Watching William Talman play psychopathic killer Emmett Myers was quite a revelation. These days he’s mostly remembered as the constant loser Hamilton Burger to Raymond Burr’s Perry Mason. As Myers, he’s slovenly, unshaven, hair mussed, leather jacket, dusty boots and casual clothes as opposed to the buttoned down district attorney. And the demented personality, the grinning killer that’s left a string of bodies down the western states.
Edmond O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy are a couple of buddies on a fishing trip that pick up Myers who’s apparently run out of gas. Their original destination had been the Chocolate Mountains in Arizona, but they’d made a fateful decision to head to Mexico, remembering the good times in their pre-marriage days.
Myers promises the pair that they will die eventually, but as long as he needs them, as long as they don’t get connected to him, they survive. Tension ramp up as myers taunts them in the confines of the small hot car, demonstrates his aim by the side of the road, their encounters with innocents along the way, and O’Brien’s desire to do something while Lovejoy wits for the right moment.
Ida Lupino directs the film, her first in the noir genre after several women’s movies. The script was written by Lupino and her husband Collier Young, along with Robert L. Joseph, and was based on a story about real life killer Billy Cook written by blacklisted screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring who received no screen credit.
And finally, an interesting side note: in researching this post, I learned that in the casting for Perry Mason, Talman was up fot the Mason role and Raymond Burr for Hamilton Burger. It was Erle Stanley Gardner that insisted on the switch. What a different series it would have been otherwise.
Though late to the party, the Trash ‘n’ Treasures cozy series has rapidly become a favorite. The husband and wife writing team of Barbara and Max Allan Collins have once again delivered a funny, character driven mystery.
The mother and daughter writing team of Vivian and Brandy Borne are guests of honor at a small comics con in New York City, bringing along one of their treasures for an auction: a Superman drawing by series creator Joe Shuster and autographed ny him along with the other half of the team, writer Jerry Siegel.
Naturally they get involved in a murder and Vivian pushes the boundaries to solve it, with warnings from police to stay out of it. But, hey, when has that ever stopped the lady when she gets her hooks into a good murder. After all, it provides the plots for their cozy mysteries.
Had a lot of fun with this one. The writing kept me flipping pages, laughing at Vivian’s antics and Brandy’s long suffering aid.
Worth a look. Goes on sale April 29th.
1: Antiques Con – Barbara Allan: Max Allan Collins offered ARCs of this one on his blog and I jumped. Brandy Borne and her drama-queen mom, Vivian, take their antiques show on the road, for an off-Broadway farce mixing mirth and murder. A world away from small-town Serenity, the ditsy duo–chaperoned by their trusty shih tzu, Sushi–arrive in the Big Apple, blissfully unaware that they will soon cross paths with a rotten-to-the-core killer.
As the dynamic dames descend upon a comic-book convention–to sell a rare 1940s Superman drawing–Vivian makes a show of keeping the valuable sketch locked to her wrist in a briefcase. When an intruder breaks into their hotel suite, they naturally suspect a felonious fan, over-eager to acquire their artwork.
But this not-so-super villain proves less interested in the Man of Steel than in stealing a man’s life, as Brandy and Mother stumble onto a murder victim impaled by a pen-shaped award. Suspects ranging from comic-book collectors to crime kingpins lead Brandy and Mother on a merry madcap Manhattan misadventure, taking them from convention hall to strip joint, from retirement home to precinct lock-up. Has the con been conned by a killer? If so, only Brandy, Mother and Sushi can stop this fatally foul funny-book fiend.
Don’t miss B
2: A Dubious Curse(ebook) – Gerald J. Kubicki & Kristopher Kubicki: the author offered a copy of this one for an unbiased review. In book number eight of the Colton Banyon series, Banyon faces a threat from outside the normal world. An old Nazi has discovered a curse which puts him in the same place as Wolf, Banyon’s spirit partner. The Nazi wants to use his son and the Effort, the modern American Nazi movement, to find a lost book. But it is no ordinary book. The book contains the formula for the energy source Hitler wanted to use for his flying saucers. The formula is so powerful it could be used for time travel and that is exactly what the old Nazi wants to do. He wants to change history. Banyon must find and protect a woman who is the direct descendent of the leader of the Vril Society, a secret German organization that believed in a utopia. She holds the key to locating the book of the Vril, but she doesn’t know she holds it. Banyon, his partner Loni Chen and his team set out to protect the woman and find the book. They also call in several bodyguards from the law firm where Banyon occasionally works. The problem is the old Nazi can see everything they are doing and sends Effort men to kill them and collect the book. Banyon must use speed, deception and distance to protect his group while he develops a plan to stop the Nazi. Along the way Loni discovers a woman with blue skin, who she believes is an alien. Banyon also discovers an ancient transmitter which is sending telepathic messages, along with a plot to corner the silver market, and finds out several NSA agents are also after him. They could ruin all his plans. He must act quickly or all will be lost
#: Ashlynn’s Dreams(ebook) – Julie Gilbert: another offered by the author. Before she was kidnapped, Jillian Marie Antel Blairington was just an average bright, brave, headstrong child. She was excited for life in a new house with her Momma and new Daddy. Afterward, she’s all that … and so much more.
