Beyond the Golden Age: Film Noir Since the ’50s – Bright Lights Film Journal

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Here is an interesting look at the history of noir from writer C. Jerry Kutner. Though I don’t agree with some of what he says, a lot of what he says does make sense. He also talks about some films I have not seen yet and will be taking a look at.  Read the full article below and tell us some of your thoughts on his idea of noir:

 

“There is only Noir!” The Noir Vision To discuss the history of film noir since the ’50s is to fly in the face of conventional studies, which assume the “genre”[…]

Source: Beyond the Golden Age: Film Noir Since the ’50s – Bright Lights Film Journal

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Book Review: Tower by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman

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Tower is a unique literary experiment in noir fiction, published in 2009. The story is about two lifetime friends from New York City. The first part of the story is Nick’s tale about his friend Todd, who has been living in Boston, and has come back to Nick’s life and New York City. Todd has changed while out of town and now seems to be a violent criminal who has crossed an invisible line that Nick doesn’t want to cross, but may have no choice.

The second part of the book is Todd’s version of the same story and his hope to save his friend Nick from a life of crime. It also goes back a bit and tells us why he went to Philadelphia and Boston before coming back into Nick’s life and New York.

This was a fun read, as we read one author’s version of events from his main character and think we know what is happening when everything is turned upside down and find we never really had the whole story when we get the other author’s version with his main character telling us a different version of what is going on. Can a lifelong friendship survive lost love, crime, lies, betrayal, and even murder? As the first part lays down a great foundation and is a good story on its own, the second part adds to the plot with new information we did not see coming.

I’ve been a fan of Ken Bruen for awhile now and that is the reason I read this book, but have never read Reed Farrel Coleman. Coleman maybe best known for taking over Robert B. Parker’s Spencer book series and is an author I will have to read more from in the future. I’m always leery of books with more then one author and I don’t really know why. I guess I like one continues train of thought from one prospective and sometimes think using two authors to tell a story muddies the waters. In this case it works, because they don’t seem to be writing the book together, but rather each author is telling his version of the story and we read them back to back so we can take both sides of the story to come to our own conclusions. This was an unique journey worth reading if you are a fan of either of these writers.

Book Review: Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze

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Black Wings Has My Angel is a noir novel first published in 1953 by Elliott Chaze. This novel had gone somewhat unnoticed over the decades, but is getting a lot of talk lately. Part of that is due to a new edition from New York Review Books.

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The other reason is this book is maybe made into a movie starring Tom Hiddleston, Anna Paquin and Elijah Wood. Barry Gifford who helped with the screenplay wrote an introduction in the new edition of the book. I unfortunately read an older edition of this, so did not get to read this intro. This film took the makers more then a decade to obtain the rights to the book. It was supposed to be filmed in 2012, but due to Paquin having twins filming was postponed. The film is still in pre-production, but maybe with the boost in popularity that the book is getting we will still see a film in the future.

This book revolves around Tim Sunblade, who is an escaped convict and Virginia, who is a high class escort on the run from the law. After Sunblade gets done with a legitimate job, he knows it is time to move on before people start looking into his background. He has a pocket full of money and decides to get a prostitute for the night. When Virginia shows up, Sunblade is surprised by the classy woman that shows up at his room. They soon go on a road trip to Colorado. This leads to the idea of a armored car heist and that is only the beginning.

A bit of a Bonnie and Clyde story with Virginia being a femme fatale for Sunblade. Our leads have a love and hate relationship with some domestic abuse on both parts, but an attraction to each other that is disturbing on some level. This story is a big road trip for our two leads, going from the South to Colorado, back to New Orleans and then to Sunblade’s small hometown and back to Colorado. Sunblade has returned from the war and has changed into a violent criminal, a theme tackled in many noir books and films noir of the time.

This book is for fans of 1950’s pulp noir books and is a well written story. I feel fans of Jim Thompson will enjoy this book. It reminded me of his work a lot while reading it. A forgotten classic that we hope will never be forgotten again and hopefully a film that does justice to the source material.

 

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Favorite Tidbit: This book was re-published twice under different titles, in 1962 as One for My Money and in 1985 as One for the Money.(I found this information on Wikipedia, but this cover looks like it is from 1962 and is titled One for the Money.)

Book Review: Diesel Therapy by Greg Barth

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All Due Respect and Greg Barth are at it again! Diesel Therapy is book two in the Selena series and does not disappoint.

We find Selena paying for her crimes from the first book. She finds herself in a Federal Prison at the beginning of the book and that is paradise compared to what is to come. She soon finds herself in Diesel Therapy, a method of torturing prisoners…legally. They shackle and handcuff the prisoner, who is then transported from one institution to the next. As we learned in book 1, Selena is a tough cookie, but Diesel Therapy breaks her down. One night Selena meets a girl from back in her home town in a small town jail. She soon learns, the cause of Selena’s troubled youth is still going on. Revenge on those causing young women their pain drives Selena. This includes her Father and Uncle, as well as a handful of the evilest men you will ever come across outside a horror book.

Will Selena escape or get out of her tortured prison to seek revenge? Will she find help along the way?

The look at a violent and evil backwoods Southern breed of men is pretty dark on its own, double that with the torture Selena is going through makes for another gritty and dark pulpy noir story. If this sounds like a brutal story, I actually think book 1(simply titled Selena) is even darker and more violent. If you want to journey into the depths of the darkness, start with Selena and continue with this book. Selena is a character I look forward to reading more of, and we will not have to wait long, as book three is scheduled for release later this year.

