The Immortal(1971)

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the-immortal-1970-logoThe Immortal starred Christopher George as Ben Richards As a test car driver that was virtually immortal. Forty-three, he could pass for thirty, had never been sick a day in his life, and any sort of wound he incurred healed abnormally fast. Despite all that, he’d sailed through life unnoticed until his boss, aging billionaire Jordan Braddock(Barry Sullivan), is injured in a plane crash, accelerating an already falling apart body. A blood transfusion, Ben Richards’, takes twenty years away from his aged self. Braddock’s doctor(Raymond Massey) is interested in the healing properties of Ben’s O – blood. Refusing to take it easy, quit his dangerous job, and be taken care of, Braddock kidnaps him “for his own protection” and installs him in a bomb shelter. He also starts a search for Ben’s brother, not seen since they were kids, on the chance his blood may be the same. Braddock’s long range plans are to save the best minds, i.e. the rich, for the betterment of mankind. Yea, right.

Jessica Walter is Braddock’s trophy wife, Janet, who’s waiting for him to die sothmmrtlsns1962 that a twenty-five million dollar trust fund would revert to her, doesn’t like how things are proceeding, and smuggles a gun in on the lunch cart, concealing a foil wrapped note in his pea soup. He uses it to make his escape and goes into hiding.

Carol Lynley is Ben’s girl friend Sylvia Cartwright. They continue to talk on the phone on the sly, but Ben refuses to meet her, knowing Braddock will be having her watched. They must wait until the billionaire dies. In a moment of weakness, she keeps telling him no one is spying on her, they decide to get together.

We know how that goes.

A rooftop confrontation, where Ben threatens to jump if they don’t leave, get Sylvia shot as the police are arriving. Dying, Ben makes the decision to give her a pint of his blood. Her life is saved. But not for long.

41lXUXJtoZLBen goes on the run again. Another doctor knows and is asking questions. Mrs. Braddock knows. Braddock’s head thug, Fletcher(Don Knight), knows and is threatening to go after Ben on his own, selling him to the highest bidder.

The pilot was in 1969. When the series was green-lighted in 1971, Braddock was dead and a new billionaire was after him. Arthur Maitland(David Brian) hires Fletcher to find Ben.

It lasted sixteen episodes and was a Fugitive-type show, with Ben helping folks while looking for his brother to warn him. on the subject of Sylvia. Ben had said goodbye to her at the end of the pilot knowing she’d never be safe as long as there was any contact between them. In an interview in Lynley I found, she said the network execs demanded she be brought back in the first episode.

So that her character could be killed off!

Network thinking was that he could never consort with other women in the series as long as Sylvia was alive. That would make him such a cad!

The pilot was based on the James Gunn novel THE IMMORTALS, though that was about all they took from the book. Gunn did the novelization of the pilot script as well.

Brainquake – Samuel Fuller

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81AzZDuCCAL._SL1500_Friends,

This one’s a big deal.

Tomorrow would have been Sam Fuller’s 102nd birthday. And tomorrow we’re going to be giving the legendary filmmaker’s last novel — BRAINQUAKE — its first ever publication in English, first ever in America. BRAINQUAKE is the story of a mafia bagman with a brain disorder, the beautiful Mob widow he falls for, and the ruthless hitman who goes after them when he steals a bag containing $10 million of Mob money.

Early reviews have cheered the return of Sam Fuller’s vivacious, heart-in-your-mouth storytelling (see below for some examples). Last week, at a Museum of Modern Art screening of a new documentary about Fuller’s extraordinary life (called “A Fuller Life,” natch), Fuller’s wife and daughter were joined in the audience by filmmakers such as Jonathan Demme, Jim Jarmusch, John Turturro, and James Toback. And that’s just the New York contingent – other filmmakers Fuller inspired include Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola, Win Wenders, and many, many more.

And the man’s movies are as visceral and shocking and unforgettable now as when they were made: THE BIG RED ONE, SHOCK CORRIDOR, THE NAKED KISS, THE STEEL HELMET, PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET…

We’ve had some big books at Hard Case Crime, but the publication of BRAINQUAKE in some ways tops ’em all. Fuller was a larger-than-life figure — decorated D-Day veteran, liberator of the Falkenau concentration camp, teenage crime reporter in New York City, rail-rider with hoboes in the Depression, Hollywood wunderkind, fighter for racial equality, revered American icon overseas — and having him join the Hard Case Crime family is a special privilege.

There’s a lot here to get excited about. I hope you’ll help us spread the word that this one-of-a-kind book by this one-of-a-kind man is at last coming to bookstores, 17 years after his death.

If we can help you get the word out in any way, please just say the word.

