Pages

Monday, December 29, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Unbroken (Current Movie)

I read the 2010 nonfiction [book:Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption|8664353] by Laura Hillenbrand, and liked it enough to want to go see the movie version playing in  theaters around the nation.  Actress Angelina Jolie directed and produced the movie which centers around the eventful if not inspiring life of American Olympian and athlete Louis "Louie" Zamperini who is portrayed by actor Jack O'Connell. Zamperini died recently in 2014. The movie is mostly about his experiences during World War Two as first a bombardier stationed in the Pacific and later as a POW at different Japanese war camps. As far as I can remember, the movie is pretty faithful to the book. The movie is a long one, and it could stand a bit more of humor. The book had some humor, especially during the grim, brutal POW life. This movie isn't film noir, but it's easy to see what the war vets had gone through before they returned home. It's little wonder such gritty, dark film noir had its emergence. Anyway, Unbroken is entertaining and even uplifting. Some of the violence is a bit heavy, but you know how it's going to end.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

This Year Our Neigborhood Broke With Its Holidays Tradition

                                 
Every year for as long as I have lived in my Northern Virginia suburb, we have set out the luminaries on a scheduled day. But this year, the homeowners voted to discontinue the holidays tradition. We voted to keep it, but the majority ruled. I'm not sure what the argument was against the luminaries. I know the weather isn't the greatest when folks put out the white paper bags with sand and candles. It's tricky trying to light them and keeping them lit. But the soft, reflective glow effect is nice to look at when everybody does it. Maybe there will be future community traditions established, but this one looks to be a no-go now.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

I Found A Nice Way To Catch The Holiday Spirit

Last night we did the Meadowlark's Winter Walk of Lights located out in the Northern Virginia suburbs. The outdoors temperature was 49 degrees before we left, so it was nice enough to be out and not shivering from the cold throughout the walk. It's about one mile long. Naturally, there's lots of bright, cheerful lights. You might need to wear sunglasses. Just kidding. Some lights are shaped like woodland creatures like owls and woodpeckers. A creek is simulated with fish and frogs. The strawberry field display is my favorite. There's a bunch of stuff to take in, so we go through twice. Every year there seems to be more cell phone cameras. Everybody wants to stop and frame a snapshot. Some of the grumpy old men grumble about it, but everybody is generally patient with a sense of humor. There's no rush to finish the walk. It's not a race unless you want to get to the hot chocolate and marshmallows served at the end. The holiday walk might become a yearly tradition. At least it's a way to get out and enjoy the holiday lights up close instead of viewing them from a passing vehicle. I hope your holidays are going well.

Friday, December 26, 2014

One Writer's Post-Christmas Blog

The mild weather for Christmas 2014 was a nice change from the frigid temperatures we'd been getting in December. Travel is less stressful in good weather, isn't it? Except the radio station I was listening to stopped playing their holiday songs and returned to their regular format. Well, I needed to get back to my writing, anyway. I have two Isabel & Alma Trumbo cozy mysteries I'm finishing up for publication in 2015. The series has been a lot of fun over the past few years for me to write. Readers have liked them, and the sales have been high enough for me to continue writing the books. I didn't realize how much I miss about living in a small town until I undertook writing the series. So, it's been a homecoming of a sort for me. Quiet Anchorage is a nice place to visit and also live. The only bad thing is all of the murders that keep cropping up. Luckily, the sheriff has a couple of sister sleuths he can call on for their assistance. He begrudgingly admits he's grateful they're on his side. Books 4 and 5 will carry on their adventures. Be looking here for further updates.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays For 2014

I've been lax in posting my blogs this month, even my film noir reviews, with my trying to get a couple of new books ready for release in 2015. The good news is I've made fairly rapid progress, so I'll be posting announcements about them later. Meantime, I'll take this opportunity to wish everybody a happy and safe holidays. I'd also like to thank my readers for their continued support in 2014. It has meant a lot to me.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Update On My New Cozy Mystery Series

Shortly after the holidays in 2015, I'm going to release the first title, The Corpse Wore Gingham, in my new cozy mystery series featuring Piper and Bill Robins, a wife and husband sleuthing duo.

The Robins live in the suburbs of Northern Virginia outside of Washington, D.C. I've been working hard on The Corpse Wore Gingham throughout much of 2014. It includes lots of humor, fun characters, and a traditional whodunit fair-play murder mystery plot.

The Corpse Wore Gingham complements my established Isabel & Alma Trumbo Cozy Mystery Series, my pair of sisters who sleuth away in their small town of Quiet Anchorage, Virginia. Isabel and Alma will also be back next year in one or two new books. More on that later.

I've also been keeping a board at Pinterest for each of my cozy mystery series if you hang out at Pinterest.

Piper & Bill Robins' Pinterest board link: http://www.pinterest.com/edlynskey/my...

Isabel & Alma Trumbo's Pinterest board link:http://www.pinterest.com/edlynskey/my...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: The Limping Man Starring Lloyd Bridges

NOTE: I'm posting my weekly blog early this week due to the holidays.
REVIEW: I got a big kick out of watching this nifty 1953 crime drama starring Lloyd Bridges, Moira Lister, and Leslie Phillips. Since it was filmed in the U.K., I didn't recognize any of the actors except for the Yank, Mr. Bridges who was lent out to the British film company. The marketing idea was to help the movie gain a U.S. audience if Bridges was one of the marquee stars. I know he starred in High Noon, but I didn't think he had that much public fame. Lloyd plays Frank Prior, a construction engineer, flying overseas to London to see his wartime girlfriend when he was stationed there as a G.I. I like the premise from the get-go. Of course, when he arrives in London, he discovers all is not as it was six years before when he left his girlfriend. The South African actress Moira Lister (died 2007) playing his girlfriend is something of a daredevil driving fast cars and boats. I like how Bridges is drawn into her web of intrigue, and we're never sure about her sincerity. The 76-minute movie is fast-paced and well-acted. IMDb.com rates it 5.9 but I give it a solid 7.0 because I like Lloyd Bridges, and there is a neat surprise ending. Great postwar stuff.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: The 49th Man Starring John Ireland

This 1953 espionage drama is a fun and watchable movie. Where else can you see Peter "Hollywood Squares" Marshall play a gun-toting, nasty bad guy? I'm a big fan of John Ireland who plays the U.S. agent who is charged with tracking down nuclear devices getting smuggled into the U.S. Richard Denning plays his square-jawed boss who is just as determined as Ireland is to stop the bad guys from building of a nuclear bomb to be detonated in a big U.S. city. Their investigation eventually leads Ireland to France where he runs into Marshall and his wife played by Suzanne Dalbert who are "working" in a jazz band. There are a couple of neat twists dropped in as the film closes in San Francisco. Good to see Mike (credited as "Touch") Connors in an early, small role. It isn't a great film, but still offered enough action to hold my attention until the end.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: The Island of Doomed Men Starring Peter Lorre

This 1940 above-average crime melodrama stars Peter Lorre as the villain, a role he usually relished and performed with panache. However, this film just didn't give him a lot to work with, I'm afraid. The plot is a straightforward if not familiar one. Robert Wilcox stars as Agent 64, a secret operative of Uncle Sam. Wilcox intentionally goes to prison and is later paroled into the care of Lorre who is running a diamond mining operation on a remote, forgotten island found within the United States's jurisdiction (somewhere in Key West?). The trouble is Lorre is actually a slave driver, and nobody can get off his private prison of an island, including his young, attractive wife played by Rochelle Hudson. I have to give Lorre credit for trying to infuse his bad guy character with evil madness. His shooting his wife's pet monkey convinced me he was off his rocker. Perhaps the 68-minute run time could have been extended to work in a couple of more plot twists. Or it may have been the subject of a good horror novel. Interestingly, both Wilcox and Hudson later died prematurely of heart attacks. IMDb.com gives The Island of Doomed Men a 5.9 rating, and that might be a bit low. At least watching Peter Lorre is always a treat.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

"Doc Martin" And Me

Last night, I stayed up late to watch another episode of "Doc Martin," a British medical comedy television show starring Martin Clunes as the title character. I've been watching the series out of order, and it's been a challenge to keep up on who is doing what. But that's not what makes the show great fun for me. Doc Martin is a clueless middle-aged curmudgeon who tries to make sense of his world, but it still baffles him. His bedside manner is terrible, but his gruff bluntness always gets the patients's diagnosis right. I get a laugh out of watching him, but I also empathize with his struggles. Martin Clunes makes the doc an interesting fellow. Plus, the setting of the sleepy Cornish village of Portwenn is the type of gorgeous spot where I'd like to spend my vacation. One of these days, I'll sit down and watch the episodes in the right order. Until then, I'll fit them into my writing schedule as time allows. It's a great TV series.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Harry In Your Pocket Starring James Coburn (1973)

I was in the mood to see a James Coburn flick, so I settled on this 1973 crime drama where Coburn/Harry plays a master pickpocket who runs a team and turns a pretty nifty profit. Michael Sarrazin and the foxy Trish Van Devere (actor George C. Scott's wife) play a young couple Harry decides to train in the illegal craft. Walter Pidgeon is a geezer who plays Harry's oily partner, but who also has a bad coke habit. I got to see all sorts of tricks and stunts where the pickpockets make their scores on the different unsuspecting marks. In 1973, there was still enough paper money carried out there to make stealing it a lucrative enterprise. Harry mostly keeps the young couple around so he can get Trish into bed with him. Meantime, Sarrazin believes he is accomplished enough to strike out on his own without Harry's constant oversight. It's debatable if Sarrazin is as good as he thinks he is, but Harry manages to keep him in line for a while anyway. I liked the jargon and techniques, but I had to wonder about the ending. Anyway, a solid film for crime fans.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Shiver Me Timbers!

