A visual tour of downtown Los Angeles, now and then: [more inside]
In 1985, the Mystery Writers of Japan
(plus "508 people who love mystery novels") assembled two separate lists of the 100 best mystery novels
: one each for the books of the East and West. A revised list came out in 2012. Both Western lists are remarkable for their comparative lack of overlap with the "100 best" lists produced by the American
mystery writers associations. The Eastern lists are remarkable for the fact that fewer than a quarter of their entries have been translated into English. [more inside]
A bump on the head, a mysterious femme fatale and a strange encounter on a windswept peak all add up to a heck of a night for Manny Brot, Private Eye. Watch as he tries his hand at saving the dame and getting the cash! Shudder at the mind-bending geometric riddles! Thrill to the stunning solution of The Case of the Missing Fractals.
(SLYT via via
If the sheer number of Leonard adaptations is remarkable, what is more remarkable still is how few of them are any good.
No one was more aware of, or blunt about, this disappointing onscreen record than Leonard himself. His first crime novel, The Big Bounce
, was twice adapted for film, in 1969 and 2004. Leonard memorably described the earlier effort as the “second-worst movie ever made”; it was not until he saw the 2004 version, he later said, that he knew what movie was the worst.
"At the trial
, the DA told the jury that Joseph was a criminal type who had never been able to hold a steady job because he was simply too lazy to work. Joseph lost his head. The sheriff took him back to his cell. Joseph told the sheriff that the DA had made him mad when he called him lazy. He wasn’t lazy. He had robbed Wilbert German. That proved that the DA was wrong, as no one who was as lazy as the DA said he was would have gone through with the job.
The sheriff took the confession to the DA. Joseph was sentenced to two to four years in the Alleghenny workhouse." -- The story of Joseph Copple is but one of the real life crime stories found at Small Town Noir
, a blog about the criminal history of New Castle, PA, from the 1930s to the 1950s.
Miller's Crossing, 20 Years Later
Photographing (and finding) the exact filming locations for the Coen Brothers' New Orleans classic and comparing them to present day. [via mefi projects
Flatland: Fallen Angle [Flash]
is a Noir
-influenced game inspired by Edwin Abbot's 1884 novella Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions [Previously]
. The streets in this scenario may not appear rain-drenched, but perceiving the Z-axis is a luxury few people in this city can afford...
Richard Kadrey is not the most prolific novelist in the world. Still, every five, six years or so out comes another book like Metrophage, or Kamikaze L'Amour, dark, violent, intense works mostly set in and around Los Angeles with characters straight out of a good punk rock song.
The self-confessing film nerd
is probably best known for his Sandman Slim series
, and if you're impatient for the forthcoming Dead Set novel
, you can bide your time with a ton of short stories online
. [more inside]
[SLYT] (or if you prefer Vimeo: Midnight Rider
) features Ryan Hurst
(Opie from Sons of Anarchy
) in a filmed monologue from the opening short story in the collection American Death Songs: Stories by Jordan Harper
(mefi's own Bookhouse).
Directed by Nina Corrado, music by Blake Neely.
[via mefi projects
"What is a cult film? A cult film is one that has a passionate following, but does not appeal to everyone. James Bond movies are not cult films, but chainsaw movies are. Just because a film has become a cult movie does not automatically guarantee quality. Some are very bad; others are very, very good. Some make an awful lot of money at the box office; others make no money at all. Some are considered quality films; others are exploitation movies. One thing cult movies do have in common is that they are all genre films - for example gangster films or westerns. They also have a tendency to slosh over from one genre into another, so that a science fiction film might also be a detective movie, or vice versa. They share common themes as well, themes that are found in all drama: love, murder and greed."
- of the British TV film slots accompanied by an introduction perhaps the most celebrated
, running between 1988 and 2000 and presented first by Repo Man director Alex Cox
and then film critic Mark Cousins
. [more inside]
was a prolific author
of pulp thrillers, whose tin-eared appropriations of American hard-boiled detective fiction were nevertheless wildly popular in Britain
in his mid-20th-century heyday
. Among his creations
were the cynical British detective Slim Callaghan
; the debonair Belgian assassin Ernest Guelvada (one of the lead characters in the so-called ‘Dark
’ series of spy novels), and the oddly-named, trenchcoat
-wearing FBI tough-guy Lemmy Caution
, played on-screen in a series of French movies
by the American-born actor & singer Eddie Constantine
, a role he would later reprise to striking effect in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 movie Alphaville
Since 2009, a thread on the Skyscraper Page forums
has been dedicated to trawling for old photos and stories of Los Angeles, mostly from the LA Public Library
and USC Archives
. Thousands of posts have accumulated into a fascinating portrait of the city. [more inside]
A famously reclusive writer, John Swartzwelder
is responsible for many of The Simpson's iconic episodes. He stopped writing for the show in '04 and began to self-publish a series of increasingly absurd Sci-Fi Detective novels.
