Posts Tagged ‘Dick Tracy’

Collins’ Spillane on Criterion

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

As a home video fanatic – the demented owner of thousands of DVDs, Blu-rays and laser discs – I am in particular a fan of the Criterion Collection, who consistently live up to their promise of putting out the highest quality DVDs and now Blu-rays of “classic and important contemporary films.” I have scores of Criterions in my collection, on all three formats, and as an indie filmmaker, having one of my films available from Criterion would be the equivalent of finding the Holy Grail or maybe that atomic box from KISS ME DEADLY.

Well, I have found the atomic box if not the Holy Grail (Monty Python or otherwise). In June, Criterion is bringing out (on both DVD and Blu-ray) what looks to be the definitive release of Robert Aldrich’s great film noir, KISS ME DEADLY…actually, the official title is MICKEY SPILLANE’S KISS ME DEADLY. I was approached about a month ago by representatives of Criterion wondering if they could use my documentary MIKE HAMMER’S MICKEY SPILLANE as a special feature on this disc. At first they wanted to just use excerpts, but ultimately they asked if I could do a re-edit on the piece to bring it down from around 48 minutes to half an hour.

Kiss Me Deadly

For those of you unfamiliar with MIKE HAMMER’S MICKEY SPILLANE, it’s a documentary I did in 1998 with the full participation of Mickey, utilizing all sorts of wonderful interview footage with the likes of Stacy Keach, Shirley Eaton, Lee Meredith, producer Jay Bernstein, Leonard Maltin and a galaxy of mystery writers and experts (Donald E. Westlake, Sara Paretsky, Walter Mosley, Otto Penzler, Marty Greenberg, Paul Biship, Joe Gores, Stephen Marlowe, Parnell Hall, Loren Estleman and on and on). It was produced for a company that went out of business and it never saw the light of broadcast day, although it won awards at festivals here and abroad, with a particularly memorable screening at the National Film Theater of London as part of a Spillane film festival (Mickey and I were both guests of the British Film Institute). The doc appeared as the major element of my anthology film SHADES OF NOIR a few years ago – which is only available in the boxed set BLACK BOX from Troma (it’s out of print, I believe, but can be found).

Anyway, I agreed to come up with a new edit expressly for Criterion – they wanted an emphasis on Mickey, Mike Hammer and (not surprisingly) KISS ME DEADLY. This was tricky because I did not have the original elements – I had to edit a new version from the existing version. Anyone who knows anything about film or video editing knows what a nightmare that is – this was a fully scored piece, meaning edits involved music at every point (the score was by my Seduction of the Innocent pal, Chris Christensen). Those who follow this update will not be surprised that I turned to my longtime collaborator, Phil Dingeldein, at dphilms in Rock Island. With his help – and that of editor Ryan Orr – we came up with a 39 minute cut that we have delivered to Criterion. A little longer than they had asked for, but in the ballpark.

In many respects, I like this new cut better. We lost a few really nice moments, but because the documentary was segmented, I was able to cut whole sections, including material on the MIKE DANGER comic book and Mickey’s appearances in my MOMMY movies (both were timely when I did the original doc). Some personal stuff about Mickey’s home life and family went, as well – material that played better when, frankly, Mickey was alive and well and among us. This shorter version acknowledges Mickey’s passing and works better, I think, as a career piece at this shorter length. I’m proud of it, and trust Criterion will indeed use the entire new edit (and not just excerpt it). The presence on their KISS ME DEADLY disc of this documentary – and, frankly, of me – is very important, because film critics have a smug tendency to dismiss and even dis Mickey’s source material in regard to Aldrich’s film. I have not heard the commentary tracks or read the Criterion background booklet, but I can guarantee you that there will be nasty things said about Spillane. And now I will be there to counterattack…er, I mean counterbalance.

Some nice web stuff this week.

The great review column Bookgasm did a fanastic write-up on the Quarry reprints from Perfect Crime.

My first Mallory novel (second published, first written), NO CURE FOR DEATH, got a very nice write-up. There’s a lot about the plot, and I remember almost none of it. In my defense, it was written around 1970.

You can pre-order RETURN TO PERDITION here and/or get a sneak look at the cover art.

And here’s a fun story showing how Mickey Spillane’s feisty widow Jane is keeping her local government honest (they promised to re-name a highway after Mickey, then didn’t follow through – bad idea!).

Finally, here is a mostly B.S. list of the supposed top 111 hardboiled heroes. Nate Heller, Mike Hammer and Dick Tracy make the list, but Quarry doesn’t. Irritating Quarry is almost as dangerous as irritating Jane Spillane.

