The Kiss Of Death (1947)

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Jul 302014
 
Story revolves around a former robber played by Victor Mature and the ruthless, 
violent Tommy Udo, played by Richard Widmark


  Narrated by Nettie. On Christmas Eve, down-on-his-luck Nick Bianco, an ex-convict, and his three cohorts rob a jewelry store located on an upper floor of a New York skyscraper. Before they can exit the building, however, the proprietor sets off his alarm. While attempting to escape, Nick assaults a policeman, but is wounded in the leg and arrested. The Assistant DA tries to persuade Nick to name his accomplices in exchange for a light sentence. Confident that his lawyer and cohorts will look after his wife and two young daughters while he is incarcerated, Nick refuses and is given a twenty-year sentence. Three years later, at Sing Sing Prison, He learns that his wife has committed suicide, and his daughters have been sent to an orphanage. He later finds her obituary in the newspaper and learns his wife had been worried over financial issues prior to her death Nick is visited in prison by Nettie , a young woman who used to babysit his girls. Nettie reluctantly tells Nick that his wife had an affair with Pete Rizzo, one of his accomplices. Nick then decides to tell all to the Assistant DA. Because so much time has elapsed,  he cannot use Nick's information to reduce his sentence, but instead makes a deal that if Nick helps the police on another case, he will be paroled.


Cast
Victor Mature as Nick Bianco
Brian Donlevy as Assistant District Attorney Louis D'Angelo
Coleen Gray as Nettie
Mildred Dunnock as Mrs. Rizzo
Richard Widmark as Tommy Udo
Taylor Holmes as Earl Howser, Attorney
Howard Smith as Warden
Karl Malden as Sergeant William Cullen
Anthony Ross as Big Eddie Williams
Millard Mitchell as Detective Shelby
J. Scott Smart as Skeets
 
Directed by
 Henry Hathaway

 Posted by at 2:29 pm
Jul 302014
 
“"The stakes are not merely life or death, but the difference between a blundering through one’s life and fully possessing it."”

- Laura Miller in Salon perfectly describes why Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer is a thriller unlike any other. I can’t wait for you all to read it when it goes on sale next Tuesday.
Jul 302014
 
I'm aware of Edith and Ejler Jacobson mostly as editors (they edited several different science fiction digests at one time or another), but they also wrote stories for the pulps, including "Corpses on Parade", which appeared in the April 1938 issue of DIME MYSTERY. When I started reading this one, I thought it was going to be a more sane and sedate tale than Arthur Leo Zagat's "
Jul 302014
 
With every book in this series Ace Atkins makes me a bit less sad he isn't writing the Nick Travers series anymore...
Ex-Ranger and sheriff Quinn Colson polices Tibbehah County and sets out to track down a child-traficking woman through her daughter. There's also a gun smuggling ring to round up and he's aided by FBI Agent Dinah Brand for that one. An attractive young woman (she really came to live for me through the great writing), Quinn ends up sleeping with her, to the dismay of his deputy Lillie (one of the strongest female characters I've read the last couple of years). Involved in the gunrunning is Quinn's old pal, ex-Army man Donnie Varner which shows you the road Quinn might have taken if the Army didn't push him in the right direction.
There's also some flashbacks to some of the darker moments of Quinn's youth, some personal trouble with his sister and his family as well.
All in all, there's a lot going on in this book. Enough for the actual investigating to take a backseat to the goings-on of the characters involved in the story which gives it a little literary band. Don't think it ever gets pretentious though, compare it more to James Lee Burke's stuff. There's enough action and hardboiled stuff for every crime reader.
I loved the whole Southern atmosphere of the book, really feeling I was transported over there. And hey, you got to love Quinn who says he needs nothing besides coffee, whiskey and books. I can relate to that!
Jul 302014
 
