Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: The Intruder (1962)

Roger Corman is best known for his schlock, but there's a hidden gem in his repertoire: the 1962 film called The Intruder, also released as I Hate Your Guts and Shame. It stars young William Shatner as an All American young man who also happens to be a racist and a fascist. And you just cannot not love a film that stars young William Shatner as an All American young man who also happens to be a racist and a fascist.

The film, shot somewhere in the Deep South, is a hard-hitting drama based on Charles Beaumont's novel of the same name, but it veers away from cheap exploitation and also from the patronizing racial attitudes so prevalent in films like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? There are no heroes in the film, as there are no easy explanations or solutions. In the end, it's clear everyone's still going to go on being racist, even though Shatner's All American young man is dragged to shame.

I haven't read Beaumont's novel, as it seems pretty hard to come by, but it would be interesting to compare the two, as it feels like Corman had toned down the novel. Beaumont himself scripted the film, but there are some moments that don't ring true to me, such as the seduction of a lonely woman and the violent abuse of a young black kid in the end. They would've felt more right if Shatner had raped the woman and if the mob had tried to lynch the kid.

But all in all, The Intruder comes highly recommended from me. If you're a fan of no-bullshit drama that pulls no punches, doesn't deliver phony speeches between action and still makes a relevant point about our world, check out The Intruder. (Especially when you know you get a chance to see young William F. Nolan as one of the racist hicks.)

Here's a longer post by a Finnish writer on the film. It's also in English.

More Overlooked Films, umm, somewhere, certainly not at Todd Mason's blog. I must admit I've fallen off the radar here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Another bibliographic mystery: Brian McDermott

Now off to another mystery surrounding a book published in Finnish, supposedly translated from English, but seemingly not in English.

Brian McDermott's Tuntematon tilaa näytännön ("The Unknown Man Orders a Play" or some such, pretty awkward name, if you ask me) came out in a big publisher's paperback series called Crime Club in 1968. The original name is supposed to "The Battles". Now, there's not a book called "The Battles" written by Brian McDermott. Actually there's not a book called "The Battles" by any writer, at least prior to 1968. One Brian McDermott did publish a crime novel called Who Killed Robin Cock?, but that was in 1981. And that's his only crime novel, possibly only novel.

What gives here? There are some American paperbacks published in Finland that were never published in the US: two private eye series by Grover Brinkman and I. G. Edmonds, a crime novel by Bruce Cassiday, possibly four or five air war novels by Robert Sidney Bowen. I think Edmonds also has a war novel in Finnish that didn't come out in the US. It is entirely possible that Brian McDermott, whoever he was, didn't manage to sell this book to British (or US) publishers, but managed to land it in Finland. (The book wasn't published in Sweden. I didn't check Norway's or Denmark's national libraries' catalogues, but I'll do that at some point.)

So, who was this Brian McDermott? I haven't as yet read the book, but given the title it's possible or actually likely that he was the actor Brian McDermott who died in 2003, writing on his own experiences.

Can anyone help me with this? Who was McDermott's agent, if he had any? Did someone reading this blog know McDermott? Is someone reading this blog related to McDermott? (One thought comes to mind: could Who Killed Robin Cock? be the same novel that circulated through many publishers, landed only in Finland in 1968, but was finally published in 1981 in the UK?)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Lando series as by Tex Kirby?

One of the Finnish Landos:
"Don't Show Mercy, Lando"
There are fourteen books published in Finnish paperback series as by "Tex Kirby". The books are westerns and they feature one Brad Lando as the hero. Now, there seems to be at least two Lando books published by British cheapo publisher John Spencer (in their Badger paperback imprint), called Lone Gun Renegade (see photo below) and Arizona Manhunt (both 1971). But I can't seem to be able to find any info on the other Brad Lando books. In the Finnish editions they are clearly announced to be translated from English as they have such original titles as "Wildcat Breed" and "Trial by Gunsmoke". For some reason or another, Lone Gun Renegade isn't one of the Finnish Landos.

But there's nothing on them in any place I can think of. Pat Hawk's pseudonym catalogue credits John S. Glasby having written two Lando titles, but there simply are no other Tex Kirbys or Landos in Abebooks for sale - I even went through all the "original" titles in the Finnish Tex Kirby books and checked whether Abebooks had them.

