Tags: Crime zine, Crimezine, Gangsters, George Raft, Tony Bulmer
Gangsters, everybody loves them Crimeziners. But who or what is responsible for this state of affairs—the Great Depression, Prohibition, or the shoot out sensationalism of 30s and 40s Hollywood? There can be no doubt that a confluence of these notorious times led to the rise of the gangster, but one man more than any other embodied the gangster legend.
Meet George Raft, a man who lived out the fast times and dangerous glamour of the New York underworld—famed for his roles in such classic movies as Scarface, Each Dawn I Die and the 1935 adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s Glass Key, Raft hit Hollywood by a route even more wild and compelling than that told by his success on the silver screen.
Rising out of Hell’s Kitchen New York City in the 1920’s, Raft was a smalltime boxer and baseball player, working his way through tough times anyway he knew how. He was childhood friends with many gangster legends, including Owney “the killer” Madden leader of the ruthless Gopher gang, and Benny—don’t call me Bugsy—Siegel. Always coy about his connections with the mob, Raft confessed to knowing such notorious names as Al Capone and racketeering legend Arnold Rothstein, but maintains he himself did nothing more than run bootleg liquor for the Madden mob.
A slick mover, Raft also made a mint as a dancehall lothario with pal and future screen legend Rudolph Valentino. The dance hall gigs proved a lucky break for Raft leading to a showbiz life several worlds away from his seedy gangster past. He never forgot his roots however and utilized his personal knowledge of the underworld’s most dangerous movers and shakers in his many film roles.
Now I know you are anxious to hear all the stories aren’t you Crimeziners? How Raft met Al Capone and what Capone’s verdict on the movie Scarface was? How Raft made Humphrey Bogart by turning down roles in The Maltese Falcon and High Sierra? How Raft seduced Betty Grable, Marlene Dietrich and Mae West? How despite all these affairs, and being the most sought after male lead in Hollywood he could never marry the woman he loved—how his relationship with Bugsy Siegel came back to haunt him and nearly ended his life?
Teasing Crimeziners. If you want to know all this and more, you will have to read Lewis Yablonsky’s book, George Raft. This excellent tome dishes the dirt on Raft’s crime connections, gives fascinating insights into the birth of Hollywood and the gangster movie; it also sets the social scene for these crimetastic events with perhaps the greatest gangster actor Hollywood ever saw.
So, if you want to get in at ground zero of the American gangster legend and find out how it all started, this is the book for you. The painful demise of Raft is also covered in some detail—but his death from Leukemia in 1980 is omitted Crimezine thinks it is high time for a new edition with an updated conclusion—sadly this update is unlikely, as acclaimed Sociologist Yablonsky died in 2014. Like gangsters? Buy this book today.
Retrotastic cop show alert Crimeziners, there is a new show from TNT getting ready to hit our precinct this autumn, you heard it here first.
Public Morals centers on New York City’s Public Morals Division, where cops walk the line between morality and criminality as temptations that come from dealing with all kinds of vice can get the better of them. Check out the crimetastic trailer today, tell them Crimezine sent ya.
Tags: Bogart, Chandler, Cocktail noir, noir, Tony Bulmer
Greetings Crimeziners, it is time once again to uncork the office bottle and enjoy the enchanted thrall of the shimmering golden optics, as we throw back a five-fingered helping of Scott Deitche’s boozetastic quaffing companion Cocktail Noir.
Connoisseurs of crime will undoubtedly know Scott from his marvelously named column Libation Lounge, a regular feature in Cigar City Magazine and his books such as The Silent Don a study of Floridian crime capo Santo Trafficante Jr.
It was with great pleasure therefore that Crimezine cocktail wrangler Consuela served up Mr. Deitche’s delightful tome along with our customary glass of smooth sipping breakfast Cognac.
This is an ambitious book and fast with it. We are treated to a mixocological methodology of every noirish cocktail you can imagine. If Bogart drank it, it’s in. If Chandler drank it, it is in. In fact, this book contains the recipe of every bad-assed beverage you can shake an AA meeting at, and more besides.