Stanley Bentworth calls himself a softboiled detective and he kind of has the name to go along with it. He always intends to stop smoking, drinking or sleeping with a woman who uses him for rebound sex. I was expecting a character along the likes of Stanley Hastings (by Parnell Hall) or even Lenny Parker (my own PI who appears in The Shamus Sampler II), but in all honesty I thought Bentworth was pretty hardboiled. He's not a bumbling amateur but an ex-cop fired because of excessive violence. In this book he smacks someone around with a shotgun and he can act pretty tough. Still, he can use the help of Sanford, a hitman who is a cool sidekick.
Anyway, in this book he is hired to find out who is blackmailing a guy who's in the Witness Protection Program and has to take care of a stalker who's also with Military Intelligence. Along for the ride is a hacker kid who wants to become a PI as well. I'm afraid I don't like hacker characters that much in PI stories, they remind me too much of the sci-fi kind of hackers in TV shows like Criminal Minds or Arrow, being used as deus ex-machina a bit too much. I do have to admit he's a funny character, though.
I really loved the witty voice of Bentworth and the pacing was good, the book not too long and the mystery satisfying. So, although it's not what I expected it to be, I liked it and hope to read more in this series.
Jul 302014
 
Jules Landau is a college man with a family that has been doing things on the shady side who now makes a living as a PI. In his first story his father hires him to find out who killed the family's best friend.
Among the characters he meets during his investigation are crooked cops and a kinky tattoo artist.
I really liked the laidback and relatable vibe of Jules' voice, like a less witty Elvis Cole. The mystery has a nice amount of twists and turns and the story is very decidedly set in modern day Chicago.
I think this books was originally selfpublished before it was picked up by Random House's Alibi imprint. Although I really liked the book I'm a bit surprised by that fact because it really isn't that much more than a standard PI book and I didn't think the bigger publishers still liked that. Well, if they do, I guess that is pretty good news.

Click Bait

 Books, Josh Getzler, Music, Writing  Comments Off
Jul 302014
 

Josh Getzler

So a friend of mine, editor and author Bryon Quertermous, late of Angry Robot and Exhibit A, took his family to Disney World. In his absence I'm going to be stepping in for him later in the week on his website (www.bryonquertermous.com), but I thought I'd tease it with a little background and explanation on the topic.

It started when I read a Facebook post by Ron Currie, Jr. last week with a link to the Warren Zevon song Boom-Boom Mancini (from the amazing album Sentimental Hygene https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZS3uDu8jy8) saying that the next time someone wants to know how to write stories, Ron would guide him to Zevon.

 

I would say that’s a great start. And it got me thinking about the artists I listen to whose songs are themselves narratives. These troubadours have always appealed to me, and I’m going to use my time on Bryon’s site to talk about several of my favorites.

 

But as I was thinking about which songs to discuss, it occurred to me that it was going to appear weird if I didn’t explain something: This particular set of artists—perhaps because I was riffing off Zevon—is specifically white, male, and (in a general sense) rock. Not hip hop, not country, not female (and Lord knows there are many great narrative voices in all three, so don’t comment about the lack of, say, Biggie or Johnny Cash or Suzanne Vega or Renaissance). Perhaps we’ll get there. And I’m not going to do Tom Waits because he’s kind of like Bonnie Raitt to me—I know I’m supposed to like them, and I understand their talent, but, I just can’t…

 

So check in tomorrow over at Bryon’s site. Then comment there, here, on Facebook—I’d love to hear your thoughts, opinions, people I missed, why I’m nuts, and why you’re all rushing to download the catalog of a broken up pub band from Australia that writes songs about cannibals and war and lovers finding time to talk between work shifts and a lonely divorced man who loves Saturdays because every Saturday is Father’s Day. (Teaser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYKNqftCkSQ)

And then maybe next time we’ll get into songs by female country rappers.

Jul 302014
 
Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         


BEST OF THE BAD MEN. RKO Radio Pictures, 1951. Robert Ryan, Claire Trevor, Jack Buetel, Robert Preston, Walter Brennan, Bruce Cabot, John Archer, Lawrence Tierney, Barton MacLane, Tom Tyler. Director: William D. Russell.

   Set primarily in Missouri and the Cimarron Strip (the Oklahoma Panhandle) in the period following the Civil War, Best of the Bad Men benefits from a notably strong cast, a solid story with excellent pacing, and more than enough suspense to keep a viewer watching until the very end.