Many thanks,

Charles

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Charles Ardai

Editor, Hard Case Crime

New In The House

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1: Mr. Mercedes – Stephen King: Latest from Mr. King. I know reviews have been so-so, but I’m giving it a go.

2: The Lost Island Preston & Child: the third novel in their Gideon Crew series.

3: Smashed(ARC) – Rex Kusler: the latest Las Vegas mystery.

4: The Saint Closes The Case(ARC) – the second book in the Saint series, a new edition from Thomas & Mercer.

5: Old Mars – George R. R. Martin & Gardner Dozois: George Kelley reviewed this one recently. Had to give it a whirl.

6: An April Shroud – Reginald Hill: I forget where I heard of this oldie, but it sounded good.

7: A Ranger’s Honour – Louis Masterson: a novel in the Morgan Kane series, his last as a Texas Ranger.

8: Texas John Slaughter – William W. Johnstone with J. A. Johnstone: first in a new western series.

9: Starling Stories, July 1950: James Reasoner featured this one a couple of Sundays back and since it featured my favorite Edmond Hamilton novel, i tracked it down.

and the ebooks:

10: Fight Card: Battling Mahoney and Other Stories: a charity release I had to buy.

11: The Westward Tide: Trail justice – Jack Tyree: first in a new series by Wayne Dundee & Mel Odom. Mr. Dundee gets this first one.

12: Dinero Del Mar – Garnett Elliott; the fifth book in The Drifter Detective series. A must buy.

The Bragg Thrillers – Jack Lynch

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Brash Books is doing great things in bringing back out-of-print books, as well as new ones, for readers. Lord knows we try, but one can’t catch everything when it’s new. I’ve read the odd book Brash has already bought or scheduled, but most are new to me.

The Bragg thrillers are ones I was familiar with, but had only read the first in the series. The Missing and The Dead and Pieces of Death, due for release on September @nd, are the second and third in the series. the two were nominated in 1982 for a Shamus(Missing and Dead) and the Edgar(Pieces…Death). Not bad.

Peter Bragg is a private investigator out of San Francisco. Author Lynch used parts of himself in crafting the character, as in former newspaper man from Seattle, later moving to San Francisco. The books received a bad deal from the original publisher. Brash Books is taking care of that with the first seven titles, original titles and terrific cover art.

Welcome addition.

Little Rita of The West (Little Rita nel West)1967

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Rita_of_the_WestTalk about your odd ball movies: a spaghetti western musical. Lots of songs, jokes, even some real spaghetti action. The idea behind it was to boost the career of Italian singer Rita Pavone. Little Rita was her actual nicknme. 4.89 feet tall and about 86 pounds. Boost her career? Since I never heard of this film until I stumbled across it on Youtube, probably not a lot. Possibly in Italy.

Here is the opening sequence:

What this film did do was boost the career of another actor in the cast.

Mario Girotti was coming home from some years doing German films. This movieimages was where he first used the name for which he became famous, one of the biggies in the spaghetti western genre: Terence Hill.

As in any good musical, song and dance seems to break out at any opportune moment. At the beginning, after foiling a stage holdup, and wiping out the gang, a song/dance scene is called for.

Little Rita has a simple mission. She wants to collect and destroy all the mined gold in the world. To her, it’s the root of evil. She’s assisted by a fellow named Francis(Lucio Dalla) and an odd looking Indian Tribe, whose chief is Bisonte Seduto / Sitting Bison(Gordon Mitchell). I say odd because the pair sit at a table smoking hookas and the chief carries a skull in one hand and a golf club in the other.. The gold she takes is stored in a cave in preparation for destruction. LittleRitaShe just needs to collect the stashes from two bad men: Ringo(Kirk Morris) and Django( Enzo di Natale).

Ringo is first up. The pair exchange two shots, bullets hitting each other before Rita sends a slug straight into Ringo’s gun barrel. She finishes him off with a grenade put down her own gun barrel. The song and dance below breaks out over that.

The Django scenes were a direct steal from the Franco Nero original. Theyter17 encounter him walking along dragging a coffin behind him. They run him off and find his gold in that coffin with his machine gun. Riding later, the showdown is in a cemetery, Django, fingers crushed, balancing a six gun on a cross. Again ripping off the original.

Terence Hill doesn’t show up until the last third of the film. He’s Black Star bringing a herd of cattle to water. The attraction between Rita and he is immediate. “That cowboy is beautiful!” She declares later to Francis.

Rita1_zpsebdbcdceThe pair are taken by the Sancho band of Mexican outlaws. Genre vet Fernando Sancho plays that role. It’s an odd set of scenes as the gang keeps lining up to shoot Rita and Francis, but break into wold celebrations every time they here their leader’s voice. He knows of the cave of gold and wants to know where it is and how to get in. It’s left up to Black Star, watching from the hill as they are taken, to rescue them.