Given that just about every noir fan you can mention is an inveterate boozehound, one wonders if this service is necessary. But Deitche ups the ante, by giving us a fascinating run down of gangster bars, big screen boozing and favorite crime author tipples.
We get the usual suspects of course Hammett, Chandler, and Jimmy Cain. It is no secret these cats were hardcore boozers, as Chandler wrote in The Lady in the Lake—“I smelled of gin. Not just casually, as if I had taken four or five drinks of a winter morning to get out of bed on, but as if the Pacific Ocean was pure gin and I had nosedived off the boat deck. The gin was in my hair and eyebrows, on my chin and under my chin. It was on my shirt. I smelled like dead toads.”—
Dead toads indeed—on a Bouchercon morning perhaps?
By way of contrast, author Dennis Lehane of Gone Baby Gone fame confesses, rather anticlimactically, that he enjoys an occasional bottle of Becks beer. One wonders what achievements Chandler et al could have made if they had forgone their dedication to the sacred sauce in favor of literary achievement.
Fear not though Crimeziners, Cocktail Noir is entirely devoid of killjoy questioning. Instead we get a breathlessly fast paced super-session of boozy indulgence. Czar of noir Eddie Muller is quoted as saying “Nobody made getting loaded look more glamorous.” He is talking about Dashiell Hammett’s sleuths Nick and Nora Charles, who swill back cocktails like they are practicing for a three-day weekend with Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald—but he could equally be talking about this crimetastic little book.
Like any good boozy session, this book is over too fast. For those unfamiliar with the noir scene Cocktail Noir will provide many revelations and deliciously sizzling starting point for further investigations; while more experienced boozehounds will no doubt value this tome as a compendium of crimeish cocktails that will jumpstart the very blandest of mornings.
As a postscript it should be mentioned, that the term Noir was coined by French film critic Nino Frank, while talking about the work of legendary author Cornell Woolrich. Many of Woolrich’s books, and the multiple films that were based on them, had black in the title—most notably Black Angel (1946), The Bride Wore Black, and The Leopard Man (1943) based on the book Black Alibi. In keeping with the Noir tradition, Woolrich died of alcoholism in 1968.
Cocktail Noir is available November 2015 from Reservoir Square.
Originally posted on Crimezine:
Crimeziners who are interested in hardboiled noir from Southern California will no doubt have read the work of Ross Macdonald. Widely touted as a successor to Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain, Macdonald—or Ken Millar as he was known by everyone, apart from the reading public was a more complex and experimental writer than the other legends of noir.
Early Macdonald novels, such as The Moving Target (1949) and The Drowning Pool (1950) were closely fashioned on the Chandler oeuvre, so closely fashioned in fact that Chandler denounced Millar in a very public manner, an unpleasantness that was to stay with the sensitive Millar for much of his career.
But Millar and his hardboiled protagonist Lew Archer quickly evolved, moving into territory Chandler et al could only have dreamed of. Could you imagine Marlowe dealing with the subject of environmentalism for example?
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Tags: Crime zine, Crimezine, Michael Dowd, NYPD, Police Corruption, Seven Five, Tony Bulmer
Back in the early eighties the crack and crime infested neighborhoods of South Brooklyn were devastated by poverty and urban decline. The 75th Precinct of the NYPD covers an area of Brooklyn south of Jamaica Boulevard and it is here that we meet Michael Dowd, perhaps the most corrupt cop America has ever known.
Heists, burglary, drug-dealing, kidnapping. There was literally nothing too dirty for Mikey D. and his crew of crooked cops. These guys ruled the neighborhood, shaking down drug dealers for protection money and committing hundreds of crimes in a reign of terror that lasted more than a decade.
The Seven Five is a fast moving documentary that spotlights the remorseless rise and inevitable fall of Dowd and his thuggish friends.
The real stars of this show are the bent cops themselves—interviewed for this movie documentary, they outline in every shameless detail, the depths to which they betrayed the NYPD and the residents of South Brooklyn. Dowd comes across as a Joe Pesci style wise guy from the get go. As one of the IA cops who finally took him down relates—“I first saw him in the car park out back of the station, he didn’t look like a cop, he didn’t have a cop look. He looked like a perp.”
