Category Archives: Film & TV

Coming soon…The X-Files FAQ!

Coming soon from Applause Books is The X-Files FAQ! Writer Chris Carter, known for his work on The X-Files and The X-Files‍ ’​ cinematic spin-offs, helps contribute to this book by writing the foreword. Read what he had to say below!


00124644As I write this, we are shooting the second episode of the six-episode “event” series that will air on Fox in late January 2016.
It will be the first time the series has aired on TV in fourteen years, and it will be twenty-three years on from the airing of the pilot episode in 1993. That period encompasses about a third of not just my life but the lives of many people who have come back to work on the show now. The comeback could be viewed cynically as an attempt by Fox execs to capitalize on The X-Files “brand,” programming by feather duster, but let me destroy any notion of this from my side of things. Or our side of things, as is the case.
The show was and is a labor of love, and thus a work of art. It takes a great many people working in absolute harmony to create something lasting on television. It is this esprit de corps that makes it all worthwhile. This does not happen accidentally, and I’d like to make it abundantly clear that while I created the show, a great many artistic souls have raised that infant idea into the monster it is today. Beginning with Morgan and Wong, and Gordon and Gansa, in the beginning, Messrs. Spotnitz, Gilligan, and Shiban in the end, the show was protean by nature, including the efforts of writers who came and went and whose contributions are under-sung.
And as you will read in the always impressive and thoughtful musings of John Muir, the writing is only half of it. We work in a visual medium, and the show somehow managed to turn that rectangle box we all viewed each week into something special and often unexpected. The signature qualities of mood and light and perspective can be attributed largely to production design by Michael Nemirski in the pilot, to Graeme Murray and Corey Kaplan on the series, but also to Tom Del Ruth, John Bartley, Jon Joffin, Joel Ransom, and Bill Roe, who lit and photographed it. All under some of the most talented directors and storytellers TV has even known: Rob Bowman, Kim Manners, David Nutter, and R. W. Goodwin. A manager’s dream starting rotation, backed by a bullpen of long and short relievers who stepped in and stepped up. This is not lip service or faint praise. These people helped save my life.
In John Muir’s introduction, I’m quoted as saying, “I didn’t understand what I didn’t understand,” in reference to running the show in the beginning. This is true, but I’d like to put a finer point on that. “I didn’t know what we couldn’t do” is more like it. From the outset, we tried anything and everything we could think of. Met with much resistance, both creative and financial, we managed to do a great many things simply because our imaginations were wilder than the forces trying to tame them. That was also not an accident, and people such as Peter Roth, Ken Horton, Charlie Goldstein, two Jeffs named Eckerly and Glazer, and also Jonathan Littman came to understand we knew what we were doing and rallied in support. Executive Producer R. W. Goodwin was often a convincing voice of reason.
But as I’ve always maintained, none of our good work, artistry, or effort would add up to much if it weren’t for Mulder and Scully. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson brought, and now continue to bring, power and soul to characters who surprisingly continue to grow. To watch them step back into old shoes and bring something new has been a joy. They and the characters have grown wiser with the years, and as I’m often reminded, adversity is the forge of character.
Not just in them, but in us.


If your a fan of The X-Files, or want to read more, purchase the book over at Applausebooks.com

In a Galaxy far, far away…

Star Wars has become well known in every generation and people everywhere have been quoting it ever since it first came out. What some people may not know is that they have been saying some of the lines wrong this whole time! Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies, just published by Applause Books, looks at what was actually said and how some of it may have been lost in translation.  Take a look at an excerpt of the book below!


