Thursday, December 18, 2014

New Review The Cemetery Man by Bill Pronzini

book cover of 

The Cemetery Man

Mystery Scene says

"Most people  might think of MWA Grandmaster Bill Pronzini as a novelist, but he's also had a long and distinguished career as a writer of short fiction. The Cemetery Man and Other Darkside Tales brings together 19 stories from five decades. Many of them are quite dark, but the title story offers a glimpse of humanity where it's not expected. . . . An excellent introduction by Ed Gorman."    Bill Crider

(From the introduction)
Unlike any other body of work in the genre, Nameless is a history of San Francisco over a period of five decades; a history of American culture from the time of the hippies through the new century when peace and love, brother, are not only forgotten but downright anathema to a country becoming more and more right-wing; and a fictional autobiography, if you will, of a detective who is very much like his creator. In fact, when Bill finally gave him a name, no one was surprised when it turned out to be “Bill.”
I began this introduction by alluding to the Nameless novels because they are not only the dominant part of Bill’s worldwide reputation, they also have a lot in common with the most neglected part of his work—his brilliant, urgent stand-alones. And the stand-alones have even more in common with Bill’s short stories.
“This land is populated by ‘sons of Cain,’ men doomed to walk alone. One of the
 major themes that comes from this is loneliness, or fear of apartness.”
(about John Steinbeck)

Certainly there are times in the Nameless books when the mood of the detective fits the description above, but it is in such stand-alones as Blue Lonesome, A Wasteland of Strangers and The Crimes of Jordan Wise that Bill’s work begins to resonate with the same sense of doom as John Steinbeck, one of Bill’s favorite writers.
Three of the stories here have historical settings—“McIntosh’s Chute,” “The Hanging Man” and “Hooch” and show a particular kinship with Steinbeck’s work.
Bill’s early years were not unlike Steinbeck’s,  young working-class man taking whatever jobs he could find while he wrote on the side:
“I haven’t held any other jobs since 1969. Before that: plumbing supply salesman, warehouseman, office typist, car-park attendant, part-time civilian guard for a U.S. marshal transporting federal prisoners from one lockup to another by car (sounds a lot more exciting than it was; mostly just boring road trips. But I did get one short story out of the experience).”
And so we come to the stories in this collection.

 (Ed here: Here's one of the most haunting)

“Out of the Depths”
One of the most fascinating women I’ve ever encountered in crime fiction. And some of the finest dialogue Bill has ever written.
In what could have been a predictable take on traditional noir themes Bill, through the character of Shea, creates a classic story of isolation and terror.
The same can be said for Tanner, the epitome of the macho adventurer, who invites himself into her house in a Caribbean setting similar to The Crimes of Jordan Wise. He is real and yet at times not real. “He came tumbling out of the sea, dark and misshapen like a being that was not human. A creature from the depths . . .” These images open the story.
Shea must see him not only as a threat to her life but a sexual threat as well, for the subtext to this story is that of a frightened and betrayed woman who ultimately is as afraid of herself as much as she is of others.
Bill is a fine horror writer and a good deal of his crime work is tinged with horrorific effects. As I said, the dialogue here is among the finest Bill has ever created. As ominous and omnipresent as Tanner is, the story is Shea’s, whose words, collectively, are a bitter confession of her entangled and failed life.
Will she be raped? Will she be murdered?
Does she even care?
A true masterpiece.

And Other Darkside Tales

238 PAGES  $14.95
ISBN: 9781935797708

Available in Trade Paperback and Kindle editions.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Forgotten Films Employees Entrance

Employees Entrance

Ed here: I saw this film the other night and was astonished by how amoral, sophisticated, amusing  and psychically painful it was in places. Being a good Catholic boy I had this burning crush on Loretta Young when I was in Catholic grade school (she was in many of the Catholic movies). But I had no idea she was ever in movies like this one. She is so so sexy and genuinely vulnerable here I want to see more of her pre-Code movies. What a babe and what an actress. I found this excellent piece on the film.  BTW Warren Williams gets knocked sometimes but man he's also at the top of his game here.

