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Forgotten Books: Cross Country by Herbert Kastle

Forgotten Books: Cross Country by Herbert Kastle


Herbert D. Kastle wrote a number of science fiction stories in magazines of the 1950s. That's where I first read him. Later in the 1960s he was writing those fat sexy bestseller-type novels that owed more to marketing and Harold Robbins than his presumed muse. Then in 1974 he wrote CROSS COUNTRY. Here's a quote from one of the reviews: "This novel seems to occupy the same dark and twisted territory as the works of Jim Thompson. Characters interact in a dance of barely suppressed psychopathological urges and desires that is as grotesquely fascinating as a multi-car pileup on the freeway. It may leave you feeling unclean afterwards, but chances are you will not forget it."

Damn straight. It really is a sewer of sex and terror and blood-soaked suspense. I read it in one long sitting. If it's trash, as some called it at the time, it is spellbinding trash.

IMDB sums up the story line succintly: "After a woman is found butchered in her New York apartment, suspicion falls on her estranged husband, an ad executive who has suddenly left town on a cross-country road trip. He takes along a beautiful girl he met in a bar and a drifter he picked up along the way. A cop sets out after the husband, but he's more interested in shaking him down than bringing him back."

Kastle masterfully controls his long nightmare journey and you buy into his paranoia. He shows you an American wasteland of truck stops, motels, convenience stores connected by interstate highway and darkness. By book's end everyone will betray everyone else. This is survival of the fittest enacted by a Yuppie businessman, sociopathic hippies and a crooked cop. The sheer nastiness of Kastle's existential vision make this book impossible to forget. Thirty-some years after I first read it I still think of it from time to time when hundreds of other novels have fled from memory.

It's a vision of hell that fascinates you as it troubles your conscience.

Forgotten Films: The Man From Laramie

The Man from Laramie Poster.jpg

The Man From Laramie

TCM ran the letterbox version of The Man From Laramie this afternoon. I hadn't seen it in years and I'll tell you I was dazzled by it in every respect. If, as John D. MacDonald suggested, most pulp fiction is actually a kind of folk tale, then Laramie is one of the best folk tales ever told.

I've never heard a satisfactory explanation from why Anthony Mann and James Stewart fell out. But what an extraordinary way to say goodbye.

While Stewart is the star this is really ensemble acting. In fact Donald Crisp as the complicated, doomed patriarch is, for me, the most compelling character in the movie.

If I was asked to compare the differences between a genre western (even a great one) and a mainstream western I'd point to this film. Each of the main characters has a history that bears at length on the story. Stewart, as usual in a Mann western, is driven by a hatred that makes him difficult to like at certain time, though the violence visited on him early on still has the ability to shock even in this age of slice and dice movies. A great line early is spoken by an old man to Stewar:t "Hate is unbecoming on some men, Mr. Lockhart. On some men it shows."

For me, Mann is a far better director of westerns than John Ford (though I greatly admire The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance). There is no sentimentality or Cavalry myth here. There a few scenes that would do the Sopranos proud.

Laramie is also one of the most exciting hardboiled stories ever done in the western field. Phillip Yordan's fine script gives us a twist every fifteen minutes or so. And the last twenty minutes consist of three stunning set-pieces of sustained action.

And what a pleasure to see Cathy O'Donnell again. A sad, quiet turn here gives a look at how limited life was for women on the frontier.

Here's a good over view from IMDB:

Author: ironside ( from Mexico

Some of the best Westerns of the fifties were those directed by Anthony Mann and John Ford, straightforward and unpretentious, but each with an interesting approach to the requirements of the genre... Mann's films were the more prestigious, usually featuring James Stewart who, with John Wayne, was the fifties' biggest box-office draw... "The Man From Laramie" best known because of the Frankie Laine theme strong which accompanied it, is notable for (among other things) Alex Nicol's extraordinary projection of sadism, an element which dominated the best of Mann's movies... The motion picture was to be the last of the Mann-Stewart Westerns...

Stewart is cast as a wagon handler from Laramie, Wyoming, but is, really, an army officer out to avenge the death of his younger brother, a U.S. Cavalryman, massacred by the Apaches who were buying guns from unknown persons... It is these persons that Stewart is looking for..

