Waiting (For ‘The Man’)

julia van Os by drew jarrett 2017

The lines laid down on the ladies room vanity have all been sniffed clean. That’s when smoldering glances were exchanged, promises of more in the limo, so here she waits in her four hundred dollar shoes and her eight hundred dollar dress and the earrings she stole from her roomie’s jewelry box, perched on the curb in the alley and hoping she doesn’t see another rat scurry by before that Mercedes finally arrives.

I’m hearing Lou Reed singing something suitably New York-ish when I look at this Drew Jarrett photo of Julia van Os from 2017.

Stumptown

Stumptown-5

One way for rabid readers to keep from going broke is to learn to love their public library. I have. The one closest to me is a charming and well-designed facility, though all that décor apparently left no funds for books. But the next library over is an enormous two-story treasure trove, and its graphic novel section could outdo many comics shops. That’s where I came across writer Greg Rucka and artist Matthew Southworth’s great contemporary hard-boiled series, Stumptown.

Stumptown 1

Dex Parios is my favorite kind of ‘stiletto gumshoe’: Wonderfully flawed. Army vet and inveterate gambler, Dex is both bad-ass and wise-ass, and occasionally a bit of a screw-up. It makes for a lethal combo.

Stumptown 4

Sounds like near-future small screen options won’t be short of intriguing girlz-with-guns and lethal ladies, even though I’m still processing the sad news that Netflix cancelled the amazing Jessica Jones series with Krysten Ritter.

Cobie Smulders

ABC just announced a new Stumptown series by Jason Richman and Ruben Flesicher. Hard-boiled Dex Parios will be played by Canadian actress Jacoba Francisca Maria Smulders, better known as Cobie Smulders. Marvel universe fans know Cobie as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill from the Avengers. TV channel surfers know her as Robin Scherbatsky from syndicated-everywhere How I Met Your Mother sitcom reruns. Seems like a good casting decision to me, and I’m betting she can bring Dex Parios’ hard-boiled grit and glimpses of vulnerability to life on screen just fine. Looking forward to this one. And still enjoying Rucka and Southworth’s comics.

Stumptown Hardcover

David Goodis

Goodis Midnight Classics

Hard-boiled, noir, pulp, crime novelist and screenwriter David Goodis was born today, March 2nd back in 1917.

My own introduction to Goodis’ work was The Blonde On The Street Corner and The Moon In The Gutter in used bookstore 1990’s trade paperback editions from Midnight Classics (wish I still had those). From there I looked for more of his work, and confess to finding it a little uneven. Digging deeper, I discovered I wasn’t alone in that conclusion.

Four David Goodis Novels

Goodis, apparently, almost seemed to emulate one of the characters in the bleak, noir-ish world of his writing, hanging out in lowlife taverns and greasy spoons, poorly dressed, prone to depression and bouts of anger, and unlucky in love. But after laboring for years over low-paying aviation and adventure pulp magazine stories, Goodis was finally at the top of his game by the mid-1940’s. He had a couple successful hardcover novels to his credit, a lucrative six-year Warner Bros. screenwriting contract, and a hit movie based on his own novel, Dark Passage, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Yet within a couple years, he left Hollywood behind, had to move in with his parents in Philadelphia, and spent the remainder of his life cranking out paperback originals for Gold Medal and Lion Books along with – once again – pulp magazine stories. A lawsuit against the producers of the hit TV series The Fugitive, which Goodis asserted was based on his work, wasn’t resolved until just after his death. And by that time, not one of his books was even in print in the U.S. Yet, he was revered in Europe, with nearly a dozen critically acclaimed novels in France alone.

Goodis A Life In Black & White

David Goodis: A Life In Black And White by French writer Philippe Garnier was published in France in the mid-eighties, but wasn’t translated and published in the U.S. until 2013. It’s available through the Film Noir Foundation (it was edited by Eddie Muller), and at Amazon. In the mean time, you’ll find that “The Mysterious Life Of David Goodis” by Andrew Nette in a February 2015 edition of the Los Angeles Review Of Books (link below) provides a terrific capsulized overview of who Goodis was, what was great and not-so-great about him and his work, and even why European readers honored him so much more than his own American compatriots.

https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/mysterious-life-david-goodis/ – !

The Noir Chanteuse: Ute Lemper

Ute Lemper

Broadway actress and recording star, or is she really a cabaret chanteuse at heart? German singer (and so much more) Ute Lemper just seems to have a way of evoking a decadent Weimar era German basement nightclub when she’s singing or merely posing for a photo. Maybe it’s her association with roles like Lola in The Blue Angel, Velma Kelly in Chicago (publicity photo in that role below) or Sally Bowles in Cabaret. Then there’s that whole Kurt Weill songbook thing.