We got our first blast of Arctic cold temperatures this week. Winter is here. Resistance is futile. Ironically, or perhaps not, I like to work on my novels set in the summertime during the winter. The time slot between the American holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year's Day is a favorite of mine to be writing. Between dodging the Fed Ex delivery vans whipping around the streets in my neighborhood, I'll typically be working on the draft of a new book. This year I have a couple of ideas, and I'll have to decide soon which one I want to tackle. No doubt it will be a cozy mystery title, the next one in one of my two cozy series. I have the drafts of a few crime noirs waiting for me to get back and polish them for publication. I can go between working on my hard-boiled and soft-boiled fiction without too much trouble. My books newsletter will be hitting the streets next month. If you'd like to receive a copy of it, send me your email, and I'll add you to the mailing list. Meantime, throw another log on the fire and stay warm.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Shield For Murder Starring Edmond O'Brien

I was in the mood for watching a gritty film noir, and this 1954 dirty cop drama was spot-on. Based on crime novelist's William P. McGivern's novel of the same name, the fine movie stars O'Brien (who also directed) in a tight, restrained performance as a cynical, crooked police detective. Making a greedy and ill-advised move, he rips off a bag man's 25 grand stake intended to go to the local crime boss, and the trouble begins as O'Brien tries to cover up his crimes, his including murders. There's a surprising amount of rough stuff by 1954's standards. Carolyn Jones (later "Morticia" on The Addams Family) plays a vampy bar floozy who keeps the sweaty O'Brien company for a while. Look for Richard Deacon (later "Mel" on The Dick Van Dyke Show) in a minor and uncredited role. Claude Atkins playing a gun-toting thug has a rousing climatic scene with O'Brien. IMDb.com rates Shield for Murder with 6.8, but I enjoyed it more than their viewers evidently did. Now I'll have to read the William P. McGivern book! He must have liked the crooked cops theme because I read his Rogue Cop similar to this plot.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Peyton Place? Where Is That?

While I was growing up in a small town, I heard it sometimes compared to "Peyton Place," often leaving me to wonder where exactly it was located, and what it represented. I'm not sure how or where along the line I learned about Peyton Place, and it wasn't in complimentary terms either about the small town or its residents. Wikipedia tells me the bestselling novel Peyton Place was published in 1956, making the event before my time, at least my time for remembering it. I've never read the novel, and I probably never will.

Which brings me to the present time as I was revising one of my novels-in-progress. My editor's eye caught my use of "Peyton Place," and I wondered if my readers would know what I was referring to. Given the context, they probably could reasonably guess at the meaning I was trying to convey. Of course, there is always Google easily accessed on web-enabled smart phones to look up Peyton Place. I'm the curious sort who is always looking stuff up online. Anyway, I decided to leave the Peyton Place reference in my novel because my readers group is in the age 50+ category, and they would probably know what it means.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: SHOCK CORRIDOR Directed by Sam Fuller

This harrowing 1963 movie directed and written by Sam Fuller is about an ambitious journalist (Peter Breck) who wants in the worst way to land a Pulitzer Prize and catapult his career into the big leagues. He convinces his reluctant stripper girlfriend (Constance Towers) to pose as his sister and uses their trumped up incestuous relationship as his ticket to get committed to the mental hospital where a lurid murder has occurred. Of course, once he's locked inside the booby hatch, he becomes institutionalized, and things go downhill from that point. I can see how raw the material was in 1963, and even today it's unsettling to watch. Breck does a good job playing the journalist. One of the more unforgettable inmates is James Best, later to become the bumbling Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane in the Dukes of Hazzard ("You dipstick!"). But this bleak movie is anything but humorous. Since it was made so late in 1963, I suppose it qualifies as neo-noir. At any rate, IMDb.com rates it 7.6/10.0 which is a high mark, and I'd agree with it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Blood on the Moon Starring Robert Mitchum


I'm a fan of old Western movies and don't watch them nearly as much as I'd like to do. Tonight I was in the right mood for a good Western, so I settled on this 1948 dandy from RKO featuring one of their star actors, a young-looking Robert Mitchum. The reliable Robert Wise (The Set-Up starring Robert Ryan) directed it, and Luke Short wrote the novel (Gunman's Chance) the film is based on. I have not yet read the novel. Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie), Robert Preston, and Walter Brennan round out the sturdy cast of characters. Brennan is a treat. Mitchum plays Jim Garry, a gunfighter who gets involved with cattle ranchers competing to sell beef to the Indian reservation. Bel Geddes, the love interest, is one of the ranchers's daughters. Mitchum is the typical laconic, rugged cowboy drifter who has a conscience to go with his quick draw. I enjoyed Blood on the Moon, so I'll probably check out some more Westerns this winter. They make a nice change of pace from my steady diet of watching films noir and crime films. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Next Cozy Mystery Title Came Back From My Beta Reader!

Over the summer, I was developing a second cozy mystery series to complement my Isabel & Alma Trumbo cozies. As you may or may not know, Isabel & Alma are the senior sisters who live in the small town of Quiet Anchorage, Virginia, a delightful, quaint place to live with the notable exception so many murders occur there. It's no laughing matter, but the fussy, feisty, and funny Trumbo sisters are always on the case. They've been solving all the mysteries they've taken on to investigate, too.

Now, I've created as my protagonists the retired married couple, Piper & Bill Robins, living in the Northern Virginia suburb of Beverly Park. They feel compelled to investigate a close neighbor's homicide, and so the Robinses series starts off.

I finally sent the debut title to my beta reader, and the results came in yesterday. The good news to report is there's nothing really major to fix beyond the usual edits (although quite a few small things were caught). I also got the comment there is a lot more LOL humor found in Piper & Bill's cozies than in Isabel & Alma's cozies. I was heartened to hear that comment because I wrote it to be funny.

I'll blog again as I make progress in putting out Piper & Bill's new cozy mystery. I'm still looking at a December timeframe for publication. Thanks again for your interest!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Mike Hammer Starring Darren McGavin

Mike Hammer with Darren McGavin starring as the private eye is the first syndicated TV series based on Mickey Spillane's famous hardboiled detective. I watched a half-hour episode titled "A Mugging Evening" which appeared as one of the last shows in 1959 when the series ended after just two seasons. I've always liked McGavin in the other films and TV shows like Kolchak I've watched him in. He plays Hammer with a lot of sly humor and tongue placed firmly in cheek. Spillane was said to have had practically nothing to do with the show's production except to grab the money and run. There is one good fight scene in this episode near the end. Hammer, of course, is romancing the older sister of the murder victim. The older sister is an ice skating instructor in Central Park and wears nice clothes. I guess her job pays well. At any rate, I enjoyed seeing the Hammer episode although I doubt if I watch many others.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Storyboarding My Cozy Mysteries on Pinterest

I've been on the social media platform known as Pinterest for about a year, if memory serves me. It's probably the least used social media platform I'm on. Lately, I changed that level of effort when I began to storyboard my future cozy mystery title "Sweet Betsy" in my Isabel and Alma Trumbo Cozy Mystery Series. The Trumbo sisters, both retired and in their 70s, reside in the fictitious small town of Quiet Anchorage, Virginia. For some quirky reason, Quiet Anchorage has a high incidence of homicide, and they are called upon to do some sleuthing and come up with solving the murder case. The fun I've had is creating a Pinterest board with the different pictures I pinned there of what I envision Quiet Anchorage might appear like. "Sweet Betsy" is still a draft, so I can make any changes I want to it with little pain. I've pinned such places as the town's bakery, florists shop, grocery store, and water tower. I tried to match the descriptions I have in mind to the actual pictures I've pinned with varying degrees of success. Maybe the board will become more useful as I do more pinning. We'll see. Click here to reach my Pinterest storyboard.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Man Bait (Hammer Films)

This 1952 British film noir was released as The Last Page in the UK, but as the more lurid-titled Man Bait in the US. Despite the racy movie poster, it offers a nifty plot with a couple of twists. Hammer Films (better known for their gothic horror pictures up until the 1970s) produced this first movie and the others that followed in Britain, and Lippert Pictures distributed the films to the Yank audiences. George Brent, Marguerite Chapman and Diana Dors (her debut film) star in the picture. The middle-aged Brent plays a bookstore owner who is blackmailed by his gorgeous employee Dors after she kisses him in his office. He balks at paying up, and she turns up the heat with disastrous results. Her sleazy and greedy accomplice, played by Peter Reynolds, provides the muscle. I had to wonder how much longer such an independent bookstore as this one will be around while I watched the movie. The late crime novelist and critic Arthur Lyons (I liked reading his private eye novels) mentions Man Bait in his nonfiction "Death on the Cheap: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir!" from Da Capo Press. Man Bait isn't a bad way to spend the 84 minutes to watch it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Just Back from the Farmers's Market


