JOE LANSDALE’S HAP AND LEONARD: An Overview by Scott Montgomery


THE EVOLUTION OF JOE LANSDALE’S HAP AND LEONARD by Scott Montgomery at CrimeReads is well worth a read.  If you’re already a fan, you might get a little more insight into the stories and if you’re not a fan, you should be.  Well done, Mr. Montgomery.

Our header art today is a detail from the cover of the Subterranean Press trade edition for Dead Aim and was created by Glen Orbik.

“Pixie” – The Trailer is Here!

Check out the Pixie trailer.  My guess is it is not what you’re expecting from the title!

Pixie (Olivia Cooke) wants to avenge her mother’s death by masterminding a heist, but her plans go awry and she finds herself on the run with two young men (Ben Hardy, Daryl McCormack) who are way out of their depth being chased across the Wild Irish countryside by… deadly gangster priests. She has to pit her wits against everyone, taking on the patriarchy to claim the right to shape her own life.

“Cobra” Poster by GRÉGORY SACRÉ!

I’m a huge fan of alternate posters, so I’ve seen and enjoyed quite a few over the years.  I’ve seldom seen one as clever as this Cobra poster by Gregory Sacre.

It’s cool how Sacre took the crime data from the opening of Cobra and incorporated it into the poster along with the iconic Cobra 45.  And how about the Cobra logo Sacre designed?  This poster is a winner!

Check out more of Sacre’s art here or follow him on Twitter!

The Black Terror: Seduction of Deceit by Beau Smith & Chuck Dixon & Dan Brereton

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of The Black Terror: Seduction of Deceit mini-series written by Beau Smith & Chuck Dixon with art by Dan Brereton.  I’ve been calling for a nice trade reprint of the original series for years.  (Dan Brereton hinted that one may be coming in the next year.)  Even still, from time to time I need to remind everyone what a great series it was.

Consider this today’s reminder.  ; )

COLUMBO: “Just One More Thing…”

Not quite two weeks ago I posted that my wife and I had been watching and enjoying Columbo.  We still are.  It seems that many of the folks who stop by here have a fondness for Columbo as well.  One of them, Papa Stas, even directed me to a site called The Columbophile: The blog for those who LOVE Lieutenant Columbo.

The Columbophile has everything that a Columbo fan would want including an episode guide, episode rankings, Columbo facts, links to resources including where you can view full episodes, gifts and more!  Before you click over, let me share three of the facts I learned while there…

  • Peter Falk won 4 Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Lieutenant Columbo in 1972, 1975, 1976 and 1990.
  • In 1997, Murder by the Book was ranked at No. 16 in TV Guide‘s ‘100 Greatest Episodes of All Time’ list. Two years later, the magazine ranked Lieutenant Columbo No. 7 on its ’50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time’ list.
  • Peter Falk had a sometimes fractious relationship with Universal. During the filming of Season 1, and believing the studio was trying to renege on an agreement to let him direct an episode, Falk was even barred from the set. Filming of Dead Weight and Lady in Waiting was affected.

John Woo’s “The Killer” Trivia!

I remember the first time I saw John Woo’s The Killer.  My mind was blown.  I called my best bud, John Beatty to talk about the amazing action movie I had just seen.  This cat Chow Yun Fat was just too cool and the director John Woo?  Forget about it.  This dude had guys shooting with two guns while doing crazy stunts, gun to gun stand-offs from guys close enough to touch each other, and just all out over the top action.  I still have my The Killer poster (the same as the one above and a gift from Mr. Beatty) hanging in my fortress of solitude (right behind me).

Rob Hunter at Film School Rejects reminded me of all this with his post, 26 Things We Learned from ‘The Killer’ Commentary.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorites…

Woo has previously acknowledged that the film was inspired by Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samurai (1967) which was in turn inspired by a novel titled The Ronin by Joan McLeod. Other inspirations mentioned include Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets (1973), Francois Truffaut’s Jules and Jim (1962), and the films of Sam Peckinpah.

(I haven’t seen Le Samurai, but it does show up on TCM, so I will.  Jules and Jim is another I’ll have to watch for.  I’ve seen Mean Streets and of course many of the films of Sam Peckinpah. – Craig)

The commentary was recorded in 2002, and even back then there’s mention of rumored US remakes of the film. He mentions supposed remakes with Denzel Washington & Richard Gere and Michelle Yeoh & Sharon Stone. A Hollywood redo is still currently listed on IMDB.

(Sly Stallone was also attached to a US remake — he was working on the screenplay and it was titled Maggie’s Eyes. – Craig)

Fat turned down offers to star in Alien: Resurrection (1997) and as Morpheus in The Matrix (1999). He chose The Replacement Killers (1998) and The Corruptor (1999) instead.

(I always thought that Chow Yun Fat should/could have been a much bigger star in the US.  I actually would have preferred him in Alien Resurrection (which I really liked) or The Matrix (the first one I loved). – Craig)

“Columbo” Trivia!

My wife and I have been watching Columbo quite a bit lately.  Since the show is available on several networks throughout the week, we’ve been DVRing them all to watch at our convenience.

