Books as author
From the dead-end highways of Monte Hellman to the sword-wielding skeletons of Ray Harryhausen; from Frankenstein to Warren Oates – this collection of interviews and essays on movies and the people who make them ranges widely through Hollywoods old and new, yet certain themes and faces keep recurring. Included are career-overview interviews with 14 cult figures, including actors RICHARD WIDMARK, HARRY DEAN STANTON, BRUCE DERN, DAVID CARRADINE, KRIS KRISTOFFERSON, BURT YOUNG and ELLIOTT GOULD; and filmmakers MONTE HELLMAN, ARTHUR PENN, ROGER CORMAN, WALTER HILL, JOHN MILIUS, OLIVER STONE and RAY HARRYHAUSEN. Elsewhere come pieces on Stanley Kubrick as a boy photographer; Sir Ian McKellen discussing his performance as Frankenstein-director James Whale; sketches of figures ranging from John Wayne to Warren Oates; considerations of films including Dracula, Freaks, Sunset Boulevard…and much more.
“500 or so pages of damn fine writing…The style is often appropriately hard-boiled and noir-ish. To call it criticism is not quite enough. Love has created a world, a mood, all dames-in-trouble and neon-in-puddles, and peopled it with real movie-makers” – The Sunday Herald
ROBERT MITCHUM: SOLID DAD CRAZY
A Hollywood fixture from the 1940s to the 1990s, Robert Mitchum’s acting, disguised behind a smokescreen of offscreen antics, was only belatedly recognised. Beneath the standard “tough guy” tag existed a chasm: the undercurrent that caused Martin Scorsese to proclaim, “Mitchum is noir,” and critic Lester Bangs to cite Mitchum among the seeds of punk.
A chain-gang convict by 16, Mitchum was an outsider who built a career playing outsiders. Tracing how his life reflected in his films, this lively study explores the development of Mitchum’s persona by considering over two-dozen key movies – from iconic performances in Out Of The Past and Night Of The Hunter, to less-appreciated films such as Where Danger Lives and Thunder Road.
“A Mitchum buff’s guide to his most interesting films, and a much better book than its title suggests. Damien Love describes Mitchum’s less-is-more style of acting as ‘a fundamental understanding of what the minute scrutiny of that close camera and the magnification of that big screen could do’ – Miranda Carter, The London Review Of Books
“Makes a good case for Mitchum being the coolest movie star the world will ever see.” – Michael Weldon, Psychotronic Video
“Adventurous, idiosyncratic, and absorbing… A wayward, erudite, passionate gem, as much a film-inspired poem about America as the portrait of an individual star.” – David Lancaster, University of Leeds
“One of The Best Film Books this Christmas. The star’s exploits have been well documented in the past but the author concentrates on the films, for once, and then only his most interesting ones.” – The Guardian
“It’s a book about Mitchum, but it’s just as much a book about Hollywood, about film, about idolatry, about the pleasure of watching a rarely-screened B-movie at an ungodly hour on terrestrial television as a matter of life-affirming ritual. A compelling analysis of the actor-as-auteur.” – Simon Goddard, Uncut
Books as contributor
NO BED OF HER OWN
By Val Lewton
Series editor and afterword
As a film-maker, Val Lewton is recognised as one of greatest talents Hollywood has seen. Best remembered for his magnificent horror films, most famously Cat People, Lewton’s cult of fans has included everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to Martin Scorsese. Before movies, however, Lewton was a prolific novelist, blasting out books for the 1930s pulp market. This racy, fantastically readable noir-tinged tale was his favourite of his own books. Set in 1931, No Bed of Her Own is the story of Rose Mahoney, a peppy, hard-boiled New York blonde who loses job and home in the Depression. Cast alone into the dark underbelly of the city, she must try to survive a world of decadence, hypocrisy and greed with only her wits to protect her. First published in 1932 – the first of the Depression novels – the book has been unavailable for over half a century. The novel’s sexual frankness remains surprising. But so, too, do its pace, humour and grit, and the cinematic eye and unexpected mind of its author. A strange and vivid snapshot of its era.
