Posts Tagged ‘Crimezine Tony Bulmer’

Mickey Spillane, Tony Bulmer

Mickey Spillane, Mike Hammer: Kiss me deadly baby.

New York City, the west fifties. Stair rods of rain hammer from the heavens, playing a devils drumbeat on the roof of “the heap” and Private Eye Mike Hammer is chaining back his fifth pack of Lucky Strikes. Across the rain swept street, there is a dame in a down market coffee shop. Her sad little life is swimming around the drain, but she is about to find love like she never found it before…

Mickey Spillane was the man who distilled hardboiled crime fiction into something new and addictive for the pulp crime market. While Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler provided an opiate for the thrill seeking masses, Spillane stripped the form to its white powder essence and mainlined it straight into the jugular.

The debut Hammer book I The Jury is a twisted story of revenge and murder, that Spillane says he wrote in three weeks; adapting it from a failed comic strip, Mike Danger that he worked up with illustrator Mike Roy. A none too enthusiastic E. P. Dutton & Co picked up the book in 1947 figuring there “might be a market for it” and by 1953, when it was made into a movie, it had sold 3.5 million copies. This book has it all: Dames in diaphanous night attire, twisted psychiatry, gonzo plastic surgery and more crimetastic caperings than you could catch in a cocked hat. The laughably brutal ending sets the standard for all the books that follow.

It is clear from the get go that Hammer is a .45cal kind of guy that you won’t want to mess with. Veteran of a “Jap-filled jungle hell” He affectionately names his Colt 1911 “Betsy” and you can bet he draws her out to “bark fire” at bad guys at every opportunity. I The Jury is aptly named. Mike Hammer is a one-man war on crime. He hates murderers and makes it clear to his long suffering cop buddy, Capt. Pat Chambers that “there ain’t no way in hell” the red-tape legal system is going to get chance to send any killers to the chair when Mike Hammer is in town. Big-lug irony of the most entertainingly unconstitutional kind.

My Gun is Quick? Damn right it is. Betsy is barking from the get go when horny Mike meets a redheaded prostitute at an all night coffee shop. He sweeps her away for a midnight assignation at the beach, where she writes V.D. in the sand. Mike pops the lucky lady one anyway, because he’s “not prejudiced” when it come to Dames. Naturally, the lucky girl falls deeply in love with our hero before he has even “stirred her coffee” for her. You can almost hear the wedding bells ringing before gunfire drowns them out. MEN WILL PAY FOR THIS! You betcha.

Vengeance is Mine! Damn that red tape loving liberal SOB at the DA’s office, damn him! Mike gets his gun permit and PI license revoked after one of his buddies carelessly loses the top of his head in a whiskey related incident involving Mike’s gun. Blackmailing underworld stereotypes of the “fat and slimy and suspicious” type must be involved. A veritable hail of gunfire ensues. Velda, Hammer’s long-suffering secretary, gets to pop her murder cherry. That babe is Hottttttt! Why on earth does Mike not see this? Is it because he is so driven by his mission to clean up the streets of Gotham? Is it because he has terminal halitosis? Or is it the charabanc of blondes, brunettes and redheads, [dressed in diaphanous night attire], who have just turned up at the office door—tearfully and pneumatically proposing marriage? [sigh].

One Lonely Night. Could it be true? Mike Hammer has a conscience? His tortured soul screaming into the endless snow filled night, as he balances on a lonely bridge contemplating the horrible existential choices he must make? Fear not dear Crimeziner. Clutch not your tear stained handkerchiefs! It is 1951, so Communists are at work! Stretching their nefarious tentacles of workers rights and organized labor into every orifice of the American dream—the deluded brainwashed saps. Wouldn’t it be great to twist them all on the end of a bayonet?

Right wing political crank and long-lost Addams family relative, Ayn Rand was a big league Spillane fan. No doubt she loved the unambiguous right wing politics and the chain-smoking histrionics. Rand singled out Spillane’s black and white morality as admirable. Praising Spillane publicly, she described him as, “An underrated if uneven stylist.”

The Big Kill. You got the idea by now. Murderers, they gots to die! Dames they get to walk past lamps and windows wearing see-through nylon scanties, and they are wearing nothing underneath! [Pant] Natch, all of them are “in love” with Mike. All of them I tell you! Even though he never bathes, [except in whiskey] has bullet riddled clothing, and chains back five cartons of Luckies a day.

But oh-no! What is this? A kid cramping Mike’s style? WTF! That snot-nosed little punk ain’t going to no lousy children’s home! He can stay home Chez Hammer with a goddamn wet nurse, fingering firearms until the big dénouement comes. Yay!