Held in a scientific facility, Jillian discovers her past-a family she never knew and a power she doesn’t understand. With her ability now activated, she can enter and even shape a person’s dreams. Jillian’s been kidnapped, and her Gift has been triggered, so she can locate and save Benjamin Connelly, a brother she never even knew she had. She’d better master this strange ability quickly, though, because her life isn’t the only one at stake. Her babysitter, Danielle Matheson, is being held as a hostage to ensure Jillian’s full cooperation. Slowly, Jillian begins to learn more about her captor and the other genetically altered children held at the facility.
Join Jillian as she tries to survive the training being forced upon her, find her unknown brother, escape with Danielle, and work her way back to a normal life once more.
Giuliano Gemma had starred in Italian cinema for a few years before entering the burgeoning field of the Euro western(not yet known as spaghetti westerns) when he made A PISTOL FOR RINGO in 1965. BLOOD FOR A SILVER DOLLAR was his second entry later the same year. As was the custom in those early years, most actors adopted more American sounding names for the English language market. Gemma was Montgomery Wood for his first few films.
Here he’s Gary O’Hara, a Confederate soldier during the war being released along with his brother Phil(Nazzareno Zamperla, billed as Nicholas St. John) after surrender. Though given handguns, the brothers are dismayed to learn the barrels had been sawed off, making them virtually useless.
The two men part, Phil heading west, Gary returning to his wife Judy(Ida Galli, billed as Evelyn Stewart) in Richmond. Phil gives him a key to a small strongbox, telling him to use the cash ibside, and promises to leave word in a town called Yellowstone in case Judy and he change their minds about staying back East.
Gary soon learns how bad things are and heads out to find Phil, promising to send for Judy when he gets established. He leaves her Phil’s money, except for one silver dollar. He ends up losing his horse, broken leg, and walks into Yellowstone looking for work. Southerners are not very popular because there is apparently a gang of rebel outlaws harassing the farmers in the area. He finagles a job with the local banker, McCoy(Pierre Cressoy, billed as Peter Cross), who wants him to arrest a gunman coming to run him out of town. The deal is a small plot of land and five hundred dollars cash, half now. Before the arrest, Gary writes a letter to Judy, with the cash, explaining it all, and gets it off.
We start to get the truth then. McCoy has been bleeding the farmers, the rebel outlaws are his and not really rebels. He holds the mortgages and wants their land.
The brothers are presumed dead and dumped into a pioneer couple, Southerners, passing through. It urns out Gary is not dead, Phil’s bullet having clipped that silver dollar. It becomes a revenge plot from that point, Gary finding out from the farmers that Phil had found some kind of proof of what was going on. His mission is to find it and stop McCoy.
Of course things get complicated when Judy arrives and is taken by McCoy.
Not a bad western.
Cash McLendon comes to the small Arizona town of Glorious on the run from his father-in-law in St. Louis. He’d made the mistake of leaving his wife alone while her parents were away because of business, only to return and find that the high strung young woman had committed suicide.
A survivor since he was a small boy, Cash knew his rich in-laws would sick their enforcer, Brautigan, and his steel toed boots on him. So he cleaned out the safe, two grand, and fled.
Glorious was where his previous lady friend, Gabrielle, and her father had moved their dry goods store. His intention was to correct the mistake of picking the rich girl for a wife. Of course she didn’t see it that way.
Glorious was being built up in anticipation of silver strikes. Stuck in the middle of Apache territory, the town was guarded by a rich rancher and his Mexican vaqueros, armed with double-action Colts and the latest Winchesters.
The rich man has other plans as well and Cash recognizes him for what he is. After all, he’d worked for such a man in St. Louis. Convincing his new friends is another matter entirely.
A fine western that goes on sale May 6th.
The Drifter Detective series has rapidly become a favorite. Jack Laramie roams 1950s Texas in his DeSoto and the horse trailer he lives in working as a P.I. The grandson of U.S. Marshal Cash Laramie, he gets into almost as much trouble as “granddad.”
Here he gets involved with a young Korean vet checking out an obvious scam involving vets and bomb shelters.
We get a little more look into Jack’s past as we get flashbacks of his WWII days.
Elliott has two more coming and Wayne Dundee has a forthcoming tale as well. Look forward to all three. And more hopefully. Available both in paper and ebook.
THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT is a very slim story to build a movie on, though it has been done several times. A lot must be added. A spaghetti western, FOUR OF THE APOCALYPSE, though it also used elements of Harte’s other story, The Luck of Roaring Camp.
Here we have a love interest for Oakhurst(Preston Foster, Helen(Jean Colby), a small girl called Luck, and a preacher named Sam Wood(Van Heflin) who led the vigilance committee and loved Helen. They did get the end of the story right though.