00122914Although seldom cited as a source of brilliant dialogue, the original Star Wars trilogy remains one of the most-quoted works of the twentieth century, full of instantly recognizable and frequently parodied catchphrases. To say that the language of Star Wars has entered the popular vernacular would be a major understatement. Metaphoric references to the Force, Jedi mind tricks, and hyperspace may be casually dropped without fear of misunderstanding. Some words and concepts, including the name Star Wars itself—co-opted, to George Lucas’ horror, to describe President Ronald Reagan’s proposed satellite-based missile defense system—have been widely adopted and accumulated additional definitions. All this speaks to the profound cultural impact of the movies, but it also reflects the steadfast devotion of fans. After all, these words, phrases, and ideas entered the language because fans watched these movies over and over again—in theaters and later on home video—memorizing the dialogue and quoting lines back and forth with one another. (If I say, “When I left you, I was but a learner; now I am the master,” you answer with . . . ?)
Given all this, a closer look at some of the films’ most famous quotes would seem to be in order.

“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . ”
Every Star Wars film famously opens with these words, printed in blue type against a black background. They precede the title of the film itself. George Lucas’ self-conscious myth making is at its most obvious here, but the words are beautifully chosen and their impact is both powerful and elegant; they immediately set the fanciful tone for all that follows. The phrase is clearly intended as the equivalent of “Once upon a time. . . . ” The link is so self evident that decades later the writers of the DreamWorks animated Shrek film series set the adventures of the loveable ogre and his companions in a fairy-tale world referred to simply as “Far Far Away.” This is also one of the most instantly recognizable and durable Star Wars-isms. A comprehensive listing of all the various books, movies, TV shows, newspaper and magazine articles, and websites to co-opt the phrase “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” in whole or in part, often for ironic or satirical purposes, would run on
for hundreds of pages (and would include this book).

“May the Force be with you.”
This phrase—Jedi-speak for “good luck” or often “goodbye and good luck”—quickly became (and remains) the emblematic catchphrase for Star Wars. It appears in every Star Wars film and in nearly every Star Wars book, comic, and video game. And it has been immortalized (after a fashion) on T-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains, bumper stickers, and every other sort
of ephemera imaginable, up to and including being tattooed onto fans’ bodies. “May the Force be with you” is spoken four times in the Original Trilogy: twice in Star Wars (once by General Dodonna and once by Han Solo), once in The Empire Strikes Back (by Luke Skywalker), and once (“May the Force be with us,” says Admiral Ackbar) in Return of the Jedi.

“I have a bad feeling about this.”
This catchphrase/running gag appears twice in Star Wars (on first sight of the Death Star, Luke says, “I have a very bad feeling about this;” later, in the trash compactor, Han says, “I got a bad feeling about this”), and it recurs in every subsequent Star Wars movie, as well as in countless Star Wars novels, comic books, video games, and other media. Leia has the line in The Empire Strikes Back (while the Millennium Falcon is hidden in the belly of the giant asteroid monster), and both C-3PO and Han say it in Return of the Jedi (C-3PO upon entering Jabba’s palace and Han when he and Luke are captured by Ewoks). Tellingly, the line does not appear in the ill-conceived Star Wars Holiday Special, but it was used in episodes of the Droids and Ewoks cartoon series of the 1980s, in the Clone Wars animated series, and, of course, in the Prequel Trilogy (presumably it will also be repeated in the Sequel Trilogy). The phrase “I have a bad feeling about this,” or some version of it, also appears in countless Star Wars novels, comics, video games, role-playing games, and the Star Tours attraction at Disneyland and Disney World. Like the call letters THX-1138 (the name of Lucas’ first feature film), the phrase “I have a bad feeling about this” also recurs in other Lucasfilm projects, including the movies Radioland Murders (1994) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), and the Young Indiana Jones TV series. And it has been co-opted as an homage to Star Wars in numerous other works, including Star Wars jokes on TV series including The Big Bang Theory, Robot Chicken, Family Guy, and Phineas and Ferb.

“Luke, I am your father.”
This is a phantom phrase. Although often “quoted” or parodied, Darth Vader never actually says this—not in quite this construction, anyway—in The Empire Strikes Back or anywhere else. It’s a misquote much like “Beam me up, Scotty,” which no Star Trek character has ever spoken, or “Play it again, Sam,” which is never said in Casablanca, or “Elementary, my dear Watson,” which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never wrote. The actual exchange from Empire:
Vader: Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
Luke: He told me enough! He told me you killed him!
Vader: No. I am your father.