Ute Lemper: The Noir Chanteuse.

ute lemper as velma kelly 1998

Damien Lovegrove’s Hollywood Style Reborn

Lovegrove 10

I’d swear that I’ve seen selected images from this series of photos countless times at Pinterest, Tumblr and random blogs and sites, but rarely – if ever! – have I seen the photos credited with any attribution for a photographer, model, source publication…anything.

Lovegrove 1

It didn’t take much digging at all. A simple search engine image match brought me right to photographer Damien Lovegrove’s Pro Photo Nut at prophotonut.com, and a posting from way back in 2013 titled “Film Noir – A Hollywood Style Reborn”.

Lovegrove 2

Model/actress Chloe-Jasmine Whichcello (along with a male co-star who only goes by ‘Frank’, so lets guess he’s the photographer’s assistant or some other fellow) dives into a series of stunningly lit images of a glamorous Hollywood blonde femme fatale, with makeup and hair done by Claudia Lucia Spoto, photo styling done by the model herself, assisted by the photographer, Damien Lovegrove. The project was all shot on location in Pipwell Hall, Northamptonshire in England.

Lovegrove 3

Frame by frame, Lovegrove explains the details of how he arranged the lighting, what equipment was used (all of which is way over my head) and how these techniques created the dramatic mid-20th Century Hollywood cinematic film noir look and feel. I was intrigued, and I know absolutely nothing about photography, at least, the technical end of things.

Lovegrove 4

Well, I’m glad to put these striking images out there with credit where credit’s due for once. And I have to say, that Pipwell Hall in Northamptonshire looked suitably dark and gloomy for this film noir stylistic exercise. So much so, that Damien Lovegrove and his talented associates should have returned at some point for a study in gothic horror visuals, perhaps a tribute to England’s Hammer films, with Ms. Whichello doing a stand-in for Veronica Carlson, Ingrid Pitt or Yutte Stensgaard. Hmmmm…

Lovegrove 5

Link below to the ProPhotoNut site to browse the images and read Damien Lovegrove’s text (which ought to be of particular interest to the less photographically challenged among you). And more images from the project follow in the next post.

Lovegrove 6

 

https://www.prophotonut.com/2013/02/17/film-noir-a-hollywood-style-reborn/

 

 

The Big Blowdown

The Big Blowdown - Richie Fahey Cover art

There’s a long list of George Pelecanos’ projects that I adore: Novels, short stories, television scripts.

But my favorite remains The Big Blowdown, his 1999 tale of two Washington DC friends (including Nick Stefanos, the Pelecanos character who’s crossed-over into more than one project) set in a post-WWII world of realistically drawn blue-collar Greek neighborhoods filled with rich renderings of everyday people who live and work alongside the small-time mobsters who really run things. Some have compared Pelecanos’ early novels to James Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet, and I won’t argue. They share a spare yet darkly poetic writing style and focus on a specific time, place and cast of characters. How he continues to create excellent books while concurrently working as a writer/producer for high-visibility projects like The Wire, The Pacific and The Deuce among others is beyond me. A person can only do so much. Somehow, Pelecanos does still more.

For me, this particular novel has been a kind of tutorial on how a master wordsmith handles an ethnic milieu, something I’m working with (different ethnicity, but still) in my own projects. Obviously, Pelecanos does it better than many, and better than anything I could ever hope for.

The Big Blowdown will get a careful re-read someday. I’ll just need to give it some time so I can forget the specifics and discover it all anew. As an aside, the nifty Richie Fahey cover art on my well-worn trade pb edition shown above doesn’t hurt.

Lichtspiele

Alexi Lubomirski

No one’s advocating smoking, so don’t comment with nasty remarks. Lets face it, traditional film noir or even cliched ‘noir culture’ is more or less a smoke-fest, and whatever the health hazards and general evil-ness of the addiction, smoking does make for some stunning images.

Here, Alexi Lubomirski shoots model Constance Jablonski for Vogue Germany back in 2013 for an editorial called “Lichtspiele”, a series of striking images reminiscent of 1930’s film studio backstage and glamour shots.

Alexi Lubomirski 2

Don’t Talk To Strangers In Cars

Gwen Stefani by Michelangelo Battista

Sound advice: Don’t approach a car idling at the curb and don’t talk to strangers. Especially a stranger leaning out of the driver’s side window who looks as menacing as singer Gwen Stefani does in this retro-styled image from fashion photographer Michelangelo Battista.

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