It was pouring down rain this Saturday morning, so we decided to brave the elements and soldier out to our favorite Farmers's Market. (Is it right to spell it as Farmers or Farmers' or Farmers's or even Farmer Market? I've seen so many variations on the spelling. I'm going to use "Farmers's" throughout this blog post). It's so late in the growing season that not much is still left to select from, but we like the different varieties of apples and pears set out by the vendors for display in their bins. Good thing for us shoppers the vendors had put up their canvas canopies to keep the rain out of our faces. It was interesting to see who else was intrepid (is that the right adjective?) enough to schlep out to the Farmers's Market. Even with the foul weather, everybody we saw was in a congenial enough mood. We picked up some Asian pears to eat for breakfast as well as a bag of apples called Crimson Tart. It's a new variety, and we liked the tasty samples left out for the shoppers to try out. We're still waiting for the Gold Rush apples, our favorites, to come into season. We're big apple lovers and eat them throughout the winter. Anyway, there's only a couple of weeks left before the Farmers's Market closes down for the year.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: THE NAKED KISS (Sam Fuller, Director)


This 1964 neo-noir film written and directed by the great Sam Fuller is a strange bird, indeed. Constance Towers plays the hard-edged prostitute Kelly who breaks out of her profession and goes on the lam to escape the wrath of her pimp with his underworld contacts. She ends up getting off the bus in a small town called Grantville which features a children's hospital set up by the wealthy scion of the town's founding family. She has a one-time tryst with the local police captain and then gets hired as a nurse's aid at the hospital where she excels at her job. She falls in love with the scion and seems to have finally hit easy street. Of course, since this is film noir, she runs into a couple of major obstacles. Her past catches up to her, and her love is nothing at all like what he appears. This movie has it all. It's sentimental, lurid, romantic, nostalgic, repulsive, and grotesque. Somehow, Kelly maintains her integrity, and this viewer had to know what became of her. Towers does a first-rate acting job. I saw Fuller's The Big Red One at the cinema back in 1980, but all I can remember was Lee Marvin starred in the war picture. I plan to view Fuller's Shock Corridor (he shamelessly plugs it on the town's movie marquee in The Naked Kiss) one of these weeks. Recommended.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Our First Frost Hit This Morning!

How late in the autumn does your first frost usually come in your locality? This year ours hit earlier than we typically get it. As I walked up the driveway from getting the newspaper this morning, I saw the white frost coating the roof shingles. It surprised me a little. I didn't think it was getting to the freezing temperature mark outdoors at night. Just a few days ago, I had on shorts. I always equate the end of summer to when Jack Frost makes his debut appearance. I know there will be a few more warm, sunny days in October, but those pleasant weather days are numbered. Have you spotted the Halloween regalia on display? This October I've spotted a lot more pumpkins sit out on the neighbors's porches. Maybe there was a bumper crop of pumpkins this summer. The vendors at the Farmers's Market have lots of pumpkins out on sale. Speaking of the Farmers's Market, apples and pears are about the only produce that is good right now to buy. I bought a rotten cantaloupe last week by mistake. You'd think after all these years, I could pick out a ripe one as easy as clicking my fingers. What's the secret tip? Anybody know it? Well, it's back to my writing and editing fiction this morning. Thanks for dropping by for a blog read.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

How My New Cozy Mystery Series Is Coming Along

I have posted a few sporadic blogs about my new and second cozy mystery series. It is coming right along now. I've already set aside the Book #1 for a couple of months and moved on to other projects before coming back to it. My latest rounds of edits have sharpened and focused Book #1, so I'm a lot more happier with it.

Earlier this week, I printed out Book #1 in hard copy for the first time. I always find it exciting to hold the physical pages to a new manuscript in my hands. I can actually "see" and "feel" what it is like instead of staring at it on the digital screen of my laptop.

Now come the last stages in the book's production. First, I'll copy edit and proofread the manuscript several times. I'll read the manuscript out loud. After I've finished doing all of that, I'll put in my fixes and print out a second clean hard copy for my beta (first) reader to go through. If it passes muster, then I'll be ready to finalize the book.

I've been going back and forth on the title for my Book #1. Right now, I'm going with THE CORPSE WORE GINGHAM. My problem with my title is it's TOO long. I count up 23 characters long, including the blank spaces. Twitter only allows 140 characters, so I'll be using up a chunk of them with putting in this book title on my tweets.

Oh well, I'll come up with something that is satisfactory, I'm sure. But all that is for later on. I'll post another blog next week about my progress. Thanks for your interest.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: The Seven-Ups

This 1973 gritty cop movie ran at the theater, but I never got around to watching it for one reason or the other. Flash forward to now, and I finally did see it. I have to go with a big thumbs-up. In his first starring role, Roy Scheider (he played the police chief in the blockbuster hit Jaws) is a maverick NYPD cop who leads an elite undercover detective team called the Seven-Ups because they bust the felons who serve seven and up years of prison time. The director Philip D'Antoni also worked on cop thrillers like Bullitt and The French Connection. There's an exciting car chase that is filmed like the chase scene from The French Connection. The car chase ends with the pursuing car ramming into the rear end of a parked tractor-trailer and peeling off the roof a la Jayne Mansfield. Most of the movie was shot on location in New York City, so the landmarks are probably familiar to a native. The plot is fairly straightforward, and Schneider does a good job as a tough cop who gets the job done, and his bosses like that about him. The Seven-Ups reminds me of Serpico which I did get to see at the cinema when it ran. I liked The Seven-Ups, and Scheider was a solid actor who died in 2008.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Second Cozy Mystery Series

I've spent a great deal of my summer developing a second cozy mystery series as a complement my Isabel and Alma Trumbo Mystery Series. I've set the new cozy series in the D.C. suburbs, and the protagonists are a retired married couple. Of course, Isabel and Alma are senior sisters who like to do their sleuthing in the small town of Quiet Anchorage, Virginia. The contrast of the suburban and small town settings are quite different in some respects while alike in others. The suburban neighborhood is like a small town with its own stores and businesses. The residents in the neighborhoods shop in the places they are familiar with and prefer like just as the townspeople do. At least that's been my thinking while I wrote the first book. Isabel and Alma aren't going away and will be back with a new book next year. Anyway, I like my new protagonists, and I hope my readers will, as well. I'll blog more about my progress and plans as the autumn unfolds.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: The Mob Starring Broderick Crawford


This 1951 crime drama stars Broderick Crawford is a precursor to better known On the Waterfront which hit the theaters three years later. This promotional still from the movie shows Crawford and Neville Brand who looks just like a thug in the movies I've watched with him in the cast. Crawford and Brand later get into a good fight scene. The movie takes place in a port city somewhere north of New Orleans. St. Louis, maybe. I didn't catch where if it's given in the movie. Crawford is a burly actor who makes for a good, tough cop (he won his Academy Award for playing Willie Stark in All the Kings Men). I liked him in this role where he goes undercover to investigate the mob involvement along the wharf. Charles Bronson has an uncredited bit part as a longshoreman. Richard Kiley and Ernest Borgnine also play meaty roles. Be sure to check out how the cops run a tail job in the days before the electronic transmitters were used. Even though the dialogue is corny in spots, The Mob is a good, solid film I found entertaining to watch.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Two O'clock Courage Starring Jane Greer

This 1945 film noir from RKO has a lot more comedy than it does noir. I went ahead and watched it anyway. It's an early film directed by Anthony Mann (The Naked Spur, Western I like very much), plus Bettejane Greer stars in it. She'd later be Jane Greer with Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past which ranks in my Top Ten Films Noir. So, those two reasons alone were enough to intrigue me. Tom Conway stars as an amnesia victim who wisecracking cabbie Ann Rutherford picks up and then helps to unravel why he is caught in a murder. Cabbies, then and now, are so helpful at least in the movies, I suppose. Jane Greer plays a boozy chippie and looks like she's having a lot of fun making the picture. Rutherford and Conway play amateur sleuths tracking down the clues and finally exposing the real killer in a rather conventional whodunit. Still, Two O'clock Courage is a C+ 68-minute movie I enjoyed watching.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: The Turning Point (1952)


This 1952 crime drama, base on a short story by Horace McCoy ( They Shoot Horses, Don't They?) is what you'd expect from a crime movie about the special prosecutor trying to break a midwestern city's crime syndicate. By now, the film noir theme feels like a familiar one to me. So, the film has to have something else going for it, and, fortunately, this film does. What makes it stand out is the sharp acting of a young William Holden as a dogged investigative reporter and Edmond O'Brien as the crusading special prosecutor. As I have said before, O'Brien leaves me hot or cold. This time I like his acting. Alexis Smith in a minor role plays the love interest. Ed Begley plays the ruthless crime kingpin that Holden and O'Brien are struggling to take down. Enjoyable fare.