   The plot follows the conflict between Union officer Jeff Clanton (Robert Ryan) and Matthew Fowler (Robert Preston), a corrupt carpetbagger who has set up a detective agency to guard banks and gold shipments.

   In the film’s opening sequence, Clanton proposes a deal with some men affiliated with Quantrill’s Raiders. Among them are Cole and Bob Younger (Bruce Cabot and Jack Buetel), a fictionalized Jesse James (Lawrence Tierney), and a horse thief by the name of Doc Butcher (Walter Brennan). These tired but determined remnants of Quantrill’s Raiders are given the option of foregoing their illegal activities and swearing an allegiance to the Union. In exchange, charges against them will be dropped. The outlaws, seeing no other realistic option available to them, accept the terms of the deal.

   But as it turns out, Clanton’s commission in the Army had already expired at the time of the deal, rendering it invalid. Also complicating matters is Fowler, who sees a lucrative financial opportunity for his detective agency should he return the outlaws to face justice. Clanton, who has no truck for this carpetbagger scheming, ends up shooting and killing one of Fowler’s men, leading Fowler and his henchman Joad (Barton MacLane) to use their influence to have Clanton arrested.

   This leads to Clanton’s conviction by a kangaroo court. With the assistance of Fowler’s estranged wife, Lily (Claire Trevor), Clanton escapes to Badman’s Territory, the relatively lawless and ungoverned area consisting of what is today the Oklahoman Panhandle. From there, he joins up with the James Gang and the Youngers to wage guerrilla warfare against Fowler and his detective agency. Quantrill’s Raiders ride again!

   When an innocent bank teller is shot, however, Clanton begins to show signs of doubt as to the nature of his actions. He’s not really a criminal, as much as he is an unjustly wronged man who wants retribution.

   Although Best of the Badmen doesn’t concern itself with particularly deep social or philosophical issues, it does have enough of a subversive and an anti-authoritarian subtext that makes it significantly better than similarly plotted films from the same era. The legal authorities depicted in the film are deeply corrupt, bought and paid for by the highest bidder.

   Clanton’s a noble man living in a lawless, unjust and chaotic world. And in contrast to Ryan’s character in Horizons West, which I reviewed here, Clanton (Ryan) has every reason in the world to feel aggrieved. Whether that justifies his teaming up with the James Gang and the Youngers is another story, altogether.

   Best of the Badmen, while no classic, is nevertheless a very good Western. Ryan, in particular, is a very strong lead. Walter Brennan fans might also appreciate this film, with the veteran actor’s character, Doc, playing sidekick to Clanton. Theirs is a more mature friendship than the one between wronged lawman Mark Rowley (Randolph Scott) and sidekick Coyote (George “Gabby” Hayes) in the earlier Badman’s Territory (1946). It makes the film worth a look.

-

 Posted by at 12:48 am
Jul 292014
 

Unknown 39-03On Saturday, August 9th, at 8 PM, celebrate the 75th anniversary of the publication considered the best fantasy magazine of all time, Street & Smith’s Unknown. Join acclaimed lecturer on the history of pulp magazinesProfessor Tom Krabacher of California State University, Sacramento; commentator Walker Martin, who writes about pulp collecting on Pulpmags and Mystery*File; and Professor Garyn G. Roberts, editor of The Prentice Hall Anthology of Science Fiction and Fantasy, as they revisit the magazine’s highlights.

Debuting in February 1939 and publishing a complete novel in each issue, Unknown featured many works now considered classics of the fantasy genre—Anthony Boucher’s “The Compleat Werewolf,” L. Sprague DeCamp’s “Lest Darkness Fall,” L. Ron Hubbard’s “Fear” and “Typewriter in the Sky,” Fritz Leiber’s “Conjure Wife” and the early Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, Norvell W. Page’s Prester John stories “Flame Wind” and “Sons of the Bear-God,” Theodore Sturgeon’s “It,” Jack Williamson’s “Darker Than You Think,” and many others.

Over its 39-issue run, the magazine went through a variety of permutations including the elimination of cover art beginning with the July 1940 number. The magazine would get a new name in  late 1941. Despite the changes, Unknown Worlds would be cancelled following the issue dated October 1943.

