Monday, June 02, 2014

Bullet Points: Of Sin, Shaft, and Snoopathon

• Did you know that June is International Crime Month? Yeah, neither did I. So at first blush, this seems like a P.R. failure of cataclysmic proportions--nothing like the triumphal event it was been billed to be: “a month-long initiative featuring internationally acclaimed crime-fiction authors, editors, critics, and publishers who will appear together in a series of readings, panels, and discussions from four of America's most influential independent publishers--Grove Atlantic, Akashic Books, Melville House, and Europa Editions.” But as it turns out, other people are preparing to celebrate. There’s a free commemorative magazine being given out at bookstores this month, plus a schedule of book launches and other happenings. The bookstore MysteryPeople in Austin, Texas, has its own events planned, including a double-feature film series matching books such as Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye and Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress with the movies adapted from them. I’m hoping the International Crime Month Web site will keep us apprised of further developments along this line.

• Now, that’s a movie poster for you! The graphic on the left features gorgeous Eva Green of Casino Royale fame, this time promoting Sin City: A Dame to Die For, which is being readied for theatrical release in August. Everything you need to know about both this poster and today’s crisis level of U.S. idiocy is clear from the news that the Motion Picture Association of American wants to ban the advertisement “for being too sexy.” More here.

• The A&E-TV series Longmire, based on Craig Johnson’s series of novels starring small-town Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire, will return tonight for a third season, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/PT.

• Thirty-nine years after the final John Shaft novel--appropriately titled The Last Shaft--was brought to market, comic-book publisher Dynamite Entertainment has announced its plans to reprint Ernest Tidyman’s seven original novels about the black New York City private eye who’s “a sex machine to all the chicks.” Read my Kirkus Reviews piece about the Shaft novels here. (Hat tip to Gary Phillips.)

• And it was 35 years ago this month that Moonraker--the 11th big-screen James Bond flick, and the fourth to star Roger Moore--was released. The HMSS Weblog heralds this with a look back at how viewers and reviewers originally saw the movie.

• Check out “Snoopathon: A Blogathon of Spies,” currently underway and hosted by Movies, Silently. Included among the many offerings are films about Nazis, amateur espionage agents, Peter Lorre’s Mr. Moto and of course Bond, James Bond. The “Snoopathon” will continue through tomorrow, June 3. Click here for all the vital links.

• That reminds me: Another blogathon began today, this one focusing on television programs featured in MeTV’s summer broadcast schedule. Among the first posts is Mitchell Hadley’s tribute to Peter Gunn, found in It’s About TV!. Other commentators will take on such shows as Adam-12, The Saint, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Columbo. You’ll find a full catalogue of elements from this blogathon--which runs through Thursday--by clickety-clicking here.

• Both CSI and Chuck number among Neatorama’s picks of “The 25 Most Powerful TV Shows of the Last 25 Years.”

• Janet Rudolph offers this preview of Endeavour, Season 2, which will premiere in the States as part of PBS’ Masterpiece series, beginning on Sunday, June 29.

• The delightful Ms. Rudolph also has some advice for attendees at this year’s Bouchercon in Long Beach, California.

• The Classic TV History Blog’s Stephen Bowie offers up, this time in the A.V. Club blog, a fine essay about what might have been one of the last great private detective series, Mannix. He writes, in part:
Mannix was easy to take, period. The low-key personality of Mike Connors, the former basketball player and B-movie actor who played the title character, set the tone. Likable but flinty, Connors was a tough guy who didn’t have to show off. An idealist and a nice guy, Mannix was perfectly willing to take on a lost little girl as a client and negotiate his fee in lunch money (never actually collected, of course). Connors had a rare sincerity that kept scenes like that from getting corny. (When cynical private eye shows like Harry O and The Rockford Files made a point of their protagonists’ pragmatic eye for a buck, it was mainly Mannix they were rebuking.) Working out of a comfy Spanish-styled home office, dressed in plaid sport coats made out of fabric as thick as carpet, driving a snazzy muscle car painted a hideous shade of army-Jeep green, Joe Mannix was functional but square. It was all of a piece. Mannix was the audience’s uncle or its brother-in-law--that quiet, comforting fellow who never let on that he’d mowed down a whole squadron of advancing enemies during the war.
I said my own piece about Mannix in this 2008 Rap Sheet post.