Friday, September 5, 2014

My Science Fiction Novel: THE QUETZAL MOTEL


I've been getting the rights back on my back list titles and re-releasing them as e-books over the past few months. One such novel is my only science fiction title, The Quetzal Motel. Here is the new front cover art I used. I enjoyed writing the science fiction novel, which also has a mystery/crime subplot to it. When I was writing a lot of short stories, I did quite a few stories in the speculative fiction vein. Most of my fiction output now falls in the mystery/crime genre. Anyway, I might try my hand again at writing another science fiction book, but I don't have any immediate plans to do so. Check out The Quetzal Motel if you like the pulpy sort of science fiction.  

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Round Two: Revising My Next Cozy Mystery Series Title

Labor Day marks the end of summer and the start of autumn, although I'm sweating today like it's mid-July. But I have no complaints about the weather. I always feel like I write better fiction when it's summer than during the winter cold blahs.

The kids here started back to school this week, and I pass them grouped on the street corners waiting for their busses during my daily walk. I always enjoyed the beginning of the school year, especially in the lower grades. I had no idea back then I would be writing novels a few decades later. At any rate, it was fun to see old friends and make new ones. Plus, the subjects always interested me with the exception of math which I detested. I still do. Words come easier to me than numbers ever did.

This week I began the second round of revisions to my next cozy mystery series title. I'm calling it SWEET BETSY as the working title that is subject to change at any time. The series protagonists Isabel and Alma Trumbo entertain me with their stories. They're sisters living and sleuthing together in a small town called Quiet Anchorage. It's not found on Google Maps. Right now, it's a little rough going while I'm getting their narrative and plotline straightened out. But once the kinks are worked out, I believe the revising will turn a bit easier and smoother.

I'll be checking in here at my blog more often as the autumn progresses. I've been running my film reviews every Tuesday with the Tuesday's Overlooked Movies gang. It's relaxing to watch a movie than it is to read a book these days while I'm writing my own novels. Thanks for reading my blog postings.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Current Movie Review: Woody Allen's MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT

I liked Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and wasn't so crazy about Blue Jasmine. Magic in the Moonlight probably falls somewhere in the middle. The main stars are Emma Stone and Colin Firth, both who try to lift up the so-so script to offer an entertaining performance. Emma is a mystic and clairvoyant in 1928 France, and Colin, a renowned British magician, sets out to expose her as a charlatan. However, when she gives him choice tidbits about his personal life, he begins to believe maybe she is the real deal. A shifty romance springs up between them, although he seems as clueless about love as Doc Martin is on the TV series I enjoy watching. Magic in the Moonlight has a gorgeous setting, lots of spritely jazz tunes from the time period, and the bright parties never seem to stop. Gatsby and Nick would fit right in here. There is a pacing problem as the large patches of dialogue slow down the action. I have to remind myself of the same thing when I'm revising my novels. When I start checking the luminous dial on my wrist watch as I did while I was seeing Magic in the Moonlight, I know things aren't moving along enough to engage my full interest. Still, it was cute and charming. I found myself rooting for the two protagonists, and I laughed out loud a time or two. Fun stuff, Magic in the Moonlight satisfied my Labor Day cinema fix.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: THE CROOKED WEB Starring Frank Lovejoy (1955)

This 1955 film directed by Nathan Juran stars Frank Lovejoy, Richard Denning, and Mari Blanchard. It is an above-average crime movie I watched because I liked Frank Lovejoy featured in Ida Lupino's The Hitch-Hiker and in Bogie's best film in my opinion, In A Lonely Place. This time out, Lovejoy plays an Army sergeant who kills an MP while still in post-World War Two Germany. He gets discharged and returns to California where he opens a fast food joint and hires the effervescent Maria Blanchard to work there as a waitress. Richard Denning, posing as Blanchard's brother, shows up with a get-rich-quick scheme that involves travel back to Germany. Lovejoy knows he's wanted for murder in Germany, but he can't resist making the big score. Plus, the nubile Blanchard is egging him on to take Denning's offer to cut them in on the scheme. Lovejoy, who proves he isn't the brightest bulb on the porch, goes for it, and the real trouble begins when they get to Germany. I won't say anything else about the plot which I found a bit confusing at times. Blanchard, who later died of cancer at age 43, is a delight to watch. Denning, later appearing on Jack Lord's TV crime drama Hawaii Five-0, does a solid job in his role. On the other hand, the laid-back Lovejoy is a bit of a disappointment, or maybe it's just the character's role he plays. I wouldn't go out of my way to watch The Crooked Web, but it's not a terrible movie either. IMDb.com rates it 6.2/10.0 which also shows it is okay but not great.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Violent Saturday Starring Lee Marvin

This 1955 film noir was a pleasure to watch for several reasons. First, Lee Marvin is always good as he is in his minor role here as a sadistic bank robber. Second, the movie was shot in color, and the Arizona small town setting is picturesque. Third, Ernest Borgnine plays a stolid Amish farmer with convincing success. Fourth, Victor Mature gives us another one his laid-back but sure-footed performances as the good guy. The premise is pretty basic. Three professional thieves show up, case the town bank, and execute their plan to rob it. The extra treat is we get to see the lives of the different townspeople from the "peeping tom" bank manager to the dishonest librarian who steals a purse. Of course, since this is noir, the robbery doesn't come off quite as it was planned. Comparisons have been rightfully drawn between Violent Saturday and Harrison Ford's The Witness with the Amish farming family angle. The plot builds to a rousing climax appropriate for this type of film. Good stuff.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Farewell, My Lovely Starring Robert Mitchum

This 1975 private eye film stars the incomparable Robert Mitchum as Phillip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler's famous PI. It also features Charlotte Rampling, John Ireland, Jack O'Halloran (as Moose Malloy), Sylvia Miles and Harry Dean Stanton, with a young Sylvester Stallone appearing as a punk gangster. Sly went on to bigger things with his Rocky Balboa franchise. The legendary noir writer Jim Thompson in a cameo as Judge Baxter Wilson Grayle is pretty cool to see. I liked that the movie is a period piece set in Marlowe's L.A. The night photography with the neon is moody and spot on. The jazzy soundtrack sounds like something you'd hear playing in one of the smoky jazz clubs Marlowe visits while he's working the case. I haven't read the Chandler novel of the same name in several years, but the movie plot appears to follow the novel's storyline. I've read a few online reviews observing how Robert Mitchum was too long in the tooth to be playing Phillip Marlowe. That doesn't bother me. In fact, I found it more appealing and realistic. I don't remember what Mitchum thought of the movie from reading his biography Robert Mitchum: "Baby I Don't Care" by Lee Server. I don't think Mitchum was all that crazy about his co-star Charlotte Rampling who'd just made The Night Porter. So, all in all, I go a big thumbs up on this classic Robert Mitchum flick.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Jigsaw (1949)

This 1949 crime drama isn't one of the better ones I've seen, unfortunately. Franchot Tone plays an ambitious Assistant D.A. tracking down a white supremacist group calling itself The Crusaders operating where I took to be New York City. Jean Wallace (married to Tone) plays a night club singer who has some of the answers he's looking for until she decides to leave town suddenly. Tone does a decent acting job. It is just the story moves so slowly even for a short movie. The cameo appearances of John Garfield, Henry Fonda, Burgess Meredith, and other well-known Hollywood faces seem more of a gimmick than they add much entertainment value to the film. Perhaps they are the pieces of the "jigsaw." Marc Lawrence plays a pretty good oily thug ironically called Angel. I guess I was expecting more, and the movie just didn't deliver the goods. I'd only grade Jigsaw with a C+.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Current Movie Review: A Most Wanted Man Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman

This British spy-thriller film based on the novel of the same name by John le Carré is very entertaining if just for watching the great talent Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final leading role before his tragic death in February 2014. Since we're talking about le Carré, espionage is the main ticket. In post-9/11 Hamburg where the infamous Mohammed Atta and his terrorists planned their attack, the authorities are hyper-vigilant about nipping any further conspiracies in the bud. Hoffman leads a shadowy German police unit responsible for tracking down and intercepting any new terrorists that hit town. Issa Karpov, a half-Chechen, half-Russian immigrant, shows up, and Hoffman is on his tail to figure out what bad stuff Karpov has in mind. The intricate plot is filled with crosses and double-crosses, much like a Cold War spy drama would unfold. At times, I thought I was seeing a Cold War picture except everybody was using cell phones. Hoffman smokes a cigarette or has a drink in every scene like in an old forties film noir. Rachel McAdams plays a starry-eyed lawyer, and Robin Wright is a wary CIA agent. The favorable reviews are spot-on if you enjoy viewing intelligent spy flicks without a lot of violence.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Humor: My Summer 2014 Gardening Just Went Bust

When I was growing up in the rural part of Northern Virginia (not so rural these days, I'm afraid), my family raised a vegetable garden. Our garden was a prodigious one with a wide variety of produce grown in it. Flash forward years later to this summer, and I ended up with a few tomato plants to set out. Figuring I'd resurrect the green thumb of my youth, I planted the tomato plants in our side yard where they'd get just enough morning sunlight, and I had easy access to watering them from the spigot.