Do you have any other favorite quote from the movie? Let us know in the comments below!!

Brian Solomon Visits with J.R. on The Ross Report!

Brian Solomon, author of Pro Wrestling FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s Most Entertaining Spectacle, recently spoke with WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross of The Ross Report. They spoke about all things wrestling, including the many years Ross and Solomon worked with one another at the WWE. Listen to the podcast on the link below, and visit The Ross Report to hear more of Jim Ross’s podcasts.

>>LISTEN HERE<<

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Sport? Entertainment? Art form? Perhaps a bit of all three, with a certain intangible extra something thrown in for good measure, making professional wrestling a truly unique entity unto itself. From its origins in carnivals and sideshow attractions of the 19th century, right up to the multi million-dollar, multimedia industry of the present day, and all the bizarre, wild, and woolly points in between, Pro Wrestling FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s Most Entertaining Spectacle by Brian Solomon delves into the entire history and broad scope of one of popular culture’s most enduring yet ever-changing spectacles.

Pro Wrestling FAQ is the second book from the Backbeat Books FAQ series to look beyond the world of music and into the wider world of pop culture. Soccer FAQ will be published in March. Future Pop Culture FAQ titles include Cocktails FAQ, Dracula FAQ, The Beat Generation FAQ, and Haunted America FAQ.

With chapters devoted to the many fascinating eras in the history of the business, as well as capsule biographies of some its most memorable and important figures, Pro Wrestling FAQ is the ultimate one-volume reference guide for both long-time wrestling nuts and initiates to the grappling phenomenon.

Revisit the legendary 1911 “Match of the Century” pitting World Champion Frank Gotch against archrival George Hackenschmidt, “the Russian Lion”; experience wrestling’s TV golden age in the 1950s, a time of such colorful personages as Gorgeous George and Antonino Rocca; relive the glory days of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, when WWF impresario Vince McMahon took the business mainstream; and get the lowdown on recent favorites, such as John Cena, CM Punk, and others who have taken the business boldly into the 21st century.

Solomon also takes time to explore the roots of professional wrestling in Mexico and Japan; the vital role of the wrestling manager; as well as the referees, commentators, and ring announcers, whose contributions must never be overlooked.

If you’ve ever called yourself a fan of the most popular form of sports/entertainment/ performance art that has ever existed, Pro Wrestling FAQ is the book for you!

Nicholas Nigro interviewed by Mr. Media!

Nicholas Nigro, author of Seinfeld FAQ: Everything Left To Know About The Show About Nothing, recently visited with Bob Andelman (a.k.a Mr. Media) to talk about Jerry, Elaine, George, Kramer, and everyone else who made up the world of Seinfeld.

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00314952Seinfeld‘s impact on popular culture was so profound that it continues to this day – years after it left prime time – thanks to its inimitable characters (Newman, J. Peterman, Bubble Boy), its wacky, memorable plots (who can forget “The Contest” or “The Puffy Shirt”?), and the many catchphrases we use regularly (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Seinfeld FAQ is a comprehensive guide to the sitcom, tracing its path from modest beginnings to water-cooler-show status and to its infamous, love-it-or-hate-it finale. This humor-filled reference tells all about Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer, as well as the Costanzas, Morty and Helen Seinfeld, the Soup Nazi, and the other unforgettable characters in their world.

Seinfeld FAQ features season-by-season episode reviews and a wealth of fun facts about everything from the characters’ inevitably doomed relationships to their food obsessions and fashion sense (or lack thereof) as well as profiles of actors and other notables. Nigro unveils his top-10 lists in categories such as Jerry, George, and Kramer’s girlfriends; Elaine’s boyfriends; movie references (fictional and real); and, of course, best episodes and most underrated episodes. He also looks at the actors’ lives and careers after Seinfeld, and assesses the sitcom landscape in the post-Seinfeld world.