And He turns out not to be as honest as was thought. Caught trying to steal the gold, the chief, because he saved Rita, turns him over for white man’s justice. He admits guilt and is sentenced to death, returned to the Indians to carry out the sentence. Little Rita loves him and asks he be spared. He doesn’t want to be though and retuns to town, demanding to be strung up, after first killing the Sancho gang when they comeimages to rob the bank.

Strange ending also.

A few last thoughts. As usual, names wre often changed depending on the country of release. The Youtube download, one of several on the site, called Hill Black Stan and the Indian chief Silly Bull. The Ameican releae carried the title THE CRAZY WESTERNERS.

A goofy film.

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FFB: Enter The Saint – Leslie Charteris

1793043Three novelettes, the first at that length written by Charteris fill the book. They first appeared in THE THRILLER, a weekly magazine, in the late 1920s. The first two were rewritten substantially for book publication to feature a bit more of Simon Templar. The Saint had a five person team in those early days that took on criminals, extracting large sums of their ill gotten gains first before getting the police involved. The sums taken were given to charities, minus a ten percent fee for their efforts of course.

The three stories are:

1: The Man Who Was Clever

2: The Policeman With Wings

3: The Lawless Lady

Claud Eustace Teal makes his appearance in all three tales, suspecting Templar of being The Saint of course. But always outmaneuvered in the end.

One of Amazon’s publishing imprints, Thomas & Mercer, is releasing new editions in trade paperback.

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Trail Justice (The Westward Tide Book 1) – Jack Tyree

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JUSTICEI’ve always been a fan of this time period in our country’s history. The west was opening to settlers looking for a better life, the clashes with Indians over disruption of their lives, and the inevitable outlaws looking for the easy route to money: taking from the honest folk.

TRAIL JUSTICE is the first book in a new series by Wayne Dundee and Mel Odom. This one is by Dundee.

a wagon train headed for the Oregon territory. 233 people, 52 wagons, folks escaping the Missouri floods that wiped most of them out.

a nice assortment of characters set up by the author: Elwood Blake, a mountain man who only recently found he had family still alive, a baby sister, and is along to get to learn, get close, to her and her new husband. Wagon master Eugene Healy, former teacher, businessman Morgan Velmont who kept more thn most in the floods and figures that gives him certain rights, and guide Basil St. Irons, a flashy nut competent sort. Blake and he have a past they must set aside.

Secrets among almost everyone that sets up future stories and looks to make an exciting series.

Recommended and available HERE.

Unknown World 1951

Unknown WorldThis film was one of those that arose from the fear of atomic power and what it could do. Dr. Jeremiah Morley(Victor Killian) warns of the danger to civilization and has an audacious plan to save the world. along with a group of scientists, they work for a year planning, only to be rebuffed because of the cost.

The one that saves them is the son of their most savage critic, who’d used his newspaper empire to make Morley and associates look like fools.

Wright Thompson(Bruce Kellogg) believed it was his job to spend his father’s money. An adventurer who climbed mountains, dove deep into the sea, explored caves. To him,unknownworld Morley’s plan was another excuse to have fun.

Morley’s plan?

The old scientist believed there were habitable caverns deep in the Earth where humans could survive nuclear weapons. To that end he’d designed a machine, the cyclotram, that could bore into the Earth. All he needed was money to build it and fund an expedition. Wright Thompson did so and invited himself along.

Two old geezers, the rest all young, one a woman. Dr. Joan Lindsey(MarilynMV5BNDU4MzM4MzA3OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjQ1NTAyMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_ Nash) becomes the focal point of a romantic triangle with Wright thompson and Jim Bannon(Andy Ostergaard), the two alpha males flexing their machismo more than once.

Eventually they find a cavern with oceans, light in the form of phosphorus coating the ceiling of the cave. the perfect place for humanity to survive aomic desolation. Except the rabbits they’d brought along for tests deliver dead babies.

The science was a bit iffy. The baby rabbits were born sterile according to tests run by Dr. Lindsey. Now why that would make them born dead is not explaine.

Other sketchy science include the statement that the center of the Earth was not molten,unknown_world_poster_02 but cooler than the surface. But they kept running into steam and heat, active volcanoes, including setting off explosives within yards of steam leaking through from that active volcano next door to the extinct one where they began their trip. Not very bright scientist either. With sream everywhere, they seemed surprised when water condenses on the windows of the cyclotram.

Without any acknowledgment, this film shamelessly rips off both Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

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