Posts Tagged ‘Dick Tracy’

2 Shamus Noms, 1 Birthday, 2 Gigs and Much Grumpy Kvetching

Tuesday, June 20th, 2023
The Big Bundle cover
Quarry's Blood cover

I am pleased to be nominated in two categories in this year’s PWA Shamus Awards – The Big Bundle in Best Hardcover and Quarry’s Blood in Best Paperback. I don’t remember ever being nominated twice in one awards competition before, and am not sure this has ever happened to anybody in the Shamuses prior to this…though I’m not sure.

Here’s the full list of nominees.

I’m also not sure Barb and I’ll be attending the Private Eye Writers of America awards ceremony banquet, much as we’d like to. Some things look likely to be colliding with any trip to San Diego, including a couple of upcoming medical procedures. In addition, we may be gearing up for the Blue Christmas project, possibly in rehearsal or even shooting.

It is very gratifying to have both of my signature series – Heller and Quarry – honored in this way. Quarry began around 1971 at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, and Heller started as a busted comic strip project in 1976. So both go back to the beginnings of my professional career. (I got the Dick Tracy strip in 1977, in part due to my rejected Heller proposal, which demonstrated I could write comics.) True Detective, the first Heller, winning the Best Novel Shamus in 1984 gave my career a much-needed boost.

Barb and I will make the decision about attending at the last minute. It’s not often I get to lose twice in one awards competition.

* * *

My eternally lovely bride Barbara Collins had a birthday on June 18 (as I write this). She has caught up with me in years, and I will do her the favor of not saying how many years that is. I will say having in my life a woman as smart, funny, giving and beautiful as this is the joy of my existence, the real blessing. Yes, I am a shallow son of a bitch who is pleased to be married to a woman who is still great-looking 55 years after I married her. Feel free to hate me on this score – I definitely do not deserve her or the good fortune that brought us together.

Barbara and Max posing with a birthday cake.
* * *

For those of you in or near eastern Iowa, my band Crusin’ is making two of (so far) only three appearances this summer season.

The first is at Ardon Creek Vineyard and Winery, a lovely outdoor event that is always well attended. We’ll be playing three hours and debuting some new original material for what will likely be our final CD. This is coming up Friday evening, June 23, at six o’clock. Info is here.

Directions are here.

Crusin' at Arden Creek, September 2017

Then on Sunday June 25, we’ll be appearing at the Muscatine Art Center Ice Cream Social, a great family event.

Crusin’ is the featured live music, and will perform from 1:15 to 3:45 p.m. Here’s the full info.

We have been prepping an album (remember those?) to appear on CD (remember those?) that will include eight or nine new songs (including “Christmas Blues” written for Blue Christmas) plus four with the Paul Thomas/Andy Landers/Steve Kundel/M.A.C. version of the band recorded for, and used in, Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market. Of the new material, I have written about half the songs, and other half are by guitarist Bill Anson, who is a terrific songwriter (and guitarist). The Real Time songs are either by me or the late, great Paul Thomas.

The current version of the band includes longtime drummer Steve Kundel, Bill’s son Scott on bass, Bill on guitar and lead vocals, and me on keyboards and lead vocals.

* * *

I’ll make a few comments about TV and movies, as some of you seem to get a kick out of my views in that regard.

I loved Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves and, frankly, did not expect to. But it has a nice ability to be both comedic and frightening – action-packed, too – bringing a vibe that has hints of Princess Bride and even Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It also finally finds a good property post-Star Trek for Chris Pine, excellent here. It’s streaming now.

Speaking of Star Trek, you may recall I was very complimentary about the first season of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, but the second season opener (though the Internet seems to love it) was a big disappointment and could bode ill for longtime fans of the original Trek and its able follow-up, The Next Generation. The lead, Captain Pike (so effectively portrayed by Anson Mount), is shuffled off-stage immediately to give the opening episode to the secondary lead (and fan fave), Mr. Spock (Ethan Peck). Spock uncharacteristically hijacks the Enterprise and then weeps a couple of times…huh? The cultural-moment bug seems to have bit the series, as the bridge crew appears damn near entirely female in what is supposedly a prequel to the first series. The bridge is also way higher tech than what the classic series gave us. I realize they want to spiff it up, but this makes the original Enterprise look like a garbage scow.