“For film lovers, the reissue of Lewton’s Depression-era novel No Bed of Her Own, written before Lewton had gotten a foothold in the film industry, is a major event. It also happens to be a sharp, incisive novel of the Depression, as carefully detailed as Lewton’s films” – Martin Scorsese
“It’s The Seventh Victim (1943), Lewton’s eerie movie about a New York City-based witch cult that seems to me most closely allied to No Bed of Her Own. Here again is the girl adrift, frightened and lost, forced around dark corners, powerless yet somehow brave and daring. In his expert afterword appended to the novel, Damien Love states that the theme of No Bed of Her Own ‘is the underlying theme of all Lewton’s movies from Cat People on; how life can shift a fraction of a degree, shadows come rushing, and people can find themselves slipping into a world whose existence they never suspected.'” – Barry Gifford, writing in The Guardian
“Its greatest pleasure is…the clinging quality of its deftly sketched supporting characters, its subtle attention to detail, and its sincere appreciation of the good that can come even of hard times, and the fantasmical faces that come and go…Incisive afterword by Damien Love, a stylist in his own right, who delineates the connections between the achievements of the novel and Lewton’s films for RKO.” – Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog
THE DARK PAGE
By Sam Fuller
Series editor and afterword
As director and writer, Sam Fuller is revered for raw films noir like Pickup on South Street and searing war movies such as The Big Red One, earning a devoted cult of fans that has included filmmakers from Jean-Luc Godard to Quentin Tarantino, and writers from James Ellroy to George Pelecanos. Before movies, however, Fuller was a newspaperman, and a prolific novelist, blasting out books for the disreputable pulp market. Drawing on his own experience, Fuller sets this story against the vividly rendered world of Manhattan’s ravenous tabloid newspaper industry. The Dark Page is the tale of Carl Chapman, a powerful city editor turned murderer, who finds himself hunted through the pages of his own paper by the young star crime reporter he personally groomed. First published in 1944, the page-turning pace, hardboiled stance, cynical wit and grit remain surprising, as do the cinematic eye and powerhouse story-telling. A gripping noir snapshot of its era, with still-pertinent observations on the workings of the tabloid press.
“Rereading The Dark Page I hear Sam’s voice, very clearly, as if he was talking to me, intense, excited, passionate, honest. I never met anybody else who would actually talk the same way he would write, let alone anybody who would also make movies with that very same impetus and attitude. One of the great movie directors of the 20th century, sure. But most certainly its greatest storyteller. In my book, at least.” – Wim Wenders, from his introduction
“One of Fuller’s greatest works is back in print…a smashmouth pulp-noir thriller about rags-to-riches newspaper editor Carl Chapman, who becomes a murderer when his first wife unexpectedly resurfaces, threatening to reveal his sordid past. When Chapman assigns his nose-for-news protege to cover the unsolved killing, the manhunt becomes a huge circulation booster. Chapman revels in the hunt, milking every ounce of advantage for his paper – even as the noose tightens around him. This is what Chapman (and Fuller himself) would call a “socko” premise, and the author delivers it with all the verve, excitement and wild flourishes that fans of his films cherish” – Eddie Muller, San Francisco Chronicle
“Evocative of an era long gone yet utterly timely in its resonance of today’s ambition, media wars, sensationalism and duplicity of the press, The Dark Page is mesmeric, and bristles with a prickly wit. The novel echoes its author: hardboiled with a heart” – Stop Smiling
EXTREME METAPHORS: SELECTED INTERVIEWS WITH J.G. BALLARD, 1967–2008
(Fourth Estate, 2012)
Contributed chapter 1996: Kafka With Unlimited Chicken Kiev – Ballard on Cocaine Nights
A startling and at times unsettlingly prescient collection of J.G. Ballard’s greatest interviews. J.G. Ballard was a literary giant. His novels were unique and surprising. To the journalists and admirers who sought him out, Ballard was the ‘seer of Shepperton’; his home the vantage from which he observed the rising suburban tide, part of a changing society captured and second-guessed so plausibly in his fiction….Such acuity was not exclusive to his novels and, as this book reminds us, Ballard’s restive intelligence sharpened itself in dialogue. He entertained many with insights into the world as he saw it, and speculated, often correctly, about its future…For the first time, ‘Extreme Metaphors’ collects the finest interviews of his career.
“An illuminating and at times revelatory collection” – The New Statesman
“A valuable coda to one of the strangest and most haunted imaginations in English literature” – Ian Thomson, Books of the Year, The Observer
ACTION! INTERVIEWS WITH DIRECTORS FROM CLASSICAL HOLLYWOOD TO CONTEMPORARY IRAN
(Anthem Press, 2009)
Contributed the chapters Nearer My Corman To Thee: An Interview With Roger Corman and The Greatest Movie The World Has Never Seen: Peter Bogdanovich and Joseph McBride on Orson Welles’s The Other Side Of The Wind
Action! presents nineteen outstanding interviews with directors past and present, from around the world, working in a variety of genres, budgets and production environments from major studios to indie and DIY. The result is a vibrant group portrait of the filmmaking art, a kind of festival in words that explores everything from the enormous creative and personal satisfactions to the challenges and frustrations of the process.
“Utterly engaging… a wide-ranging and exemplary collection.” —Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“[Editor] Gary Morris and his distinguished collaborators are expert interviewers, deftly guiding conversations from tiny but illuminating details of practice to the highest and brightest flights of interpretation.’ —Dave Kehr, The New York Times
“A treasure-trove: nineteen rare interviews with a wide variety of film directors, all conducted by writers who are truly savvy about their subjects. The book as a whole adds up to a practical PhD in what it takes to put personal vision up on the screen” —Jeanine Basinger, Chair, Film Studies Department, Wesleyan University