Of course, when the first yellow bloom appeared, I was so proud of my accomplishment that I shared the good news with my Facebook and twitter friends. I got back a surprising response from the like-minded gardening folks who cheered me on. Imagine then my sheer delight when the first marble-sized green tomato appeared on my plants. I was ecstatic over it.

So, I just blithely went on watering and watching over my tomato plants. They were growing almost as fast as kudzu. I was reliving my youth, although admittedly on a much smaller scale. Jack in the Beanstalk, eat your heart out. By now, the garden-savvy readers know where this story is headed--downhill fast!

One morning I stepped out the door and saw where a thief (i.e., varmint) had taken a big chomp out of my almost ripened red tomato. Well, I saw a little red myself. My Facebook friends were sympathetic to my plight. I devised a clever plan where I'd pick the next tomato just before it turned ripe and beat the varmint. My plan didn't work. This time, the varmint ate my tomatoes while they were still GREEN!

I'm not certain how the varmints caught wind of my clever plan unless somebody leaked it to them. My neighbor pal down the street informs me it is our burgeoning deer population who are the guilty culprits. He also sure does like venison, as do I, especially now. At any rate, I've run up the white flag on my gardening efforts. Maybe by next spring, I'll give it another go. We'll have to wait and see what happens then.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Cotton Comes to Harlem

Harlem detectives, Gravedigger Jones (Godfrey Cambridge) and "Coffin" Ed Johnson (Raymond St. Jacques) in this film are adapted from the novel and main characters of the same names created by crime author Chester Himes. I have read and liked Digger and Ed's short stories, but it's been a good while. So, I wanted to check out this 1970 movie for some time, and it's a lot of fun and full of action. Ossie Davis co-wrote and directed the film. Basically, the Harlem detectives go after the $87,000 a flashy preacher named Reverend Deke O'Malley (Calvin Lockhart) swindles out of his followers. The night club comedian Redd Foxx made his movie debut as did several other actors. Foxx plays a sly junk man which paved the way for his star role in the TV sitcom Sanford and Son which I have to rank as one of my all-time favorite TV sitcoms. Of course while on TV, he had to keep his act a lot cleaner. The film was shot on location in Harlem with landmarks such as the Apollo Theater where the climax occurs. Wikipedia indicates the film did well at the box office. The future action-packed black films would include Shaft (seen) and Super Fly (have not seen). Cotton Comes to Harlem was an enjoyable change of pace from my steady diet of film noir titles.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Current Movie Review: BOYHOOD

This 2014 family drama film from Richard Linklater left me with mixed feelings. Foremost, I thought it ran a little bit long (166 minutes). It stars Patricia Arquette, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater and Ethan Hawke. Linklater filmed it over 12 years as the two kids (brother and sister) grew up which I found interesting. Since we are exposed to the passing years, there's really no central plot, another quibble I had. But given the movie's premise, that's not surprising. At any rate, I liked the Ethan Hawke character (he plays the two kids's father) as well as Patricia Arquette (playing the mother). The different problems facing the two kids as they are growing up feel very familiar to me since we've all been there. The soundtrack is good with songs by Coldplay and Wilco. I'd probably like this movie a lot more if I re-watched it.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Summer Fiction Projects Are Shaping Up Fine

I hope your summer is going well. Now that July is almost in the bag, I decided to break up my weekly blog posts reviewing the different film noir titles I enjoy watching. My latest books newsletter has been sent out, so I'm now looking toward the second half of 2014. I've been developing a second cozy mystery series idea for some time, and I'm happy with the debut title I wrote in May and June. The Piper and Bill Robins series is different than my Isabel and Alma Trumbo series. For starters, Piper and Bill live in the suburbs while Isabel and Alma are small town folks. Retirees Piper and Bill are a married couple while the seniors Isabel and Alma are sisters. The characters in both series have a crafty knack for solving murders but as amateur sleuths. I keep it clean, and the humor used is gentle and good-natured. There are multiple suspects included, and I try to stay true to the fair play rule. The series are what I like to think of as "traditional mysteries." I have enjoyed writing both series and hope my mystery readers will take to Piper and Bill as they have to Isabel and Alma. Stay tuned for further details!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Current Movie Review: LIFE ITSELF (the Roger Ebert Story)

This very fine 2014 documentary film is about the passionate, articulate, and always courageous Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times. We learn about his boyhood in a blue-collar family (his father was an electrician) and early interest with the written word. We also hear of his radiation treatments as a kid to cure an ear malady that later was thought to have caused his fatal thyroid cancer. I was pleasantly surprised by his droll and dry sense of humor. Of course, he co-hosted an internationally popular movie review TV show with his rival Gene Siskel at the higher-brow Chicago Tribune. I remember watching it a few times, but I got my movie reviews from other sources like the Washington Post, my hometown newspaper. But I always liked his down-to-earth manner. Siskel and Ebert are shown to be in friendly competition with each other but also realizing their best success was when they combined their talents on TV. Siskel's widow says she believes they loved each other like brothers. The sad part of the movie is Ebert's death last year. Even so, I found LIFE ITSELF fun to watch, and I went away with a greater appreciation of Roger Ebert's talents and spirit.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: 87th Precinct TV Series


This is the pilot episode of the 87th Precinct TV series that ran from 1961-1962 based on the Evan Hunter crime fiction series. The TV show starred  Robert Lansing, Gena Rowlands, Ron Harper, and Norman Fell. It got axed from the stiff competition of The Andy Griffith Show on a different channel in the same time slot. Rowlands does a good job of playing Detective Steve Carella's (Robert Lansing) deaf-mute wife Teddy. Robert Culp stars as the creepy serial killer who has a kinky thing for tattoos and pretty ladies, including Teddy. Norman Fell went on to play Mr. Roper on the popular sitcom Three's Company. This cop show had a good, professional cast, and I might watch some more episodes later since I'm a fan of the series Hunter (Ed McBain) wrote.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

#SampleSunday: AFTER THE BIG NOISE by Ed Lynskey

After the Big Noise is my newest title in my P.I. Frank Johnson Mystery Series which began my book writing career. Here are the opening paragraphs from Chapter 1 in my blog post for today.

CHAPTER ONE

“Get a load of this, Frank.” Gerald Peyton’s pause set off his pronouncement. “She is expecting to get a wedding ring.”

“That’s understandable,” I said, unsure how he could afford a ring on what our firm cleared. Diamond rings—more sold in December than in any other month of the year—went for a cool grand per karat. Weeks ago, I’d priced them—again—for my domestic situation. “What seems to be the problem?”

“That’s a big leap for me to make.”

“I expect you’ll make it with room to spare.”

He narrowed his jasper eyes at me, wondering if I was razzing him, and I was. “The next time I’m near a pawn shop, I’ll pop in and snap up a lady’s ring,” he said.

“Fair warning. Sharona will stalk out the front door and never look back if you give her a hand-me-down ring.”

A petite, fiery young lady, she was Gerald’s significant other. His enormous physique, in sharp contrast, took after one of the earthmovers his kid brother Chet operated on his jobsites.

“Say what?” asked Gerald.

Seated behind one of the two desks, I glanced at my cell phone in front of me. It never rang when I welcomed the intrusion. We’d cut the cord on the office landline phone to save money which always seemed in short supply. I had no choice but to lay it out for him.

“She is after a commitment spelled with a capital C.”

Hands shoved into his pockets, Gerald paced the office floor as I’d last seen done inside the Sumatran tiger enclosure at the National Zoo. He went from the snake and aloe houseplants (impossible to kill, according to Dreema) kept on the sunny office windowsill to the door and back again.

“Why can’t Sharona leave well enough alone?” he asked, stopping before me.

My shoulders hunched up, and I gave him the don’t-ask-me act.

“Damn it, Frank. You’re the ace private eye who reads people all the time. Finish giving me your take on this.”

“You hooked up—when was it?—back in the middle of ’03. Now finds us at the tail end of ’05, and I get the impression she’s of the mind after that long it’s time to take your relationship to the next level.” I paused to add my emphasis. “Or else.”

A recent nervous tic, Gerald ran his fingernails over his shaved MJ coif. “‘Or else,’ you say. Those words sound ominous.” Gerald let out a rumbling sigh. “Damn it, life was a lot simpler for us in Pelham.”

“Dream on, homeboy. That’s just the small town nostalgia in you talking. We kissed that scene goodbye forever.”

“I know, I know.”

“Look, you’ve still got a little time until Christmas Day. Why don’t you give it a little more time to get acclimated to her way of thinking?”

“That’s it.” He snapped his fingers. “I’ll get acclimated to it first. Then I’ll go shop for a wedding ring, say, in a couple of days. Or maybe next week is better, depending on how busy we get.”

I didn’t tip him off that Sharona had better be the one to select her ring. However, it was the thought that counted. She could always return it for something more appealing. And expensive.

“Beautiful,” I said. “Go see a reputable jeweler and not a fly-by-night pawnshop. Used or stolen goods are a turn off. She’ll yearn to slip the spanky new diamond wedding ring on her finger and flash it around to impress her friends and family.”

