Tag Archives: Gregory Hines

Pulp Friday: A Rage in Harlem

Today’s Pulp Friday offering is A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes.

Himes is a difficult author to categorise. He’s wrote a number of excellent, fast paced, darkly humorous crime novels, of which the so-called “Harlem Domestic” series featuring the black police detectives ‘Coffin’ Ed Jones and ‘Grave Digger’ Johnson, are the best known.

He also wrote a large number of short stories, as well as polemical and literary works focusing on his experience of racism in the US.

Born into a poor family in Kansas in 1909, by the age of 19 he’d been sentence to 25 years in jail for armed robbery. He started to write in jail. Upon his parole he made attempts to start a writing career, financing his efforts through a myriad of jobs. But success eluded him until the early fifties when he moved to France, where the translations of his early novels had met with critical acclaim.

A Rage In Harlem was the first of Himes’s seven novels featuring ‘Coffin’ and ‘Grave Digger’, who spent as much time racism in the police force as they did crime in Harlem. The story revolves around a man who scraps together money to pay for an abortion for his girlfriend. Everything goes terribly wrong, however, and she disappears with the funds.… Read more

Off Limits in Saigon

I’m very happy to welcome back to Pulp Curry my partner in crime, Angela Savage, reviewing the 1988 film, Off Limits (which also appeared under the title Saigon). I first saw Off Limits years ago and always liked the originality of the premise – two US military police on the beat in war-time Saigon. Watching it again recently, I’m curious to know, what if any unacknowledged debt the movie owes to the Martin Limon books featuring Sueno and Bascom, two US military police stationed in South Korea in the seventies. Oh yes, and I definitely agree with Angela that Fred Ward is an underrated actor.

Off Limits, set in Saigon in 1968, is a riveting crime thriller that conveys the madness of the US war in Vietnam while treating it as background to the main story.

The plot centres on Criminal Investigation Division (CID) cops Sergeant Buck McGriff (Willem Dafoe, all thin hips and big lips) and Sergeant Albaby Perkins (Gregory Hines, chewing gum like it’s the only way he can keep the bile down) and their investigation into what turns out to be the serial killings of Vietnamese prostitutes.

With a short-list of suspects made up of US military top brass, they have to navigate a case as off limits as the part of Saigon where the murders take place.… Read more