Son Of A Pitch

May 10th, 2011 by Max Allan Collins

Not long ago, I was out in Hollywood for one of my rare “pitch” trips. One session was on the studio lot of a network with a very famous writer/producer, with a new Mike Hammer series the subject. Two sessions at two cable networks were for “Interstate 666″ (the hardy among you may remember my short story of that name in one of the HOT BLOOD paperbacks). The latter would be in partnership with producer Carl Amari (who did my two Mike Hammer “radio” novels, most recently THE NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER: ENCORE FOR MURDER). Carl has a deal with Fangoria magazine, who would “present” the film and subsequent series.

These are always long shots, but I have a lot of faith in Carl. The possible Hammer series – my involvement there would likely be limited to a script or two per season – is in the hands of my longtime friend, movie/TV agent and producing partner, Ken Levin.

ROAD TO PURGATORY remains in play, and is one of several projects I hope to do with my frequent collaborator, Phil Dingeldein, of dphilms in Rock Island.

I just heard the other day that “Interstate 666″ won Best Unproduced Screenplay at the Iowa Motion Picture Awards. I was for many years very active with the Iowa Motion Picture Association, but for the last several have stayed mostly on the sidelines. As such, I didn’t attend the awards presentation, but I’m obviously happy to win.

There was some fun coverage of various M.A.C. projects on the net this past week.

A big surprise was the attention my two Jack and Maggie Starr novels received at the Noir Journal. They don’t really consider the books “noir,” but like them anyway, and (like me) wish there were more. There’s a possibility I will be doing a third Jack and Maggie mystery, this time for Hard Case Crime – which means it will be sexier and more violent, and maybe even noir enough for the Journal to pronounce it such.

KISS HER GOODBYE is not on the bookstore shelves yet (you remember bookstores, right?) and is still a pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble; but it’ll be out in a couple of weeks, and continues to get nice coverage. A bookseller has very nice and I think smart things to say about the book here.

There are also some nice KISS HER Goodreads comments you might find worthwhile.

The director of THE LAST LULLABY, the Quarry movie, has a short but sweet interview on that subject here.

And the Collins/Beatty Wild Dog gets a brief, smart write-up at Scoop. Check it out.

Getting back to the Hollywood trip, it was a whirlwind two days, but I got to spend an evening with my pal Leonard Maltin and his wife Alice and daughter Jess, three of my favorite people. Leonard booked a booth at Musso & Frank’s, the famous old Hollywood Blvd restaurant, and the specific booth he booked (the “Chaplin” just inside the doors) was the one I used for Nate Heller and a Dorothy Kilgallen-type newspaper columnist in the forthcoming BYE BYE, BABY. A nice coincidence.

Nicer still was getting to accompany Leonard to the TCM Film Festival where I met Jane Powell and Robert Osborne (and saw Leonard interviewing Ms. Powell, followed by a big-screen screening of SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS). I kidded Mr. Osborne that I should have been an interview subject for TCM’s Mike Hammer evening (then upcoming, now past). Mr. Obsborne took my joshing seriously and started talking about budget constraints, etc. He warmed up after that, but I have to say – they should have had me on. Mr. Osborne made two errors in the introduction of THE GIRL HUNTERS, saying that most critics panned Mickey as Mike (not true – he got mostly raves) and that the film was Mickey’s debut as an actor (of course not – that was RING OF FEAR…which TCM has aired a number of times).

The three Hammer films TCM aired were KISS ME DEADLY, MY GUN IS QUICK and THE GIRL HUNTERS. Still MIA for TCM are the original I, THE JURY and THE LONG WAIT, both far better than MY GUN IS QUICK – although TCM aired a great print of that…and MGM is making the film available here.


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8 Responses to “Son Of A Pitch”

  1. Mike L. says:

    Hi Max,
    Hope you don’t take it too seriously that the reviewer at Noir Journal called your Jack Starr books not noir. I should write a disclaimer like “The opinions of reviewers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Noir Journal.” However, some reviewers, because they are writing for “Noir Journal,” do add a brief comment on whether the work is noir, hardboiled, or whatever.
    After following the debate on “What is noir?” for a few years; my conclusion is: Who cares.
    At NoirCON 2010 in November, for example, one write described noir as a continuum, while another said, “If anyone asks me what noir is I say ‘F*** you.'” I think that’s sort of my position now, too. But, as you saw, the reviewer loved your books, and is currently working quite excitedly on KISS HER GOODBYE.
    Mike L.
    Noir Journal

  2. The “noir” discussion is one of those periodic pointless topics that get bandied about on panels at conventions, on various user lists, etc. I’ve written about where the term comes from — specifically, French film criticism referencing the black-covered Serie Noire crime series mostly reprinting American mystery writers mid-twentieth-century — but that doesn’t stop various absurd pronouncements about what is/isn’t noir. Even as erudite an appreciator of crime fiction as Otto Penzler can make the absurd comment that a private eye novel can’t be noir. Uh, ONE LONELY NIGHT much, Otto?

    The term has come into popular use in publishing because both “tough guy” and “hardboiled” (the old terms for what a guy like me writes) became negative ones among some editors. The term “noir” is just posh enough to help combat the periodic if undying prejudice against this type of book in some publishing (and reader) circles. It reminds me of how my collaborator Terry Beatty once defined a sports bar: “not a gay bar.” Noir defined might be: “not a cozy.”

  3. Bill says:

    I work at Barnes And Noble (the physical kind)and we’ve had Kiss Her Goodbye on the shelf for the last two weeks.

  4. Mike L. says:

    The latest Noir Journal features KISS HER GOODBYE.

    Thanks for the reply about defining Noir. Actually, do you mind if I reprint our exchange in Noir Journal?

    As much as I admire and respect Penzler, I did find his article in Huffington Post last year a little arrogant, especially when he said that most people who think they like noir don’t even know what it is. I thought of the people I know from an online Neo-noir discussion thread. They are very bright and articulate readers who like noir detective stories, like Block’s Scudder, Bruen’s Taylor, and many more. These are the people who should be defining noir–if it needs a definition at all.
    Mike L.

  5. Mike L. says:

    Latest Noir Journal features KISS HER GOODBYE.
    Mike L.

  6. Mike, you are welcome to reprint my comments above.

    Thanks for the coverage on KISS HER GOODBYE. Hope you’ll look at BYE BYE, BABY (due in August), too.

  7. Mike L. says:

    Thanks. Will definitely take a look at Bye Bye, Baby.

  8. Mike I have one ARC of BYE BYE, BABY left if you need it for review purposes. Write me at with your snail mail, if so.