Soon Stewart gets involved in an area of New Mexico which is ruled by the iron hand of a cattle baron Donald Crisp, a strong authoritarian "who can't live with a lie"... Crisp's one weakness is his love and care for his spoiled son, Alex Nicol...

Wild but feeble, yet vicious, Nicol - with extraordinary projection of sadism - accosts Stewart in several confrontations in which (among other outrages) Stewart is dragged through fire by horses, and has his hand held tight while Alex puts a bullet through it... Mann proceeds in this mood throughout the movie, growing even more sadistic...

Arthur Kennedy, a hard-working heavy, plays the adopted son of Crisp... He is a son in disguise, jealous of Alex, pretending to be his brother's ally and protector...

A lot of good supporting actors are cast including Cathy O'Donnell, the fragile beauty who has little to do but await patiently for an opportunity; Aline MacMahon, the fine 'ugly' woman who never leaves the old man, and Jack Elam who tries to knife James Stewart in the back...

Anthony Mann adopted an altogether tougher approach to Western mythology than John Ford... His obsessive, neurotic characters and his emphasis on violence foretell the work of Peckinpah, Leone and Eastwood...

Filmed in Technicolor, "The Man From Laramie" is a Western with new touches of brutality touching off the wide screen spectacle...

TV NEWS The Final Season of ‘Justified’ Must Get Back to the ‘Core 3′

JUSTIFIED -- "Restitution" -- Episode 513 (Airs Tuesday, April 8, 10:00 pm e/p -- Pictured: (L-R) Walton Gogins as Boyd Crowder, Joelle Carter as Ava Crowder -- CR: Prashant Gupta/FX

by Michael Griffin
The final scene of the fifth season of Justified ended as it began: at night, with a Crowder on the Harlan County bridge that has played home to so many illicit activities. This time, it was Ava Crowder (Joelle Carter), and she was there for an task that surely ate at her soul — being a CI for Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant). It was Givens who was able to pull her out of her predicament at the penitentiary and he wanted her to show her gratitude by gathering information to help the Marshal's Office put away Boyd for at least the next 50 years.
With that sequence of events, the show left us no room for error for what will transpire in the final season. Boyd, who has already had a number of bad guys out gunning for him, is going to be feeling the squeeze of the law. And that group will be led by Givens, who used to work in the mines with Boyd a lifetime ago, before the two went on very, very divergent paths. This would likely put an end to the occasional alliance that exists between the two and will probably have Boyd reconsidering his decision in the second season to save Raylan from being whacked open like a pinata by Dickie Bennett (Jeremy Davies).
If they are smart (and Graham Yost and his crew have proven themselves to be near Mensa-level geniuses at crafting some of the most compelling television out there), the showrunners will spend the final season of Justified back in the hands of the Core 3: Givens, Ava and Boyd — the meat of the show from its early days.
There have overarching villains in nearly every season of Justified but the first. The only villain needed for this final go-'round is Boyd. That way, the focus can be on those central characters, relegating some other favorites to satellite roles (like Rachel Brooks and Tim Gutterson), the likes of Wynn Duffy and Katherine Hale to occasional components of the story, and the newly retired Art Mullen to a cameo appearance or two. 
We might even go so far as to predict (or hope) that the final scene of the show somehow emulates the last moments of the pilot, with Raylan shooting Boyd, but this time, with no reprieve. (For those who don't know, Boyd was supposed to die in that pilot, like he did in the short story "Fire In The Hole." However, Walton Goggins blew everyone away with his performance and was granted a starring part.) However the series ends, it needs to come right down to the relationship that made the program so compelling in the first place. This is a show about Raylan and his toxic roots, and nobody better exemplifies those roots than Boyd.

