Articles on this Page
- 02/13/15--05:00: _Forgotten Books: RE...
- 02/14/15--06:00: _Toy Soldier Saturda...
- 02/15/15--06:00: _Who's going to LEFT...
- 02/16/15--05:00: _Cap Gun Monday: Mat...
- 02/17/15--05:00: _Overlooked Films: R...
- 02/18/15--05:00: _A Forgotten Gem Ret...
- 02/19/15--05:00: _Pulp Gallery: THRIL...
- 02/20/15--05:00: _Forgotten Books: TH...
- 02/21/15--06:00: _Toy Soldier Saturda...
- 02/22/15--06:00: _Get Your Dance On: ...
- 02/23/15--05:00: _Cap Gun Monday: MAR...
- 02/24/15--05:00: _Overlooked Films: D...
- 02/25/15--05:00: _Norman Saunders pai...
- 02/26/15--05:00: _Pulp Gallery: SAUCY...
- 02/27/15--05:00: _Forgotten Books: Th...
- 02/28/15--06:00: _Toy Soldier Saturda...
- 03/01/15--06:00: _Song Twins: CATCH A...
- 03/02/15--05:00: _Cap Gun Monday: Les...
- 03/03/15--05:00: _Overlooked Films: P...
- 03/04/15--05:00: _Comic Gallery: The ...
- 02/13/15--05:00: Forgotten Books: RED TRAILS by Hugh Pendexter
- 02/14/15--06:00: Toy Soldier Saturday: TIM-MEE KNIGHTS
- 02/15/15--06:00: Who's going to LEFT COAST CRIME?
- 02/16/15--05:00: Cap Gun Monday: Mattel Zero W Fanner 50
- 02/18/15--05:00: A Forgotten Gem Returns: A BAD WOMAN by James M. Cain
- 02/19/15--05:00: Pulp Gallery: THRILLING DETECTIVE
- 02/20/15--05:00: Forgotten Books: THREE-BLADED DOOM by Robert E. Howard (1977)
- 02/21/15--06:00: Toy Soldier Saturday: MARX GIs (Part 3)
- 02/22/15--06:00: Get Your Dance On: NOBODY BUT ME by the Human Beinz
- 02/23/15--05:00: Cap Gun Monday: MARX Miniature Sharp's Carbine
- 02/24/15--05:00: Overlooked Films: DICK TRACY RETURNS (1938)
- 02/25/15--05:00: Norman Saunders paints WESTERN HEROes (1949)
- 02/26/15--05:00: Pulp Gallery: SAUCY MOVIE TALES (1936-37)
- 02/28/15--06:00: Toy Soldier Saturday: MARX Presidents (Part 4)
- 03/01/15--06:00: Song Twins: CATCH A WAVE and SIDEWALK SURFIN'
- 03/02/15--05:00: Cap Gun Monday: Leslie-Henry TEXAS RANGER
- 03/03/15--05:00: Overlooked Films: Philip Marlowe in "Blackmailers Don't Shoot"
- 03/04/15--05:00: Comic Gallery: The Birth of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Part 5)
Our Toy Soldier parade is HERE.
In case you didn't know, Davy Crockett's Almanack comes to you from the kickass town of Portland, Oregon. And this year, March 12-15, Portland plays host to the kickass mystery convention Left Coast Crime.
The full panel lineup has just been released (HERE), and I'm pleased to report I'll be participating in one on Friday morning called Mean Streets: Pulp Detectives of the Past and Present, with Stephen Mertz, Dale Berry, William E. Wallace and Tim Wohlforth, and a Saturday afternooner called Without a Fedora: New Directions in Noir with Roger Hobbs, Baer Charlton, Robert Downs and Bret R. Wright.
If you're going to be in town, let me know. I'd be mighty happy to make your acquaintance.
Cap Guns Galore HERE.
Now known as A Bad Woman, this book really can't be called great Cain. But it's fast, entertaining and a thoroughly satisfying read. And it is James M. Cain, whose worst work is better than many writers' best.
