Book Review – My Gun is Quick (Mike Hammer #2)

My Gun is Quick

Mickey Spillane

1950

“They were going to die slower and harder than any son of a bitch had ever died before, and when they died I’d laugh my goddamn head off!”

The above quote pretty aptly sums up the sort of material you expect to read from Mickey Spillane. Hard-hitting, direct and mean. My Gun is Quick is the second novel by Mickey Spillane, following on from 1947’s I, the Jury (reviewed here). It again features New York PI Mike Hammer carrying out a mission of personal vengeance. This time round, he is investigating the murder of a young, red-headed prostitute, known simply as ‘Red’, who he meets in a bar one night at the outset of the novel, with whom he forms a quick and steady friendship only to hear the news of her death in an alleged car accident the next day. Convinced there is more to her death than a simple case of hit-and-run, his investigations quickly lead him into the sordid world of organised crime and the prostitution rings flooding New York, and uncovers a large political conspiracy which he seeks to unravel as he hunts for Red’s killer. Continue reading

Film Review – The Enforcer

The Enforcer

1951

Director: Bretaigne Windust ( & uncredited contributions  from Raoul Walsh)

Based on the real-life ‘Murder Inc.’ trials, The Enforcer is an interesting cross between a noir, a gangster flick, and a police procedural.  Directed by Bretaigne Windust along with uncredited contributions by White Heat and The Roaring Twenties director Raoul Walsh, the film is early attempt to show gangsters in a different light from the stereotypes of the prohibition-era that they had become.   Continue reading

Film Review – The Killers

The Killers

1946

Director: Robert Siodmak

The Killers is one of those film noirs that always tends to find itself lumped in the ‘near-miss’ or ‘honourable mention’ category when people assemble a list of their favourite films. It’s a shame because, in my humble opinion, The Killers has to rank up there as one of the pinnacles of the era, and while it may not have some of the smart, snappy dialogue of other films of the era, the story itself is dark and involving (based on an earlier Ernest Hemingway short story of the same name), the performances are solid throughout and it has many of the classic hallmarks of the genre. Continue reading

Film Review – The Harder They Fall

The Harder They Fall

1956

Director: Mark Robson

Released in May 1956, eight months before his premature death from cancer, The Harder They Fall marks the final film of Humphrey Bogart’s rather considerable acting career. Fortunately, it manages to be not only a satisfying swansong for him, but also succeeds as an enjoyable movie in its own right, with an engaging story at its heart.     Continue reading

Film Review – White Heat

White Heat

1949

Director: Raoul Walsh

After a decade of mixed successes and independent ventures, White Heat marks James Cagney’s return to the Warner Brothers’ studio (not his first, mind) and the style of films which made his name through the 1930s. Released ten years after his last big crime picture, 1939’s excellent The Roaring Twenties (reviewed here), and which itself was also directed by Raoul Walsh, White Heat shows Cagney giving more heart and soul into a role than any he had played previously. No longer the fresh-faced youngster of The Public Enemy, here he is older, tougher and more outright scary than anyone might have expected from him. Continue reading

Theatre Review – Father Brown and the Curse of the Invisible Man

Father Brown and the Curse of the Invisible Man

Nottingham Theatre Royal

Tuesday 9 August – Saturday 13 August 2016

In a change of pace from the usual topics of posting – on Friday night my partner and I were tempted to pay the Nottingham Theatre Royal a visit for their annual ‘Classic Thriller’ season. Attending on the third week, they were performing ‘Father Brown and the Curse of the Invisible Man’ – a bespoke play which has been doing the rounds for the past year or so, which is developed from some of G.K. Chesterton’s original Father Brown stories.

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Film Review – Key Largo

Key Largo

1948

Director: John Houston

“You don’t like it, do you Rocco, the storm? Show it your gun, why don’t you? If it doesn’t stop, shoot it..”

Key Largo is the fourth and final film starring the legendary ‘Bogart & Bacall’ pairing (both on screen and in life), following on from 1944’s To Have and Have Not,1946’sThe Big Sleep, and 1947’s Dark Passage. Based on a 1939 play, the plot this time round is pretty simple, avoiding the murder-mystery elements of the previous two movies and focusing instead on building up tension between a select group of characters in an enclosed, claustrophobic environment.  Bogart plays the role of Frank McCloud, a WWII veteran vising the father and wife (played by Bacall) of his deceased war buddy. They own a small hotel out on Key Largo, an island located down in the Florida Keys. The only complication he finds upon getting there is that the hotel has been taken over by a small gang of hoodlums, a drunken nightclub crooner, a captured police officer, and an unseen mob boss, later revealed as Johnny Rocco (played by Little Caesar star Edward G. Robinson) – a notorious hoodlum previously deported from American and trying to smuggle his way back in, alongside carrying out a deal with some local crooks for the delivery of counterfeit money. Unfortunately for all involved, a hurricane is making its way to Key Largo that same night, causing the residents to buckle in for the night, hoping for the storm to pass before being (quite literally) blown away – be it from the storm or each other. Continue reading

Book Review: The Chill (Ross Macdonald)

The Chill

Ross Macdonald

1963

Often regarded as one of the primary candidates to take over the mantle from Raymond Chandler following his death in 1959, Ross Macdonald’s series of detective novels featuring Los Angeles PI Lew Archer took the hardboiled genre out from the mean streets of Philip Marlowe’s Hollywood and into the homes and locked doors of the rich and wealthy. Often built around cases involving missing children, abandoned spouses and embittered lovers, Macdonald’s books deal with the conflicts between people closest to each other, and the destruction of family ties

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