M.A.C.

Morgan The Raider #2: 44 Years In The Making!

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

I have just completed THE CONSUMMATA, the Morgan the Raider novel of Mickey’s that I finished for Hard Case Crime. It just went out via e-mail to editor Charles Ardai a few hours ago. I’m very pleased with it, but it was a tricky one. Mickey had completed 108 double-spaced pages, but this time I had no plot or character notes. Even the evocative title itself (which had been announced by Signet Books many years ago) went unexplained. It required really getting inside the manuscript, and Mickey’s head, to figure out where he was headed…and I think I pulled it off.

So finally, the sequel to THE DELTA FACTOR, the second Morgan the Raider novel (Signet Books announced modern-day pirate Morgan as Mickey’s new series character with great fanfare), will appear…with Mickey’s fans only having to wait 44 years.

My technique I’m sure would dismay purists. I expanded and revised Mickey’s hundred-plus pages, weaving my own scenes and thoughts and style in and around his, so that his material appears deep into the book, nine of its thirteen chapters. (I created no new characters, however, and my plot strictly flows out of things he put in motion.) I get a lot of praise (much appreciated) for the seamlessness of these collaborations, but it’s because I treat them as collaborations – and don’t just “pick up where Mickey left off” that they are able to achieve what they do.

This is going to be an extremely big year for me, at least in terms of how much stuff will be out there. I will do a post on that subject either next week or soon thereafter.

The First Quarry Audiobook
The First Quarry Audiobook

One thing that is out right now is the audio book of THE FIRST QUARRY. I haven’t heard this yet, but it’s the same reader (Curt Palmer) who did THE LAST QUARRY, and he’s excellent. This company, Speaking Volumes, will be doing more Quarrys – all the Hard Case titles and perhaps the early books, as well. It’s only $19.95, very reasonable for an audio book.

Vince Keenan considers THE BIG BANG one of the best books of the year. Hey, Vince – me, too!

The Sons of Spade website went even farther, calling THE BIG BANG the best P.I. book of the year.

This is very gratifying, and we showed up a few other places, too, but mostly were overlooked. This is the first year in a while that Bookgasm hasn’t listed me on the best books of the year. As I have made clear here before, I despise these lists, and give them absolutely no credence…unless I am on them.

There’s a lovely post about THE GOLIATH BONE, which posits a movie version and presents a dream cast. Very much worth checking out, plus I posted a comment you may find of interest.

There is a very interesting piece about the BATMAN character Two-Face and the similar Haf-and-Haf character in DICK TRACY, discussing my work on the latter and referencing my BATMAN work in general. I provided several comments and you may find the back-and-forth interesting.

Finally, the contest remains open for anyone who can identity my two sections of the Top Suspense Group “Round Robin” short story (see below for details). So for nobody has won. Well, almost nobody…my son Nathan pegged ‘em. Nice going, Nate! Too bad you don’t need any M.A.C. books….

M.A.C.

You Only Blog Twice

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

This week’s Quarry cover is QUARRY’S DEAL. Another great Terry Beatty cover. Ordering info here.

Quarry's DealNate has been in Japan for several days now, and he’s doing a blog (daily, so far). He is posting beautiful pictures and great, often very funny commentary. He is a very talented young man and his father (me) is proud of him. So you get two blog entries this week; this one from me, and this one from Nate.

Because Nate is in Japan, I’m working a few days early on this update, to give him plenty of room to get it put together and posted. So it’s October 30 in Muscatine, Iowa, a beautiful fall day with lots of color in the trees and chill in the breeze. Tonight is the “official” local Halloween night, and I’ve carved the pumpkin (I’m damn good at it – ask Nate) [Nate:It's true!] and Barb is putting a bunch of scary stuff on the porch…ours is one of the houses the neighbor kids flock to, although some of our goodies are getting long in the tooth (we had to throw away a talking skeleton head after years of noble service).

We’ve been watching horror movies, and Barb – who for decades didn’t like them – is now a fan and catching up. We watched the very funny RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD from the late, great Dan O’Bannon. Our favorite Halloween movie, though, is TRICK ‘R’ TREAT, and if you haven’t seen that wonderfully dark, funny anthology movie, put it on Netflix for next Halloween season. It looks great on Blu-Ray. (So does RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, which features my old pal Linnea Quigley, with whom I almost did a comic book project some years back).

This weekend I am zeroing in on the conclusion of RETURN TO PERDITION, and next week (now, as you read this) I’ll be writing the next DICK TRACY introduction. Nice to have a connection to TRACY again. Next up is THE CONSUMMATA, the DELTA FACTOR sequel by Mickey Spillane that I am completing for Hard Case Crime.