At least one older person appears to be joining the cast – Carol Kane, her quirky speech patterns explained as “an accent” – and while it’s nice to get somebody over thirty in the cast, it’s a woman in a role that might be filled by a young actor played Scotty. In the meantime, the plot involves a character from the first season who I’d entirely forgotten and dissolves into interminable fisticuff action scenes that surely had Gene Roddenberry spinning in his grave.

There is a real problem with TV and movies that become successful – this has been going on for a long time. They treat their previous movie (or in this case, TV season) as if it’s Holy Writ and we have all been studying it intently ever since. No catch-up is played, nor do the characters treated as beloved have any weight at all. Remember in Christmas Story when the Old Man is entering a contest about the Great Characters of Literature? And the answer to the question is, “Victor,” the Lone Ranger’s nephew’s horse?

This episode of Star Trek was just one Victor after another, and showcased a weeping, impulsive Spock who may make some fans’ little hearts go pitty pat, but I was blowing a raspberry.

Of course, my son Nate says I’m just a grumpy old man these days. (This was when he decided he liked John Wick: Chapter 4, though he grudgingly admits he didn’t love it.) I have also been this grumpy for a long, long time – the Old Man part just emphasizes it.

Nate and I have been watching a lot of Asian stuff lately, from the ‘80s mostly, and I’ll likely be talking about that soon.

I have had a surprising number of positive responses to my Perry Mason discussion and specifically my fannish inclusion of a hard-fought listing of the Raymond Burr episodes that are directly based on Erle Stanley Gardner novels. A few, I should mention, don’t get the “Erle Stanley Gardner’s” front-credits designation, because they are loose adaptions.

And, yes, the HBO Mason has been cancelled. I think that’s a shame, because it was on its way to being a quality series. But its snooty attitude toward both Gardner and a politically incorrect past doomed it, I think. Here’s the problem. This obsession with buying up famous I.P. (Intellectual Property) and making a new version out of it misses the point. Older people, like grumpy old me, want to see something at least vaguely resembling what is supposedly being adapted; and young people don’t give a damn – they don’t know Perry Mason from Mike Hammer. They should all be beaten with a stick, but that’s another story. There is no audience for disrespectful new versions of classic material.

Make up your own shit, guys/gals. That’s how that “I.P.” happened in the first place.

* * *

Bobby Darin’s record label Direction is being revived and will be releasing a lot of the great artist’s stuff, including previously released material. Check it out.

Here’s a nice rewrite of an article about me that was done in part because of my Muscatine Community College “Legends” honor.

For some reason the Cincinnati Enquirer picked this video up (a version of a Des Moines Register piece from a while back). It’s not bad.

Here’s the story of how the Mike Hammer comic strip got cancelled after an early success.

Lots of coverage about the Shamus nominations. Here’s just one, from the great Rap Sheet.


Please, Sir, I Want Some More…Money

Tuesday, April 18th, 2023

We have about a month and a half to raise $5000 for our movie of Blue Christmas (we’re at $550 as I write this). It’s your opportunity to help us make a good little film, and to see your name on screen – being thanked, or even given a claim to fame as an Associate Producer or (if you’re flush and really want to pep up your resumé) Executive Producer.

Physical media-type perks have not been offered, but I’m going to give the nice folks who drop by here an opportunity that isn’t part of the Indiegogo page. If you contribute $25 to $500 range, write me at and include a list of books by me that you are lacking in your M.A.C. collection…hard to find, out of print, and/or pricey stuff. I’ll do my best to send you something, signed (personalized if you like) from that list. If I can’t comply, we’ll discuss other options via e-mail. Don’t ask for first editions of True Detective, True Crime, Stolen Away (hardcover), or the original trade edition of Road to Perdition unless you are going in at the Associate Producer level (a few pages of original art from Ms. Tree, Wild Dog and Mike Danger would be available at that level). If you’re interested in being an Executive Producer, we’ll talk.

Associate Producers and of course any Executive Producer will be able to arrange a visit to the set.

Again, this offer is not being mentioned on the Indiegogo page. This is for readers of the F.O.M.A.C. blog.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is a Plan A and Plan B for Blue Christmas. Plan A will require our receiving a grant from Produce Iowa’s Greenlight competition. Chad Bishop has put together a presentation for us that is absolutely outstanding, but the competition is considerable. Reaching the goal in the Indiegogo campaign will help us come up with the necessary matching funds, should we prevail.