These could of course be anything: something penned by German writers with hoax English titles; something written by English writer or writers, but left unpublished in the UK and published only in Scandinavia (or even only in Finland); something penned by someone else entirely, but published for some reason in Finnish under different name or title. Similar things have happened in the past.

Edit: I edited this, since there were some errors in my posting. Pat Hawk's pseudonyms catalogue does indeed list Lone Gun Renegade and Arizona Manhunt as written by John S. Glasby, but other than that, there's nothing.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Shock Corridor (1963)

Samuel Fuller's Shock Corridor must've been quite a shock for the audience of its day: the in-your-face attitude of this hardboiled anti-thriller is baffling even to viewers of 2013. I just saw this recently for the second time (both times on big screen) and was again mesmerized, even more this time than the previous.

Shock Corridor is a sordid tale of a newspaperman who wants to get Pulitzer and thinks about doing it by being planted into a loony bin. He talks his girlfriend and his editor-in-chief into the plot and rehearses going crazy with a shrink, but the second he's in he notices he might be going insane himself. Or wait, he doesn't notice it, his girlfriend does, but can't do nothing about it.

The film is somewhere between downright trashy sleaze and avantgarde (as, as it feels sometimes, only the best art is) as Fuller doesn't shy away from using the most ridiculous stuff of the day's pulpy fiction, like the nympho patients of the female ward and the zombie-like lunatics manning the corridors of the asylum. The zany acting (especially of Peter Breck in the lead), the fierce rhythm of the editing, the harsh photography of Stanley Cortez and the dream sequences in colour, leftovers from Fuller's unfinished documentary projects all make this into a dynamite of a film. Here's Jonathan Rosenbaum on the subject.

I'm not sure whether there will be a compilation post of Overlooked Films. Could it be somewhere else than Todd Mason's blog?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Oh, my new novel just came out

You think I'm productive? Not all the books that were supposed to come out this Fall didn't work out as planned, but I'm still putting out some seven books. One of these was the Lovecraft novel I mentioned earlier, another one is a sword and sorcery novel that came out roughly the same time Haamu/Ghost came out.

Sword and sorcery novel? Yeah, Viimeinen bjarmialainen/The Last Bjarmian (Bjarmia is a mythical place in the north-east region of Finland) is something I've always wanted to do and now here it is. This story came out first in five installments in the Seikkailukertomuksia/Adventure Stories mag I edited and published some years back. I wrote my serial set in ancient Finland almost from a scratch and later on I realized the story resembles westerns a lot: a lone swordsman comes into a small town, finds the town people corrupt, but still has to fight some bad guys that threaten the town from outside. But these bad guys are weird gigantic white monsters, not your basic Injuns or robbers. And they have a mysterious leader, living in a cave no one has ever seen... It's a bit like Hammett's Red Harvest coupled with Lovecraft.

The serial went through quite many edits before it hit the print, and I still think there remained lots to be done. The main problem was that the battle scenes resemble each other too much, but last week I figured out how it could've been avoided - two weeks after the book had come out. I guess this happens a lot.

There's also my foreword telling how the story got into print. (I posted the foreword here - in Finnish, of course.) The cover illo is another one by Aapo Kukko, who's really good at these things. He said he wanted to draw my hero, a guy called Pesäri, with Alain Delon in his mind. And I think he got it exactly right.

Writing these things - this and my collection of Joe Novak private eye stories and the one novel about Joe Novak - is more like a hobby to me, though it takes a considerable amount of time. Writing this kind of stuff is practicing my craft, practicing how to narrate a story, construct the dialogue, keep the story moving. In the gone days of pulp and paperback publishing you could do this for money, now you have to self-publish or rely on your friends' micropublishing outfits, like in this case. Tuomas Saloranta does a good work with his Kuoriaiskirjat, and I've already agreed on doing another book - a small anthology - for him. Here's hoping someone finds reading Viimeinen bjarmialainen as much fun as I had writing the story!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Movie: Shivers AKA They Came From Within

I'm not a huge fan of David Cronenberg, but I've liked some of his films. One of these is his early horror film - I think his first real feature film - called Shivers. It also goes by the name of They Came From Within, which is fitting for a film that depicts weird creatures that take control of a human body and transform people into sex monsters.

