising some of his demons, including a rather jaundiced view of relations between the sexes (Bester was increasingly uncomfortable as a closeted, eventually mostly-gay man), this was already familiar territory for Platt, as well, albeit while Bester increasingly wallowed in misogyny by the end of his life, Platt in retrospect finds some of his unexamined youthful expressions of frustration, in such novels as The Gas and Sweet Evil, not altogether flattering nor comfortable.

But it's easy to see why Free Zone might be Platt's pride and joy; he had the notion of attempting to incorporate, into one reasonably short novel, every major science fiction trope and cliche which came to mind; a chart at the back of the book cites 71 examples. Platt has always been most comfortable with at least a certain measure of humor to his writing, and Free Zone is breezy and deftly-written fun, as a libertarian socialist enclave, the FZ, in a future/alternate world Los Angeles is not only chivvied by the collapsing fascist state the US has become around it, but directly invaded and/or besieged by all sorts of fantasticated menaces, including aliens, and Nazis from an alternate Earth in which they were victorious in World War II. The heroine, Dusty McCullough, is the chiefest if relatively informal administrator of the nearly anarchist FZ, with a tech-genius/geek male life-partner, and friends and fellow free citizens (including gang bikers), pitted against the sentient dogs and troglodytes, among others, who attack them...also assisted by a hyper-sophisticated robot from the future, sent back and capable of seeing into multiple realities. Platt at his website reports that at least some readers would complain about the affectionately satirical nature of the work, whether because they felt Platt was showing disrespect to his predecessors, or because they wanted a more serious extrapolation along the same lines, or both. I'd suggest the novel moves at an excellent clip, a tribute to how well Platt studied his literary idol Bester, and makes seemingly every point it intends to make, even if he seems at times to think he's created the concept of libertarian socialism (which would've come as news to people ranging from the Anabaptists through the Communards to Noam Chomsky)...I've needed to seek out more of Platt's fiction for quite some time.

Patti Abbott has the lists of contributors this week and probably a review or two...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V; new links

Reign (forthcoming on the CW network)
Below, today's set of reviews and citations of audiovisual works and related matter, with the posts at the links... as always, thanks to all the contributors and to all you readers for your participation. And, as usually, there are likely to be additions to this list over the course of the day, and if I've missed your, or someone else's, post, please let me know in comments...thanks again.

Bill Crider: The Doolins of Oklahoma ...trailer

Brent McKee: US tv: CBS and the CW's new season slates

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Ed Gorman/Lee Feiffer: Five Against the House

Elizabeth Foxwell: The Long Arm (aka The Third Key)

Evan Lewis: The Laurel-Hardy Murder Case

Ida Lupino
Fred Blosser: One Foot in Hell

Iba Dawson: TCM Classic Film Fest, Part 2

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: The Whistler

Jack Seabrook: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "On the Nose" (from the Henry Slesar short story)

Jackie Kashian: The Nerdstorian, et al.

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Mary Astor

Jake Hinkson: Ida Lupino

James Reasoner: Shaughnessy, the Iron Marshal

Jerry House: The Beast of Yucca Flats (film itself, at link, mildly NSFW)

Juri Nummelin: Femme Fatale (2002 film)

Kliph Nesteroff: Buddy Hackett bowling

Laura: Kismet (1955 film)

Lucy Brown: Murder on the Home Front (2013 UK tv)

Marty McKee: Vampire Circus

Max Allan Collins: 10 Memorable Spy Novel Film Adaptations

Michael Shonk: King of Diamonds (tv 1961-62)

Mystery Dave: Branded (2012 film)

Patti Abbott: Good Morning, World (1967-68 tv)  (James Reasoner's take, from 2011)

Prashant Trikannad: Ed Harris

Randy Johnson: Perfect Understanding; A Man Called Django (aka W Django)

The Killer Inside Me (2010)
Rick: The Philadelphia Experiment

Rod Lott: Double Team

Ron Scheer: The Spoilers (1942 film)

Scott Cupp: Iron Sky

Sergio Angelini: St. Ives

Stacia Jones: The Killer Inside Me (1976 and 2010) 

Television Obscurities:  It's a Man's World

Walter Albert: The Reckless Moment

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Music Club: why this blog is called Sweet Freedom...