If we are not a recipient of funds from Iowa’s Greenlight competition, we will go forward with Plan B: a play version of Blue Christmas, which would be produced live and recorded much as we did Encore for Murder, only with full-on pre-production (Encore’s shooting as very much a last-minute decision, based upon what we felt was emerging as a strong production, thanks to a strong local cast and a wonderful guest performance from Gary Sandy).

For those of you in (or near) Eastern Iowa, we are presenting the premiere of the movie version of Encore for Murder on May 5 (having postponed it due to weather). The info accompanies the photo here.

M.A.C. at the MCC Black Box Theater
Courtesy Muscatine Journal
[Correction: The time is 7pm, not 7am. There will be no breakfast showing of Encore for Murder.]

Speaking of Encore, we have delivered it and the new expanded edition of my documentary Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane to VCI Home Entertainment. With Phil Dingeldein backing me up, I recorded a commentary for the documentary (which now runs 61 minutes) at TAG (the ad agency affiliated with dphilms).

I am not doing a commentary for Encore because it’s being presented (I think appropriately) as a bonus feature with the documentary. The new approximately fifteen minutes of footage that Phil and I shot as a wraparound for the doc brings it up to date, including Mickey’s passing and the efforts to bring his unpublished material to completion and publication. It also includes interview footage with Encore actors (Gary Sandy discusses playing Mike Hammer) which provides me an opportunity in the commentary to explain the circumstances of the production of the Golden Age Radio-style play as a fundraiser for our (Muscatine, Iowa’s) local art museum. Essentially, this sets up the bonus feature.

Please note that, in our Indiegogo effort to raise 5K for Blue Christmas, we are not going after a s**t-load of money. I have designed the screenplay to be shot on a bare bones budget, though I think without compromising the material.

Compare this to the kind of money that Riff Trax (God bless ‘em) raises just to lambast somebody else’s movie (half a million bucks on their current one, and we’re seeking a “mere” five thousand).

Imagine me pleading with giant kitty eyes and see if your heartstrings (and pocket book) aren’t touched.

Blue Christmas is, frankly, an experiment to see if I’m up to directing a film, starting out with this low-budget affair that is designed not to be a challenging shoot in terms of locations, stunts, length of shoot, etc. I had assumed, after my heart and cancer surgeries – and the continuing medications that have followed them – that my movie-making days were over…that my contribution to film would be relegated to providing source material by way of my prose and comics work, and by the occasional screenplay.

But the “instant movie” that was the stage production of Encore for Murder got my filmic juices flowing again. Blue Christmas is designed in part to see what I am capable of at this ripe old age. My health, for someone with so much wrong with me, appears to be pretty damn good.

So we shall see, as they say, what we shall see.

* * *

Remember how I whined a few weeks ago about my lack of support at the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Barnes & Noble? A return visit found one (count ‘em, one) copy of The Big Bundle available, no copies of Spillane – King of Pulp Fiction, but a nice display of some Nolan Hard Case Crime titles.

The Davenport Barnes & Noble, however, is giving me stellar support, as these photographs indicate. No need to whine here.

* * *

Here’s a nice review of Kisses of Death, the Nathan Heller short story collection from some time ago. These stories were rearranged with additional ones in two volumes from Thomas & Mercer, Chicago Lightning and Triple Play, short stories in the former, novellas in the latter.

The first six volumes of the collected Dick Tracy are coming out from Clover Press, making them physically compatible with the subsequent IDW printings. Each has an intro by me.

Here’s a nice little review of Kill Me If You Can, the current Mike Hammer novel.

Finally, this is a nice assessment of the film version of Road to Perdition.


Publisher’s Weekly, the Spillane Doc, Encore and More!

Tuesday, December 20th, 2022

For those of you looking for cyber stocking stuffers, or who will need a way to use that Amazon gift cards you’ll be receiving, four of my books are on sale as Kindle titles right now for a meager $1.99 each until the end of 2022. You can avail yourself of the Collins/Clemens titles Executive Order, Fate of the Union, What Doesn’t Kill Her and my solo title, Girl Most Likely. Also available for $1.99 (not sure for how long) is my collaboration with SCTV’s Dave Thomas, The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton, a science-fiction-tinged crime thriller.

The three Clemens co-authored titles are among my bestsellers at Amazon, and Girl and Jimmy are two of my personal favorites, which if you haven’t tried, you have this opportunity to brighten our mutual Christmases by doing so.

