I never quit pushing Anthony Mann do I?
Mystery File did a fine piece on this movie. I've seen it two or three times and now I want to see it again.
The Stacks: Mr. Bad Taste and Trouble Himself: Robert Mitchum
Almost 6,000 words
for the entire article go here:
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/19/the-stacks-mr-bad-taste-and-trouble-himself-robert-mitchum.html The Daily Beast
“He drank too much and smoked too much. He granted too many interviews full of cynical observations about himself and his business. He made too many bad movies and hardly any of the kind that stir critics to rapture or that, taken together, look like a life achievement worthy of official reward.
God, some of us are going to miss Robert Mitchum!”—Richard Schickel
And he’s still missed, 17 years after his death. No, you sure don’t see movie stars like Robert Mitchum anymore. But we can still appreciate the real thing. In 1983, Robert Ward hung out with the star of Out of the Past, The Night of the Hunter, Cape Fear, and The Friends of Eddie Coyle, and wrote the following profile, “Mr. Bad Taste and Trouble Himself: Robert Mitchum.” It originally appeared in the March 3, 1983 issue of Rolling Stone and is collected in Ward’s terrific anthology, Renegades. It appears here with the author’s permission. —Alex Belth
A big, crazy, sexy sixty-five-year-old little boy who can’t get used to the idea that he’s supposed to act like, like Ward Cleaver, you dig?
Robert Mitchum is walking down this Kafkaesque hallway, holding his arms straight out in front of him, crossed, as though they’ve been manacled by the CBS production assistant who trucks along in front of him. Mitchum staggers a bit. All he drinks nowadays is tequila—and milk, though not together—and he had his first shot at one thirty in the afternoon, and now it’s ten thirty at night and he’s been through five interviews and a fifth of Cuervo Gold Especial and is fast moving into that strange land between dreams and wakefulness.
I like to read while I eat. Lately I've been working my way through David Thomson's enormous Biographical Dictionary of Film at lunch time. Thomson is the most interesting and entertaining flm critic since Pauline Kael--and every bit as frustrating. When I disagree with him, I want to call him up and read him his rights--before violating every one of them.
Today I read his take on Edmond O'Brien. Thomson notes going in that movie stars aren't supposed to sweat. That makes them too much like everybody in the audience. Part of movie stardom is inaccessability, fantasy. But what a clever hook because beefy O'Brien sweated all the time, especially in his most memorable movie DOA. He was also fat, frequently out of breath, devoutly neurotic and often frightened. He was, in other words, pretty much like the people in the darkness watching him on the big screen. An Everyman of sorts.
In the course of his entry on O'Brien, Thomson makes clear that he enjoys the odd-ball actors and actresses far more than he does the stars. Thus he finds Warren Oates vastly more compelling than Robert Redford and Jeff Goldblum more intriguing than Paul Newman. (Me, too.)
When I was a kid I rarely wondered about the lives of the stars. But I was always curious about character actors such as Elisha Cook, Jr. and J. Carrol Naish. There was a vitality to their performances that the stars were rarely capable of matching. And in the case of Cook, there was a melancholy and weariness that I recognized even then as being much like my own.
Same with the women. The ones I was always excited about were the second-and third-leads. They were the ones I got crushes on. They were often as pretty as the leading ladies, sometimes even prettier. And they frequently had more interesting roles, the bitch, the tart, the victim.
Barry Gifford once remarked that when you see a musical with all those young gorgeous girl dancers you have to wonder what became of them. The majority probably became housewives; more than a few probably took to the streets as parts became harder and harder to come by; and a lucky handful became the wives of powerful Hwood men.
I've been watching a lot of silent films of TCM and the same impulse grabs me then, too. Who were they? What happened to them? Did they know they'd become immortal? A full century later I sit in our family room and watch them as--most likely anyway--another century from now people will still be watching them. This is probably heresy of sorts but to me film immortality is far more imposing than literary immortality.
“A man can get into a lot of trouble if he’s lonely. If he’s just lonely enough and has time on his hands. That’s a combination made for trouble.”