The film is crude and full of inconsistencies, but it's still very effective. It's also very silly at times, but I think Cronenberg knows this and plays the film up as a black comedy. There's slapstick, there's some intentionally stupid dialogue and the scientific explanation behind all this is pure hokey, but don't let that fool you. Cronenberg's dark and disturbing vision is right behind every frame.

Trivia: the film was produced by Ivan Reitman and the special make-up effects were done by Joe Blasco!

More Overlooked Movies here. (Oh, I guess no one was compiling the links for this week!)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sarah Weinman's Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives

I've had this on my laptop for some time now, but I only now delved into Sarah Weinman's new anthology Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives that has been out for a month so. As you probably know, this anthology covers the ground I've mined here in this blog from time to time: noir written by women and about women, not noir written about hardboiled and cynical men, but noir written about good, ordinary women who have babies and their work and what not. Most of the stories in the book come from the period between the 1940s and the 1970s, but there are some exceptions.

I've only read Sarah Weinman's foreword and the author introductions, but the book seems like a very solid piece of research, and the short story choices feel balanced. I think I can safely say this comes highly recommended from me. Check also Sarah Weinman's great website for the book, it has lots of additional information on the authors and their work. For my other pieces on female noir - or domestic suspense, if you will -, navigate via keywords.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Peter Chester: Murder Forestalled

As many of you may remember, I've been doing a book on British paperback crime writers for years now – actually for over ten years... I now decided as I'm kind of between jobs that I'll finish the book no matter what and publish it myself before the next summer.

I don't have the time to read all the books I don't find necessary to read. I've already read six or seven books by Dennis Phillips (1924–2006) who wrote under many aliases. His Peter Chambers (sic) books are light-fare private eye novels and his Philip Daniels books are mediocre thrillers. I noticed I hadn't read Murder Forestalled (1960) that came under his Peter Chester by-line. I found a small description of the book's plot at Amazon and decided to help future historians by blogging it. These kind of descriptions are hard to come by on forgotten British crime fiction. The Thrilling Detective site has an entry for Mark Preston who was "Peter Chambers's" private eye hero, but not for Johnny Preston who featured in "Peter Chester's" books.

I don't seem to be able to find the original cover, so here's the Finnish paperback cover (which is by Robert McGinnis and from altogether different book).

So, here you go: "Barbara Porter came into private eye Johnny Preston's office because she was in trouble. She was being blackmailed and some crook was demanding a thousand dollars from her...money she just didn't have. She wanted Preston to get rid of the blackmailer...but when she told him the crook's name was Jack Mahoney, he knew someone had already attempted the job. As Mahoney lay dying in hospital another mobster came in and finshed him off. And with the blackmailer well and truly dead, Preston found himself right back on the case again."

And oh, by the way, don't mix this Peter Chester with the convicted murderer. Nice to see some traffic here, though!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Harry Hobson and the Hank Janson series

I just posted the bibliography of Harry Hobson's outings in the British Hank Janson series on my bibliography blog here. Anyone know anything about Hobson? Nothing much seems to be available.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Movie: Alphaville (1965)

Woody Haut once wrote that both poetry and pulp fiction start from scratch. One film that is right in the middle between poetry and pulp fiction is Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville. In the film the hero kills the evil central computer by reading it Paul Éluard's poetry.

The film stars Eddie Constantine as Lemmy Caution, the hero of cheap French crime flicks, originating from Peter Cheyney's once-popular novels. Alphaville is a mix of parody, pastiche, deconstruction and homage to the cheap genre, timed to the rhythm of the Lemmy Caution's gun, Paul Misraki's pounding but jazzy music, hysterical car drives through the suburbs of Paris. The film is at times pure poetry in motion: the image changes into negative all of sudden, people stagger strangely in the corridors of the central computer building, the lights flicker, the screen is filled with neon-light words.

Seems like Todd Mason isn't doing his usual Tuesday round-up, but I'll post this anyway and add a link to his blog here.