“A diamond wedding ring, you say?”

I studied his face. Was he putting me on? He looked earnest. “As any guy would expect, a diamond is what she’s after,” I said. “Did you hold out hope you’d get by for anything less?”

“The God’s honest truth is I haven’t thought that far ahead.” He canted his bristly eyebrows. “You’re making plenty of sense though.”

End of #SampleSunday, opening paragraphs to After the Big Noise, a P.I. Frank Johnson Mystery Series title.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Early Reviews For THE LADYBUG SONG Are Now In...




Earlier this summer, I brought out the latest title, THE LADYBUG SONG, in my Isabel & Alma Trumbo Cozy Mystery Series. Two 5-star reviews from readers (both are "verified purchases") have been posted on Amazon, and I excerpted them below.


"I hope Ed Lynskey continues this series with a fourth book, as a Trumbo sisters cozy is a wonderful break from the hardcore mysteries I usually read. The Trumbo series of books are the perfect cozies."


"I totally enjoyed this story and find it to be the best yet of the Trumbo Sisters series. The childhood of Alma & Isabel is explored giving the characters more depth. A true cozy and highly recommended to all true cozy lovers."


I have enjoyed writing the series. The two quirky sister characters and small town setting are pretty established. I have a fourth book completed and a fifth one is well underway. The books are perfect for summertime writing.


Read and enjoy, please. Thanks!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Dillinger (1945)

I used to watch the popular TV sitcom Seinfeld, and one episode I remember liking was when Elaine's father came to town. He was a gruff, big man, a war veteran, who didn't like Jerry or George. Years later, I saw Lawrence Tierney had played the part. I've seen other Mr. Tierney noir films and have enjoyed them, so I decided to check out his star turn delivered in Dillinger, his first major motion picture. Dillinger from a Poverty Row studio even got an Academy Award nod (Philip Yordan for Writing Original Screenplay), so it earned some street cred. The run time is 70 minutes, and I was treated to a rousing account of Dillinger. The facts of his biography are very loosely interpreted, but this is entertainment, not a documentary. The square-jawed Tierney does a good job as the ruthless, often murderous Dillinger. The great character actor Elisha Cook, Jr. plays one of his eccentric henchman. Footage for one of the bank robberies was taken from a Fritz Lang film, but I didn't care. I just liked seeing a gritty crime drama and that's what Dillinger is. IMDb.com gives it a 6.7 rating, but that's too low for me. I'd go a solid 7.0.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: "Are There Any More Out There Like You?" (Kraft Suspense Theater, 1963)

Since the July Fourth holiday weekend is coming this week, I decided to run my blog post a little early. After watching a lot movies of late, I've grown to enjoy the work of the exceptional character actors. Dan Duryea and Elisha Cook, Jr., are but two (though I'm sure they were lead actors on occasion, such as Duryea was in The Burglar). I've always been a fan of Robert Ryan's work and try to catch whatever he starred in. This 1963 episode of Kraft Suspense Theater is such a production. I don't have a memory of Kraft Suspense Theater when it ran, but it looks like it was a winner. Anyway, four half-drunk college kids take off from a motel on a rainy Christmas Eve night and hit a pedestrian who dies. Of course, the cops want to charge the driver of the car, but the kids decide to claim their collective amnesia prevents them from remembering who was behind the wheel. One of the college kids is Ryan's spoiled rich daughter played by Katharine Ross who has a beautiful smirk. She would go on to bigger and better things. Ryan makes the 45-minute drama work as he plays the affluent and conflicted father. Things get more complicated when the seedy motel proprietor claims he saw and knows who was driving the car and wants to bribe Ryan. Ryan always makes for a convincing tortured soul without being melodramatic about it. This is an enjoyable show for other fans of the actor.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: The Petrified Forest Starring Humphrey Bogart

This 1936 film starring Leslie Howard, Bette Davis, and Humphrey Bogart was based on a play in which Bogart starred. Bogart's portrayal of the gangster Duke Mantee, who was based on John Dillinger, is fun to watch and, for me, the high point of the movie. It is shot like a play with most of the action taking place inside the roadside diner in northern Arizona near the "petrified forest." Bette Davis does all right as the diner owner's starry-eyed daughter who falls in love with Leslie Howard, a vagabond who drops by for a meal. The dialogue is interesting, especially between Bogart and Howard. This movie was Bogart's breakout role which is the main reason I've always wanted to see The Petrified Forest. We can be very glad Howard insisted that Bogart got the role. IMDb.com gives it 7.7/10.0, and I'd agree with that score.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Beat the Devil Starring Humphrey Bogart

This 1953 film is an entertaining hodge-podge starring Bogie with Robert Morley, Peter Lorre, Jennifer Jones, and Gina Lollobrigida. John Huston directed and wrote the script with some help from Truman Capote. For the most part, I enjoyed watching Beat the Devil. Bogie delivers some snarky and hardboiled lines of dialogue. Everything is played with tongue-in-cheek, so I suppose it's a parody of a sort. The plot is pretty loose, and everybody seemed to be having a good time making the film. Bogie made it through his Santana Productions. I read where he didn't particularly like it, probably because he lost money on the venture. Maybe that's why it is in the public domain now. Peter Lorre as Julius O'Hara, one of the four crooks Bogie is in league with, is funny. IMDb.com rates Best the Devil as 6.6. I don't think I'd watch Beat the Devil again, but it was fun to see Bogie in another movie, and his fans shouldn't be disappointed.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: The Face Behind the Mask (Recommended)

Every once in a blue moon, I happen across a forgotten gem of a film noir. It happens so rarely that it is all the sweeter when it does occur. Such is the case with The Face Behind the Mask which I'd never heard of until I watched it. I'll give it to you straight: it's easily the best film noir I've watched so far this year. Maybe it even falls in the Top Twenty of All Time, if I had to compile such a ranking.

In a rare film noir (or at least in the ones that I've ever viewed), Peter Lorre plays the lead. The plot is straightforward enough. Janos Szaby (Peter Lorre) arrives in New York City as an eager, optimistic Hungarian immigrant with watchmaking skills. His face is then disfigured in a hotel fire, and he turns bitter.

Lorre does an amazing job of changing his character's profile. He turns ruthless and takes to a life of crime, robbing banks and making jewelry heists. He pays a plastic surgeon to create him a strange rubber mask to hide his burn-scarred face. Lorre must have had a good make-up man because he looks odd wearing his mask.

Later, he bumps into Helen Williams (Evelyn Keyes) who is a blind bead-stringer. Since she can't see his face, they fall in love. Happy once again, Janos decides to quit his old gang, but they have other ideas despite his plans to marry Helen. I immensely enjoyed watching the versatile and talented Lorre until the film's memorable ending that is a slice of pure noir. I wish Lorre made other first-rate movies like The Face Behind the Mask. But then my watching this one wouldn't have been as nearly as much fun. My only regret is I can't see it for the first time again. Recommended.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

My New Isabel and Alma Trumbo Cozy Mystery THE LADYBUG SONG Is Out

Back in the years before the economy tanked, I used to write and sell my stories to the Dorchester Media ladies confessional magazines (TRUE STORY). About the same time, I wrote a cozy mystery series featuring a pair of senior sleuth sisters, Isabel and Alma Trumbo. The first title [book:Quiet Anchorage|10530870] (2011) sold well enough for me to write and publish a second title, [book:The Cashmere Shroud|18101016] (2013). Now THE LADYBUG SONG is out as a Kindle release. I've enjoyed spending time with Isabel and Alma who are based, in part, on my two grand aunts who are no longer with us. I don't know if either of them was an amateur sleuth, but Isabel had a subscription to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. She passed on her old copies  to me for my reading enjoyment. I can remember my reading EQMM during my summer vacations from school. The added bonus for me is the small town setting of Quiet Anchorage, Virginia, where the Trumbo sisters live and sleuth. Please consider adding THE LADYBUG SONG to your summer reading list.

Book Description:
Phyllis Garner refuses to believe her best friend Ladybug Miles’ death is an accidental drowning in the local Coronet River. Phyllis thinks it was murder and asks her friends Isabel and Alma Trumbo to do their talented snooping in small town Quiet Anchorage to root out the truth of what happened and bring the guilty killer to justice. Isabel and Alma call on their own assistants, including twentysomething Sammi Jo and The Three Musketeers (Ossie, Blue, and Willie) to help with the investigation. For the dog lovers, Isabel and Alma’s pooch Petey Samson plays an instrumental role in solving the murder mystery. This third title in the popular Isabel and Alma Trumbo Cozy Mystery Series delivers the usual quaint small town setting, gentle humor, and good-hearted but dogged amateur lady sleuths.