Executive Order cover
Fate of the Union cover
What Doesn't Kill Her cover
Girl Most Likely cover
E-Book: Amazon

The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton cover
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link

* * *

Spillane – King of Pulp Fiction (Mysterious Press) will be out February 7 of next year, which is sooner than it sounds. James Traylor and I had a nice if brief interview with longtime Spillane buff Michael Barson in the latest Publisher’s Weekly.

You can see it here, including color photos of me and of co-author Jim Traylor, which we are considering releasing as NFT trading cards at $99 each.

This week I’m planning to shoot the material for the expanded edition of my 1999 documentary, Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane. Several years ago, the doc was edited (and slightly updated) from forty-eight minutes to thirty-some) for the Criterion release of Kiss Me Deadly.

I’ve been planning to reinsert some footage we cut initially (it had run something like fifty-three minutes), and to insert new interview footage with myself, to cover things not discussed and to include what has happened regarding Mickey’s work since his death in 2006.

Phil Dingeldein, my partner in cinematic crime, has found a very good copy of the documentary among our materials and shared it with me. At risk of sounding foolishly boastful, I had forgotten had good it was. Further, it was tightly edited with Chris Christiansen’s terrific score playing almost non-stop beneath. That made it problematic to insert anything that had been previously edited out, material we would have to locate among the dozens of tapes from the 1998 shoot. Mickey’s interview footage had taken up ten Betacam tapes alone.

And as tempting as it might be to restore what I’d been encouraged to cut years ago, disrupting the smooth edit of what arguably is my best work as a filmmaker is not worth doing. For this reason, I’ve decided to expand the current cut in a new way. It will open with an explanatory introduction by me, and at the conclusion of the original documentary a sort of epilogue will follow, bringing the Spillane story up to date. It will also expand the doc to around an hour, which is considered feature length in the documentary game.

The tricky thing is that this new footage will be primarily me talking on camera, which is something not even my late mother would have relished seeing. Our challenge is to include enough interesting visual material to edit over my mug as we can manage. Oh, you’ll see plenty of me, just not enough to turn most stomachs.

We will be covering Mickey’s final novel (Something’s Down There) and his passing, including his request to me to complete the last Mike Hammer novel (The Goliath Bone) and to develop his unfinished material. But it will also briefly discuss our friendship and our collaboration on various projects, including anthologies of his and other mystery writers, the Mike Danger comic book series, and the documentary the viewer will just have seen.

The focus will be on the posthumous collaborative novels and conclude with the 75th anniversary of Mike Hammer’s debut in I, the Jury (1947). We’ll include documentary footage of the production here in Muscatine, Iowa, of Encore for Murder with Gary Sandy, including interview footage with Gary and the actors who play Velda and Pat Chambers. This should connect Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane – the 75th Anniversary Edition nicely to the feature version we’ve recently completed of the Encore for Murder live performance. I am hopeful that we will see a Blu-ray and/or DVD of the new version of the Spillane doc with Encore for Murder as a bonus feature.

As I said, the expanded documentary will come in around sixty minutes or a tad under, and should be a good length for the streaming services and possibly for PBS. Whether Encore for Murder will stream or not, I can’t say. But I will do my best to make it available to any of you who are interested. I am probably too close to know how good it is or isn’t. Clearly Gary Sandy is wonderful as Mike, and the local actors are much better than I could ever have hoped. Several clearly are professional level, and everyone does well.

The production’s MVP is Chad Bishop, who has (under the burden of my supervision) edited Encore for Murder from the actual performance and two dress rehearsals, with the bulk of the footage taken from the former. Chad was the on-stage foley person – part of the fun of doing a Golden Age Radio-style show is having the sound effects performed on stage. But in addition to doing all the foley work, Chad was mixing the sound and laying in recorded sound effects and music cues…all done live. If he had not pulled that feat off, we couldn’t even have considered putting together a “movie” version of our production.

I know I’ve talked about this before, but I look back on what we did in September of this past year with a bit of wonder.

I was initially approached to do a Dick Tracy radio show and refused, then offered the use of my play “Encore for Murder,” which in 2011 Stacy Keach had recorded with a full cast for Blackstone audio. Later Gary Sandy had starred in live productions in Owensboro, Kentucky, in 2012, and in Clearwater, Florida, in 2018. I had been present for both, not directing but able to work with the director and actors in both cases.

So when local theater maven Karen Cooney – who is affiliated with the Muscatine Art Center – asked me to do a Golden Age Radio-style play, I of course thought of “Encore.” Initially I was going to play Hammer myself, but Karen suggested I ask Gary. It was a long shot, and I said I’d think about it.