Most of the Cain books I've read were told in first person, at which he was a master. This one is told in breezy first person by an almost omniscient narrator, and Cain clearly had fun with it.
The title role belongs to movie starlet Sylvia Shoreham, whose soon-to-be-ex husband (a penniless, conniving Baron with a silly accent) threatens to marry her clinically insane sister to retain control of her film career. Sylvia is not really very sinful. True, it’s discovered she spent time in a variety of motels with a variety of men, but none of this happens onstage, and no one much cares.
The male lead is Sheriff Parker Lucas, who dresses like Tom Mix and talks like Gary Cooper. Other major players include Dmitri, the tasteless money-grubbing producer who controls Sylvia’s contract; Tony, a gambling house proprietor who dresses like an undertaker; and George M. Layton, a go-getter life insurance agent on fire to protect his company’s interests after Sylvia’s is “accidentally” shot and killed at the gambling house.
If you think this cast sounds a bit over the top, you’re right. Cain based the novel on a play he’d written in 1938 called 7-11, which was quite likely a farce. Near as I can tell, the book was never made into a movie, which is a shame, because it seems perfectly suited. Cain’s working titles for the novel were “At the Galloping Domino” and “Sierra Moon”, both of which are more appropriate to the story. I suspect the more marketable title, Sinful Woman, was Avon's idea.
Though the plot revolves around the Baron’s murder, I can't really call this a murder mystery. No one is too interested in discovering who did it. They’re all promoting whatever wacky explanation meets their own interests. Nearing the end, when a Grand Jury convenes at The Galloping Domino to determine cause of death, I was thinking we’d never learn what really happened, and decided it didn’t matter. Watching the twists and turns of the plot and characters was enough for me.
But Cain came through after all, delivering a surprising solution - and happy ending - to the case. In a long string of bizarre notes, perhaps the most bizarre of all comes on the last page, when our male and female leads both announce they're enlisting in the army. This was, after all, 1947, and even novelists and paperback publishers had to do their part.
My favorite Howard character is normally either Breckenridge Elkins, Conan or Francis Xavier Gordon, depending which I've read most recently. After reading one of their adventures, I'm usually raring to rip into another. Not so with Three-Bladed Doom. Rather than racing to dig more adventures of El Borak, I was just relieved it was finally over.
According to L. Sprague de Camp's intro to the 1968 paperback Conan the Wanderer, Howard wrote a 42,000 version of 'Three-Bladed Doom" in 1934. When that failed to sell, he chopped it to 24,000 words and tried again. That didn't sell either. Portions of the story first saw print in 1955, when de Camp rewrote it into the 32,000 word Conan story "The Flame Knife" for the Gnome Press collection Tales of Conan.
All this talk about word count is important, because the version of this story I just read, published in both the U.S. and Great Britain in 1977, seemed much, much longer. The Orbit book is 121 pages of small type, and the Zebra edition is 166 pages of large. Maybe it's true there are only 42,000 words in each book, but it looks like a lot more, and the story takes a long time to unfold. Truth to tell, I kept falling asleep, and it took a lot of determination to pick it up again and again and push on through to the end.
The Toy Soldiers go marching on HERE.
Our Cap Gun Arsenal is HERE.
More Western HeroHERE.
More Saucy Movie TalesHERE.
More Cap Guns HERE.
"Blackmailers Don't Shoot," from the December 1933 issue of Black Mask, was Raymond Chandler's first published story. I re-read it recently and found it shockingly good. Shocking that Chandler was that good on his very first story, and he just kept getting better. The hero is a tough guy named Mallory. He's recently come from Chicago to L.A., and though one of the characters asks if he's a private detective, it's never really stated one way or the other. Because this one is told in third-person, no one ever tried to turn it into a Marlowe story. No one, that is, until HBO adapted it for their TV series back in 1986.
All drawings and paintings from Black Mask Magazine are copyright © 1923 to 1953 by Keith Alan Deutsch as successor-in-interest, and conservator of all copyrights to the original publishers and copyright registrars: Pro-Distributors Publishing Company, Inc, and Popular Publications Inc. All copyrights © renewed 1951 to 1981.