Next year is going to be a big M.A.C. year. Barb and I have ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF (by “Barbara Allan”) coming out in March, and that same month from the same publisher (Kensington), Matt Clemens and I have NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU out. In May the third of the Mike Hammers appears – KISS HER GOODBYE (do not miss this one) – and in August BYE BYE, BABY, the first Nate Heller novel in ten years. Some time next year, QUARRY’S EX will come out, as well. And from DC/Vertigo, RETURN TO PERDITION.

This will no doubt initiate a bunch of “when do you sleep” questions (and putdowns), but the fact is BYE BYE, BABY has been done for well over a year, and three of the titles are collaborations. RETURN TO PERDITION is something I’ve been working on for a year and a half. QUARRY’S EX, of course, was supposed to come out this year and was postponed. What I fear is that some or maybe all of these titles will get lost in the shuffle because there are so many of them. And that drives me crazy, because each of these books is really strong. I get beaten up and sometimes ignored because I am seen as “prolific.”

But I have no intention of slowing down. At 62, I am not fooling around – I have stories to tell. I even have band jobs to play. Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of my first professional sale of a novel – BAIT MONEY to Curtis Books. The following two years will mark the 40th anniversary of me as a published professional (BAIT MONEY came out in December 1972 but was a January 1973 book).

So if any of you connected to writer’s organizations (the MWA has had enough yearly dues out of me to afford to make a statue of me for their lobby, if they had a lobby) or mystery conventions or mystery magazines (attention: Kate Stine) are interested, 2011 is a perfectly good time to start the career tributes and to book me as a guest and to just generally make a fuss. I’m available. I’ll even bring my rock band along.

For a price.

Here’s a fun fan review of my Batman graphic novel SCAR OF THE BAT. Nice to see something from a few years back get noticed now.

M.A.C.

Returning to Perdition

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

I am back at work on Return to Perdition – strictly on the front burner now. I’m inspired by Terry Beatty’s great artwork. I hope this graphic novel, the conclusion to the Perdition saga, is out next year some time. Some of the characters and events intertwine with the Marilyn and Kennedy Nate Heller novels, which is tricky.

And negotiations to possibly film my screenplay from my novel Road to Purgatory are continuing apace. I never believe this kind of thing till the check clears and shooting begins, but it’s promising, very promising.

After a busy summer, Crusin’ has no bookings this September – next date is Oct. 1 at the Elms in Muscatine. But we have been booked back to Riverside Casino in December, which is very encouraging, and we are putting together our live CD to help show other venues what we can do. Any Midwestern mystery conventions would be wise to consider us.

Even now The Big Bang is racking up some nice notices. You’ll have to scroll down to read this nice one from the Lansing State Journal.

It’s a pleasure to see an Augusta Chronicle article about cult crime writer Ennis Willie getting widespread attention on the web. Considering Willie was a mystery himself for years, seeing his picture and reading an interview with him is almost surreal…definitely surreal is seeing my own name prominent in the article. A good job, though the writer seems to think Willie was a rich, famous writer in the ‘60s, when even then he was an obscurity, published by a minor softcore smut house (Merit Books) out of Chicago. Over the years, a handful of us realized we had been reading and loving and collecting Willie, and our enthusiasm turned him into a much-collected writer – the original paperbacks now go for a lot of money. The article, of course, covers the new Willie collection, Sand’s Game, from Ramble House.

Fun to see Dead Street (by Mickey Spillane with a little help from yrs truly) getting attention so late in the game with this really nice write-up.

Downright odd is seeing my Dick Tracy movie novelization getting attention, but here’s a pretty good article on my adventures with Disney on that project. You can get my version in the book Tied-In, available at Amazon on Kindle and print-on-demand.

I’ll wrap by saying Barb and I saw some very fun movies this weekend – Machete and Going the Distance, incredibly different films but similar in that they are entertaining and not cookie-cutter Hollywood. Machete is, of course, an outrageous B-movie ride, while Going the Distance is a really funny, uncontrived romantic comedy with Justin Long and Drew Barrymore. In addition, we got the blu-ray from England of the new updated Sherlock (Martin Freeman of the original Office is Watson) – it’s first-rate, really terrific. It’s coming out over here soon, and don’t miss it. In its way it’s very faithful, and by dumping the Victorian era, you get an idea of what it must have been like to encounter the Sherlock Holmes tales when they were first published, and were cutting-edge current, not fog-wrapped nostalgia.

M.A.C.