Needless to say, Dowd, who spent a substantial amount of time in jail for his crimes, gushes forth about the bad old days and is still full of the wise guy bullshit, he weasels and lies and makes excuses—he looks misty eyed for the lost camaraderie of his crime-ish cohorts. But make no mistake, we are dealing with a bad man here, you will be appalled, maybe even sickened, but you will also be drawn into a story that is endlessly compelling.
The interviews with Dowd and his crew are linked by retro footage, shots of the horror and squalor of South Brooklyn, a neighborhood that looks reminiscent of modern day Syria in many instances. We also get courtroom admissions from the 1993 Police corruption investigation in which Dowd confesses all. Then there are the pièce de résistance opinions of drug kingpins Adam Diaz and Baron Perez. Diaz in particular comes across as being fiendishly unrepentant. “I’m not saying I killed him he just ain’t around no more,” he drawls at one point, a derisive smirk plastered across his face.
These are bad people all right; very bad people. If you love crime you will love the Seven Five Crimeziners. It is out now for a limited cinema release, also available on cable and DVD. Check it out
Tags: American Crime, Crime, Crimezine, Timothy Hutton, Tony Bulmer
Ah, there you are Crimeziners. Anyone fancy some American Crime? Not Serbo-Croation Crime, or Guatemalan crime, but full bloodied, freedom loving, American Crime? How iconic that sounds. You can almost imagine the marching band, and old glory fluttering patriotically in every scene, as a square-jawed set of shoulder-holster wearing patriots, with pomaded hair, swap dry, Dragnet style witticisms and unfiltered cigarettes, as they “stake out”, run down, then pummel ruthlessly “punks” of every description.
The world has changed substantially since America used to make those kind of shows. In a world where living human beings are burned alive, beheaded, and otherwise tortured in an endless rolling news horror-fest; the viewing public has become somewhat desensitized to the threat of “stoners”, “radicals” and jug-eared gangsters from central casting.
Gritty realism is the new vogue, and American Crime has plenty of that. In this show the darkness is unrelenting from the outset. Heroin addled beat-downs, junkie rip offs, and terror-filled streets seething with emaciated street-hoodlums with more tattoos than you can shake a magic marker at. There are the sweet middle class families too, torn apart by horror of it all. The horror! The horror! Even Joe Conrad wouldn’t be able to make it through this show in one piece.
Thirty minutes of this kind of “entertainment” and you will be reaching for the prescription meds in the vain hope that the world will become bright and shiny again. Of course it won’t. The world will never come good again, especially if you have been watching rolling news coverage for any length of time.
At the other end of the entertainment spectrum we have the CSI’s and the other acronym ridden crime-lite shows that top the ratings. But even these prime-time staples are becoming infected with the growing tendency to favor gratuitous cruelty and stomach churning nastiness over mystery, suspense and sophisticated plot development. Thanks al-Qaeda. Ten bucks for a water at the airport, now this.
On a lighter note, Timothy Hutton is marvelous as former gambler Rus Skokie. Hutton has been acting for literally fifty years man and boy and has starred in umpteen movies and TV Shows. Unfortunately, Crimezine was unable to shake away the memory of his performance as Nathan Ford in Leverage. This was perhaps the cruelest torture of all in American Crime, because every time Hutton graced our screen we expected him to offer up a pithy Leverage style witticism. Sadly none came, and we were forced to choke down a handful of Citalopram with a vodka-tonic chaser. This didn’t help. We then switched to rolling news, in the hope that the latest burnings and beheadings would cheer us up.
But as those with romance and optimism in their hearts will know, there is always something good that comes out of every great tragedy. In this case, that something good is the on-set love match between the superannuated Hutton 54 and his American Crime co-star, 26-year-old Caitlin Gerard. (The junkie chick in the show.)
Apparently the two lovebirds hooked up while shooting the show in Austin, TX. Crimezine understands from insiders that the two are so “into each other” that she moved into Hutton’s Austin love nest and she’s now “secretly” living with him and his 27-year-old son Noah. Aw, bless—the kid is older than she is. No doubt mom—Hutton’s first wife Debra Winger—will be delighted. Catch you later Crimeziners.