Broad in scope and yet obsessed with detail (like the show itself), Seinfeld FAQ is essential reading for anyone who wants to be master of the Seinfeld domain.

Ian McKellen is the latest Sherlock Holmes!

Today marks the premiere of the new movie ‘Mr. Holmes’ starring Ian McKellen as Sherlock Holmes. A multitude of actors that have portrayed Holmes through the years, from Nicholas Rowe to Robert Downey Jr. to Benedict Cumberbatch, and in his book,  Sherlock Holmes FAQ, Dave Thompson has picked his favorite — Basil Rathbone.  Here’s an excerpt from Sherlock Holmes FAQ in which talks about the first, and in Thompson’s eyes, the best Holmes on screen:

00117258Basil Rathbone is the template from which all future portrayals of Sherlock Holmes would be drawn.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on June 13, 1892—that is, in the same month as “The Adventure of the Copper Beeches” brought the first volume of Sherlock Holmes stories to an end in The Strand magazine—Philip St. John Basil Rathbone was the son of a mining engineer, Edgar, and a violinist, Anna.

His filmography includes starring roles in such well-remembered epics as David Copperfield, A Tale of TwoCities, Anna Karenina, Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Last Days of Pompeii, Son of Frankenstein, and The Mark of Zorro. But his crowning glory,at least in terms of his future reputation, arrived in 1939, when he was cast as Sherlock Holmes in 20th Century Fox’s upcoming production of The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Still regarded among the definitive retellings of Holmes’s best-known adventure, the movie was only ever intended as a one-off. Its success, however, prompted the studio to swiftly follow up with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, a movie ostensibly based upon William Gillette’s original play but scarcely recognizable in any form. Indeed, Rathbone’s second Holmes movie retains only a handful of that earlier piece’s characteristics—a bit of subplot, a couple of characters, and a nice piece of sparring between Holmes and Moriarty. Like so many of Rathbone’s performances, however, his very presence overcomes any attempt to contextualize the story in terms of the original Holmes; he is just such a great actor, with such a formidable grasp on the role, that one is instantly sucked into this tale of fiendish ne’er-do-welling, while admiring the fresh insights into a genuinely Holmesian mind that it delivers.

It is The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, for instance, that introduces moviegoers to the detective’s attempts to discover the most potent insecticide ever known; having trapped some bluebottles inside a brandy glass, he is now plucking his violin at them, “observing the reaction on the common housefly of the chromaticscale.” It is his belief—or, at least, hope—that somewhere within the range of notes, there will be one that will strike such horror into the heart of the pest that it will leave the room directly.


Who was your favorite Holmes?  How does Ian McKellen measure up?  Let us know in the comments section!

 

The Not Necessarily Top Ten Underrated Seinfeld Episodes

Seinfeld FAQ is now available from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books! Within the text, Nicholas Nigro includes many lists, including the one below ranking underrated Seinfeld episodes. Do you agree with this list? Leave a comment below letting us know if you think the list is spot on or if there are some episodes that should be added/removed!

The Not Necessarily Top Ten Underrated Seinfeld Episodes

10. “The Doodle,” where George agonized over whether a woman’s sketch of him was a good or bad sign vis-à-vis a relationship.

9. “The Cheever Letters,” where Susan Ross’s father’s big secret—a longtime, passionate affair with writer John Cheever—was unmasked.

8. “The Pen,” which found Jerry and Elaine in Florida visiting the Seinfelds and learning entirely too much about Jack Klompus’s “astronaut pen.”

7. “The Pony Remark,” frequently considered the episode that first established the Seinfeld benchmark in humor.

6. “The Dinner Party,” where the gang’s determined mission was to procure a chocolate babka and a bottle of wine for a party they were all attending.

5. “The Parking Space,” which considered the urban conundrum of who has the right to street parking space, someone backing in—like George—or someone pulling in nose first.

4. “The Apology,” where George testily bristled over not having received—from his vantage point—a well-deserved “Step Nine” apology from a recovering alcoholic.