Well, because I did, for a long time with my ex, Donna Wilson, a radio show called Sweet Freedom, first on WGMU-AM at George Mason University, then at WCXS (then WEBR, now Radio Fairfax) cable radio in Fairfax County, VA, and finally so far at WPPR-FM (now basically the Prometheus Radio Project) in Philadelphia  That lasted, with interruption, for just under a decade of weekly broadcasting/cablecasting/narrowcasting.

The CBS reissue I had first.
And, of course, because I've been a libertarian socialist for essentially all my political life. (That I've been a diagnosed diabetic with a savage sweet tooth throughout most of the years I've used the title gives a bit of resonance to it, too.)

But also, and certainly not least, because of the Freedom Now Suite composed by Max Roach and Oscar Brown, Jr., and performed by various Roach groups over the years (initially on record with a band including Abbey Lincoln, Babatunde Olatunji and Coleman Hawkins), and the Sonny Rollins composition Freedom Suite.

("Socialist Jazz" is a dismissive if teasing nick-name some fellow high-school students came up with for me. Rather difficult for me, at the time nor since, to be insulted by that combo, however overdetermined it might be, even given how it was intended.)

An interview segment, essentially, one commenter on the YT post notes, "Freedom Suite" was hardly the first political statement among jazz instrumentals...

I didn't remember the Rascals' album when I named the radio show, but its resonances didn't upset me, either:

The Michael McDonald song for the Running Scared soundtrack wasn't on my radar at all at the time. Nor the much earlier Uriah Heep song.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday's "Forgotten" Books: the links

This week's selections, at the links below, of books with insufficient attention yet given (some books never get enough)...if I've missed yours or someone else's, please let me know in comments. Patti Abbott will be compiling the list again next week, and in two weeks would like to see your review of an Elmore Leonard fiction for your Friday entry, if you're game...

Sergio Angelini: Fuzz by "Ed McBain"

Joe Barone: Nobody's Perfect by Donald Westlake

Brian Busby: A Dum-Dum for the President by "Martin Brett"

Bill Crider: The Yggyssey by Daniel Pinkwater

Scott Cupp: Lost Girl in the Lake by Joe McKinney and Michael McCarty

William F. Deeck: Sleep No More by Sam S. Taylor

Loren Eaton: Vurt by Jeff Noon

Martin Edwards: A Question of Proof by "Nicholas Blake"

Peter Enfantino, John Scoleri & Jack Seabrook: The House of Mystery, etc.

Barry Ergang: Brass Knuckles by Frank Gruber

Curt Evans: Murder at Bermuda and Murder of the Honest Broker by Willoughby Sharp

Ed Gorman: How Like an Angel by Margaret Millar

Douglas Greene: Bodies in a Bookshop by "R. T. Campbell"

Jerry House: Sweet Genevieve by August Derleth

Randy Johnson: Once Upon A Murder by Robert J. Randisi & Kevin D. Randle

George Kelley: Murder in the Wind (aka Hurricane) by John D. MacDonald

Margot Kinberg: Breach of Promise by Perri O’Shaughnessy

Rob Kitchin: The Dance of the Seagull by Andrea Camilleri

B.V. Lawson: Exeunt Murderers by "Anthony Boucher"

Evan Lewis: Spicy Detective Stories edited by Tom Mason

Steve Lewis: The Phantom Spy (aka War for Sale) by "Max Brand"

Ed Lynskey: The Bloody Spur by Charles Einstein

Neer: Night Screams by Bill Pronzini and Barry N. Malzberg

Todd Mason: Backing into Forward by Jules Feiffer; Pogo: Through the Wild Blue Yonder by Walt Kelly

John F. Norris: Scream for Jeeves by P. H. Cannon

James Reasoner: The Bad Man of the West by George D. Hendricks

Karyn Reeves: The Fig Tree by Aubrey Menen

Gerard Saylor: Biloxi Blues by Neil Simon

Ron Scheer: A Daughter of the Snows by Jack London; Dead Man's Ranch by Matthew Mayo (not quite as by Ralph Compton)

Kerrie Smith: Comeback by Dick Francis

Prashant Trikannad: comics on Mars

from the local paper on my 13th birthday...