"A Movie Marked Danger"
- a Vanity Fair article on Sweet Smell of Success
by Alexander Mackendrick, screenplay
by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman, cinematography
by James Wong Howe, soundtrack
by Elmer Bernstein. (previously) [more inside]
The Big Sleep is a film I have found a very intense love for. The rotating cast of shadowy crooks and deceptive dames coupled with the roller-coaster plotting makes this classic movie endlessly entertaining. Bogart and Bacall are electrifying together and the supporting cast is equally captivating. Considering it’s over 60 years old,
The Big Sleep still works in a big bad way and feels fantastically modern. It’s as if the film is simply too fast and too entertaining to age. It was crafted by the hands of some of Hollywood’s finest artists at the time and oozes quality as a result. Most of all though, this movie is just pulpy, fearless, fun and really, really cool.
- Pictures and Noise [more inside]
"Fast Company’s four-hour interview with [Martin Scorsese] for their December-January cover story
: How to Lead A Creative Life
, was ostensibly about his career, and how he had been able to stay so creative through years of battling studios. But the Hugo
director punctuated everything he said with references to movies: 85 of them, in fact." Welcome to Martin Scorsese’s Film School: The 85 Films You Need To See To Know Anything About Film [more inside]
Everything you need to know
about Ed Brubaker
and Sean Philips
, the best writer artist team currently working in comics, and their particular brand of noirish crime and noirish supercrime. With their latest project, Fatal, they add a new ingredient to the mix and bring us noirish Lovecraftian crime
Like Film Noir? Like podcasts? Here's Noircast
Using his "file card" technique to create the title piece "Spillane" (whereby musical ideas written on note cards form the basis for discreet sound blocks arranged by way of a unifying theme), John Zorn forges an impressionistic narrative out of stretches of live-music jazz, blues, country, lounge, thrash, etc., and a variety of samples and spoken dialogue inspired by Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer detective novels (recited by John Lurie).
- AllMusic [more inside]
After 25 years I revisited To Live and Die In L.A. (1985), William Friedkin's cynical, fatalistic, hardboiled and high-energy crime noir about corruption and survival in the city of no angels. The script is literate, the characters are believable, the performances are brutally honest, the unpredictable twists keep coming, the action never stops, and the car chase is shot for real without any fake process. (spoilers)
[Arthur Penn's Night Moves
] does belong to a traditional, indeed obsolescent genre, but the distance it keeps from it (not an ironic or critical distance, just a distance) is such that genre-related expectations become irrelevant. Most of the time, the story line seems to meander aimlessly, taking in extraneous material, doubling back, going round in circles (the aimless is deceptive, a smoke screen obfuscating the complex, rigorous organization of an exceptionally well-structured script). The "mystery" aspect of the plot is dealt with in the most peculiar, topsy-turvy manner, withholding not the solution of the problem but the problem itself until the very end, when, in a dazzling visual tour de force, both are conjured up almost simultaneously.
- Jean Pierre Coursodon [more inside]
offers a continuous stream of classic radio crime dramas, including Johnny Dollar
, Broadway Is My Beat,
Videogames reach the uncanny valley with the facial animations
(yt video) in Rockstar's L.A. Noir
, their 1940s Los Angeles set detective game.
Men's Adventure Magazines
is a blog inspired by the 1956 "Weasels Ate My Flesh
" cover of Man's Life, featuring hundreds of covers from "Men's Adventure" magazines from the 50s and 60s. (some blog entries have a little bit of illustrated partial nudity here and there) [more inside]
Stan Lee has not yet been told about ... GRIT! FEATURING -- Dourdevil, the man without a sense of humor (different presentations of the same comic)
. The year was 1983, and Alan Moore
was spoofing the style of Frank Miller (bibliography)
, towards the end of Frank Miller's run with Daredevil
. Moore thought highly of Miller, if one believes what Moore wrote in "The Importance of Being Frank
" (linked therein as a .cbz file)
, which was published in the same comics magazine run
as Grit! [more inside]
Over the course of four months earlier this year, Dave at Goodfella's Movie Blog posted 100 (!) sharply written analyses
of a wide range of classic Noir films. The top position
was a bit of a surprise amid the obvious standards
, but the real meat is in his informative takes
of lesser-known gems
. [more inside]
Thomas Pynchon’s latest novel Inherent Vice
, is causing quite a stir
, and not just because all his novels cause a stir. It seems the author of epic novels of giant adenoids and invisible clockwork ducks has written a-gasp
-detective novel, which weighs in at an astoundingly reasonable 384 pages. Some have noted confusion among Pynchon aficionados at the author’s choice to work in such a genre. One writer has used the opportunity
to examine why supposed “literary” writers have turned to the crime genre with varying degrees of success, and at least one critic seems genuinely put out
by Pynchon’s creative choice.