Until it meets the final furlong, Kiss Me Deadly is the best Mike Hammer story by far. The trouble with Spillane is he was never much of a hand with plot and endings in particular gave him a great deal of trouble. He tried just about everything: expositional blah-de-blah a la Agatha Christie; explosive, apocalyptic gunfight/car wreck finales, and twisted ‘brakes on’ revelations that leave the reader questioning the very nature of God and his relationship, or lack there of, to the Spillanian muse. Kiss me Deadly is an excellent read, but it is perhaps best remembered for the panting and high-wired 1955 film-noir adaptation by Robert Aldrich, featuring Ralph Meeker as Hammer and Maxine Cooper as the long suffering Velda. A glorious piece of movie kitsch that was described by morality Nazis in the Kefauver Committee as, “a film designed to ruin young viewers”. Which is recommendation enough in Crimezine’s view.

There you have it, the first six by Spillane. Why six ? Well you can buy them as two omnibus editions from the crimetastic New American Library. [determined readers will also dig a third omnibus edition in the series] There are those who will tell you that Spillane is a bad writer—by his own admission he only put pen to paper for money, and although you will find rich seams of wonderment within his work, you will also laugh yourself hoarse at the abundant failings. Many of the attitudes contained within his work are old-fashioned, although many are still worryingly prevalent: sexism, homophobia, bigotry and cliché are all well represented. But there is something much more vital and important on offer here: the distilled essence of crime fiction personified.

These influential books dictated the rules of crime fiction for many long decades, and there is not a single private eye book after 1950 that does not in some way pay homage to the legend that is Mike Hammer. Moneypenny in James Bond? That is Velda. Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry? That is Mike Hammer turned Cop. And those crazy- assed soliloquies by Marv in Frank Miller’s Sin City—every single one of them straight out of the Spillane playbook. Yes, Crimeziners, no one said it would be pretty. Matter of fact it is a dirty ugly business, but there is just no way it is possible to put crime fiction into any kind of context without reading Spillane. Do it today, tell ’em Crimezine sent ya.

Afterword: It is widely accepted that Spillane’s later work lacked the primal urgency of his early years. It should also be noted that Spillane’s literary executor, the awesome Max Allan [Road to Perdition] Collins, has done sterling work with the Hammer brand.


John Travolta Criminal activities Crimezine

John Travolta: Criminal Activities.

Criminal Activities, we love them Crimeziners, especially when John ‘Chilli Palmer’ Travolta is involved. Travolta is in full on Elmore Leonard mode for this stylish cameo. But the great man is upstaged in virtually every shot, by his heavily architecturalized hair-helmet. No matter. His crazy dialogue that references Marcel Proust, Macbeth and economic theory 101 will have you snorting so loudly you will be distracted from this spectacle, at least momentarily.

Criminal Activities is the kind of b-grade crime flick that snooty film critics love to hate, but having said that it does have a large number of redeeming features.

The Get Shorty and Usual Suspects reference points are blatant and unashamed. No bad thing. But the collage of reference points often intrudes—threatening to overwhelm the narrative thrust of the movie—drowning out its identity with a deluge of cultural cleverness.

The movie kicks off when four college buddies, Noah (Dan Stevens), Zach (Michael Pitt), Bryce (Rob Brown) and Warren (Christopher Abbott)—reunite at a friends funeral. We never get to know our four foils, but that hardly matters, because pretty soon they are talking over an insider dealing scam that is going to make them rich, rich, rich!

But things go awry, almost immediately and our heroes are in hock to mobster Eddie, played by Travolta. Eddie suggests he will offer the boys a clean slate if they kidnap the nephew of a rival gang leader, who has taken Eddie’s niece hostage.

What could be easier? Unfortunately, Marques [Edi Gathegi] is wayyyy more gangster than our hapless heroes can handle. Yikes, Crimeziners! We have got ourselves a Reservoir Dogs style hostage situation! Sadly, the second act sags as glib verbosity apes Tarantino but over-eggs the Pulp Fiction pudding and quickly descends into the realm of self-parody.

Light-relief and more than a touch of menace is offered in the form of Jackie Earle Haley as hit man Gerry, a journeyman gunsel who is about the only member of the cast who doesn’t over act his way the unfolding shenanigans.

Writer Robert Lowell is to be commended for the Keyser Söze style ending, which gooses up the third act and changes this movie out from being a run of the mill farce into an altogether more stylish mélange of crimetastic set pieces. Derivative sure, but if you dig two-fisted gangster theatrics you will love Criminal Activities.

Crimezine-Empowering Seniors

AMC-The Killing

The Killing: dead in the water

Crimezine cable favorites AMC, the cats behind Breaking Bad and Mad Men, have put the breaks on their Crime Drama The Killing. The network has axed the crime drama after  only two seasons. The series has received much acclaim from Crimeziners but a failure, by writers to resolve the Rosie Larson murder investigation led to much dissatisfaction amongst the shows fans and has ultimately put the kibosh on the shows chances of a third season.