Stumbled across this after the work database went down tonight (at its scheduled time to do so)...The Nashua Telegraph wasn't a great paper, but it was available for my folks' perusal at breakfast, which The Boston Globe might not be, and the Manchester Union-Leader was beserkly right-wing (as rabidly so as any daily in the U.S. at the time), even as they were mildly left-leaning...somewhat to the left of the Globe, much less the Telegraph. The Loeb paper was out of the question. I note that in the summer of 1977, I would've been catching either the CBS sitcom repeats or, at least as likely, what WENH, the New Hapmshire PBS station, was pumping out on that Saturday night: The International Animation Festival at 8p, Wodehouse Playhouse at 8:30p, The Goodies at 9p (I might well've opted for All in the Family's repeat, as I was rather less a fan of The Goodies), Python at 9:30p. I don't remember catching Casqe d'Or on what Channel 11 labeled PBS Theater that night, though I was a loyal viewer of the film package. (And I haven't thought of Once Upon a Classic nor Piccadilly Circus, both PBS offers, for dogs' years...)
Interesting to see how much more programming aimed at minority communities was in evidence even on the commercial stations in Boston at the time than one might see now, even if it was mostly low-budget discussion programming in fringe time-periods, on the weekend...but, then, WHDH had lost a license to broadcast only a few years before in a challenge, and I suspect the corporate interests in the Hub were making damned sure they covered at least a few bases to keep it from happening to them as well...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

AH, WILDERNESS! by Eugene O'Neill: the Caedmon Records recording of the Theater Recording Society performance (1970)

Four, I think, stacked them on a spindle and four discs had sides 1-4, then you flipped the stack for sides 5-8.  A long afternoon with my father's 1960s Koss headphones, on my parents' spindled turntable...


Director: Theodore Mann

Originally staged at Ford's Theatre, Washington, DC, October 12, 1969

Nat Miller - Larry Gates
Essie - Geraldine Fitzgerald
Arthur - Alex Wipf
Richard - Tony Schwab
Mildred - Lucy Saroyan
Tommy - Frank Coleman, IV
Sid Davis - Stefan Gierasch
Lily Miller - Laurinda Barrett

 David McComber - Hansford Rowe
  Muriel McComber - Brenda Currin
  Wint Selby - William Dolive
  Belle - Peggy Pope
  Nora - Camilla Ritchey
  Bartender - Robert Legionaire
  Salesman - Henry Calvert

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

more links (and corrections): Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links

Below, today's set of reviews and citations of audiovisual works and related matter, with the posts at the links... as always, thanks to all the contributors and to all you readers for your participation. And, as usually, there are likely to be additions to this list over the course of the day, and if I've missed your, or someone else's, post, please let me know in comments...thanks again.

Bill Crider: Congo (1985 film); ...the trailer

Brent McKee: NBC's 2013-2014 slate

Brian Arnold: Street Smart

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Dan Stumpf: Belladonna; Temptation (1946 film)

Ed Gorman/Dave Kehr: The Deadly Companions

Scott and Bailey
Elizabeth Foxwell: Triple Cross

Evan Lewis: "Thugs with Dirty Mugs" (and a sadly annoying XBox ad)

George Kelley: Scott & Bailey

How Did This Get Made?: Joyful Noise

Iba Dawson: TCM Film Fest 2013

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: Coming Distractions: June on TCM;  The Chase & Sanborn Hour (with Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy)

