Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Death of Marilyn Monroe by Sharon Olds

By Sharon Olds, from THE DEAD AND THE LIVING

"The Death of Marilyn Monroe"

 The ambulance men touched her cold
body, lifted it, heavy as iron,
onto the stretcher, tried to close the
mouth, closed the eyes, tied the
arms to the sides, moved a caught
strand of hair, as if it mattered,
saw the shape of her breasts, flattened by
gravity, under the sheet
carried her, as if it were she,
down the steps.

These men were never the same. They went out
afterwards, as they always did,
for a drink or two, but they could not meet
each other's eyes.

Their lives took
a turn--one had nightmares, strange
pains, impotence, depression. One did not
like his work, his wife looked
different, his kids. Even death
seemed different to him--a place where she
would be waiting,

and one found himself standing at night
in the doorway to a room of sleep, listening to a
woman breathing, just an ordinary


Monday, August 3, 2015

RIP Coleen Gray 1922-2015

Coleen Gray was so beautiful, the first time I saw NIGHTMARE ALLEY, I had a difficult time focusing on anything else. Luckily, the film itself is excellent and Gray, as she always was, was excellent in it.

She was usually cast as the nice girl--an underrated role in the noir gallery of character types, but an important one nevertheless. She was an angel of light in the very dark NIGHTMARE ALLEY. In THE KILLING, she's so delicate that it makes the bleak ending of the film take on a whole other level of tragedy. She was great in other great movies like KISS OF DEATH and KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL (and played John Wayne's great lost love in RED RIVER). For the rare pleasure of seeing her play a femme fatale, check out THE SLEEPING CITY. The film itself is flawed, but chief among its virtues is a good performance from Gray.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The New NOIR CITY Summer Issue Is Here!

The new issue of NOIR CITY has a special focus on music. I have a piece on the country noir of Johnny Cash. It was a thrill to get to write something about the musician whose music has meant the most to me over the course of my life.

I also have a new installment in my series on Poverty Row Professionals, this time focusing on the New York filmmakers Joseph and Geraldine Lerner. They pretty much embodied the postwar East Coast Poverty Row. Among other interesting films they made one of my absolute favorite low-budget noirs, GUILTY BYSTANDER.

The issue is packed full of great articles by the likes of Imogen Sara Smith, Gary Deane, Ray Banks, Vince Keenan, Rosemarie Keenan, Woody Haut, Steve Kronenberg, and more. As usual the issue is designed by the great Michael Kronenberg.

Check it out here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Robert Ryan: A Good Man In A Bad Time

I'm over at The Life Sentence with a piece on the great Robert Ryan. It's an overview of Ryan's life and career, and a review of the terrific new book THE LIVES OF ROBERT RYAN by J.R. Jones.

Click here to read A Good Man In A Bad Time.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What I'm Reading

I've long been fascinated by Oscar Micheaux, a film pioneer whose life is the stuff of legend, but I've just recently caught up to Patrick McGilligan's masterful biography OSCAR MICHEAUX: THE GREAT AND ONLY. I can't recommend it highly enough. Deeply researched and sharply written, it tells the story of Micheuax through his autobiographical novels and films, as well as letters and interviews, government documents and newspaper achieves. Micheaux was the son of former slaves who headed to Chicago, became a Pullman porter, traveled all over North and South America, and then became a homesteader in South Dakota. All that before he became the key African American filmmaker of the first fifty years of film. Part Booker T. Washington, part D.W. Griffith, and part P.T. Barnum--he was, in the end, all himself, an icon of independence and artistic willpower.

Monday, June 22, 2015

10 Of The Best Noir Novels of the 21st Century

The writer Eric Beetner has put together a list of his favorite noir novels since the year 2000 over at Criminal Element. I'm thrilled to see my novel HELL ON CHURCH STREET included on the list, of course, but the rest of this list ain't too shabby, either. Some great stuff on here, including works by some of my personal heroes. 

Go here to check out 10 of the Best Noir Novels of the 21st Century.