Posts Tagged ‘Nate Heller’

Kiss Her Bye Bye

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Though not due till August, BYE BYE, BABY is starting to generate some very nice coverage. Here’s the Tor/Forge Blog info on it.

Even better are several really great reviews, like this one from the Not the Baseball Pitcher site.

Ed Gorman – that terrific writer, and author of his own first-rate Marilyn thriller – has a lovely and I think quite insightful review about the first new Heller in a decade.

But KISS HER GOODBYE continues to get strong notices, too, like this on at a major Kindle site.

I’ve stirred some interest and even commentary on my admitted displeasure with the cover to the new Heller. I am pleased by the quality of the photograph, and thrilled that my publisher ponied up for a major photographic shoot from the excellent Thalicer Image Studio. But because of fears that the MM estate might object to too overt a Marilyn image, the publisher chose what I consider to be the weakest (and certainly most historically inaccurate) of the photos from the shoot. One of the rejects is attached – and it makes my point, because it’s the image Thalicer’s agent chose to post on the website intended to drum up business – not the actual photo used.

Bye Bye Baby

The angle of the photo also demonstrates that the Mickey Spillane lookalike is thrusting forward a police badge, meaning he is not intended to be Nate Heller, as some (unfortunately) are assuming.

Throughout my career, my lack of input in the covers of my books (despite my background in graphic arts and filmmaking) as well as the frequent battles over my titles (RED SKY IN MORNING should have been called USS POWDERKEG, for example) have been a big source of irritation. On the other hand, sometimes the publishers have been right – my original title for TRUE DETECTIVE was TOWER TOWN, for example…though I was the one who came up with TRUE DETECTIVE as an alternative. But CARNAL HOURS and FLYING BLIND are among titles I fought for, and thankfully prevailed.

M.A.C.

Son Of A Pitch

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

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.

M.A.C.

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.