• In Killer Covers, I’ve begun a week’s worth of postings about cool vintage books that feature days of the week in their titles.

R.I.P., The Brady Bunch’s Ann B. Davis.

• BOLO Books’ Kristopher Zgorski recaps his days spent at the Book Expo America conference in New York City, May 28-30.

• Bob Byrne serves up a short but notable encomium to John D. MacDonald and his many novels, in the blog Black Gate.

• The June 2014 edition of The Big Thrill, sponsored by the International Thriller Writers, is currently available here.

• I somehow missed this Newton Thornbury novel from 1968.

• I’d forgotten that Liam Neeson will star as unlicensed private detective Matthew Scudder in the film adaptation of Lawrence Block’s 1992 novel, A Walk Among the Tombstones. Fortunately, Crimespree Magazine remembered, and recently posted this trailer for the picture, which is set to premiere in theaters on September 19.

• British novelist John Harvey deserves critical attention, and he gets lots of it in two new pieces by Michael Carlson. The first one--located here--applauds “the downbeat beauty” of Harvey’s main series star, Nottingham Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick, who appears (for one last time) in the novel Darkness, Darkness, already available in the UK and set to debut in U.S. bookstores in mid-September of this year. Carlson’s second Harvey piece, here, identifies the critic’s five favorite Resnick novels.

• The NBC-TV spy drama The Man from U.N.C.L.E. first flickered across boob-tube screens on September 22, 1964. To note the passage since of 50 years, a two-day extravaganza billed as “The Golden Anniversary Affair” will be mounted “somewhere in Los Angeles” on September 26 and 27 of this year. “This once-in-a-lifetime event will feature a reunion of cast and crew members, panels and presentations by U.N.C.L.E. aficionados, as well as a display of original props and other surprises,” promises a promotional Web site. “A special feature will be an exclusive The Man from U.N.C.L.E. MGM/Sony Studios tour, on Sept. 26th, that features a visit inside Stage 10 where U.N.C.L.E. HQ once stood.” It looks as if there are many more details to work out before this observance can take place, but an associated Facebook page has already been launched, and donations are being raised. It all sounds like an “Affair” to remember.

The Boston Globe profiles Joseph Finder, explaining:
After publishing 10 suspense novels, two of them bestsellers turned into Hollywood movies, Joseph Finder had what most writers would sell their souls for: brand-name author status; a seven-figure, multibook deal with a major publisher; a list of his previous works aggressively marketed by his publisher; and a loyal readership for virtually anything he wrote.

Then, two years ago, in a plot twist befitting one of Finder’s didn’t-see-that-coming thrillers, he made an abrupt change. After his last novel, “Buried Secrets,” failed to make the bestseller list, the Boston-based author bought out his contract with a seven-figure check, left his longtime publisher and agent, and wrote his next novel without a signed deal in place.

He took an additional risk by not publishing anything for nearly three years, an eternity in the life of a popular thriller writer. His goal was to remake his brand, and aim at a larger audience.
Don Johnson talks with Salon about Miami Vice, “his wild years with Andy Warhol and Hunter S. Thompson--and his recent comeback.”

• Finally, after a four-year hiatus, historian-author Laura James’ blog, Clews: Your Home for Historic True Crime, has suddenly reappeared with an overview of Harold Schechter's The Mad Sculptor: The Maniac, the Model, and the Murder that Shook the Nation. I’ve reinstalled a link on this page under “True Crime.”

2 comments:

Steve Aldous said...

Great news about the reprint of the Shaft books and not before time too. The books are hugely entertaining reads and deserve to find a new generation audience.

Tony M said...

I don't think it was fair to call Harry O and Jim Rockford "cynical". I think it was fair to call them broke. Mannix had a successful business - successful enough to pay Peggy after all. Rockford lived in a trailer and Harry lived in a dump. Cut them a break - they needed to get paid!