Click here to go to Kindle page for The Ladybug Song. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: "The Dead Duck Caper" (Sam Spade Radio Show)



I listened to an old radio show, "THE ADVENTURES OF SAM SPADE, DETECTIVE," starring Howard Duff pictured here. This episode, "The Dead Duck Caper," originally ran on CBS (Wildroot Cream Oil was the sponsor) on February 2, 1947. This version was from a vinyl record made by the Armed Forces Radio Services which includes the scratchy background. The baritone Duff sounds like a real-life Spade. The bad guy had a quacky voice like a duck's. I had a little trouble following the plotline perhaps because the recording was so bad. The snappy dialogue and corny narrative were funny. I guess it was closer to being a radio comedy than suspenseful adventure. I recently read a bio. of Hammett, and he wrote a lot of radio scripts, but I don't know if he wrote this particular episode or not. If I run across any other recorded episodes, I might give them a listen like while I am working out.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Current Movie Review: Million Dollar Arm (from Disney)

I don't know when I last watched a Disney movie at the cinema, but I did see Million Dollar Arm with good results. Sports agent J.B. Bernstein plucks a pair of Indian pitching prospects, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, from a reality show competition held in India. Of course, cricket is the most popular sport in India, but J.B. sees a gold mine if he can tap into the billion (that's spelled with a b) people (i.e., customers) living there to start loving baseball by following the careers of his two prize Indian prospects. The only trouble is playing cricket doesn't translate well to playing baseball. J.B. has all sorts of problems when he gets back to the States. Million Dollar Arm is an entertaining, pleasant underdog sports movie that reminded me a little of Jerry Maguire. Alan Arkin, always fun to watch, plays a sports scout. The romance between J.B. and his tenant Brenda, a medical doctor, is a nice subplot. Since this is a Disney picture, there's little or no swearing, violence, sex, etc. I'm a baseball fan, so I was hooked right from the start. You might also find Million Dollar Arm a fun movie to go see.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: The Great Flamarion Starring Dan Duryea

This offbeat but very entertaining 1945 film noir stars the Austrian actor and silent film director Erich von Stroheim as The Great Flamarion. Stroheim later appeared in a memorable role in the classic film Sunset Boulevard (nominated for Academy Award). Here he is cast as a marksman with a set of fancy pistols in a popular vaudeville act. The married couple Mary Beth Hughes and Dan Duryea also appear in the act where Duryea's main stunt is to avoid getting shot while he's dancing in front of the mirrors. It's all a matter of timing, but Duryea is also a lush, so his timing is sometimes a bit off. Hughes is a fabulous femme fatale who colludes with Flamarion to pull off Duryea's "accidental death" during a show. The reliable Anthony Mann directed this movie. Hughes reminds me of Jane Greer and even resembles her a little. I just saw Hughes in The Lady Confesses, and this is a better film. IMDb.com gives The Great Flamarion a 6.7 rating which sounds about right to me.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Current Film Review: Ida

I wanted to see Million Dollar Arm, but it was cancelled. So, I decided to watch the 2013 Polish drama film Ida directed by Paweł Pawlikowski. The English subtitles are easy to read, so that wasn't any big deal. IMDb.com rates Ida a very good 7.6, so that was good enough recommendation for me. I left the theater glad I went ahead and saw it. The movie setting is the dead of winter in 1962 (though I wonder if the late 1950s is more accurate). The title character IDA is a novice nun a week from taking her vows when the Mother Superior first sends her to see her Aunt Wanda. The horrific family secrets are exposed, and Ida gets a real world education, perhaps more than the Mother Superior had in mind. The film moves along at a deliberate pace, and the dialogue is pretty spare. I grew to like Ida, and I wanted her to get through her travails okay. Ida is a bit different, and a nice change of pace for me. You might like it, too.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Current Movie Review: "Chef" Fun stuff!

If you're a foodie and like good dishes, then Chef is a good bet for a movie-watching. Jon Favreau staffing as Chef Carl Casper decides to ditch his job at a fancy L.A. restaurant owned by Dustin Hoffman when they clash over what should go on the menu. Oliver Platt plays a smarmy food critic and blogger who skewers Chef Carl, and their loud confrontation goes viral. Luckily, he has an ex (played by Sofía Vergara who I love as Gloria on Modern Family) with a heart of gold and a solid friend in John Leguizamo playing line cook Martin. Chef Carl flies down to Miami with his ex and young son. While there, he reconnects with his roots and decides to open a sleek food truck specializing in Cuban cuisine. He is much happier and drives it back to L.A. along with his son and Martin. I got hungry from seeing all the great food being prepared. It was good to see Dustin Hoffman and Robert Downey, Jr. in their cameo roles. The film's soundtrack is Latino and snappy, adding to the fun stuff.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Current Movie Review: Locke

This 2013 indie film was written and directed by Steven Knight. The entire drama takes place within the confines of a moving car. Ivan Locke is a construction manager getting ready to pour an enormous amount of concrete for a big project. Unfortunately, he gets a call that sends him on a harrowing 90-minute drive to London. He makes and receives a series of phone calls while he is driving, and we learn what has sent him on his trip. This unusual premise works, for the most part. Tom Hardy, the harried driver, gives an intense performance of a man with a lot of pressure on him. I wasn't sure if I found Ivan to be a sympathetic character. His problems were largely of his own stupid doing. He keeps thinking and saying he can fix it or make it right. But can he? He also talks a lot to his invisible dead father in the rear seat. Evidently, they weren't close. The movie clips right along so there isn't much dragging. IMDb.com gives Locke 7.7 which I believe is a little high.

Friday, May 16, 2014

My New Private Eye Novel: AFTER THE BIG NOISE (A P.I. Frank Johnson Mystery)


This week I released my first book published in 2014. After the Big Noise is out as a Kindle. P.I. Frank Johnson and I have been together for a good while. Frank made his debut appearance as the short story “New Sheriff in Town” in the old Plots With Guns Ezine back in September 2001. After the Big Noise makes number six of his novels plus the one short story collection. Seven books is a creditable run. The late James Crumley blurbed Frank’s debut novel Pelham Fell Here. The Blue Cheer picked up a starred review in Booklist. It earned favorable reviews in the large newspapers like San Diego Union-Tribune and Halifax Herald Chronicle. He’s still going strong. So, kick back, read on, and enjoy his latest hardboiled caper.

The book description listed Amazon:

For his next hardboiled outing, P.I. Frank Johnson accepts a pair of new cases just before the 2005 year-end holidays. First, he hunts for a missing husband, and second, he looks for the truth behind a city police detective’s gunshot death in a remote alley. Frank’s hopes for a timely resolution fade when both cases take him down their twisty paths, including a side trip back to his native town of Pelham, Virginia. With his partner, the bounty hunter Gerald Peyton, getting his back, Frank chases down the clues leading them to an abandoned rocket manufacturing facility. Blue Flare Rockets is where they run into more trouble than either man has ever confronted before their long, harrowing night inside the facility’s razor wire fence is finished.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Crime, Inc. Starring Tom Neal (Detour)

This better-than-average film noir from 1945 involves, as its title suggests, organized crime and law enforcement's determined efforts to oppose it. Tom Neal (from Detour) stars as a crime reporter/crusader and Martha Tilton as his night club singer girlfriend. She sings a few nice big band numbers along the way. Sheldon Leonard (any Big Bang Theory fans out there?) is also featured as a cop, and Leo Carrillo is a shady night club owner. I enjoyed the film mostly for watching Tom Neal's role since I liked his star turn in the cult classic Detour he made with Ann Savage. Of course, he went on to a troubled future in his personal life, including serving a prison stretch for manslaughter. But Tom Neal looks fit and happy acting in this film, and it's enjoyable enough to watch him. IMDb.com gives Crime, Inc. only a 5.6 rating which I believe is a bit too low.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: The Captive City

This 1952 crime drama directed by Robert Wise is one of several the Kefauver Committee investigation of organized crime films made with Hollywood. Dark-browed, stern Senator Estes Kefauver appears as himself at the movie's end to lecture the American citizenry on the evils of graft and bookmaking, as if they didn't already know. If you skip over that part, what is left is a pretty entertaining story. John Forsythe (yeah, the voice used in Charlie's Angels) stars as Jim Austin, the editor of a small city newspaper. Before long, he is drawn into the city's seedy underbelly and decides to take on the mob's chief thugs. Two murders and a beat up photographer played by Martin Milner (Adam 12) follow. There is a moralizing streak at work, but Forsythe's earnest performance keeps things moving along. IMDb.com rates The Captive City was a 6.7, and that seems about right to me.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)

I usually post my Tuesday's Overlooked Films on Monday, but this one is going to be a busy one, so I'm posting today. I've had a yen for some time to watch a Sherlock Holmes film if just to break up my steady diet of films noir. I've enjoyed reading the Sherlock Holmes stories since I was a kid. So, I decided on the best story I remember reading. The 1939 film adaptation with Basil Rathbone as the famous British sleuth is regarded as one of the better ones. I like the lean and dark-featured Rathbone. He seems to have a droll sense of humor, too. Nigel Bruce as the bumbling Dr. Watson I'd like to see as a little more on the ball. Rathbone and Bruce would go on to make 13 more Sherlock Holmes movies. The mean dog used in the scenes gave me a bit of a fright. I would NOT want to meet up with this Fido on a foggy, dark street or moor. It was good to see John Carradine playing the Baskervilles' butler and possible murder suspect. I enjoyed reliving the tale all these years later with this realistic film set in the right Victorian period. IMDb.com gives it a 7.7 score which is really high. But I don't quibble with it. Great stuff and superior entertainment.

