In past years, I have always tried to conclude the writing year with wrap up of my top fiction/non-fiction reads. But this year I want to do something a little different and look more broadly at the culture that has sustained me in what has been another difficult and stressful 12 months, dominated, as it has for so many of us, by the Covid pandemic.
As was the case in 2020, Covid meant that I spent far more time than I would’ve liked at home. So, most of the movies I watched had to be on the small screen. One of the standouts for me was a 1953 Argentinian retelling of Fritz Lang’s 1931 classic, M, called El Vampiro Negro or The Black Vampire. Helmed by one of Argentina’s most famous mid-century directors, Roman Vinoly Barreto, the story focuses the panic that engulfs Buenos Aires as children are stalked and murdered by a paedophile. Barreto particularly focuses on a nightclub singer and mother, played by Argentina’s equivalent of Marilyn Monroe, Olga Zubarry, who is the sole eyewitness to the child killer and who fears her daughter may be the next victim. Proof positive that classic noir was not just a North American phenomena, El Vampiro Negro is a powerful film, stunningly restored by the US Film Noir Foundation.… Read more
While preparing for a recent appearance on a podcast episode about John Boorman’s 1967 film, Point Blank, I thought a lot about American noir cinema of the very late 1950s and the 1960s. I find it interesting that so many of the films made during this time remain unknown and underappreciated relative to the classic film noir period, generally regarded as beginning with John Huston’s 1941 classic The Maltese Falcon and ending in 1958, and the body of American crime cinema known as neo noir, which took off in the early 1970s. My latest piece for the US site CrimeReads is on this strange, partly forgotten period of American noir cinema that came between classic film noir & 1970s neo-noir, and 10 great underrated/unknown films that were released during it. You can read it in full on the CrimeReads site here.… Read more
My new book, Dangerous Visions & New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction, 1950-1985 is starting to get out in the world. As part of that process, my co-editor Iain McIntyre and myself will be holding an actual in-person, face to face launch of the book for Melbourne folks on Tuesday, December 14 at Buck Mulligan’s Bar and Bookshop, 217 High Street, Northcote. The event kicks off at 7pm.
I know it is always a crazy time of year as we get close to Christmas, maybe this year more than ever, but I would love it if you could join us. As well as drinks at bar prices, there will be giveaways and readings from SF works mentioned in our book.
In addition to picking up a copy of Dangerous Visions & New Worlds, well before it hits shops in Australia, you’ll also be able to pick up cheap copies of our other PM Press books, Girl Gangs, Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture, 1950-1980 & Sticking it to the Man: Revolution & Counterculture in Pulp & Popular Fiction, 1950-1980. … Read more
It was a great pleasure to be able to perform co-hosting on the Projection Booth podcast for the second time in as many months, this time alongside my friend Jedidiah Ayres, on an episode about one of my favourite crime films, John Boorman’s Point Blank (1967). In addition to the film and how it figured in the careers of Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson and Boorman, we talked about its place in 1960s American crime cinema, the film’s take on violence, and how it related to it literary source material the character of the hardboiled master thief Parker who appeared in the books of Richard Stark aka Donald Westlake. We also spent a fair bit of time talking about other cinematic adaptations of Parker, particularly Brian Helgeland’s 1999 film Payback – which was based on the same 1962 Parker book as Point Blank, The Hunter – and Payback’s various versions. It is a great episode and you can listen to it in full at the Projection Booth site via this link.… Read more
Today’s Pulp Friday post looks at two pulp-related projects that I think should be on your radar.
The first is Michael Stradford’s Steve Holland: The Torn Shirt Sessions. Many of you have probably have not heard of Steve Holland but if you collect pulp paperbacks, I can almost guarantee that you will have seen his face on covers that you have from the 1950s to the 1980s. Holland was one of the foremost paperback cover models over this period and certainly the most used male model I am aware of.
While I was familiar with Holland’s chiselled features from the cover art of numerous books in my possession long before I realised who he was, since learning his name it seems like I, literally, cannot go into second-hand bookshop or browse pulp art the internet without stumbling across him. He not only modelled for paperbacks, but for the covers of men’s adventure magazines and comic books, in every conceivable genre. In the process, he worked with some of the foremost pulp illustrators of the 20th century, including Mort Kunstler, Roger Kastel, and Ron Lesser, just to name a few.
One of the characters Holland is most closely associated with is Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze. A fictional character who first appeared in American pulp magazines in the 1930s, Doc Savage transitioned to the paperback format in the mid-1960s.… Read more