Category Archives: 70s American crime films

The Nickel Ride

Thenickelride-RobertMulligan1974_zpscfd16d4c

Amid the well-deserved hype around the film version of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice was this interesting list of early seventies crime films set in California and its surrounds. One of these was a little known 1974 movie, which I re-visited recently after first seeing it years ago, The Nickel Ride.

Jason Miller (best known for his role in 1973 film, The Exorcist) is Cooper, a mid-level operative in the LA crime scene, who managers several downtown warehouses where the mob stash their stolen merchandise. This job has earned the nickname of ‘Key Man’ due to all the keys to various storage facilities he has to carry around. He is also involved in various other legal and illegal activities, including fixing fights, bail bonds and acting as a dispute solver of sorts for the members of downtown LA’s working class criminal milieu.

Cooper and his employers face a major problem. They are running out of space to store their pilfered goods and Cooper is under major pressure to finalise negotiations on large track of old commercial warehouse space that would be perfect for their needs. But there seems to be some sort of complication preventing him from closing the deal.

Cooper’s immediate boss, Carl (John Hillerman, instantly recognisable as Higgins in Magnum PI), is getting skittish and assigns Turner (Bo Hopkins), a cocky cowboy enforcer, to shadow him.… Read more

Post traumatic noir – a note on the passing of Robert Stone

cover600spanThe death of US writer Robert Stone on the weekend has drawn me out of the break I planned on posting on this site over January.

Stone was the author of two tremendous works of neo-noir fiction, both of which I read when I was first getting into the genre.

The first, Stone’s debut novel, A Hall of Mirrors, was published in 1967 and partly set in New Orleans, where Stone lived briefly. It dealt with a dissolute, opportunistic right wing radio broadcaster and the desperate, doomed characters he associates with. It was turned into an excellent film called WUSA by Stuart Rosenberg in 1970 and starring Paul Newman, then in the throws of his battling his own alcoholism (I reviewed it on this site a couple of years ago here.

The second, the better known and probably more influential of Stone’s books, Dog Soldiers, was published in 1974. The 1978 film  adaption, Who’ll Stop The Rain (reviewed on this site here), is also very good.

Dog Soldiers concerns a liberal war correspondent in Vietnam, Converse, who disillusioned with what he has seen, decides to traffic heroin back to the US. He enlists Hicks, his friend in the merchant marines, to take the drugs back to Converse’s wife, Marge, in Los Angeles.… Read more

Mud, madness and masculinity: William Friedkin’s Sorcerer

scheiderPerfect films usually only ever appear so in retrospect. A case in point is Sorcerer, William Friedkin’s 1977 reimagining of the Henri-Georges Clouzot 1953 classic, The Wages of Fear.

The gloriously remastered print of Sorcerer, showing as part of the Melbourne International Film Festivals ‘Masters and Restorations’ program, is an incredible tale of failed masculinity, predatory capitalism and madness.

It was a commercial flop upon release, only recouping nine million of its original twenty one million dollar budget, largely due to appearing at almost the exact same time as the first instalment of Star Wars. Friedkin viewed it as the toughest job of his career. Shooting was littered with accidents and problems, including the film’s riveting central scene, where trucks must cross a rickety rope and timber bridge over a raging river in the middle of a fierce tropical storm. The sequence, due to weather and other reasons, occurred over two countries and took three months to shoot.

Three men, on the run from past mistakes, have ended end up in a run down, impoverished town in an unspecified Latin American banana republic (the real location being the Dominican Republic, which at the time was under an actual military dictatorship).

Jackie (Roy Scheider) was part of a heist on a Catholic Church that ended in a car crash in which all the other members of the gang are killed.… Read more

When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder

Red Ryder poster

This week I’d like to welcome someone to the site who knows more about seventies popular culture that many people have forgotten, Melbourne’s own maestro of pulp sleaze, John Harrison.

I recently managed to catch the very rare 1979 Milton Katselas film, When You Comin’ Back Red Ryder. I was keen to review it for Pulp Curry, but doing a bit of research I stumbled across this piece by John that really says everything there is to say about this lost classic and more. John was nice enough to allow me to reprint it in full on my site.

Like John, I first caught the film on late night television in the eighties and it’s fascinated me ever since. I’m thrilled to be able to post such a comprehensive piece about it on Pulp Curry.

The review originally appeared on Harrison’s own excellent site, Sin Street Sleaze. It’s a great resource on horror and grindhouse movies, as well as John’s own unique brand of pop culture observation.

Welcome John.

Based on a stage play by Mark Medoff (who also penned the screenplay for this cinematic adaptation), When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder is a hard film to categorise. Social commentary, psychological thriller, dark character study, seedy grindhouse exploitation film – all of these are applicable, yet none of them seem wholly suitable.… Read more

Crime Factory issue 13 is out

CF13-COVER

A heads up that issue 13 of Crime Factory is out (with cover design by the one and only Eric Beetner, who also did the cover for my novel, Ghost Money)

In this issue I talk to Dwayne Epstein, author of the new Lee Marvin bio, Lee Marvin Point Blank, about Marvin’s life and movies and what it was like to research a book on one of the true icons of masculine cool.

But that’s just one piece among many, including:

Michael A Gonzales interviews Gary Phillips and Tommy Hancock, creators of the new anthology, Black Pulp.

Ruth Dugdall talks working with and writing about criminals with Angela Savage.

Tom Darin Liskey gives true crime reportage from Indian Country.

Elusive Ozploitation icon Roger Ward is interviewed about his career by James Hopwood.

Plus Kennedy assassination pulp fiction (and no, I didn’t know such a thing existed either before this issue, either), great fiction and reviews.

It’s a bargain at 99 cents for the Kindle version or $5.99 plus postage for the print version.

Or, if you’re on a budget (or just stingy), you can download the PDF here for free.

And Melbourne folk, while I’m pulling on your coat about Crime Factory related matters, this coming Tuesday, May 14, Crime Factory Publications is proud to be teaming up with Cinecult 303 for a screening of Lee Marvin’s cult classic, Prime Cut (which I reviewed on this site here).… Read more