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Newest Crime Novel: TOPAZ MOON


My latest crime novel Topaz Moon was first released this week as an ebook. The paperback version hit the streets a short while back. The publisher is Crossroad Press who also brought out my crime noirs Ask The Dice and Blood Diamonds, both original releases. The best way I know how to describe Topaz Moon is to call it a suburban crime noir with romance. It is similar in that way to Ask The Dice and Blood Diamonds.

Here's the book description for Topaz Moon. Criminal attorney Hondo Gunn is practicing law in the Virginia town of Emerald Shire where he falls for a younger woman, Aggie Essex, who works for an IT firm. Hondo once served as the consigliore for an organized crime outfit headed by its ruthless chieftain, Drake Hardcastle, and his equally ruthless and gorgeous daughter Maeve. They strike a deal so Hondo can leave Chicago on the condition he has to return if Maeve ever needs his legal expertise. Years later, after Drake dies under suspicious circumstances, Maeve orders Hondo back to help her run the outfit she now leads. Her message reaches Hondo in Emerald Shire, but smitten with Aggie, he balks since he understandably wishes to remain close to her. When Maeve learns of his refusal, she grows angry and decides she must personally teach her maverick lawyer to honor his commitments. Topaz Moon is a stylish, fast-paced crime novel about obsession, greed, and passion with the strong-willed Maeve and Aggie raging at the center of Hondo’s maelstrom.

I hope you'll consider putting Topaz Moon on your reading list.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Crime Wave Starring Sterling Hayden

This 1954 police procedural crime movie directed by André De Toth stars Sterling Hayden, Gene Nelson, Phyllis Kirk, and a young Charles Bronson (credited as Charles Buchinsky). Nelson plays an ex-con married to Kirk and gone straight when his old prison buddies, including the hood Bronson, show up on the dodge after making a prison break. The fugitives have a large bank heist plan in mind and pressure Nelson into playing the wheelman (pilot). Hayden is a wide-shouldered, square-jawed cop determined to stop the bank robbery and catch the fugitives. He gnaws on toothpicks in place of smoking cigarettes when he isn't growling out orders. I'm not a big fan of Hayden in his other movie roles I've seen, but I liked in this movie just fine. The onsite black-and-white photography of L.A. and Glendale/Burbank provides us with a nice snapshot of a past time and place. Wikipedia says many of the buildings and landmarks have been since razed, sad perhaps but not surprising. I also enjoyed seeing Bronson who does a good job playing a swarthy thug. IMDb.com rates Crime Wave as a 7.4/10 which I quibble with as being a bit on the high side. I watched Crime Wave on the DVD box set bought from Warner Brothers.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My First Paying Job

The start of the warm months remind me of my first regularly paying job. It was a summer job, of course. I worked the grills at our local McDonald's restaurant. It was hot and tiring work, especially when a busload of hungry customers piled into the front lobby. The pay was low, but it was better than nothing, so I loved getting it. We got free food for our break. I consumed lots of fries and Big Macs. I worked the evening shift (4-12, or whatever times I finished up) which also included closing the store. If you have ever worked as a store closer, you know how much stuff that entails. Much of it involved taking inventory and cleaning the equipment. Scraping and cleaning the hot grill was done with pickle juice. I don't remember much else about the actual job. Since I watch my weight due to high cholesterol, I haven't eaten at a McDonald's in many years. I can't say I miss eating the food there, but I'll always very much appreciate the hard work the diligent folks behind the counter do for their customers.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

You Can "Like" The Reading Samples From My Published Novels

Goodreads allows the authors to post samples of their writing to their Goodreads account. I have always appreciated the useful feature both as a writer and a reader. As I published my different crime novels (private eye, noir, and cozy) over the past few years, I included a reading sample from each novel, usually the first chapter. For my short story collection, Smoking on Mount Rushmore: 16 Selected & New Short Stories, I posted two of the shorter stories as reading samples. The reader feedback and comments I have received have been positive and supportive of the reading samples. The one-page list of all my reading samples found on Goodreads appears at the link below. If you have a free moment or fancy a quick read, please click over and take a look. If the reading sample appeals to you, please also feel free to hit the "LIKE" button. We authors really appreciate it!

Goodreads link to the reading samples from my published novels posted on Goodreads (click on the link). 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: IN A LONELY PLACE starring Humphrey Bogart

This 1950 crime noir starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame with Frank Lovejoy in a minor role as a cop detective consistently places on the best-of lists for the film noir subgenre. Bogart is often credited for the best performance of his acting career in his playing the role of Dixon Steele, a washed up Hollywood screen writer. He is accused of murdering a hat check girl who he brings back to his apartment to give him the plot summary of a prosaic novel he's supposed to adapt into a film script. He then sends her off to the cabstand with twenty dollars. The next morning she is found murdered as a dump job. Of course, Steele is regarded as the lead suspect. His neighbor Gloria Grahame (perhaps also her best role) becomes his love interest who is unsure if he is the killer or not. Bogie looks a little worn around the edges, but it fits the rugged, proud, and lonely character he plays. There is lots of cigarette smoking. Unfiltered cigarettes, I believe. I'm used to seeing it in film noir, but this time I saw it more it seemed. At any rate, I immensely enjoyed watching IN A LONELY PLACE and can't really add anything to what has already been said. It is choice film noir, and I am curious enough to now want to read Dorothy B. Hughes' novel. I've already read a few of her works like The So Blue Marble and remember liking them. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Where Danger Lives Starring Robert Mitchum

Since I'll be busy this week with my writing projects, I went ahead and posted my Tuesday Overlooked Films blog today. This neat, twisty film noir released in 1950 stars Robert Mitchum, Faith Domergue (in her film debut), and the always solid Claude Rains. Maureen O'Sullivan (the director's wife and better known for her role as Jane in the Tarzan movies) plays Mitchum's love interest waiting for him back in San Francisco. The dark-haired Domergue plays a wonderfully crazy femme fatale, and Mitchum is her doctor and then lover. They bump off Claude Rains playing her husband. Then our desperate lovers lam off for Mexico (where else do killers go?) to avoid the police dragnet trying to catch them. I saw shades of Robert Mitchum's classic Out of the Past in this movie, especially with the femme fatale roles. While our lovers wait to get across the border into Mexico, Mitchum begins to see what a nut job he has gotten involved with, but it's almost too late. I'm not sure why but he always seems to get hooked up with these batty women. Mitchum's concussion & subsequent paralysis, among other things, is a bit much to swallow, but the acting is raw and well-done. John Farrow who directed Where Danger Lives is actress Mia Farrow's father who has had her share of life problems. Where Danger Lives is a terrific film noir that I intend to watch again soon I hope.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Trapped Starring Lloyd Bridges

This 1949 nifty crime noir stars Lloyd Bridges, Barbara Payton, and John Hoyt. Bridges, who later played the humorous, crusty character of Izzy Mandelbaum on the TV sitcom Seinfeld, is first rate as a counterfeiter who is doing time. He was also the father of actors Beau Bridges and Jeff Bridges (Academy Award for the Best Actor in the 2009 film Crazy Heart which I saw and liked). Anyway, the Feds release Lloyd Bridges but keep him on a short leash to track down the source of the phony bills that are flooding L.A. Of course the shifty Bridges is only willing to go along with the Feds' deal if it benefits him. Bridges always seems to be playing his movie roles with a slight tongue-in-cheek casualness which I enjoy. It's interesting to see the trolley cars running in L.A. I wonder if the steel tracks are still there like I see them on the Washington, D.C streets. Don't be put off by the voice-over sounding like a documentary film about the U.S. Treasury Dept. at the start of the movie. I guess the documentary style was big at the time because I've seen other films produced the same way. Barbara Payton who plays Bridges' gorgeous love interest led such a tragic personal life, but here she is quite cool-headed and competent. A solidly acted movie, Trapped is also a short one.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tuesday's Forgotten Movies: Mysteries & Scandals: Raymond Chandler

This blog isn't really about a movie per se. But it's close enough for me to include it. Back a few years ago, I used to watch E!'s Mysteries & Scandals TV series (1998-2000) hosted by A.J. Benza ("Fame, ain't it a bitch."). Wikipedia says Benza's other claim to fame was to punch out somebody on The Howard Stern Show. At any rate, when I found an episode that had been done on Raymond Chandler, I decided to check it out while I did my daily session on the Health Rider. My hope was I'd be interested enough to forget about the boring exercise I was doing. Well, it almost worked. The program's format lasts for about 21 minutes (30 minutes if you include the commercial ads). I'd been meaning to read a Chandler biography, so I had an added incentive to watch. Benza takes us down the mean streets of Chandler's celebrated L.A., his writer successes, his marriage to Cissy, and his last forlorn drunken years lived out in La Jolla, a fancy suburb just north of San Diego (I've been to La Jolla). I already knew most of this information. Robert J. Parker who completed Chandler's unfinished ms. Poodle Springs is interviewed for a few minutes which is interesting stuff. I think Parker said Chandler just wrote the first 4 chapters. If you have a few minutes, you might want to check out this episode of Benza's series.