Projection Booth podcast #595: Nightmare Alley (1947)

For your Noirvember listening pleasure, the latest episode of Projection Booth Podcast is on the 1947 film noir, Nightmare Alley. I join Projection Booth host Mike White & film critic Samm Deighan to talk about the film, the William Lindsay Gresham book it is based on, and the 2021 reboot. We also discuss carnival noir & clairvoyants in noir film & I did a particular shout out to Bryan Forbes’s Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964). We also talked a fair bit about sex: how much sex Stanton Carlisle gets in the 1947 film version (because no one else ever seems to) and how sexy that version is generally, especially compared to the 2021 reboot.

You can listen to the episode in full at this link.Read more

Book Review: We Are the Mutants – The Battle for Hollywood from Rosemary’s Baby to Lethal Weapon

Is there anything new left to say about the period of American film production from the late 1960s to the early 1980s?

This is the period that began with the so-called ‘New Hollywood’ and continued with its collapse under the weight of its own cinematic hubris and excess, bumped along considerably by the 1977 release of Star Wars, after which the blockbuster franchise, with its lucrative pre-sold merchandising deals, evolved into the majority of what now passes for the American film industry. Of course, this is just one facet of the story. Influencing this trajectory was Vietnam, the rise and fall of the counterculture, the election of Ronald Reagan and the rise of neoliberalism.

To say something different about all of this is a tough task. But it is is precisely the aim of We are the Mutants: The Battle for Hollywood from Rosemary’s Baby to Lethal Weapon. That the book largely succeeds in its mission is due to a quality I initially found hard to define until I hit on a way to do so by way of a comparison. The book reminds me of the work of British documentary maker Adam Curtis, particularly his most recent effort, I Can’t Get You Out of My Head: An Emotional History of the Modern World.… Read more

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Video of launch of Horwitz Publications, Pulp Fiction & the Rise of the Australian Paperback

If you missed the recent launch of my monograph Horwitz Publications, Pulp Fiction and the Rise of the Australian Paperback, organised by the Australian National University’s Centre for Australian Literary Cultures, the video of the event is now on Youtube for your viewing pleasure. The book, published in hardback by Anthem Publications, is price for higher education institutions at present, but a cheaper paperback version will be available mid-2023.

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Register for on-line NoirCon 2022

Those of you who have been following my site for a while now may have seen me post about NoirCon previously. A celebration of all things noir in film, literature, art and anything else you care to mention, NoirCon was previously held as a face-to-face gathering in Philadelphia, but has been cancelled for the last few years, due to Covid and other problems.

Well, now it is back, this year as an online gathering.

NoirCon will take place Friday-Saturday, October 21-23, EST. Virtual NoirCon 2022 will be held on the Accelevents platform. An all-access pass covering the entire conference is $36. Registration includes access to the Accelevents platform for 30 days after the event, so attendees can re-watch events or catch up on panels they missed.

NoirCon is hands down the best literary/arts festival I have attended. The exact program is not live yet but whatever the fevered mind of NoirCon organiser Lou Boxer has dreamt up in terms of a program, I have no doubt it’ll be good, including new events and events that would have been held in previous cancelled versions of the program. So if you have any interest in noir at all and are able to make the time zone work for you, you should definitely register at this link.… Read more

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Book Review: Australian crime anthology and First Nations science fiction

Is it just me or is there definitely a renewed local interest in short story collections? There seems to be a few more of them being published than is normally the case and I am particularly interested in two that have come across my radar: Dark Deeds Down Under, an anthology of crime fiction edited by Craig Sisterson and This All Come Back Now, a new anthology of first nations speculative fiction, edited by Mykaela Saunders.

First up, Dark Deeds Down Under. The interesting selling point of this book is that it contains 19 crime fiction stories from Australian and New Zealand authors, some well-known, others not so much. As is the case with every anthology not every tale did it for me but there were far more hits than misses, which is unusual. I just want to briefly note the highlights in the collection for me.

Aoife Clifford’s ‘Summer of the Seventeenth Poll’ felt very much in the spirit of TV shows such as In the Thick of It, in its depiction of a political spinner who job sees them stumble across a murder, and the story has a real sting in the tail. No surprises that ‘The Cook’ by possibly my favourite Australian crime writer, David Whish-Wilson, was a terrific yarn about an ex-con speed cook and the troubled relationship he has with his son.… Read more

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