Go here ShadowsandSatin for the entire piece

Employees’ Entrance (1933) stars the dashing and delightfully bad Warren William, Loretta Young and Wallace Ford. It’s one of the first pre-Code movies I ever owned, part of the Turner/MGM/UA “Forbidden Hollywood” series, and it’s a gem. The film’s principal characters are Kurt Anderson (William), the ruthless manager of a giant department store, who will do anything to succeed; Madeleine Walters (Young), who pays a steep price when she goes to work in Anderson’s store; and Martin West (Ford), who is hired as Anderson’s protégé and is secretly married to Madeleine.  Based on a play by David Boehm (who was later nominated for an Oscar for the 1944 Spencer Tracy starrer A Guy Named Joe) and directed by Roy Del Ruth, Employees’ Entrance is, as my treasured VHS copy declares, “filled with forbidden pleasures!”  Here are some of the reasons why I love this film:

Kurt Anderson is not a nice guy, but he sure is fun to watch. In one scene, he fires a 30-year employee of the store, in front a room full of co-workers, because the man is “too old, too set.” The distraught former employee later commits suicide. When Anderson is told, he observes, “When a man outlives his usefulness, heought to jump out of a window. That’s the trouble with most men – they don’t realize when they’re through.” In another scene, after a store detective mistakenly detains a newspaper editor’s wife for theft, Anderson gives the woman a concert grand piano to compensate for her inconvenience, and tells the guard he’ll take ten dollars a week out of his salary until it’s paid for. When the man protests that it will take him the rest of his life to pay the debt, Anderson retorts, “I doubt if you’ll live that long. Get out.”

In typically scandalous pre-Code fashion, Kurt appears to be a benevolent benefactor when he hires the job-seeking Madeleine, but after treating her to a much-needed meal, he winds up seducing her. And later, when Madeleine gets drunk at a party following a fight with her husband, Kurt invites her to sleep it off in his room – and you can just guess what happens.

Lena Dunham is Writing Some “Incredibly Contemporary” ‘Archie’ Comics

Ed here: I grew up reading Archie comics.They were among my favorites.  I know he has to be updated but by a sociopathic marginally talented exhibitionist?

Lena Dunham is Writing Some “Incredibly Contemporary” ‘Archie’ Comics
By Isabella Biedenharn on Mar 3, 2014 5:48pm
When you’re a sought-after media darling (Lena Dunham), all you have to do is mention during a Q&A that you like something (the characters of Archie), and soon enough, that thing’s new Chief Creative Officer (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa) will be barreling down your door to get you to work with them. The Girls showrunner has signed on to write a four-part story to be published in 2015, as part of Aguirre-Sacasa’s new flagship program “to take Archie’s Pals and Gals outside of comics and into different media.”
The team isn’t spilling any plot points, but Aguirre-Sacasa says: “It’s really, really funny. It’s incredibly contemporary. It’s a classic Archie story, with a definitely unique, Lena spin, and it’s going to be set in Archie continuity.” But before you get your hopes up for a naked Betty and Veronica experimenting with crack in Bushwick, A.V. Club is pretty sure the project will be more “family-friendly” than Dunham’s previous work. [via Vulture]

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

15 Greatest TV Characters of the 1960s: Richard Kimble

From Classic Film & TV Cafe

Name: Dr. Richard Kimble

Portrayed by: David Janssen

TV series: The Fugitive

Occupation: Pediatrician before getting arrested for his wife's murder.

Lifestyle: Since he was constantly trying to evade police Lieutenant Philip Gerard, Kimble rarely stayed in one place for long. His occupations included: truck driver; farm laborer; bartender; chauffeur; construction worker; fisherman, masseuse, bellhop, and carnival worker.