Krabacher’s, Martin’s, and Robert’s presentation, “Unknown: The Best in Fantasy Fiction,” accompanied by selected cover art, is yet another reason to make PulpFest your “must-see” convention of 2014!

To learn more about the image used in this post, click on the illustration.

Jul 292014
 


from Gravetapping and Ben Boulden







Wrath of the Lion is the twelfth novel published by Harry Patterson. It was released as a hardcover by John Long in 1964, and it is both the longest and best of Mr Patterson’s first dozen novels. Mr Patterson’s early novels all had marvelous titles, and this is one of my favorite. It comes from a line in William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell”—

“The wrath of the lion is the wisdom of God.”

Neil Mallory is a former SAS Colonel now working for British Intelligence. He is sent to a small island in the English Channel, closer to France than England, to search for a French submarine with a renegade crew. TheL’Allouette (ironically meaning “lark” in English) has been cruising the French coast making mischief. It forced a boarding on a ship in the Channel and executed an aging public prosecutor responsible for convicting several of the crews’ comrades.

Mallory’s mission: find the L’Allouette and call in the cavalry. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. The island has only a handful of full time residents, and the heavy, who is a self-exiled former military officer from an old line family, seemingly knows more about Mallory’s doings than Mallory knows about his.

Wrath of the Lion is the most complete of Mr Patterson’s earliest work—its characters are crisply developed (and believable—Mallory has something of a genuinely unsavory past), its plot is linear, tricky (in a good way), and while not surprising to the 21st century reader, it is executed with an almost flawless professionalism and very, very entertaining. The prose is eloquent and smooth describing the action, setting, and characters in a succinct and (somehow) economical manner—

“He took her arm. They walked to the corner and turned into the street. It started to rain, a thin drizzle that beaded the iron railings like silver. There was a dull, aching pain in her ankle and the old houses floated in the fog, unreal and insubstantial, part of a dark dream from which she had yet to awaken, and the pavement seemed to move beneath her feet.”

The setting is a perfect fit for the period it was written. The bad guys belong to a real world French terrorist organization referred to in the novel as the “O.A.S.,” which is an acronym for “Organisation de l’armee secrete”; or its literal English transaction, “Organization of the Secret Army.” The O.A.S. was a group dedicated to keeping French colonial rule in Algeria. It, most notably, made an assassination attempt on Charles De Gaulle in 1962.

The factual detail—sprinkled into the narrative in small morsels—is as interesting as the plot. There is an interesting definition of the word “karate,” a bevy of detail about 1960s French-Algeria relations, the workings—in surprising detail—of the tiny Type XXIII U-boat design (an undersea electric tin can), and even a perfectly placed quote—from what I believe is Shakespeare—

“When you sup with the devil you need a long spoon.”        

—which is everything one expects from a high quality Harry Patterson novel.

Neil Mallory may seem familiar to the regular reader of Mr Patterson’s work, and for good reason. A very different Neil Mallory starred in The Last Place God Made; an incarnation that was saw him as bush pilot rather than a former SAS officer.

Posted by Ben Boulden at 7:49 PM No comments: French terrorist organization referred to in the novel as the “O.A.S.,” which is an acronym for “Organisation de l’armee secrete”; or its literal English transaction, “Organization of the Secret Army.” The O.A.S. was a group dedicated to keeping French colonial rule in Algeria. It, most notably, made an assassination attempt on Charles De Gaulle in 1962.

The factual detail—sprinkled into the narrative in small morsels—is as interesting as the plot. There is an interesting definition of the word “karate,” a bevy of detail about 1960s French-Algeria relations, the workings—in surprising detail—of the tiny Type XXIII U-boat design (an undersea electric tin can), and even a perfectly placed quote—from what I believe is Shakespeare—

“When you sup with the devil you need a long spoon.”        

—which is everything one expects from a high quality Harry Patterson novel.

Neil Mallory may seem familiar to the regular reader of Mr Patterson’s work, and for good reason. A very different Neil Mallory starred in The Last Place God Made; an incarnation that was saw him as bush pilot rather than a former SAS officer.