I watched Columbo pretty regularly when it first aired, but I was at the age where I missed more than a few due to other priorities.  My wife never really tuned in.  We’re both enjoying the show now.  It’s fun to see the number of stars appearing as the murderer (or murdered) and even more fun spotting future stars getting their first breaks as a background player.

The fine folks at MeTV posted 13 Little Details You Probably Missed in Columbo.  It’s a fun piece you’d probably enjoy even if you don’t watch Columbo.  Before you click over here are three of my favorites and my thoughts (but for the full details click over)!

Columbo does secretly reveal his first name, once.

(This was a surprise to me.  I didn’t think Columbo’s first name was ever revealed.  In fact we just watched an episode where Columbo was flat out asked his first name.  His response was something to the effect of only his wife uses it and everyone else calls him, “Columbo”. But thanks to MeTV, now we know! – Craig)

The author from the first episode has books in later mysteries.

(I love this.  It shows that the people who made the series were paying attention to what went on before, and it creates a universe for Columbo that feels real. – Craig)

Captain Kirk makes a cameo.

(Ha!  This is a great trivia item.  Captain Kirk makes a cameo. Not William Shatner – he guest stars, but Captain Kirk appears in the same show.  Eagle eyed viewers would catch that.  I’ll be on the lookout when I see the episode. – Craig) 

“John Wick” Trivia

Jake Rosen at Mental Floss presents 8 Fully-Loaded Facts About John Wick. Before you click over, here are three of my favorites and my thoughts on each.

1. JOHN WICK WAS ORIGINALLY TITLED SCORN.
Screenwriter Derek Kolstad wrote a revenge thriller titled Scorn that first circulated back in 2012. Kolstad said he was inspired by films like 2008’s Taken and 2004’s Man on Fire, which both featured determined men with special skills out for revenge. By the time the movie was released in 2014, it had become John Wick. The reason, Kolstad explained, was that Keanu Reeves kept referring to the script by the character’s name and distributor Lionsgate believed it would be too much free publicity to lose.

(I did not know this.  Scorn is nowhere near as good a title as John Wick.  Thank you Keanu! – Craig)

7. JOHN WICK HAS A HOBBY THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE FINAL CUT.
While John Wick’s interests in life seem to be mostly restricted to killing people in creative ways, he’s apparently able to express himself through less violent means, too. According to Reeves, the script for John Wick included a scene in which Wick works on restoring old leather-bound books. It was filmed but didn’t make the final edit.

(I understand why the scene didn’t make the movie, but what a cool choice for a hobby for Wick.  – Craig)

8. A JOHN WICK TELEVISION SERIES—MINUS JOHN WICK—IS IN THE WORKS.
Each John Wick film reveals more about the professional code of conduct governing the assassin’s trade. Their common ground is the Continental, a hotel designed to cater to killers without fear of being attacked. (This sometimes doesn’t work, as people try to kill John Wick there anyway.) Lionsgate is pursuing a television series, The Continental, based on the hotel, that’s expected to premiere sometime following the release of John Wick 4, which is currently scheduled for May 2022.

(I love the idea of a tv series set in John Wick’s world as long as it doesn’t become “the hit <as in execution assignment> of the week.  – Craig)

“The Doorman” Starring Ruby Rose and Jean Reno – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Here are the poster and trailer to The Doorman.  The poster is basically a cool logo and I’d rather see that than another poster of Photoshopped star heads.  The trailer pretty much tells the story — nothing groundbreaking here, but it does look like fun.  I want in.

US Release Date: October 9, 2020
Starring: Ruby Rose, Jean Reno, Louis Mandylor
Directed By: Ryûhei Kitamura
Synopsis: A woman returns from combat and befriends a family in NYC, a gang of thieves plot to take the family’s valuables, she is all that stands between them and their lives.

“The Unholy Wife” / Z-View

The Unholy Wife (1957)

Director: John Farrow

Screenplay:  Jonathan Latimer (based on a story by William Durkee)

Stars:  Diana Dors, Rod Steiger and Tom Tryon.

The Pitch: “We’ve got Diana Dors, let’s star her as a femm fatale in a film noir!”

Tagline: HALF-ANGEL……HALF-DEVIL, she made him HALF-A-MAN! …she flaunted his hopes, taunted his dreams, turned his peaceful valley into a volcano of seething passions that even murder could not stem!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

The Unholy Wife is a little known, under-rated film noir released in 1957 staring Diana Dors and Rod Steiger.  Steiger plays Paul, a war vet who runs the gigantic family vineyard.  A chance encounter with a beautiful woman leads Paul to fall in love with her.  And that love sends him down the path to death and ruin.

Sound familiar?  It should because its the outline for all great film noirs.  Double Indemnity?  Check.  The Postman Always Rings Twice?  Check.  Now, I’m not saying that The Unholy Wife meets the gold standard of those two classics, but it’s definitely coming from the same mine.

Dors plays Phyllis a bleach-bottle blonde bombshell (say that three times fast) that steals Paul Hochen’s heart.  Despite the warning signs (some from Phyllis herself), Paul marries her. He then brings Phyllis and her young son home to live on his huge vineyard estate.  It isn’t long before Phyllis is having an affair and plotting to set her husband up for murder.

