‘Broadsword calling Danny Boy’: In praise of Where Eagles Dare

Like a quick and dirty mission behind enemy lines, last weekend I polished off Geoff Dyer’s love letter to the 1968 war thriller, Where Eagles Dare, ‘Broadsword Calling Danny Boy’.

It is a strange little essay. Not really a monograph, because it tells you very little about the making and impact of the film, the things a monograph usually does, and more an extended meditation on why it is such a great action film and the culture milieu into which it was born. A milieu that Dyer grew up in and which was pretty similar for a boy in Australia in the 1970s when I was growing up.

One of my favourite things about Dywer’s essay was the various cultural associations and memories it aroused. The war had only been over for a quarter of a century and, looking back then, it still felt strangely present, like it was not quite ‘history’ in the way it is now; war films were big business and our parents unselfconsciously took us, often at a very young age, to see them; newsagents were full of those graphic Sven Hassel paperbacks; we lived on British comics that were full of German soldiers barking pigeon English; and, the must have toy was a GI Joe, who amongst his many uniforms, could be dressed as a German soldier.Read more

Share

Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria

There is a sense of tension and anticipation around any film remake, especially when the original is well known and received. So is the case with Luca Guadagnino’s version of his countryman, Dario Argento’s cult horror, Suspiria (1977). There has been intense online debate about the movie from the moment the first poster for the remake hit social media earlier this year. Speculation has increased with every subsequent image, casting decision, and trailer.

My review of Guadagnino’s remake of Suspiria can be read in full here at the Australian Review of Books Arts Update.

Share

Pulp Friday: a celebration of Tandem Books covers

Regular readers of this site will be familiar with my particular jones for late 1960s and 1970s pulp covers, particularly the photographic ones. For me, they represent a very creative but little celebrated body of book cover art and, as far as I am concerned, the Brits were the masters of it.

A week or so ago, during one of my frequent second hand bookshop jaunts, I stumbled across a 1967 copy of novelist and beat poet, Royston Ellis’s coming of age tell all, The Rush at the End. The wonderful cover is an example of what I am talking about when I go on about my love for photographic book covers – a cheap but imaginative shot that dives deep into the book’s themes of sex, drugs and the emerging counter culture.

Pulp enthusiasts have rightly devoted considerable time and energy in celebrating the covers of UK publishers such as Pan, Panther and New English Library. But there were a host of other lesser known outfits active on the British publishing scene in the 1960s and 1970s, who contributed some terrific covers. One of these was the little known Tandem Books, publisher of The Rush at the End. Indeed, along with Mayflower Books, Tandem contributed some of the strangest and best covers of that period.… Read more

Share

Joint launch of new cinema books on Rollerball and The Fly, Sunday, November 4

Melbourne people, a very quick heads up for those of you who may be around on the Melbourne Cup long weekend. On Sunday, November 4, myself and the wonderful Emma Westwood will be hosting a launch of two new film books, my monograph on Norman Jewison’s 1975 dystopian science fiction classic, Rollerball, and her book on David Cronenberg’s 1986 body horror, The Fly.

The launch will take kick off from 4.30pm at Grub Street Bookshop, 1/379 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. Melbourne film scholar Dean Brandum will be on hand to do a Q&A with Emma and I about our books, there will be cheap drinks, and special ROLLERBALL and THE FLY themed cupcakes.

There will also be the chance to buy copies of the monographs at cheaper prices than offered elsewhere.

So please come along, help us celebrate, and pick up some great reading about cinema. There is a Facebook page here for the event, if you would like to RSVP, which would be great as it would give us an idea of numbers.

Hope to see you there.

Share

The pulp magazines under the floorboards

Dime Mystery Magazine, July 1936

One of the very cool things about having an online profile in relation to the history of pulp fiction is, from time to time, people make contact and send me old pulp novels and magazines they feel I might be able to make good use of. And a couple of months ago I was offered a collection of mainly American pulp magazines from the 1930s, found while renovating a house in Melbourne.

Queensland academic Toni Johnson-Woods has written about how the origins of Australia’s post war pulp publishing industry lie in import restrictions on print material introduced by the Australian government in 1938. The restrictions were mainly aimed an American publications, especially remaindered comics and pulp magazines which were being dumped in large quantities in Australia in the 1930s. This dumping fuelled an unlikely alliance of groups who pressured for the restrictions: religious organisations, concerned about the moral impact of these publications; nationalists who viewed cheap American publications and other forms of mass American culture, such as jazz and US motion pictures, as a threat to our then Anglo-aligned culture; educationalists; and protectionists worried about the livelihoods of local writers printers and artists.

I have always been curious to to see for myself exactly what it was that could have been so offensive and dangerous about these pulp magazines as to warrant import restrictions to prevent them entering the country.… Read more

Share