Before taking that step, I wanted to see what kind of cast Karen had put together. I attended the first table read and was impressed. I went home and told Barb I thought the actors were quite good, but didn’t trust my judgment – I wanted them to be good, after all. Barb, who is totally no-nonsense (she has to be), agreed to come to the next rehearsal. I read Hammer, which seemed to perk the players up even further. When Barb and I went home, she said, “You’re right. They’re good.”

I called Phil and got the project on his radar. I told him if this thing came together, we should try to shoot it with multiple cameras. Throughout the month or rehearsals, co-directing with Karen, I kept Phil in the loop. But it wasn’t till the week of the performance that I said, “Let’s do this thing. I don’t want it to disappear into the ether.”

We shot the two rehearsals and the performance with multiple cameras (four), some provided and operated by Phil, others by Chad, who runs Muscatine’s public access channel 9. On performance night, unbeknownst to us, one of the key cameras ceased to function for the last ten minutes of the show. That’s one of the places where having dress rehearsal footage came in handy.

Keep in mind Gary was only present for three days. The rest of our cast is amateur (a few are pro-am, having appeared in some indie films). But we would at the very least have something for Chad’s public access channel, and I was – and am – hopeful one of the two PBS stations in my area might be interested.

I think it’s likely that the Spillane documentary will be on some streaming services. Whether Encore for Murder will be deemed worthy remains to be seen. I will let you know, and be frank about our fate.

As I said last week, I will be entering this into a couple of Iowa film festivals.

* * *
Who Killed Santa?  A Murderville Murder Mystery

If you have Netflix, I would guess you are occasionally disappointed, even frustrated, by their original fare. But when they get it right, they get it right. And their Who Killed Santa? A Murderville Murder Mystery is hilariously wonderful. You should probably watch the six episodes of the Murderville series on Netflix first; but it should work on you even without that.

The premise is that a famous actor or sports star portrays the partner of Terry Seattle, a homicide cop played by Will Arnett. The mysteries are actually clever and can be solved if you pay attention, which the guest stars sometimes don’t. You see, they have not seen the script, which makes them the butt of the jokes cascading through each episode – at least when Arnett isn’t taking the comic heat himself.

It’s based on a wonderful British series, Murder in Successville, which ran for three seasons. The celebrities on Successville are not always recognizable to an American audience, but it works just the same. You can find those original episodes on You Tube. (I wrote a little bit about Murderville before, back in February of this fading year.)

* * *

Matt Clemens and I did a joint interview on a podcast hosted by the talented and gracious Terrence McCauley that you may find of interest. Matt was excellent. I will tell you frankly that I sucked. I talked too much, I didn’t wait for the questions, I was searching for words, and my only excuse was the podcast hadn’t got on my calendar and I was caught flatfooted by it. But Matt is good.

Here’s a nice essay on the film version of Road to Perdition.

Here’s another.

This essay looks at the tropes that can be found – or in some cases were generated by – Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. I am mentioned.

This years-late review of my Dick Tracy: The Secret Files anthology is well done, if a tad late in the game.

The article calls Road to Perdition one of the best crime comics of all time. You bet! But, uh…where’s Ms. Tree?


Upcoming Titles, A Recommendation & A Couple Warnings

Tuesday, November 15th, 2022
Spillane: King of Pulp Fiction cover

I have received a handful of ARCs of Spillane – King of Pulp Fiction, the upcoming biography of Mickey by Jim Traylor and me. It’s a thing of beauty! Mysterious Press did an outstanding job with the packaging. I will soon be doing a book giveaway for a few copies (possibly five) of this trade paperback version of what will be available in hardcover on (note new pub date) Feb. 7, 2023.

The new Nate Heller, The Big Bundle, is delayed, a fact that has dismayed some readers. But the book exists and is in fact a December 2022 title…it’s just held up at the UK docks by a strike. It will be available on Dec. 6 on e-book.

Better news for those dying to read something by yours truly – the first Kindle boxed set from Wolfpack of my work, Max Allan Collins Collection Vol. One: Eliot Ness is a Kindle Deal running from Wednesday, November 30 to Wednesday, December 7, 2022. The price will be dropping from $3.99 to $0.99 during that time period. That’s a quarter a book, which is what I used to pay for new paperbacks when I was in junior high. This is all four of the Eliot Ness in Cleveland novels (Nate Heller guests in two of ‘em).