3. “The Junior Mint,” where a piece of Kramer’s candy fell into the open body cavity of Elaine’s former boyfriend during a major operation.

2. “The Pilot,” where Jerry and George’s sitcom pilot was at long last cast and shot.

1. “The Abstinence,” where George transformed into a genius, an Elaine a blithering idiot, while they were both abstaining from sex.

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Two Inches Down – Saving Arlene in Tarantino’s Death Proof

Dale Sherman, author of Quentin Tarantino FAQ, provides us with a fan-fiction post exploring what might have been if Arlene had survived in Tarantino’s Death Proof.

Two Inches Down – Saving Arlene in Tarantino’s Death Proof

by Dale Sherman

00122479When writing about Death Proof (2007) in the manuscript for the Quentin Tarantino FAQ, I started writing my own alternate version of the film. Oh, sure, that’s a neat thing to do as a fan; but for the author of a book discussing Tarantino? Here I am telling readers about the history of and ramifications facing a movie and suddenly I go all fanboy on everyone. Fortunately, I saw that I was heading down a … well, not a dangerous road, but a rather useless one for the book – who wants to pay to read fan-fiction, after all – and edited the material out soon after finishing the chapter.

Still, the things that bugged me a bit as a viewer kept rolling around in my head, as I know it does for a certain number of Tarantino fans who never have taken to the film as they have to most of his others. We spend half the film with extremely irritating characters who get bumped off, only to spend even more time with a new group of characters re-enacting the first part of the film. Could there have been a better way of handling it? Why bring our old friend Sheriff McGraw in for exposition that doesn’t really mean much to the rest of the film? Why are we introduced to other movie people, including two stunt-women, who are making a movie in essentially the middle of nowhere but don’t know about Stuntman Mike? What is he doing there anyway? Is he working on the film with everyone else? If so, wouldn’t everyone be creeped out that the stuntman who killed several women with his “death proof” car is working on the picture? The community of stunt people is rather tightly knit, wouldn’t Stuntman Mike be like the John Wayne Gacy of stunt-people? Known, hated, and avoided at all costs by everyone else in the profession? The stunt Zoe performs is neat and nail-biting, but could there have been a better way to get her on the hood of the car rather than “this will be cool”? And after all that, the film’s final image may be satisfying, but it seems almost too quick as well.

As I state in the book, the setup of the women partying in the bar and then being wiped out is obviously a type of Psycho influence on the storyline. In Hitchcock’s film, we’re supposed to side with Marion and even come to identify in some ways with Norman Bates as they have dinner and discuss their problems nearly a third of the way into the film. Then Marion dies and the character the audience identified with is gone, leaving us to take on new characters and go into a new direction with the film.

Same here with Stuntman Mike. We’re supposed to like him a bit in the first half of the film and we’re supposed to feel a connection between him and Arlene (Tarantino has stated he purposefully filmed scenes in such a way to make the audience see Arlene as the girl who survives to the end of the slasher film). Then he kills her off and – boom – the audience has to readjust to new character (Zoe Bell and the gang), while knowing Mike deserves to have something nasty happen to him for what he did. Yet we see that his new car isn’t exactly “death proof” and then there’s the odd way he pranks the women and then heads off as if that would be it, instead of the stalking deaths he caused in the first half of the film. And while we know that he’s a killer, why would the new group of women suddenly be out to kill him? Sure, he’s a jerk as far as they know, and dangerous perhaps, but they have no way of knowing that they need to get him. Because of that, their “roaring rampage” seems to make them out to be crazier than Mike.

Yet what if things had been different?

In the scene midway through the film, where Stuntman Mike kills the women in the other car, we see Arlene lower her head right before impact. The wheel of the car then comes flying through and gets her at the tip of her head, snapping her head back and does a lot more damage as it kills her.

Now suppose that Arlene had lowered her head just an inch or two further down? What if that tire had gone through and missed her by “that much”? Furthermore, with it missing her, there’s not only a possibility that she would have survived, but let’s go one step further – what if she emerged alive and without major injuries?

