Movie Immortality And More

September 10th, 2013 by Max Allan Collins

What have I been up to? Besides the occasional band job and one trip after another, you mean? Well, I spent most of last month writing a spec TV pilot – I can’t say more than that, but I can say I am pleased with how it came out. I then dug into the political thriller SUPREME JUSTICE, Matt Clemens having delivered most of his story treatment (he’s still working on the third act, after some brainstorming with me when he dropped off the first two-thirds of the treatment).

Barb and I are also preparing for Bouchercon in Albany – we each are on two panels, details of which (including times) will be posted next week. (Matt’s on a panel, too.) I have a busy schedule at the con, in part because WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER debuts there. Official pub date is September 17, which means a week from when this is posted, those of you who requested review copies can finally post at Amazon.

Some nice EARLY CRIMES reviews have appeared at Amazon, some of which flow from the review copies I sent out to nine readers (yes, one copy remains to be claimed). I have had to turn down several foreign requests because of prohibitive postage.

Saw two movies this weekend and liked them both – WE’RE THE MILLERS was a very funny crime comedy (I was surprised by how much I liked it – I basically only went, by myself, because Barb kicked me out of the house while she watched tennis). Both of us loved the over-the-top and very clever RIDDICK – writers will be keenly interested in the film’s audacious structure, which shifts the point of view from anti-hero Riddick to his adversaries for the entire second act. I think Vin Diesel would make a good Hammer (he even does noir-ish voiceovers in RIDDICK).

Barb and I also watched the Criterion Blu-ray of Lubitsch’s TO BE OR NOT TO BE as well as the new Blu-ray of SHANE. I had forgotten how great both of those were. It struck me that one-time household words like Jack Benny (star of the former) and Alan Ladd (star of the latter) now each have their immortality tied up in a single film. But immortal they are.

Arguably the same can be said for Gary Cooper in HIGH NOON, and possibly Cary Grant in NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Kim Novak, recently interviewed fascinatingly on TCM by Robert Osborne, is strictly VERTIGO now, but that’s plenty. Jimmy Stewart, on the other hand, is a star who has many classic films on his list – VERTIGO, REAR WINDOW, HARVEY, IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, ANATOMY OF A MURDER – and that puts him in a rarefied class. I would argue the same for John Wayne – STAGECOACH, THE QUIET MAN, THE SEARCHERS, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (Stewart again!), RED RIVER, RIO BRAVO. There’s a pretty good list for Bogart, too, though oddly Marilyn Monroe, the movie star of stars, has arguably only one great film on her credit list (SOME LIKE IT HOT), though cases can be made for several others.

These are the kinds of thoughts that keeps an aging Baby Boomer up at night.

* * *

Nothing feels better to a writer than having a writer you admire give you a good review. Here Ed Gorman weighs in on WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER.

And here’s another very strong WHAT DOESN’T KILL HER review.

Speaking of writers I admire, here is Bill Crider with the first review of ASK NOT.

ASK NOT gets a nice mention by Jeff Pierce in his Kirkus blog.

And Brian Drake compares me favorably to Mickey Spillane in (of all things) a discussion of John Buchan’s 39 STEPS. Be sure to scroll down for my comment.

Finally, here is ROAD TO PERDITION getting classified yet again as one of the great comics-to-movies films. It does not mention Richard Piers Rayner, however, and that’s shameful.


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One Response to “Movie Immortality And More”

  1. Graham says:

    You’re probably right about the movies stars, though I hope Gary Cooper would be remembered for Sergeant York as well, and Ladd for The Glass Key. Thought I watch a lot of classic movies, there are some stars who were big in their own time, and even I can’t figure out why.