Family and Friends: Father was Dr. John Kimble, who had a heart attack and retired to a home in the country. Had a strained relationship with his brother Ray, but was very close to his sister Donna Taft (who appeared in five episodes). Deceased wife was Helen Kimble; her sister Terry was in love with Richard. Kimble developed feelings for several women during his years on the run. In the final episode, "The Judgment," he appeared to have found true love with Jean Carlisle (Diane Baker).

Trademark: Quick, slight smile with only one side of the mouth turned up.

Adversaries:  Stafford, Indiana detective detective Philip Gerard (who appeared in 37 episodes) and Fred Johnson (10 episodes), the one-armed man who murdered Helen Kimble. Interestingly, Kimble had encounters with both Gerard's wife (the two-part "Landscape With Running Figures") and son Phil Jr. ("Nemesis").

Useful Skills:  He was a physician!

Classic quote: "I didn't kill my wife."

Classic episodes: "Landscape with Running Figures"; "The 2130" (a computer is used to track Kimble); and "Corner of Hell" (Kimble saves Gerard from moonshiners).

Posted by Rick29 at 5:00 AM 9 comments 

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TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2011

The Fugitive, which aired from 1963-67, frequently appears on lists of the greatest U.S. television series ever broadcast. Its reputation is well-deserved. The first three seasons are so strong that it's difficult to pare down its best episodes for a top five list. Still, here's how one Fugitive fan would rank them:

Kimbles tries to avoid capture...again.
1. Landscape With Running Figures – Unofficially known as “the episode with Mrs. Gerard”, this season 3 two-parter has Kimble narrowly evading Lieutenant Gerard…only to come to the aid of a temporarily-blind Mrs. Gerard (Barbara Rush). The exceptional script provides a rare glance into Gerard’s private life and the impact of his obsession to capture Kimble. At one point, a frustrated Marie Gerard casually remarks: “Life without Kimble…what a pretty dream that used to be.” Barry Morse, whose character is often used to simply further the plot, takes advantage of an opportunity to shine here. 

Suzanne Pleshette as the
concerned mother.
2. All the Scared Rabbits – A divorced mother (Suzanne Pleshette) hires to Kimble to drive her and her daughter from Iowa to California. What they don’t know is that the little girl has stolen a rabbit from her father’s laboratory—and it’s infected with a lethal strain of meningitis. This gripping, suspenseful episode is a great example of an episode where Kimble’s plight takes a backseat to the events surrounding him.

3. Moon Child – When the police pursue Kimble during a manhunt for a serial killer, the fugitive takes refuge in a dilapidated structure filled with dark passageways. At his wit’s end, Kimble is befriended by a young mentally-handicapped girl. This taut episode balances its chilling moments (involving the real killer) with Kimble’s touching relationship with the young girl.

4. Corner of Hell – On the run from Gerard, Kimbles stumble into the hideout of a family of moonshiners. At first, they want to get rid of him, but their plans change when he proves his worth. However, when Gerard tracks Kimble to the moonshiners’ hideaway and flashes his police badge…well, they don’t take kindly to the arrival of the law. This is one of the best of several episodes that placed Kimble in a moral quandary. In this case, does he flee, knowing that Gerard is certain to be murdered? Or does he help the man trying to capture him?

Gerard, bound in a chair, watches as Kimble (far right)
makes a plea to save his nemesis.
5. Dark Corner – Kimble finds a sanctuary on a farm where he is befriended by a young blind woman (Tuesday Weld), who must cope with a devious sister…but all is not what it appears to be. Plot twists weren’t commonplace during The Fugitive’s run and when they did appear, they were typically twists of irony. This atypical episode goes for the shock value and succeeds nicely. 

Tuesday Weld plays the blind young woman who
shelters Kimble in "Dark Corner."

Honorable mentions: “The Witch” (a young girl make false accusations against Kimble); “Dossier on a Diplomat” (Kimble finds sanctuary in a foreign embassy); "The 2130” (a businessman uses a computer to track Kimble's whereabouts); and “Nightmare at Northoak” (Kimbles attains unwanted celebrity status when he saves children from a burning bus).

Posted by Rick29 at 6:00 AM 14 comments 

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