Here’s Stuntman Mike living, as McGraw states in more provocative terms, his sex life through his “death proof” car. He gets injured, but he’s still the survivor. But now there’s Arlene, the woman who he talks into dancing for him and being her own person, walking away from the wreck. She’s “death proof” without the need of a car. How would that affect Mike? More so, how would Arlene be affected in knowing that Mike intentionally killed everyone with his stunt car?

McGraw can’t be involved, but he can certainly put the thoughts into Arlene’s head that Mike is a deviate who killed her friends “for fun” and will likely do so again. Meanwhile, as in the film, Mike is all banged up and needs to stay in the hospital for several months. Arlene can’t do anything to him there, but she can plot her revenge for when the time comes. With this, you can still bring in Zoe Bell and the other stunt people. Have Arlene train with them to get a better understanding of stunt work, how Mike would build such a car, and how to counteract him when she (or they) get a chance. Sure, in reality there’s no way she’d become an expert at any of that within the six months or so Mike is recuperating, but this is the movies after all. You can even throw in Sheriff McGraw with his own thoughts and actions to help catch Mike (little knowing that Arlene has more in mind than simply catching him “in the act”).

In order words, the movie no longer is simply a twist on the slasher film, but one on the revenge thriller. You avoid the odd chase at the end of the film where Mike puts a scare into everyone and then seems to be happy to drive off into the sunset. Instead, we have a cat-and-mouse game between the obsessed killer, Stuntman Mike, and the obsessed avenger, Arlene. Will she push too far and endanger everyone or will he get his chance to claim his “death proof” girl? Will the others try to get her to do the right thing instead of simply get her revenge? Eventually it would all wind up in the car chase as seen in the film, but you could then add in the extra ‘70s spice of a sheriff in pursuit along with them, just like in so many Hal Needham (Smokey and the Bandit) type films of the period, along with the uncertainty of who is actually out to get who. Imagine them working on a film with that stunt on the hood of the car, but with Mike as the other stunt person who has now been pushed too far and wants to see them dead. They go “off-script” by continuing the chase past the filming point and into the main roads, while McGraw is in on the chase, trying to bring them all to justice.

I’m not going to kid anyone. I’m sure that many reading this may think that it’s a bad idea, and certainly that what we got is better than what I’m suggesting. After all, there’s no way anyone is going to say, “let’s remake the film your way, Dale!” Still, it’s hard to not look at all the brilliant work put into that film and wonder what “could have been.” That shows that there was certainly something there worth watching in the first place and therefore not the failure that some make it out to be.

And as for the above fanboy rantings? Well, it is a blog, and it is for free. Simply an added bonus for the fans who want to read more about the film and others done by Tarantino in the Quentin Tarantino FAQ. Just be reassured that you won’t find me going off-track like this in the pages of the book, no matter how fun it is to do so here.

Applause Books publishes American Neo-Noir

Applause Books recently released American Neo Noir: The Movie Never Ends! This excerpt from the book provides a definition of the genre:

Part One

Classic Becomes Neo

The movie never ends

It goes on and on and on and on.

Strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard

Their shadows searching in the night

Streetlights people, living just to find emotion

Hiding somewhere in the night.

Steve Perry & Neal Schon

A Definition

After many years, decades actually, of critical debate about what constitutes a film noir, the issue is still not entirely resolved. For us, film noir was never a genre but an American film movement that was defined by style as much as content, which began around the same time as World War II and ended just twenty years later.

That time frame, at least, is now almost universally accepted. The classic period of film noir spans the years in which American filmmakers created and sustained the cycle over the course of more than four hundred feature films. It began just after 1940 with The Maltese Falcon and wound down around 1960 or shortly after Touch of Evil (1958). Certainly there were prototypes and precursors of the movement going back to the acme of the gangster genre in the early 1930s. And there were many stragglers, late entries by Sam Fuller and other independent directors, but before the mid-1960s film noir’s classic period had run its course.