A Big Bundle book giveaway is coming soon, too. Remember, if you get the novel prior to its publication date (some of you received it via NetGalley), your review can’t appear till we hit that date.

I am working now on the final chapters of the next Heller, Too Many Bullets, about the RFK assassination. It’s a big book, on the lines of True Detective, and in a sense it’s the bookend to that first Heller memoir. It’s been very difficult, in part because of my health issues (doing better, thanks) but also because it’s one of the most complicated cases I’ve dealt with. It has required more time compression and composite characters than I usually employ, and I spend a lot of time discussing with Barb what’s fair and what isn’t fair in an historical novel. I’ve been writing those since 1981 and I still wrestle with that question.

Also, there has been replotting, which is not unusual in the final section of a Heller as the need to tighten up the narrative frequently means a sub-plot gets jettisoned, particularly one that doesn’t rear its head till the last hundred pages.

But I’ll tell you what’s really unfair: using Barb as a sounding board when she’s working on her own draft of the next Antiques novel (Antiques Foe).

I am also wrestling with (and I’ve mentioned this before in these updates) how long I should to stay at it with Heller. The degree of difficulty (as I’ve also mentioned before) is tough at this age. Right now I am considering a kind of coda novel (much like Skim Deep for Nolan and Quarry’s Blood for Quarry) that would wrap things up. The Hoffa story still needs a complete telling.

Should I go that direction, and should my health and degree of interest continue on a positive course, I might do an occasional Heller in a somewhat shorter format. Of course, the problem with that is these crimes are always more complex than I think they’re going to be. I thought The Big Bundle would be an ideal lean-and-mean hardboiled PI novel, perfect for Heller’s debut at Hard Case Crime. But the complexities of a real crime like the Greenlease kidnapping tripped me up. On the other hand, the book – probably a third longer than I’d imagined – came out very well. In my view, anyway.

And with Too Many Bullets, I thought the RFK killing would make a kind of envelope around the Hoffa story, maybe a hundred, hundred-fifty pages of material.


* * *

Last week I recorded (with Phil Dingeldein) the commentary of ClassicFlix’s upcoming widescreen release of The Long Wait, based on Mickey Spillane’s 1951 non-Hammer bestseller. I like the commentary better than my I, the Jury one and have been astonished by just how good I think both the film of I, the Jury and The Long Wait are, since I was used to seeing them in cropped, dubby VHS gray-market versions (and because Mickey himself hated them). Widescreen makes all the difference on Long Wait, and Anthony Quinn is a wonderful Spillane hardboiled hero.

I will report here on when the Blu-ray/4K release is scheduled. It won’t be as pricey as I, the Jury because the 3-D factor is absent.

* * *
Millie Bobbie Brown in Enola Holmes 2

Living under a rock as I do, I had somehow missed the fact that the Enola Holmes movies (there are two, one quite recent, both on Netflix) starred the talented Millie Bobbie Brown of Stranger Things. I also got it into my head that these were kid movies. Wrong again!

These are two excellent, quirky Sherlock Holmes movies, with Henry Cavill excellent as the young Holmes, and very tough films despite a light-hearted touch manifested by Enola (Brown, absolutely wonderful) breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience. It’s tricky and charming, and reminiscent – but actually kind of superior – to the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movies.

Do not miss these.

Here’s one you can miss: Lou. A lesser Netflix flick, it stars the excellent Allison Janney and starts fairly well, but devolves into ridiculous plot twists and makes a bait-and-switch out of the entire movie.

Also, I have made it clear here that I am a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s movies, particularly starting with Inglorious Bastards – prior to that, the self-conscious references to his favorite films were too on the nose for my taste, although I revisited them after Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (a masterpiece) and had less trouble.

I don’t usually criticize other writers, but after trying to read his new book I am convinced Tarantino needs to stick to film, where he colors wildly but within the lines.

His Cinema Speculation is opinionated blather about ‘70s and ‘80s films that reminds us that Tarantino once worked at a video store. This is absolutely the kind of stuff a motormouth, know-it-all video clerk used to put us through when we were just trying to rent the damn movie.

* * *

This is a re-edit of an interview I gave to the Des Moines Register back in 2016 (I think). It’s not bad.

And here you can see a much younger me (and Chet Gould and Rick Fletcher) on the occasion of Dick Tracy’s 50th birthday.