Sunday, November 22, 2009

Heartbreak & Vine Film Festival

Femmes Fatales

Googie Withers

The great Googie Withers in Night and the City, directed by Jules Dassin in 1950. With Richard Widmark, Herbert Lom, Gene Tierney, etc.. An underrated film, but which still does not do justice to Gerald Kersh's great novel. Now if only someone would adapt Fowler's End or Prelude to an Uncertain Midnight.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Happy birthday Don Cherry, November 18, 1936 – October 19, 1995,
Wherever you are.

Here he is with Sonny Rollins

Then, with James Blood Ulmer and Rashied Ali

Monday, November 16, 2009

Heartbreak & Vine Film Festival

Jane Green in Out of the Past, directed by Jacques Tourneur in 1947

That entrance

The exit

Thursday, November 12, 2009

December 22nd, 1935 to November 7th, 2009

Donald Harrington has returned to Stay More

But there is still time to read this extraordinary writer:

Enduring (2009)
Farther Along (2008)
The Pitcher Shower (2005)
With (2003)
Thirteen Albatrosses (or, Falling off the Mountain) (2002)
When Angels Rest (1998)
Butterfly Weed (1996)
Ekaterina (1993)
The Choiring of the Trees (1991)
The Cockroaches of Stay More (1989)
The Architecture of the Arkansas Ozarks (1975)
Some other Place. The Right Place. (1972)
Lightning Bug (1970)
The Cherry Pit (1965)

Let Us Build Us a City: Eleven Lost Towns (1986)

For an excellent overview of Harrington's work, have a look at this Boston Globe article by James Sallis published a few years ago.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

Black Water Rising sounds like it could be the name of a blues number sung by Bessie Smith or Memphis Minnie. And, in its own way, Locke's book is a kind of blues for the generation that came of age, as Locke's parents did, during the days of the civil rights and black power movements, and had to contend with its aftermath. Set in Houston during the Reagan era, it's about the onset of free market economics, the fracturing of unions through divide and rule resulting in their loss of power, the rise of oil as a dominating force, and the creation of a new, more mature politics. Locke's protagonist is Jay, a disillusioned, former activist, now a two-bit lawyer with a wife, a minister's daughter, about to have a baby. Consequently, the demands of family life and the church mitigate Jay's attempts to go his own way, which he does until he can no longer stay on the outside and must join the fight which means coming to terms with his past. These might be old tropes, but they work well here, as former friends from the movement and the community, including his former girlfriend who is now mayor, want him to intercede on their behalf. Just one small point of contention in what is one of the best crime novels of the year: the plot point on which the novel turns is a scene in which the college chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society, led by his former girlfriend, hijacks a rally held by black activists, led by Jay. Now maybe things like that happened in Houston, but at San Francisco State and Berkeley where I happened to be during that time, it would have been unimaginable for SDS or any other predominantly white political organization to hijack a rally held by the Panthers, the Black Students Union, or the Black Power movement. Groups like SDS were too much in awe of black groups, and even intimidated by African-American groups to pull a stunt like that. But, okay, after a brief spell saying "this just wouldn't have happened," I suspended any disbelief and allowed the narrative to take me where it was going. Needless to say, I enjoyed the ride. This is an interesting and important novel, and I'm already looking forward to Locke's next book.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Heartbreak & Vine Film Festival

Day 15

Arlene Dahl

And to think she appeared regularly as a panelist on What's My Line?

Wicked as They Come (trailer), directed by Ken Hughes in 1956

Then in Slightly Scarlet, directed by Allan Dwan in 1956

Friday, November 06, 2009

Heartbreak & Vine Film Festival

Day 14

The great Ida Lupino

Road House, directed in 1948 by Jean Negulesco

Private Hell 36, directed in 1954 by Don Siegel

They Drive By Night, directed in 1940 by Raoul Walsh

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Heartbreak & Vine Film Festival

Day 13

Still with the Femmes Fatales

Linda Darnell in Otto Preminger's 1945 Angel Face, with Dana Andrews

Monday, November 02, 2009

Heartbreak & Vine Film Festival

Day 12

Femmes Fatales

Helen Walker and Coleen Gray in Edmound Goulding's 1947 classic Nightmare Alley