I’ve long been intrigued by the Forties film “Nightmare Alley” – I’ve screened it for my “Film as Literature” class several times – so I’m pleased to trace the picture’s journey from the big screen to cult status and beyond for the Spring issue of Mystery Scene.
Got some great sources to weigh in on both novel and film version, as well as the book’s enigmatic author, William Lindsay Gresham. Among the folks I talked to: film noir authority and author Alain Silver; Gresham’s agent (now 85) Charles Schlessiger; and prolific author/interviewer Tom Weaver, an expert on classic horror/sci-fi who finds elements of the latter in the movie.
The issue’s just hitting newsstands. I hope you’ll find my piece mesmerizing!
My review of “The Syndicate,” a mystery novel set in 1940s Tinseltown featuring a onetime cop-turned-Hollywood fixer, appears in the latest online post of Mystery Scene magazine.
I enjoyed what British author Guy Bolton did with the book’s protagonist, Jonathan Craine – and the plot machinations, with details about stars and starry locales – probably more so because of my special interest in fixers. See, I’ve created a character with the same occupation. Casey Cummings made her print debut not long ago in a short story that ran in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, reluctantly accepting a case brought to her by a once-famous blaxploitation actor with a pack of Chihuahua sidekicks. I’m presently at work on a follow-up adventure. Hope to hit the “send” button soon!
“The Man Who Came Uptown”
My first piece for Mystery Scene magazine – a review of the latest from George Pelecanos – just went up as an online exclusive. I’m flattered to have been asked to provide coverage of the Pelecanos book, as well as several other titles that will appear in Mystery Scene’s print edition later this year. If you’re not familiar with the publication, it’s been around since 1985. It includes author profiles, commentary and more. I’ve been a subscriber for several years. Glad to have made the jump to contributor!
Universal Pictures ad line: ‘The Man Who Made a Monster’
I’m also pleased to have the opportunity to write about one of the most towering of all literary creations – the big guy known as Frankenstein. After all, this year marks the 200th birthday of author Mary Shelley’s classic. My riff is full of fun facts (“Frankenstein” is the name of the scientist, not the monster!) and appears as a blog post on the website of mystery author Debra H. Goldstein. Check out the piece, and Debra’s writings, at http://www.debrahgoldstein.com/blog/.
“First Man,” the biopic about astronaut Neil Armstrong – the first man to walk on the moon – won’t be out until October. But in pre-release interviews, director Damien Chazell and star Ryan Gosling sound as though they made a fantasy instead of a fact-based film. See, the movie purposely doesn’t include the iconic event in which Armstrong planted an American flag on the lunar surface.
On my Facebook page, you can read about Hollywood’s love of tampering with history – especially when the filmmakers are uneasy about certain subjects. As with “Walk the Line,” the Johnny Cash movie that all-but dodged the singer’s sincere Christian beliefs!
Check out my post and see if you agree. Or maybe you’ll want me to catch the first flight outta town … in that case, I’m opting for a ticket to the moon. Where that flag might still be waving!
The fall semester of my Film as Literature class – for the Emeritus Program of Saddleback College in Laguna Woods, CA – is about to begin. I’ve been teaching this course going on three years, which means I’ve shown a lot of movies. My goal is to get students thinking about film artistry, storylines and character, and more. My criteria is … eclectic. This semester I’ll show contemporary classics (i.e. “L. A. Confidential”), vintage favorites (such as “The Postman Always Rings Twice”) and … Mel Brooks! Hey, this year marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” That, and the fact that I’ve got an October 29 session (Halloween is just two days later), is reason enough to make way for “Young Frankenstein”!