Monday, February 23, 2009

Ross MacDonald

About 12 years ago I discovered pulp fiction with a bang! I ploughed through all of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, et al, with speed and passion. I worked at a bookstore at the time and, thanks in large part to the great reissues of these authors and many others on the Black Lizard Vintage Crime label, I found a new passion.

Over the next few years I cooled off some, but still read the odd Chester Himes or Cornell Woolrich novel. That is until about two years ago when I finally got around, no telling why it took so long, to reading my first Ross MacDonald novel.

All those great books came flooding back. MacDonald's novels, featuring Lew Archer, are so immensely enjoyable that I struggle to find the words to describe how much I like them. I am now about halfway through the 20 Lew Archer novels that MacDonald blessed us with and am sad that I can see a time in the near future when I won't have 
any new ones to read. Any fan of noir, detective fiction, crime fiction, or great American novelists will love these books.
Ah Ross, I hardly got the chance to know ye.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I love the mess film director's can make when given carte blanche (see Cimino's Heaven's Gate). High on the success of Deliverence, John Boorman busted out this groovy, existential, psychedelic science fiction picture in 1974 starring Sean Connery in one of film's worst ever costumes. 

Now some people hate this film, but I love it. Not necessarily because it is a great movie, but because it is visually impressive(check out the costume), and
 just so trippy!

Yeah, Boorman made better movies(Deliverence, Point Blank, Excalibur, Hope and Glory), but I will always have a place in my heart, if not my DVD collection for Zardoz.

Guns are good! The penis is evil! All hail Zardoz!!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Un Omaggio

Calibro 35 is a contemporary band that plays new, original music that sounds just like music from Italian cop movies of the 70's. I guess they are to Cipriani and Micalizzi what Zombi is to Goblin and John Carpenter. Check them out! They are Molto Fresco!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lou Reed

Lou in fine strung out form. The funny thing is I never knew The Village People ever took their costumes off, let alone actually being able to play instruments.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Goodbye My Friend

Italian cop movies of the 60's & 70's, or poliziotteschi, were some of the grittiest, most violent, and, yes, grooviest ever made. Police corruption, syndicates, and violent killers were common themes in these pictures.

Some of the grooviest poliziotteschis were directed by luminaries of Italian cinema such as: Enzo Castellari, Alberto De Martino, Damiano Damiani, Sergio Sollima, Umberto Lenzi, and Sergio Martino to name a few, and frequently starred greats Fabio Testi, Franco Nero, Tomas Milian, or the fabulously blonde and mustachioed Maurizio Merli. It would not be unusual to see British actors in prominent roles as well. David Hemmings in La Via Della Droga and Oliver Reed in Revolver come to mind, even the venerable James Mason got into the act.

Now the point of all this is the music. These movies had amazing music! Many of the greats of Italian soundtrack composing got into the act. Morricone, Cipriani, Goblin, Micalizzi, and on and on. The music is rhythmic and pulse pounding. One of my favorite songs is Goodbye, My Friend by brothers Guido and Maurizio de Angelis from the soundtrack to Il Cittadino si Ribella. Check it out.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Richard Lester's Musketeers

I wonder if you knew that Alexandre Dumas + Richard Lester + Michael York + Oliver Reed + Christopher Lee + Raquel Welch + Geraldine Chaplin + Faye Dunaway + Richard Chamberlain + Charlton Heston + Jean Pierre Cassell + Spike Milligan = the grooviest movie ever set in the 17th Century?

Originally conceived as one huge film, the movie was split into two 
and released one year apart. (Most of the cast was angry at this as they were paid for one film.)

Richard Lester's Three/Four Musketeers is an amazing and humorously swashbuckling movie that adheres fairly strictly to the great novel by Alexandre Dumas. 

I can't tell you how much I loved these movies as a kid, and they still hold up great today. The attention to detail is outstanding, from the sets to the costumes, this is a great looking movie. 
The cast is great. The musketeers, Reed (Athos), Frank Finlay (Porthos), and Chamberlain (Aramis) are fantastic, as are York, as the naive but forthright D'Artagnan, and Christopher Lee as the evil Count de Rochefort.

The cast also boasts three divine beauties: Faye Dunaway as the Lady De Winter, Geraldine Chaplin as Anne of Austria, and Raquel Welch in a comic role as Constance Bonacieux.

This film was originally conceived as another project for Lester and The Beatles.

One of my all time faves, here is a great scene where D'Artagnan, having just arrived in Paris, has managed to get himself into duels with each of the three musketeers, and faithfully arrives to fulfill his duty as a gentleman, only to have their duel interrupted by the arrival of the Cardinal's Guard.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

You Ain't Goin Nowhere

The greatest American band of the 60's, except for Love and The Velvet Underground, was The Byrds. I love every phase of the Byrds as they went from folk to psychedelia to country to acid rock and back again. Here is a great version, featuring Earl Scruggs and sons, of one of my favorite songs they recorded. I bet you wouldn't be surprised if I told you it was a Dylan cover. 

p.s. Check out the video of Andy Griffith on skull of sidon's blog to see a much younger Clarence White jamming some sweet hillbilly folk.

You Ain't Goin' Nowhere:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fabio Frizzi

I love Italian horror films of the 60's, 70's, and 80's. Nobody delivered on the atmosphere like Bava and Argento, and nobody delivered on the gore like Lucio Fulci.

For most of Fulci's best loved films, the score was composed by Fabio Frizzi. These scores are some of the most etherial and creepy ever composed. They pulse and throb and oh yeah...they are chillingly groovy.

Frizzi did his time, like most of the greats, composing for a variety of genres from spaghetti westerns to poliziotteschis, but when he began his collaboration with Fulci, on the excellent spaghetti western Four of the Apocalypse, he soon hit his stride.

In my opinion his best scores are for Paura Nella Citta dei Morti Vivendi (City of the Walking Dead), Zombi 2 (Zombie), L'Aldila (The Beyond), and Manhattan Baby.

Check out these favorites: