Pulp Friday: Brighton Rock

Today’s Pulp Friday is linked to my recent post on Nick Triplow’s Getting Carter: Ted Lewis & the Birth of Brit Noir, an upcoming biography of the author of the classic crime novel, Jack’s Return Home, which you can read here.

One of the aspects of the book I enjoyed was how Triplow weaved into his narrative a discussion of the cultural touchstones that would’ve influenced Lewis as he was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. As Triplow makes clear, much of this was American, such things pulp novels and film noir. But among the local influences name checked by Triplow is Graham Greene’s novel, Brighton Rock, filmed in 1947 by John Boutling and starring a young Richard Attenborough as the vicious hoodlum, Pinkie Brown. A screen adaption shifting the story to the early 1960s and making Pinkie a moped driving mod was released in 2010.

The novel, which arguably made Greene’s name as a writer, was first published in the UK by Penguin in 1938 and has been republished numerous times. In addition to the classic orange Penguin cover, the book also received a more pulpy treatment by overseas publishers. One of these includes Australian pulp publisher Horwitz Publications, who released the edition above in 1961. This is one of a number of Penguin books republished by Horwitz, which the Australian company jazzed up with one its trademark lurid covers.… Read more

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Book Review: Getting Carter, Ted Lewis & the Birth of Brit Noir

The time is past when one could accurately describe Ted Lewis as a lost or under appreciated author. His best books have recently been re-released, Mike Hodge’s 1971 film, Get Carter, based on Lewis second novel, Jack’s Return Home, continues to be seen as a crime cinema classic, and Lewis’s profound, albeit posthumous, influence on the origins on Brit Noir is regularly reiterated by many of the leading lights of crime fiction.

But we know little about Lewis as a person and the influences on his work. Nick Triplow’s Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir is obviously the product of considerable time, energy and shoe leather spent hunting down the facts of Lewis’s life. That Triplow doesn’t completely succeed in unravelling all the mysteries surrounding Lewis’s spectacular rise and fall is not for want of trying and, it must be stressed, the book is none the worse for it.

Contemporary literary culture, with its focus on the writer’s journey, literature as personal confession and the book scribe as media celebrity, is a relatively new phenomena. Lewis went to his grave without leaving a detailed archive of papers or journals and having only done a handful of newspaper interviews. He had neither the time nor, one suspects, inclination to record his inner most thoughts.… Read more

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Pulp Friday: Hell is a City

A very quick Pulp Friday offering, Maurice Procter’s Hell is a City, published by Arrow Books, 1957. I am not sure, but this edition may even be the first British release of the novel in paperback.

Procter was a former Manchester policeman turned crime writer, best known for his police procedurals featuring the character of Detective Chief Inspector Harry Martineau, based in a tough fictional northern England industrial town. Proctor penned 14 Martineau novels, which appeared between 1954  and 1969, of which Hell is a City was the first.

Two things have got me thinking about the Martineau books. The first is my PhD research at the moment, which has been looking at the prevalence of American style detective and PI crime fiction in the 1950s in the US, UK and Australia. Procter’s work is different from a lot of post-war British crime pulp, which was set in America.

I’ve also been reading Nick Triplow’s excellent biography of English crime writer, Ted Lewis, Getting Carter (which I’ll be reviewing on this site in the coming weeks).

Among the popular cultural touchstones, Triplow writes, that would inspire Lewis’s work, including the iconic series of British gangster novels featuring the character of Jack Carter, was the 1960 film adaption of Hell is City by Val Guest.… Read more

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The Projection Booth podcast does The Running Man

While I am not a huge podcast consumer, one podcast I am a regular listener of is The Projection Booth, helmed by a man who has forgotten more about film than many of us will ever know, Detroit-based Mike White.

So, it was a huge honour to be asked to be a guest, along with Aaron Peterson, on their latest episode, which looks at the 1987 dystopian science fiction film, The Running Man. Set in the distant year of 2017, The Running Man, takes place in an authoritarian future America where the highest rating television show pits criminals against muscle-bound, spandex-clad “stalkers”. The film is based very loosely on the novel of the same name by Richard Bachman aka Stephen King, the film has a great cast, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Dawson, Yaphet Koto. Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura and Mara Conchita Alonso.

The Running Man is a film that aged surprisingly well. As part of the episode, Mike talks to the movie’s screen writer Steven E. de Souza and producer George Linder. We also jaw about the its odd production history, and other ‘people hunting people films’ including the 1970 German production, Das Millionenspiel, and Elio Petri’s wonderful 1965 effort, The 10th Victim.

You can listen to the entire episode at The Projection Booth site here.… Read more

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Thoughts on Point Blank at 50

Point Blank premiered in San Francisco on August 30 1967. Critically overlooked at the time, its launched John Boorman’s Hollywood directorial career, became a cult hit and has had an enduring influence on crime cinema. It is a film I have watched on numerous occasions and each time it yields new insights. The 50th anniversary is an opportune time for a few thoughts about its importance.

Point Blank was loosely based the 1962 novel, The Hunter, the first in the series of books by the late Donald Westlake, writing as Richard Stark, about the master thief, Parker. It opens with Walker, as the Parker character is called, played by Lee Marvin, double-crossed and left for dead by his friend, Mal (John Vernon), and wife, Lynne (Sharon Acker), with whom Mal was having an affair, after the three of them have heisted a regular money drop on the prison island of Alcatraz by a powerful criminal network, the Organisation. Walker, somehow, survives his wounds and manages to get off the island. He reappears and proceeds to tear Organisation apart to find Mal and get his share from the heist, the amount of $94,000. He is assisted by a mysterious man, Yorst (Keenan Wynn), who at first comes across as a cop, but is eventually revealed as a senior member of the Organisation, who sees in Walker a means to eliminate his internal competitors.… Read more

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