This list is a result of recently reading author David Gordon’s article on Crime Reads. Like David, I grew up and lived in New York during its grittiest down and dirty days. It’s a bit ironic that during New York’s ugliest days some of the best films set in the city were made during that time. I was already a movie freak, and while I liked a wide variety of movies I found myself attracted to crime films at a very young age. Two of the earliest I remember seeing on the big screen were Al Capone and Baby Face Nelson. While most parents took their under ten years of age kids to only Disney films, my folks took me to more adult movies too including gangster films.
Without further ado, here are my favorite crimes films from the 1970’s.
The Panic in Needle Park (1971)
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Mean Streets (1973)
Taxi Driver (1976)
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (!974)
The French Connection (1971)
Across 110th Street (1972)
Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970)
Death Wish (1974)
Back in 2007, my wife and I were on one of our trips to Maine. One of our stops was a day trip to Eastport which we learned is the most eastern point of the United States. It’s a neat little town and upon our arrival came upon an unexpected surprise.
Strolling down Water Street, the seaside town’s main street, you get a beautiful view of the Atlantic, and New Brunswick, Canada across the waters. As we walked along we came across S. L. Wadsworth and Son, a local hardware store. There’s nothing special about it except that along with the usual hardware items you’d expect to find in a hardware store window there was a collection of paperback books for sale. The books are all by one author… Sarah Graves. Neither my wife nor I could claim familiarity with Sarah Graves or her work. Avid readers, we went inside and checked out the books. It turns out Sarah Graves is a mystery writer! Perfect!
Both of us are always willing to check out an author new to us so we purchased two paperbacks. The woman behind the counter asked if we would like to meet the author and have her autograph the two books. Seriously? In a hardware store? We willingly agreed and followed her to the back and up a circular staircase (being a reader of mysteries and suspense my mind quickly began to churn wondering, for a moment, if would be the last time anyone will see us alive!) At the top of the stairs, sitting at a desk we were introduced to Sarah Graves. She greeted us and thanked us for buying her books. We chatted for a few minutes; she signed the books and posed for the photo above.
We left with our new books, happy with the chance encounter, a pleasant surprise and an unexpected treat to our trip.
Sarah Graves is Eastport’s local celebrity and like her fictional home repair sleuth, Jacobia (Jake) Tiptree is a home fixer upper. Both are ex-New Yorker’s and both Sarah and the fictional Jake frequent the hardware store. As one would expect Sarah’s books do well in town with the locals and bring plenty of tourist to the area.
All pets are precious, though some stand out more than others. Rollo was one of those who stood out. He was sweet, playful, mischievous, affectionate, bright, photogenic, a charmer, lover and the boss. He was one cool cat.
We had to put Rollo down yesterday. He’d been sick for the past six months but he fought the good fight and medications worked for most of that time providing a good quality of life and keeping him healthy and happy. But the dreaded illness finally won out. He was only eleven years old, but in that time which now feels way too short he gave my wife and I a lifetime of pleasure and left us with beautiful memories to look back on. We’ll never forget him.
Photograph from the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge
I am happy to announce the on-line arts magazine, A Million and One Magazine has recently published my new short story, The Bombay Hook Incident.
The idea for the story came to me during a week long photographic trip to the Delmarva Peninsula. One of three wildlife refuges we visited was The Bombay Hook Wildlife Refuge in Delaware. One morning while driving through the refuge we came across some sand dunes and nearby someone had pitched a small tent. I began to wonder who would set up a tent on a wildlife refuge and what were they doing there? You can find out by reading the complete story. Just click on A Million and One Magazine.
Arguably, Out of Sight is the best film adaption of the many Elmore Leonard crime novels to hit the screen. Some would argue for Jackie Brown, based on Leonard’s Rum Punch, and that’s a worthy debate to have. The Tarantino film has some fabulous performances particularly by Samuel L. Jackson as gun runner Ordell Robbie. But for me, Out of Sight is off beat, dark, smart and funny. It’s a film I could watch multiple times and never get tired of watching.
Below is a clip of the famous truck scene. After Jack Foley (George Clooney) escapes from Glades State Prison in Florida, with the help of his partner Buddy (Ving Rhames), U.S. Marshal Karen Sisco (Jennifer Lopez) happens along at the wrong time and ends up held hostage, forced to ride in the trunk of the getaway car with Jack.
The electricity between the two stars, the humorous dialogue, and the tight quarters of the trunk all quickly heat up the atmosphere. It’s one of my favorite scenes.
If you like down and dirty film noir, set your DVR for 4:45pm (ET) to catch Detour. Edgar Ulmer’s bargin basement noir is poverty row film making that rises to the level of art.
You can read more about Detour and other noirs it in my ebook Film Noir at Twenty Four Frames per Second. Available at Amazon. BUT be sure to set your DVR!
My next collection of short stories is beginning to take shape. I have five stories completed and there are a couple of others I am working on. I don’t know how other writers work, but I need to work on one story, stop, begin another, and then go back to my first story. This process refreshes my head, gives me time to think up new possibilities and ideas that I previously did not. Sometimes it turns my story in a completely new direction.
I generally write best in the morning hours, and do revisions, later in the day. The kitchen table is my office, though sometimes I pick up my laptop and work from a comfortable chair.
I want to hear from others. What is your process, work pattern, what are you working on, etc.?