Crimezine- the-classic Crime-zine-Blog

Website of the week is back Crimeziners, and it is time for the true crime apocalypse to end all true crime apocalypses: Welcome to truTV.

This grisly gallery of pestilent perpetrators will have you gasping, groaning and giggling with equal measure. tru TV’s crime library photo gallery is a Crimezine obsession. Pictures of deviant celebrities? Check. Pictures of Vampire blood lust? Check. Criminal facial tattoos and mustache mugshots? Check and check again. All this and the top ten bestiality cases of 2011 thrown in for free. If it is criminal and on camera truTV has is it for you.

Check out: clowns in the cooler; Mugshots from rock bottom, and the hilarious Weave been arrested. See pictures of foolish felons, with bandaged physiognomies in the chortlesome Wrap sheet. And in Arrest-au-rant, celebrity chefs face the heat outside the Kitchen. We leave  you with  startling pictures from the Changing face of crime section. Tru TV Rocks. Book mark it now, and remember you heard it first on Crimezine.

Changing face of Crime

Tweaker Beauty Parade: The Changing Face of Crime


Steven Van Zandt as Frank Tagliano

Miami Steve Van Zandt or Little Steven as he is better known to millions of Bruce Springsteen fans, is no stranger to mafia gigs . He played the part of Bada Bing proprietor Silvio Dante in hit HBO show The Sopranos.

Now Van Zandt is back, as wise guy Frank ‘the fixer’ Tagliano, a man who has finked off mafia boss Aldo Delucci to the FBI. His reward? A new identity in the Federal Witness Protection Program, and a one-way ticket to Lillehammer Norway.

Why Lillehammer? Well, sports fan Tagliano, much impressed by the 1994 Winter Olympics, figures he could use some fresh air and the company of some hot Scandanavian ‘broads.’

We are talking Dramedy here though Crimeziners, so things quickly go badly wrong. Tagliano gets billeted next door to the middle aged Chief of Police—a woman who doesn’t exactly conform to his fantasies of Scandanavian blonde bombshell. Then there is the comedy clown car he is allocated a subcompact not best suited to the Norweigan winter.

And if that wasn’t enough, our hero is expected to get a job, trouble is the only job on offer is as a pizza delivery guy. No surprise that Tagliano quickly reverts to his wise-guy routines, with hilarious consequences.

Now I am sure you will all be anxious to see this new series that is released on Feb 6, trouble is all eight episodes will be released simultaneously on Netflix. That is right Crimeziners, that subscription you just junked will have to be renewed if you want to see this show. Curses!

Crimezine Numbreone for Crime,Crimezine #1

Here comes Holmes more politically incorrect than a 1970’s Vegas lounge act. More dissolute than a night out on Sunset Boulevard with Charlie Sheen. This book has it all: drug abuse, breathtaking ethnic slurs and little lady sexism. They just don’t make them like this anymore.

Victorian society was brutally different from the one in which we live today. Cocaine Opium and Hashish were over the counter cure alls. Women had rights, but only the ones their fathers and husbands gave them. As for the question of ethnicity—the British Empire ruled the world so anything those appalling sandal wearing poor people wanted was not only an effrontery but a downright  liberty.

It is understandable therefore that many of the sentiments in The Sherlock Holmes books are now dated and the Sign of Four is no exception. Holmes shoots Cocaine on the very first page, which puts to rest many of the quaint ideas we have of this charachter. This is because the legend and success of  Holmes has trancended the reality and it is only through re-reading the original books that we can once again understand who Sherlock Holmes is.

More important however is our understanding of the long suffering Watson— or at least we think he is long suffering, because once again the popular image of Watson as bumbling side man is quite wrong.

In the original novels by Conan Doyle, Watson is an independent voice of reason, a narrator and counter point to Holmes’s egotism and excess. He is a doctor but also a military man, a man of action who admires the strengths of Holmes but also understands his many failings. Jude Law’s portrayal of Watson in the recent Guy Ritchie movie is probably the most accurate  cinematic portrayal of the character to date.

The Sign of Four is a tale of murder, treasure and vengeance. We get a manic one legged baddie and his midget blowpipe wielding assistant. Tightly corseted ladies get the vapours. Fog swirls and horse drawn carriages clatter through the streets of London. Morals and the Kings English are highly regarded. And those sandal wearing Foreigners? ‘The Hindoo always goes barefoot, where as the Mohamedean has larger big toes because of the thonged sandals they wear.’ Elementary my dear Watson.