Film Review – The Godfather

The Godfather

1972

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

There is little to say about The Godfather that hasn’t been said much before. Since its release in 1972, it has gone down as one of the most loved, revered and quoted films of all time. And for good reason. It is one of those rare films which gets everything just…right.

Adapted from Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel (with the author himself co-scripting the film along with Coppola), The Godfather tells the story of the Corleone family – the largest of the five crime families based on New York. Continue reading

Film Review – Dead Reckoning

Dead Reckoning

1947

Director: John Cromwell

“You know, the problem with women is that they ask too many questions”

(Bogart and “Cinderella with  a husky voice” – Lizabeth Scott)

One of the lesser-recognised Bogart films, Dead Reckoning was released on off the heels of the preceding year’ The Big Sleep, and slap bang in the middle of the legendary Bogart-Bacall series of films (their third film together, Dark Passage, was released in the same year). This means that it somewhat slips off the radar from most critics’ lists. Whilst it is true that it doesn’t have quite the same power or contain quite the same excitement as some of those other films, it’s still an enjoyable 90 minutes and in some ways is much more classically ‘noir’ than some of Bogart’s other, more widely known features. Continue reading

Book Review: The Pale Criminal (Bernie Gunther #2) – Philip Kerr

The Pale Criminal

Philip Kerr

1990

Look, this is your sideshow, not mine, so don’t expect me to bring up the curtain and work the fucking lights. You go right ahead with your act and I’ll just try to laugh and clap in the right places.”

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Following on from my recent reading of March Violets (reviewed here), I moved on to the second of Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noir series – The Pale Criminal. As before, the book involves private investigator Bernie Gunther trying to make an honest living working in pre-war Nazi Germany. Needless to say, it’s not light subject material and doesn’t always make for pleasant reading (which is testament to Kerr’s ability as writer), but it is certainly a unique take on the genre, and throws up plenty of work for a private detective to get his hands on… Continue reading

Film Review: In a Lonely Place

In a Lonely Place

Director: Nicholas Ray

1950

“I was born when you kissed. I died when you left me. I lived a few months while you loved me.”

In light of the recent Blu-ray re-release, it seems a fitting time to look back at In a Lonely Place. An increasingly revered masterpiece of the genre, based (very loosely) on a 1947 novella by Dorothy B Hughes and staring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Graham, it is a dark, thrilling and extremely memorable film of a man stranded alone in a world against him. Continue reading

Book Review: The Big Sleep (Raymond Chandler)

The Big Sleep

Raymond Chandler

I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners. They’re pretty bad, I grieve over them during the long winter evenings.”

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Few books come closer to defining a genre than The Big Sleep. It is quite arguably the single most perfect example of what hardboiled detective fiction is about. It marked my own first real dip into the genre, and left a permanent mark on me. But it defines more than just a style and genre of fiction, it also holds up as a powerful portrayal of the society of the time. Continue reading

Book Review – The Axeman’s Jazz (Ray Celestin)

The Axeman’s Jazz

Ray Celestin

 

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Setting off on my holiday within the past week, I had the inevitable question raised of what book to take along. Some time ago, I picked up this book on the basis of some strong reviews I had read online, plus a generous marketing push from my local Waterstones branch, but it always rested in the ‘mean to get around to reading this soon’ pile of my to-read list. On the basis of needing something substantive to get me through the flight and travel times, I finally pushed this to the front of the list. I was glad I did. Continue reading