Jackie Kashian: Janeane Garofalo and Maria Bamford; Joe Starr and Transformers

Stranger Than Fiction credits montage stills
Jacqueline T. Lynch: Danger Lights 

Jake Hinkson: Silverado

James Reasoner: Stranger Than Fiction

Janet Varney/The JV Club: Casey Wilson (Casey Wilson's mother, activist Kathy Wilson)

Jerry House: Trouble with Father: "Teacher's Pet"

J. Kingston Pierce: I Love Trouble (1948)

Juri Nummelin: Cimarron Strip: "Knife in the Darkness" (script by Harlan Ellison)

Kliph Nesteroff: Jean Carroll on The Frankie Laine Show

Laura: Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics, Vol. IV;  New Morals for Old
Ghost Ship

Lucy Brown: Experiment Perilous; Wakefield Drama Festival

Marc Maron/WTF: Noah Baumbach

Marty McKee: The Humanoid

Michael Shonk: Ideal TV Crime-Drama Schedules

Mystery Dan: Ghost Ship

Patti Abbott: Mr. and Mrs. Bridge

Prashant Trikannad: Mel Gibson 1979: Mad Max and Tim

Randy Johnson: The Outsider (1968 television series); Adios, Gringo

Rick: The Seven Best Ray Harryhausen Movies

Safety Not Guaranteed
Rod Lott: Godzilla 2000; Fortress 2: Re-Entry

Ron Scheer: Gunfighters

Scott Cupp: Safety Not Guaranteed

Sergio Angelini: Bryan Forbes

Stacia Jones: Summertime (1955 film)
Who Are You, Polly Magoo?

Television Obscurities: MeTV and Bounce Nielsen Ratings

Tim Lucas: The Unnaturals

Yvette Banek: House of Flying Daggers

Todd Mason: from Europe: some satirical films: "Ersatz," Who Are You, Polly Magoo? and "Dirty Girl"
Good Casts, Mixed Results: 
About Cherry (2011) occasionally trembles on the verge of becoming good, then reverts to being the Showgirls of the web porn industry. With a cast featuring such solid performers as Diane Farr, Lili Taylor, and Heather Graham (all of whom have had their share of bad roles and bad projects), the film, written by porn vet and academically-serious writing student Lorelei Lee, who also has a supporting role, and first-time director and writing vet Stephen Elliott, seems unsurprisingly well-informed about the porn industry, but the human dynamics in the script are the kind of ridiculous soap that have made the earlier film the anti-classic that it is. Dev Patel and James Franco's roles are particularly goofy as presented, and model/actress Ashley Hinshaw is certainly prettier than the part requires, but she also radiates the kind of smug certainty throughout that this is all Just Right that marked Elizabeth Berkley's performance in that other me, somewhat amusingly in context, she looks as if she could be Graham's younger sister.  (Currently in rotation on The Movie Channel.)

Conversely, Vamps (2012) strikes me as a fine film woefully overlooked since barely being released last year (and with a rather more diffuse home-video market than there was even a few years ago, less likely to triumph in that arena). A charming, occasionally too-sitcom-schtick dark fantasy about humane vampires (amid a rather mixed bunch in vampire society) played rather well by Alicia Silverstone and Krysten Ritter, it might particularly appeal to those who like the kind of fantasy Thorne Smith, Unknown Fantasy Fiction magazine, and the post-Peter Beagle urban fantasy folks are often likely to deliver...Amy Heckerling's screenplay and direction aren't flawless, but are certainly deft enough, with 12-step programs, the Patriot Act and its implications, and other vexing matters dealt and played with, and a number of clever touches along the way. The supporting cast includes Sigourney Weaver and Wallace Shawn as our primary (though not quite utter) villains, Richard Lewis as an aging (still human) former flame of Silverstone's Goody (who was born in 1841 and turned as a young mother and abolitionist activist), and Malcolm McDowell as a (mostly) rather reformed Vlad Tepes. So, cute but never too terribly cute, and more often clever...definitely worth a look. (Currently in rotation on Starz.)