Thursday, September 16, 2004

Website Update: Practice

The latest installment of ‘In the Frame,’ my column from Mystery*File, is now up. Read it here.

Book: Grifter’s Game, by Lawrence Block (1961)

All hail Hard Case Crime, the publishing imprint that’s putting a new spin on old-fashioned pulp paperbacks. The line debuts with this reprint of a Gold Medal book originally titled MONA. It’s a gritty story of lust and murder, with a truly sick twist of an ending. What happens is purely malevolent yet motivated by something akin to, but not quite, love. I can see how people would have carried the memory of this book around with them with 40+ years. It’s an auspicious beginning for a label I hope is around for a while.

DVD: The Set-Up (1949)

Perhaps the least-known title in Warners’ film noir collection. I expect that will change in short order. Boxer Robert Ryan is so washed-up that his manager doesn’t even bother to tell him that he’s supposed to take a dive in his next bout. Why cut him in for a share when he’s got no chance of winning anyway? Turns out the pug’s greatest weakness is his only strength: he has no idea when he’s beat.

It’s based on an epic poem – that’s right, poem – by Joseph Moncure March. Considering that another of March’s poems, THE WILD PARTY, was turned into not one but two musicals, maybe he should have written more. The film unfolds in real time, evidenced by the opening and closing shots of the same clock. 72 minutes have passed, and you won’t soon forget them. On the commentary track, Martin Scorsese praises the boxing scenes as the most visceral in cinema. The word of the director of RAGING BULL is good enough for me.

Miscellaneous: Links

Larry David explodes the myth of the undecided voter. And, courtesy of Jim Romenesko’s Obscure Store, an explanation of why so many kids waste time playing video games: there aren’t any good car shows on TV.