Saturday, May 26, 2007

On The Web: The Rap Sheet

The crime fiction blog’s One Book Project has been running all week, and what a treat it’s been. I imagine that none of the overlooked titles mentioned by the participants will be overlooked any more. I’ve got some reading to do.

My nomination appears in the series’ last installment. I’d like to thank Rap Sheet editor J. Kingston Pierce both for asking me to play, and for referring to me as a “culture critic.” The description has gone right to my head and my business card. Other answers we would have accepted include gadabout, curmudgeon, and force for good in his time.

Head over to The Rap Sheet. You’ll enjoy yourself.

Anniversary: John Wayne

Today is the centenary of Marion Morrison’s birth. A war movie, not a western, was my introduction to one of the greatest of film stars. The Duke received his first Academy Award nomination for 1949’s Sands of Iwo Jima, playing a hard-bitten Marine sergeant prepping raw recruits for battle even as his personal life falls apart. It’s a well-made film that hits all the standard war movie notes – it may well have invented some of them – but I didn’t know those notes, so Sands made a vivid impression. Particularly Wayne’s final scene. Now I’d see it coming a mile off. Then, I was shattered for the rest of the day. It’s the strength of Wayne’s onscreen presence that gives the moment its impact.

Wayne was honored at Grauman’s Chinese Theater after the success of the movie. The cement in which he left his footprints and his fist print was mixed with sand from Iwo Jima.

GreenCine Daily rounds up tributes to the actor. James Reasoner lists his favorite John Wayne films. I second ‘em all.