A rock ‘n’ roll icon. A disgraced U.S. Figure Skating champ. A World War I hero. A populist Southern politician. “Real Lives” (some of them fictionalized) is the theme of my current Film as Literature class. Among the movies being screened: “The Buddy Holly Story,” “I, Tonya,” “Sergeant York” and “All the King’s Men.” As an adjunct professor for the Emeritus Institute of Saddleback College in South O.C., each semester I schedule a different slate. Given Hollywood’s continuing mania for biography (current examples: “Judy,” “Ford v. Ferrari”), there are lotsa lives — some well lived, some not — to choose from.
On Sunday, October 27, I’m leading the discussion group at the meeting of Orange County Sisters in Crime. The topic: “Spirited Away – Paranormal Elements in Mysteries.” It begins at 2 p.m.
At 3 p.m. we’ll hear from guest speaker Lisa Morton, authority on everyone’s favorite spooky holiday, Halloween (yeah!). The screenwriter and busy author (short stories, non-fiction, novels) will be talking her latest entry, the anthology Ghost Stories: Classic Tales of Horror and Suspense (co-edited with Leslie S. Klinger.) Publisher’s Weekly called it a “work of art.” Now, that’s a rave!
We meet in the Community Room of the Irvine Ranch Water District, at 15500 Sand Canyon Avenue.
The public is always welcome!
I’m about to start my latest classes for the Emeritus Institute of Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA – where I began teaching in fall 2016. On the schedule this semester are Introduction to Creative Writing and two sessions of Film as Literature.
I always look forward to my encore students (yeah, I have regulars) – and to meeting newbies.
I’ve been very pleased by the progress of my writing students; several are just about ready to try for publication.
As for my film courses, this semester my slate will include a classic Western (“Stagecoach,” 1939), a contemporary cross cultural romance (“The Big Sick,” 2017), a legendary film noir (“Double Indemnity,” 1944) and a sci-fi shocker (“The Thing,” the 1982 version). All related to the semester’s theme: Conflict. I’m looking forward to the dialogue following our screenings!
The summer issue of Mystery Scene, now on newsstands, includes my book reviews of the stand-out thriller Her Daughter’s Mother (which I tab “a doozy of a debut”) and the historical Assassin of Shadows, about the 1901 shooting of President William McKinley at the Pan-American Expo.
The online edition adds my take on the The Summer of Ellen, a brooding psychological study by Denmark’s Agatha Friis.
You’ll find lots of other reviews (and reviewers) in the magazine, which has been exploring the mystery-crime genre since the mid-Eighties.
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!