There is no precise moment or movie that marks the beginning of neonoir. For us, neo-noir is more genre than movement, a mimicking of the style and content of the classic period, the best early example of which is John Boorman’s 1967 Point Blank, an adaptation of The Hunter, part of a postwar, hard-boiled series of “Parker” novels about the criminal underworld by Donald Westlake writing as Richard Stark. Like its antecedent and from the first, neonoir would also be tied closely to a literary movement, riffs on the work of Hammett, Chandler, and McCoy, starting with the gritty exploration of sociopathy by Jim Thompson, the smug mysogyny of Spillane’s Mike Hammer and then a next generation that included Westlake, Ross Macdonald, and Elmore Leonard. 

While such novelists pushed their violent protagonists even further down Chandler’s mean streets dark with something more than night, the neo-noir genre was defined by screenwriters and directors who had grown up watching movies during the classic period. Some of the early neo-noir were “retro-noir,” narratives set in the not-to-distant past, whose characters wore period costumes and drove vintage cars, such as the private detectives Jake Gittes in Chinatown (1974), the classic-period icon Robert Mitchum as an older and more fatigued Philip Marlowe in Farewell, My Lovely (1975), or Det. Tom Spellacy investigating a fictionalized “Black Dahlia” in True Confessions (1981). The multinational creative personnel of a movie like Chinatown written by American Robert Towne and directed by Polish émigré Roman Polanski, reenacted such classic-period relationships as Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder crafting Double Indemnity or Herman Mankiewicz and Robert Siodmak on Christmas Holiday (both 1944).

The most self-conscious of the early neo-noirs came from writer/directors. Walter Hill—who had previously scripted the 1972 paean Hickey & Boggs where old-school PIs discover that “there’s nothing left of this profession…it’s all over, it’s not about anything”—infused 1978’s The Driver with a noir style that echoed Kubrick’s The Killing (1957) and De Toth’s Crime Wave (1954). Hill’s characters are so pointedly archetypal that they do not even have names: they are simply the Driver, the Detective, and the Player. Three years later Body Heat (1981), Lawrence Kasdan’s homage to Double Indemnity, set a new standard for femme fatales. By 1987 the double-crosses and twisted psychology in David Mamet’s House of Games (1987) fully evoked its creator’s intent: “I am very familiar with noir…and I love it. I tried to be true.”

At the height of the classic period individual noir films transcended personal and generic outlook and reflected the cultural preoccupations of America no matter where the filmmakers were born. From the late 1970s to present, in a “neo-noir” period, many of the productions that again create the noir mood, whether in remakes or new narratives, have been undertaken by filmmakers cognizant of a heritage and intent on placing their own interpretation on it. As the various interviews conducted by scholar Todd Erickson and reproduced in his thesis where the term neo-noir was coined affirm, most of the filmmakers approach neo-noir with a conscious, expressive intent.

If neo-noir is to some extent, as in the classic period, America’s stylized vision of itself, one might expect a cynicism made even harsher by decades of cold war, nuclear peril, fiscal uncertainty, the threat of terrorism, millennial dystopia, and cultural upheaval. While the emphasis may have shifted among these social realities, the outpouring of films has continued. The actual results remain mixed. One aspect of film noir that many filmmakers have chosen to underscore is its forlorn romanticism, the need to find love and honor in a new society that venerates only sex and money. Many others have followed alternative narrative paths blazed in the classic period, and as a result any overview such as this needs a new “family tree” to trace through the titles. Of course, as with critic Raymond Durgnat’s original essay, many of the categories overlap and intersect, and many titles crossover several branches.

8 x 10 in. cutout print

Brian Solomon with Wrestledelphia

John Corrigan of Wrestledelphia recently sat down for an interview with Pro Wrestling FAQ author Brian Solomon!

