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DIGGING UP THE DIRT
Crime (Writing) Pays in Unexpected Ways

In my case, crime paid by bringing me closer to my mother. Such a payoff seemed utterly inconceivable when I started working on what would eventually be my first novel, The Distance. Within the genre constraints of that story exists a familial roman a clef: the characters of Billy and Ida Nichols are based on my parents, right down to a deep, dark secret that for almost fifty years lurked at the core of their marriage. No mention was ever made of it, of course—it was the kind of disgrace Catholics specialized in, but of which they never spoke. Continues...
      THE BIG LEAK
An Uneasy Evening with the Noir Legend

The meanest man in motion picture history sat beneath a palm tree, sucking wind. Twenty feet away, a line of ticket buyers snaked from the box office of the Egyptian Theater, down the frond-draped promenade, to Hollywood Boulevard. Patrons queuing for this revival of the noir classic Born to Kill barely noticed the hulking geezer who'd shuffled laboriously toward the theater entrance, then copped a squat to catch his breath. Most of them had come to see this movie, more than fifty years after its original release, because of the legend surrounding its leading man. They'd heard the tall tales of his cold-blooded persona, both on-screen and off. Continues...
 
           
      ALICE IN LOTUSLAND
From the Wreckage of Spoiled Dreams-Movie Magic

Mulholland Drive
is a triumph, both as a revelatory reimagining of traditional narrative cinema, and as personal vindication for its maker. Like a master magician, David Lynch has conjured a mature, evocative and emotionally satisfying experience from the wreckage of dispiriting failure. Critics are picking over the film like detectives combing a crime scene, sifting for the remains of the ill-fated television pilot that was its genesis, as if they suspect the finished work is a jerry-rigged parlor trick, rather than a fully-realized work of art. Lynch meanwhile remains a tight-lipped perpetrator, testifying only that his film is "A love story from the city of dreams." Continues...
 
           
      IT'S A NOIR WORLD
Why Bogart Made "The Maltese Falcon" What It Is
—San Francisco Chronicle

I can never watch "The Maltese Falcon" without acknowledging the invaluable contribution George Raft made to its creation—by turning down the role of Sam Spade. Raft thought it beneath an actor of his magnitude to be offered recycled material (the book had already been filmed twice) and he had no patience for some greenhorn making his directorial debut. Continues...
 
           
      ENDLESS NIGHT
The Czar of Noir Picks His 25 Favorites

Often I'm asked to cite my "Top Ten" from the classic film noir era, so I figured it was about time to post something "definitive." Take this with a grain of salt, because I am not one to apply academic criteria to art, popular or otherwise. These are simply films that I have viewed and enjoyed multiple times, and expect to appreciate even more as time goes on. A "classic" is in the eye of the beholder anyway; to me there's only one way to assess a film's greatnessis it still engrossing the sixth time you've seen it? Continues...