The Onion Field Novel & Movie


Ed here: For me one of the most important books I've ever read. And the movie is almost as good as the book.

by Greg Ferrara Movie Morlocks


There was a time in the seventies when Joseph Wambaugh was just about the top crime writer in the nation.  In the years before John Grisham and James Patterson came to prominence, Wambaugh novels got multiple adaptations into film but, unlike Grisham and Patterson, they weren’t very successful at the box office although they were very good on the whole and one of them, The Onion Field, scored big both with audiences and critics and launched the career of James Woods.  I hadn’t seen it since 1979 and was surprised upon a second viewing how much better it was than I remembered.

The novel falls into the category of true crime and covers the story of the murder of a police officer in Bakersfield, California, in 1963, with great precision and detail.  Reading the actual facts of the case and comparing them with the book or movie and one finds there’s little to no meddling with the chain of events as they really happened, until the second half of the movie where personal motivations, fears and beliefs are dramatized to give an emotional understanding to the events as they happened.  The movie divides into two parts and neither suffers in comparison to the other.

(more--I skipped over the long plot line with spoilers)

Director Harold Becker didn’t have the most distinguished career but he did some good movies with moderate success, including Taps, Vision Quest, and Sea of Love.  The Onion Field still stands as his best.  At crucial moments, like the shooting of Detective Campbell on the ground in the field, he pulls the camera back and puts the two actors so close together with the bullets coming from between them that it’s impossible to know what happened.  He’s keeping it murky, just as it was in life, through inventive camera work and editing.  But what he really does well is pull back emotionally from scenes that might go too far in the hands of someone else...

The acting throughout is excellent from all concerned.  John Savage uses his distant gaze to great advantage to express the emotional struggles of his character.  Although he does occasionally suffer an emotional release, he mainly uses his eyes to convey anguish, glancing away, downward, as if afraid to look anyone in the eye after what he’s done, or, at least, what he thinks he’s done.

for more go here:

Forgotten Treasures of the Pulps: Tony Rome, Private Eye

book cover of   The Lady in Cement
Forgotten Treasures of the Pulps: Tony Rome, Private Eye

Friday, April 11th, 2014 | Posted by William Patrick Maynard  FROM BLACK GATE
The paperback original (PBO to collectors) was the immediate successor to the pulp magazine as the home of pulp fiction. Marvin Albert was one of the bright lights of the paperback original market for detective fiction.
Albert’s work is revered in France, where he is considered a master of the hardboiled form, but he is largely forgotten stateside since his work lacks the literary polish of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler and was never shocking like Mickey Spillane. Albert may not have broken new ground, but he did excel at crafting hardboiled private eye stories in the classic tradition from the 1950s through the 1980s.
Much like Max Allan Collins or Michael Avallone, he also supplemented his income by adapting screenplays as movie tie-in novels for the paperback original market. Oddly enough, Albert specialized in bedroom farces for his movie tie-in assignments, in sharp contrast to his tough guy crime novels and westerns.
Albert utilized a number of pseudonyms during his career (although many of these titles were reprinted under his real name towards the end of his life). He published three hardboiled mysteries featuring a tough private eye called Tony Rome in the early 1960s. The books were published under the byline of Anthony Rome, as if to suggest the tales being told were real cases.
Tony Rome is best remembered today thanks to a pair of campy Frank Sinatra vehicles in the mid-1960s which portray the character as a middle-aged playboy drooling after bikini-clad lovelies half his age. The fact that the private eye operated out of a houseboat called “The Straight Pass” seems to have inspired John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee private eye series, which launched later in the decade. The sad thing is such vivid recollections of the character do a terrible disservice to the books.
Tony Rome, on the printed page, is a private eye who carries a great deal of emotional baggage. He quit the Miami Police Department after his father (a police captain) committed suicide following public exposure by a political rival that he had once accepted a bribe early in his career. Tony quit the force and largely retreated from the world aboard his houseboat. He is most at home snorkeling in the beautiful and peaceful Atlantic Ocean. Crime routinely brings him ashore and Rome sees justice is done before retreating out to sea once more.

for the rest go here:
William Patrick Maynard was authorized to continue Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu thrillers beginning with The Terror of Fu Manchu (2009; Black Coat Press) and The Destiny of Fu Manchu (2012; Black Coat Press). The Triumph of Fu Manchu is scheduled for publication in July 2014.