Burt Keating is from New York—just outside Buffalo—where he manages a small savings and loan branch. He is in his mid-thirties with a beautiful wife and a very comfortable life. That changes when his wife leaves on an icy night for some butter, and a few blocks from their house she is crushed between a Buick and a tree. Burt can’t seem to function anymore. He sells the house, takes a leave of absence from his job and purchases a new car—
“I wanted to flee to a new world and I knew that short of some South Pacific island, southern Florida was as close as you could come. After a few restless days in Miami, I took an apartment on the beach at Ft. Lauderdale some twenty miles away. It was a place called the Tropic Moon Apartments.”
Unfortunately the miles and warmer clime can’t set Burt’s mind right. The only thing that has any meaning is the memory of his dead wife and the life they had, but that is over and there is nothing he can do to change it. Then he meets Alicia Shafton. A woman who seems as lost and lonely as Burt, but she has a secret. Her husband, a gambler and shyster, died and left a lockbox with a note attached. It instructed her to sell the box to a man named Ralph Emory for $200,000. The only problem: Everything goes wrong and Burt can’t help but get involved.
The Quaking Widow is the first work by Robert Colby I have read and it won’t be the last. It hit a note with me—the story, setting, characters—that many works of fiction don’t. It opened with a blast—an immediate and drastic change for a protagonist with an uncertain future—and cruised forward into ever increasing peril. The characters were the expected: sleek, beautiful, mysterious, and good and bad in varying measures.
The setting is drawn marvelously. As I read, I mourned the Florida that was. The pre-Disneyland and Miami Vice Florida that was one part hillbilly and another parts chic, wealthy and dangerous. A Florida that a person can get lost in. The same Florida that was painted in the novels of John D. MacDonald with his vivid and beautiful flashes of prose.
The plotline is the expected—the dangerous and unknown femme, murder, a wildcard nympho and mysterious opponents that will stop at nothing to get the prize. In this case the box and its contents. I guessed the major plot turns before they were revealed, but it didn’t bother me because the story, while plot-driven, is textured with enough humanity to keep it more than interesting. The pacing didn't hurt either. It is perfectly developed with a well-balanced mixture of action and suspense, with a dash of romance and mystery. The prose is hardboiled and, at times, clever and rich:
“She turned around and walked briskly across the room, her high, firm buttocks waving an insolent goodbye.”
The Quaking Widow is worth tracking down. It is fifty-three years old, but it is more than just nostalgia. Heck, I wasn't even on the radar when it was written. Instead it is a fine example of a linear and well-told tale that is both entertaining and exciting.
It was published by ACE (D-195) in 1956, and coupled with Owen Dudley’s The Deep End.
This is a repost. It originally went live August 10, 2009. Since I wrote this review I have read several more Robert Colby novels, and he has become one of my favorite pulp writers.
from Bill Crider's blogIn July 2014 the Mysterious Bookshop will publish an annotated bibliography of first editions of mystery fiction set in the world of books. Written by the award-winning mystery expert and editor Otto Penzler, this comprehensive volume will cover every title published between 1849-2000 that falls into the bibliomystery sub-genre. In addition to notes of issue on publication, publisher, and date, plus plot descriptions, Bibliomysteries will also include 130 full-color photographs of rare or especially interesting dust jackets and covers. Limited to 200 signed and numbered copies, this bibliography is a must for collectors, booksellers, and scholars of mystery fiction.
Posted: 02 Jul 2014 04:14 PM PDT
If Dying was All is the first of four novels featuring
Southern California private eye John Easy. It was
published as a paperback original in 1971 by Ace Books,
and the cover art is absolutely groovy. Not just anyone can
pull off an ascot, polyester bell bottoms, and Florsheims.
The artist: Beats me. Although I do know I really, really like this cover.
The opening paragraph:
“The tall, naked girl held up the portable typewriter at arm’s length, gripping the case handle with long tan fingers, and asked, ‘How about this one?’
The other three Easy novels are: Too Sweet to Die (1972), The Same Lie Twice (1973), and One Grave Too Many (1974). John Easy also appeared in three short stories—“The Tin Ear” (1966), “You Have to Stay Dead for So Long” (1976), and “They’re Gonna Kill You after Awhile” (1976).
This is the sixth of a series of posts featuring the cover art and miscellany of books I find at thrift stores and used bookshops. It is reserved for books I purchase as much for the cover art as the story or author.