Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bullet Points: Almost Christmas Edition

• The British Medical Journal analyzes “James Bond’s consumption of alcohol as detailed in the series of novels by Ian Fleming,” and concludes that his “weekly alcohol intake is over four times the advisable maximum alcohol consumption for an adult male. He is at considerable risk of developing alcoholic liver disease, cirrhosis, impotence, and other alcohol-related health problems, together with being at serious risk of injury or death because of his drinking. Although we appreciate the societal pressures to consume alcohol when working with international terrorists and high-stakes gamblers,” the BMJ says, “we would advise Bond be referred for further assessment of his alcohol intake and reduce his intake to safe levels.” UPDATE: Slate’s take on Bond’s alcoholism is here.

• I’m very sorry to hear that Irish-born actor Peter O’Toole has died in London at age 81. Although he’s best remembered for his starring roles in Lawrence of Arabia (1962), The Lion in Winter (1968), and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1969), O’Toole also delivered a cameo performance in 1967’s Casino Royale spoof, and he supplied the voice of Sherlock Holmes in four animated films released in 1983. Blogger Steve Thompson celebrates O’Toole’s career with a collection of the faces he offered audiences over the years.

• A sad farewell, too, to Don Mitchell, the Houston-born actor best known for playing delinquent-turned-bodyguard Mark Sanger in the 1967-1975 NBC-TV crime drama Ironside. Mitchell also appeared in The Fugitive, McMillan & Wife, and Matlock. In what was evidently his last role, he resurrected Mark Sanger for the 1993 TV movie The Return of Ironside. Mitchell died on December 8. He was only 70 years old.

• The UK blog Crime Fiction Lover recently invited its regular contributors to submit lists of their five favorite crime novels published in 2013. Four such rundowns have already been posted, and can be found here, with more entries still to come. I’m pleased by the diversity of choices, everything from Mari Hannah’s Deadly Deceit and Bill Pronzini’s Kinsmen to Death in St James’ Park, by Susanna Gregory, and Love Story with Murders, by Harry Bingham.

Bonnie & Clyde, the new two-part, four-hour teleflick dramatizing the lives of Depression-era outlaws Clyde Barrow (played here by Emile Hirsch) and Bonnie Parker (Holliday Grainger), was just broadcast in the States last week. But already it is being prepared for a DVD release on January 28. I found the film to be visually compelling, and though the plot diverged from the facts now and then (which is typical with the legend of Bonnie and Clyde), its distinctive interpretation of the circumstances surrounding those fugitives’ brutal deaths left me with a haunted feeling and caused me to go back and watch the final scene several more times.

• Learn more about Bonnie and Clyde here.

• It looks like Carl Hiaasen’s 2002 novel, Basket Case, will to be adapted for the small screen by Spike TV, with Rob Reiner producing.

• There are so many Christmas-themed mysteries, blogger Janet Rudolph (a splendidly Christmas-y surname, don’t you think?) has had to break her compilation of them into several parts. Click here to see titles beginning with the letters A to D; here for E-H; and here for I-N. She should be rolling out the rest of the alphabet soon.

This is what I call a whopping “oops.”

In an essay for Britain’s The Spectator, titled “Who Killed the Golden Age of Crime?,” author P.D. James remembers with fondness “the gentlemanly world of Albert Campion and Lord Peter Wimsey.”

Here’s a swell gift for ardent newspaper lovers.

• I hadn’t remembered that Gunsmoke offered a Christmas episode in 1971, but Classic Television Showbiz now features it for your viewing pleasure. Click here to watch.

• Another holiday oddity: Vincent Price narrates a compact, 1949 TV dramatization of the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol.

• Dagnabit! The excellent historical crime series Ripper Street, set in London’s poor Whitechapel district in the wake of Jack the Ripper’s 1889 killing spree, will not be given a third season. It concludes its second-season run tomorrow in Great Britain, and the eight episodes of its sophomore year are supposed to air in the States sometime in 2014 on BBC America. However, the show--which stars Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, and Adam Rothenberg--was not deemed successful enough to continue, much to the consternation of many critics and viewers. There are already negotiations underway that could result in a third season of Ripper Street being produced, and I hope they bear fruit; but there are no guarantees.

This is ample reason to retire to the nearest pub post haste.

• New Jerseyan Wallace Stroby, who I recently interviewed for Kirkus Reviews, is one of the men mentioned in Mysterious Matters’ list of “Five Thriller Writers Who Are Better Than [James] Patterson.”

• Criminal Element reports: In not-surprising-in-the-least news, Tom Cruise is set to return as Lee Child’s silent but intimidating hero, Jack Reacher, in a sequel to 2012’s Jack Reacher. This new film is reported to be based upon the newest Reacher thriller, Never Go Back. Irony, of course, being something completely alien to Hollywood execs.”

• This is considerably better news, from Mystery Fanfare: “UK producers Tracey Scoffield and Frank Doelger are partnering with Germany’s Beta to produce a big-screen version of Derek B. Miller’s Norwegian by Night,” a quirky and endearing tale that I chose as one of my favorite crime novels of the year.

• Bob Douglas considers the novels of Canadian lawyer-author Robert Rotenberg (Stranglehold) in a fine piece for Critics at Large.

• The celebrated British TV drama Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, will begin its third-season, three-episode run on the BBC on Wednesday, January 1, 2014. It will commence showing in the United States on Sunday, January 19, under PBS-TV’s Masterpiece umbrella. Watch the preview here.

• As somebody who often contributed over the decades to the Pacific Northwest’s Best Places guidebook series, I am sorry to discover that it has “quietly faded away” after 34 years.

• I’ve read all but one of the books Scottish author Ian Rankin describes as the “five perfect mysteries.” Really, Ian--Muriel Sparks’ The Driver’s Seat? I have to track that down.

• And yes, that’s really Yvonne Craig--Batgirl--on The Dating Game.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

The BMJ's Bond article was delightful; thanks for that! Although it must be noted that, in THUNDERBALL, Bond is forced off the alcohol and cigarettes by M as part of a new health regime. It's a very funny satire of the health farm craze of the times, and the funniest thing is that it works wonders for Bond... until the world gets taken hostage, when he and M both decide there are more important things to worry about than the nasty effects of cigarette smoke.