Maybe you already know about film noir
, how Italian-born French film critic Nino Frank
coined the term in 1946, and that Dashiell Hammett
's book The Maltese Falcon was adapted for film
3 times in 10 years. Or perhaps you've just browsed through the detailed Wikipedia page
, and found the list of film noir series and films
to be daunting, and IMDB search
provides a list that is lacking. Either way, Noir of the Week
has a wealth of information if you crave more details, but focuses on one film per week if long lists are daunting. Not interested in this week's film? They have over 240 movies covered to date
Editor Marty Halpern looks back at the career of George Alec Effinger (part 1
, part 2
, part 3
), a prolific author best known for his work set in the Budayeen
, a walled city in a future Islamic state, teeming with gangsters, hustlers and transsexual prostitutes, many of them habitual users of plug in personality modules. The noirish tone and exotic technology of the Marîd Audran
books (When Gravity Fails, A Fire In The Sun, The Exile Kiss) made Effinger one of the leading lights in the cyberpunk movie, and spawned a videogame
- a rare attempt at a graphical adventure from Infocom - and an RPG setting
. Sadly Effinger faded from prominence
after that, and he suffered from a number of health and financial setbacks before passing away
in 2002. His work has had somewhat of a resurgence in popularity of late, with the Marîd Audran books coming back into print in 2007, a long with a collection
containing The Wolves of Memory, Effinger's personal favourite amongst his novels.
isn't really a new
genre. Just a new term
. The current crop of bizarro authors
are generally young and new to being published, with Carlton Mellick III
as "both the Johnny Appleseed and the Johnny Rotten
" of the newly dubbed genre, who started printing his stories under the header of Eraserhead Press
. But what is Bizarro Fiction? A battle between the real William Shatner vs all the film versions of himself
, resulting from a failed terrorist attack by Campbellians; bizarro-noir novellas
, set in a world of murderers, drugs made from squid parts, deformed war
veterans, and a mischievous apocalyptic donkey; or just a nice children's book
about two Vampires who compete in a mustache competition
to prove who is the faggiest of all. (via a local paper, though I didn't see the article isn't online) [more inside]
"To make off with hubby's fortune, yea, I think I heard of that happenin' once or twice around L.A. And… you want me to do what exactly?" He found the paper bag he'd brought his supper home in and got busy pretending to scribble notes on it, because straight-chick uniform, makeup supposed to look like no makeup or whatever, here came that old well-known hard-on Shasta was always good for sooner or later. Does it ever end, he wondered. Of course it does. It did. Thomas Pynchon
's next novel, the 416-page Inherent Vice
, is described by Penguin Press
as "part noir, part psychedelic romp, all Thomas Pynchon — private eye Doc Sportello comes, occasionally, out of a marijuana haze to watch the end of an era as free love slips away and paranoia creeps in with the L.A. fog." While we wait for its August 4 publication, we can read an essay on the dystopian musical he co-wrote at Cornell
or watch a clip of that movie they made of Gravity's Rainbow
. [more inside]
"Officer Sean Devlin, Narcotics Strike Force, was working the morning shift. Undercover surveillance. The neighborhood? Tough as a threedollar steak. Devlin knew. Five years on the beat, nine months with the Strike Force. He’d made fifteen, twenty drug busts in the neighborhood." Dashiell Hammett? Raymond Chandler? Nope. Chief Justice John Roberts
Real L.A. Noir.
(Video/audio auto-plays). Los Angeles Times
reporter Paul Lieberman has been chronicling the era of the LAPD Gangster Squad, a secret division of the department that tried to combat the mobs of Jack Dragna and Mickey Cohen in the 1940s and '50s. (Keep the cast of characters straight with this handy chart
American audiences remember Akira Kurosawa
as the genius of the samurai epic, a past master who used the form both to revise and revive Western classics - Shakespeare with Ran
and Throne of Blood,
Dostoevsky with Red Beard
and The Idiot,
Gorky with The Lower Depths
- and to give splendid and ultimately immortal life to new archetypes, as in The Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Yojimbo.
But Kurosawa also made films of his own time. His masterpiece,
in fact, was the quiet story of a gray Japanese bureaucrat dying in post-war Tokyo, and of his attempt to do something of lasting good before he leaves. The film is Ikiru
("To Live"; 1952). [more inside]
"But, it's a post on film noir!"
I told her. She jerked away from me like a startled fawn might, if I had a startled fawn and it jerked away from me. I knew that caving into my desires meant I might lose her. But I didn't care. I went out to the kitchen to make coffee
-- yards of coffee. Rich, strong, bitter, boiling hot, ruthless, depraved. I knew she'd be back. [more inside]
The Unsung Joe: Where bit-part actors go when they die.
Biographies of the most obscure micro-stars of 1940s and '50s cinema, all remarkably well-researched and richly illustrated.
Where's an egg?
Psuedo-Russian noir wumpus action. Confused? Consider bidding on the only copy of the instructions in existence
. Need a break? Check out some other fine titles
from completely made up game company Videlectrix