Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Of Films, Fireballs, and Féval

• There are just three days left in blogger John Kenyon’s “fairy tale as crime fiction” contest. At last report, he’d received only three submissions, so there’s plenty of opportunity for others to make a splash. Click here for complete entry details.

• If yesterday’s post about the 50th anniversary of Dashiell Hammett’s demise left you wanting to rediscover that author’s work, you might want to tune in to BBC Radio 7’s dramatic presentation of The Maltese Falcon. The show runs 120 minutes in length, stars Tom Wilkinson, and will remain available for listening through Friday of this week.

Spinetingler Magazine’s Brian Lindenmuth has introduced a new award, the Fireball, meant to honor great opening lines in crime fiction. He offers up 12 nominees by novelists as diverse as Roger Smith, Lynn Kostoff, and Tom Franklin, and readers are invited to vote for their favorite. You have until Sunday, January 31, to participate in this survey. Lindenmuth promises to announce a winner the next day.

• This year’s San Francisco Noir City Festival will run January 21-January 30, with showings of 24 films--from the renowned to the obscure--at the historic Castro Theatre. Festival selections revolve around the theme, “Who’s Crazy Now?” To find a complete screening schedule, simply click here.

• Following its DVD release last summer of McMillan & Wife--Season Two, Canada’s Visual Entertainment Inc. (VEI) has announced that it will bring the third season of McMillan & Wife to stores on March 8. As longtime NBC Mystery Movie fans will recall, the series starred Rock Hudson as a San Francisco police commissioner, with Susan Saint James playing his beautiful but trouble-attracting spouse. McMillan & Wife was broadcast from 1971 to 1977, though in its final year, Saint James left the program, and it rather limped along with Hudson playing a newly widowed politician-investigator.

• Speaking of NBC Mystery Movie segments, Adam Graham, the man behind the Great Detectives of Old Time Radio site, has begun counting down his 10 favorite episodes of Columbo, taken from the series’ original, 1970s run. More picks due soon.

• Novels by Olen Steinhauer, Louise Penny, Alan Furst, and Tana French are among those featured on the American Library Association’s 2011 RUSA (Reference and User Services Association) Reading List of “the best books in eight genres.” The full rundown of titles can be found here. (Hat tip to Mystery Fanfare.)

• It was 45 years ago tomorrow that the classic series Batman, starring Adam West, Burt Ward, and later Yvonne Craig as Batgirl, debuted on ABC-TV. Click here to read what I had to say about the show on its 40th anniversary. (Hat tip to SpyVibe.)

• U.S. job growth: a pretty amazing comparison chart.

• R.I.P., Peter Yates. The British film director, who made a mark for himself with television’s The Saint and Danger Man before making it big with films such as Bullitt (1968), The Hot Rock (1972), The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), and Breaking Away (1979), died on Sunday at age 81. Recollections of efforts and influence work have been offered by The Guardian, The HMSS Weblog, A Shroud of Thoughts, Michael Carlson’s Irresistible Targets, and Dan Wagner’s My Year in Crime.

• I’ve added another new blog in the right-hand column of this page. Called AfricaScreams, it is being written by Mack Lundy (of Mack Captures Crime fame), who says he’s “going to look at Africa, primarily South Africa, through its literature, primarily crime fiction. I’m using crime fiction as an umbrella term to encompass all the sub-genres, mystery, detective, legal, procedural ... Since this is my blog I reserve the right to toss in anything that interests me.”

• There’s finally a release date for the 23rd James Bond film: November 9, 2012. According to The HMSS Weblog, Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., “the latter fresh out of bankruptcy court, confirmed Daniel Craig is returning and Sam Mendes is directing. One tidbit of news: the script will be by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan.” No, there is still no name for the picture.

• One of the few new crime dramas I’ve enjoyed since September has been Detroit 1-8-7, a gritty but multi-textured police procedural, set in the Motor City, that obviously wants to appeal to old NYPD Blue fans--and seems to be winning many of them over. So I’ve been pleased to see Collider.com’s recent interviews with members of that ABC show’s cast. Michael Imperioli, James McDaniel, Natalie Martinez, Erin Cummings, Jon Michael Hill, D.J. Cotrona, and creator-lead writer Jason Richman all submitted to questioning on camera by Bill Graham.

• What was the first detective story published? In a piece for The New York Times Book Review, author Paul Collins contends it was The Notting Hill Mystery, written by Charles Felix (aka Charles Warren Adams) and published in serialized form, beginning in November 1862. However, science-fiction writer and historian Brian Stableford counters with a nomination of John Devil, by Paul Féval, which was serialized between August and November 1862, and released in book form in 1865.

• While I conducted a handful of interviews for The Rap Sheet last year, New Zealander Craig Sisterson posted 44 of his author grillings in his blog, Crime Watch. Not a bad record at all, I think.

• Max Allan Collins’ four “Elliott Ness in Cleveland” novels, which appeared originally between 1987 and 1993, are finally headed back to print, courtesy of Speaking Volumes. The cover of Murder by the Numbers is particularly attractive.

• The blog Silents and Talkies hosts two delightful galleries of “unnecessary mustaches” worn by film stars over the decades. Part I is here, Part II is here.

• If right-wingers want to champion the U.S. Constitution, they should also acknowledge its flaws, as a document that was penned in a very different era. Well, don’t hold your breath ...

Weird parallels between The Wild Wild West and Hawaii Five-O.

Another John D. MacDonald novel I should’ve read--but haven’t.

• Where Danger Lives continues its series of “The 100 Greatest Posters of Film Noir” with placards for Murder, My Sweet, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Police Reporter, and seven other memorable flicks.

• Joe R. Lansdale has much more to say about James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice. “I’ve always loved Chandler and Hammett and Hemingway,” Lansdale writes in the Mulholland Books blog, “but over the years, I’ve come to think that Cain, with this novel and Double Indemnity, was the master of the lean mean writing machine, and that although his reputation is high, it might have been higher yet had he written fewer books that were weak specters of this perfect little gem.”

• And January 19 will mark the 202nd birthday of Edgar Allan Poe. All three cities most closely associated with that author and poet--Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston--have commemorative events scheduled over the next two weeks.

1 comment:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Most of the scenes in Detroit 187 are within five-ten miles of my house. Think of that the next time you think, "That couldn't be real."