Book Review: Quarry’s Cut by Max Allan Collins

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Quarry’s Cut is the fourth book in the Quarry series by Max Allan Collins. This one is an interesting installment in the series, but we will get to this in a minute. This story starts with pure coincidence…or is it? Quarry is eating dinner at his favorite local restaurant, when he looks out the frosted window to see his ex-partner getting gas. When he finds his ex-partner, Turner, is renting a room that has a view of Quarry’s little A-frame home on the lake, Quarry thinks he is Turner’s next hit. Though this might be enough for a short, under 200 page novel, you would be wrong.

Quarry soon enters a porn shoot and things seem to degenerate into a classic 70’s or 80’s slasher movie plot. In fact this book was originally titled Slasher. On reading this I figured Collins was inspired by movies like Halloween and the slasher films that followed, but since this book was published in 1977, a year before the release of Halloween, I would be wrong. Maybe he was inspired by the Italian giallo films of the early 1970’s and threw his hitman Quarry in the middle of one of these film plots to stir things up?

Collins hits on a number of topics in this book, like a homosexual romantic triangle, a serial killer, the porn industry and let’s not forget hired hitmen. This is a bit weaker book then the first three Quarry books, but no less entertaining and worth reading. It is a fun pulp noir that probably was a lot fresher back in 1977. A must read for Quarry fans and I can not wait to start a new Quarry book soon and looking forward to the new television series!

Book Review: Quarry’s Deal by Max Allan Collins

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Thanks to the new Cinemax TV series and Hard Case Crime, the first 5 books in the Quarry Series is becoming available again. This is the third book in the series and the fourth one I have read so far. This book has just recently been re-released and the next one will come out next month.

This book is as all of the Quarry books is told in the first person from Quarry’s point of view. It is fun to learn what is going on as our hero does. Quarry is a professional hitman who used to work for the Broker. If you have read the first two books you know what happens there. The last book is called Quarry’s List, and without giving away any spoilers, Quarry’s List leads him to a woman that goes by Ivy or Lu or Glenna. Lu is a professional assassin as well and Quarry has tracked her down to a swinging singles apartment complex in Florida. Soon it looks like Lu is on her way to the Mid-West and Quarry is on her tail to see what her assignment is. Does Lu know Quarry is also a professional killer? Will Quarry figure out who her partner is and who her target is? Will he stop her?

Max Allan Collins does it again with this book. This book is pure 60’s pulp fun! With all the pop culture references and Collins’ great turn of words makes for a fun read with a good story. Lu is a bit of a femme fatale, or is she? Her friend Ruthy is definitely a man eater.

I truly love all the Quarry books so far and cannot wait to start the next one. I hope the television series is as good as the books. If it is, I believe a lot of people will discover this series and even prompt Collins to write more of these books.

 

Book Review: Dog Eat Dog by Edward Bunker

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Dog Eat Dog is a novel by Edward Bunker. Bunker is an interesting character. His past involves a criminal career, a horrible childhood, a very high I.Q., becoming an author in prison and acting in some of the most classic neo noir films of the last 40 years. This book was released in 1995 and should be read by any crime fiction fan and especially any fan of noir fiction.

This story is about 3 ex-convicts who have been friends since juvenile hall. Mad Dog lives in Portland with his girlfriend and young daughter. Diesel has been working with a union in Sacramento and does the odd job for the local mob boss from time to time. He has a nice house, a wife and a brand new Mustang. Troy is our third man in this trio. Troy is a smart man that most criminals love. Troy has just got out of prison and is already got a plan in place to make some money.

This journey takes us to the underworld of Los Angeles in the 1990’s. We have drug dealers, crooked lawyers, kidnapping, murder, drug addiction and robbery just to wet your appetite for the dark corners this book goes to.

You can tell Bunker cribs from his own experience in crime for this book. There is a lot of parallels between Troy and Bunker. Bunker also covers some social issues in this book. One thing he covers is the disappearance of the middle class in Los Angeles. Something that continues to happen in many areas of the country today. Another topic is the Three Strike Law that went into effect in California in 1994, a year before this book was released. The law basically states that after your third felony you where going to go to prison for life. This book basically tells us that with this law, we are making people with two strikes willing to do anything not to go back to prison. This maybe a very good point and is something that has been changed in 2012, now it has to be a serious or violent felony for your third strike. I am no lawyer and don’t get into politics much, but for example, in one case a 2 time felon was caught stealing a set of golf clubs. He was sent to prison for life because of the 3 strike rule. Though he is a 3 time felon, and I have no idea what his previous 2 felonies are,(and he did already serve his time for those) life seems a little extreme for stealing golf clubs.

This is an amazing book and I could not put it down. Knowing a little bit about Bunker’s background made me interested in reading him. I was not expecting such a well written book. You will not be disappointed in this book! I highly recommend reading this before the movie is released later this year.

This movie could be amazing or it could be very disappointing. Lets look at the information we have so far. First off the material is second to none for a neo noir film. Second is the talent involved. Paul Schrader wrote the screenplay and is directing. His movie writing credits are some of the best neo noir films in the last 40 years. On the other hand his directing credits have been hit and miss, some are very good and some are unbelievable bad. Our main star, playing Troy is Nicolas Cage, if there is ever an actor in modern film that can be absolutely brilliant in one film and then over act and go totally campy in the next, it is Cage. Schrader promises a return to form for both him and Cage in this picture and I really hope he is right. Here is a link to a couple articles about the upcoming film:

http://deadline.com/tag/dog-eat-dog/

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One thing this film has me excited about is Willem Dafoe as Mad Dog. This casting should be worth the price of admission.