including in fine books by good writers

Keller, Lawrence Block’s hit man, often surfs the channels while waiting in his motel room for his latest target to be accessible.

“He turned on the TV and worked his way through the channels, using the remote control bolted to the night stand.  Westerns, he decided, were like cops and cabs, never around when you wanted them.  It seemed to him that he never made a trip around the cable circuit without running into John Wayne or Joel McCrae or a rerun of Gunsmoke or Rawhide or one of those spaghetti westerns with Eastwood or Lee Van Cleef.  Or the great villains  —  Jack Elam, Strother Martin, the young Lee Marvin in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

“It probably said something about you, Keller thought, when your favorite actor was Jack Elam.”  But this time he found no western.  “He switched off the set.”

*          *          *          *          *

Jack Elam
jpg photo

“He left unaccountably sad as always and returned to Manhattan.  He ate at a new Afghan restaurant and went to a movie.  It was a western, but not the sort of Hollywood classic he would have preferred.  Even after the movie was over, you couldn’t really tell which ones were the good guys.”

HIT MAN by Lawrence Block.  William Morrow, 1998



Until then,
See you at the movies,

The Memphis Bell Is Back


Almy Stock Photo

The refurbished Memphis Belle will be unveiled this Thursday, May 17,  in the World War ll Gallery at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.  The fabled  plane was the star of William Wyler’s celebrated documentary of  1944..  The making of the film is presented in detail in Mark Harris’ s book Five Came Back.  See Rick’s Flicks post for 9/29/17.

The B-17 “Memphis Belle” and crew. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Acknowlegment:  Mitch Stacy, Associated Press


Until then,
See you at the movies,



In the May 4 issue of The Week Managing Editor Theunis Bates, on page 3, has a succinct but powerful editorial on where current films seem headed, or mostly NOT headed.  Check it out.


Do you know Walker Percy’s novel The Moviegoer?  Check it out.

“Linda and I went out to a theater in a new suburb.  It was evident somebody had miscalculated, for the suburb had quit growing, and here was the theater, a pink stucco cube, sitting out in a field all by itself…After the movie Linda and I stood under the marquee and talked to the manager, or rather listened to him tell his troubles:  the theater was almost empty, which was pleasant for me but not for him.”

“Our neighborhood theater in Gentilly has permanent lettering on front of the marquee reading:  Where Happiness Costs So Little.  The fact is I am quite happy in a movie, even a bad movie.”

“Kate gives me a look  —  it is understood we do not speak during the movie.”

And can you imagine a better description of the later Gregory Peck?  “Toward her I keep a Gregory Peckish sort of distance.  I am a tall black-headed fellow and I know as well as he how to keep to myself, make my eyes fine and my cheeks spare, tuck my lip and say a word or two with a nod or two.”

Percy’s writing remains pitch-perfect as our anti-hero takes his new girl to visit his  young step-siblings:  “Marcia made too much of them, squatting down and hugging her knees like Joan Fontaine visiting an orphanage.”

And how about this, describing one of those questionable restorations and/or preservations:  “Back to the Loop where we dive into the mother and Urwomb of all moviehouses  —  an Aztec mortuary of funeral urns and glyphs, thronged with the   spirit-presences of another day.”

“O Tony, O Rory”  –

“For the record, here are the performers mentioned in Percy’s novel:  Charles Boyer, William Holden, Adolph Menjou, H.B. Warner, Richard Widmark, Dana Andrews, Clint Walker, Leo Carrol, Tony Curtis, Rory Calhoun, Joan Fontaine, Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, José Ferrer, Montgomery Clift, Eva Marie Saint, Jane Powell, John Wayne, Marlon Brando, Joseph Cotten, Thomas Mitchell, Dick Powell, Gary Merrill, Veronica Lake, Paul Newman, Patsy Kelly, Charley Chase, Nelson Eddy, Akim Tamiroff, William Powell, Johnny Weismuller; and  —  would you believe?  —  Samuel S. Hinds, Edgar Kennedy and the most wooden actor in the history of Hollywood studios, George Brent.  (Well, maybe there is a three-way tie:  George Brent and Sterling Hayden and John Ireland.)

And here are the films mentioned in the novel:  The Ox-Bow Incident, Red River, Stagecoach, The Third Man, Fort Dobbs, Deep Waters, Panic in the Streets, It Happened One Night and All Quiet on the Western Front.  He also mentions a film he calls Holiday with Joseph Cotten.  I cannot find that film in my sources.  Do any of my readers know it?  Could he have meant The Halliday Brand?

THE MOVIEGOER by Percy Walker.  Knopf, 1961.  Check it out.


Until then,
See you at the movies,