Corrigan’s Corner: A Q&A with Pro Wrestling FAQ author Brian Solomon 

00126963Brian Solomon has “toasted champagne cocktails with Ric Flair all night in Manchester, England; hung out in ‘Classy’ Freddie Blassie’s basement while wearing his house slippers; and once got stuck in a limo with Vince McMahon for three hours and lived to tell the tale.”

I was lucky enough to hear that tale while chatting with Solomon for an hour regarding his new book,PRO WRESTLING FAQ. Covering the carnie origins to modern day sports-entertainment, Solomon’s tome is the definitive guide to everything one must know about the history, athletes, and appeal of professional wrestling.

John Corrigan: With so much material covered, was there anything you had to cut from the book?

Brian Solomon: “I cut a total of about seven different chapters. I was going to do a chapter on, I’m a little biased, but the history of wrestling magazines. I was going to do a chapter on some of the more well-known wrestling arenas around the world. Also kind of a glossary of moves, something on wrestling books, wrestling movies, all that merchandise kind of stuff. And getting into all the different pay-per-views. But I had to decide what people wanted the most in there.”

JC: I’m glad with what you stuck with especially the chapters on the early days of professional wrestling. Before you began researching, how much of the early 20th century history did you know?

BS: “Well, thank you. Ever since I was a teenager, I was fascinated by the whole history of the business. And if you were following the stuff I did when I worked for WWE, you could probably tell I was one of the more historically minded writers they had. So I’m not going to sit here and say that everything in that book was off the top of my head, but I will say one of the reasons it took such a short amount of time to write is because I did have a lot of information that I already knew. So the process became just verifying that information.

Along the way I did find out things I never knew about and some of those things came from the interviews I did with just amazing people. Mike Chapman, he’s the number one authority on people like Gotch and Hackenschmidt and Joe Stecher, it was fascinating to pick his brain.”

JC: What was your favorite chapter to write?

BS: “It’s funny that you mention how much you love the Gotch/Hackenschmidt chapter because that was probably my favorite one to write. That might be why you like it so much because my passion for the subject really came through. I was so interested in portraying this rivalry between these two guys that I put so much effort into it. I even had a detail in there about how Frank Gotch on the night before his big rematch with Hackenschmidt in 1911 when he’s defending the title at Comiskey Park…well, the night before he went to Wrigley Field and caught a baseball game there. So I went through the effort of finding out who the hell played there on that night in 1911 and found out it was a double header.

In my head, I wanted this chapter, this whole book really, to read and sound as if it was a Ken Burns documentary. I loved doing that part, and I don’t want to say enjoyed because it’s morbid in a way, but I was really fascinated by the chapter I did on some of the scandals in the business. I didn’t want to make the whole book like that because I wasn’t trying to sensationalize and cash in all this negative crap, but you can’t do a book on all of the wrestling business and not touch on some of the scandals. It’s the stuff that’s urban legend in wrestling history and some fans may have never heard of it.”

Read the rest of Part I here

Read Part II here

Read Part III here

Dale Sherman on Mr. Media

Dale Sherman, author of Quentin Tarantino FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Original Reservoir Dog, was recently interviewed on MrMedia.com! Watch the interview here:

Quentin Tarantino is a man who came to Hollywood and didn’t break the rules so much as make plain that he didn’t even notice them. Making the films he wanted to see, Tarantino broke through with Reservoir Dogs in 1992 and then cemented his reputation in 1994 with the release of Pulp Fiction. As his fame grew, he spread his love for movies that are far from commonplace through his promotion of older films and theaters and by reviving the stalled careers of actors such as John Travolta, Pam Grier, and David Carradine.

Quentin Tarantino FAQ examines the movies directed by Tarantino, the influences on his work, and the inspiration he gave to others. There are also chapters on certain recurring elements in his films, from fake “product placement” to the music, actors, and even cinematic moments used. The book also reviews his work in television, the articles written about him or by him over the years, his acting career, his public battles, and some of the projects he abandoned along the way. It all comes together to tell the story of a man who forged his own unique path and helped shape the way movies are made today.

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