The Unholy Wife reminds me of a lesser known Gold Medal book you’d find on the paperback racks back in the 50s.  I say that as a good thing.  Even The Unholy Wife movie poster looks like it could have served as a Gold Medal cover!

I like everything about The Unholy Wife.  Dors is excellent as the beautiful, heartless seductress.  Steiger is convincing (and doesn’t overact) as the nice guy led astray.  Tom Tryon doesn’t have much to do, but is just right as Dors’ lover.  The movie was made in Technicolor and the process and colors make it look like a lurid paperback cover come to life.

If you’re a fan of film noir then you should really enjoy The Unholy Wife. I did.

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“The Batman” Trailer and Craig’s Thoughts…

Warner Bros. dropped the trailer for The Batman and it is rightfully getting a lot of positive buzz.

Truth be told, I hadn’t much interest in The Batman until seeing this trailer.  While Batman is my favorite DC comic character and I’ve enjoyed all of the Batman movies to some extent, the change of director, star and focus of the new film left me with a wait and see attitude.  Now that I’ve seen the trailer let’s talk…

  • Pattison as Batman looks good.  Because of the way the modern films have designed the suit, anyone (within reason) could be Batman.  I like that this suit isn’t as flashy as previous ones.
  • Zoë Kravitz is an excellent choice for Catwoman.
  • Take out the Batman and Catwoman and the movie still looks like something I’d want to see.
  • The supporting cast is excellent.
  • I like that Matt Reeves co-wrote and is directing.
  • I like the title The Batman and that Batman is working with the police.  The whole film has a Batman: Year One vibe and that is a great thing.
  • The only thing that I question at this point, is Batman says, “I am vengeance” when I always felt that Batman was more about “justice”.
  • The Batman is now on my must-see list and I can’t wait to see more.

From Warner Bros. Pictures comes The Batman, with director Matt Reeves (the Planet of the Apes films) at the helm and with Robert Pattinson (Tenet, The Lighthouse, Good Time) starring as Gotham City’s vigilante detective, Batman, and billionaire Bruce Wayne.

Also in the star-studded ensemble as Gotham’s famous and infamous cast of characters are Zoë Kravitz (Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Selina Kyle; Paul Dano (Love & Mercy, 12 Years a Slave) as Edward Nashton; Jeffrey Wright (the Hunger Games films) as the GCPD’s James Gordon; John Turturro (the Transformers films) as Carmine Falcone; Peter Sarsgaard (The Magnificent Seven, Black Mass) as Gotham D.A. Gil Colson; Barry Keoghan (Dunkirk) as Officer Stanley Merkel; Jayme Lawson (Farewell Amor) as mayoral candidate Bella Reál; with Andy Serkis (Planet of the Apes films, Black Panther) as Alfred; and Colin Farrell (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Dumbo) as Oswald Cobblepot…

Based on characters from DC. Batman was created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger. The Batman is set to open in theaters October 1, 2021 in select 3D and 2D and IMAX theaters and will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Of Mice and Minestrone: Hap and Leonard: The Early Years by Joe R. Lansdale / Z-View

Of Mice and Minestrone: Hap and Leonard: The Early Years by Joe R. Lansdale

Trade Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Tachyon Publications

First sentence…

I must have been six or seven at the time, and it was an event that went on for years, this gathering of relatives.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Of Mice and Minestrone: Hap and Leonard: The Early Years contains five short stories about Hap and Leonard during their, you guessed it, early years.  As an added bonus, there’s a section titled Good Eats: The Recipes of Hap and Leonard by Kasey Lansdale (Joe’s daughter).  Let’s take a quick look at each…

The Kitchen is, as Lansdale says in the intro to the book, more of a vignette than short story.   Reading it you get a sense of where Hap got his moral foundation and why family is important to him.  If you’re lucky it will also bring back memories of another time when things moved slower and family get-togethers were special events.

Of Mice and Minestrone is divided into two parts.  In part one, Hap (a 16 year old high school student) has a run-in with a thugish man at a gas station.  Hap apologizes for his part, but the bully wants a fight.  When the thug’s wife tries to calm her husband by saying, “He’s just a kid.  He didn’t mean nothing -” it’s obvious she has overstepped.  The gas station owner comes out and the man and his wife leave.

Later, when Hap unexpectedly sees the woman in town he can tell that she’s been beaten up.  Hap wants to help her, but she’s afraid and Hap is just a kid.  Together they devise a plan to save her.  Part II Of Mice and Minestrone deals with the fallout from their plan and as you can guess things don’t end up all sunshine and roses.

The Watering Shed was a dive bar located a ways from town.  It was a rough place where you could get a drink even if you were under-age, if you had the cash.  Hap and Leonard had some coin and a hankering for a beer.  Had Leonard not been black, there wouldn’t have been a problem.  But he was and there was and it led to two murders.

In The Sparring Partner Hap and Leonard are offered some easy money to assist a promoter in getting his new fighter ready for his next match. Unfortunately the promoter isn’t on the level and his fighter is in waaay over his head.  Hap and Leonard could take their sparring partner money and walk away but we know that won’t happen.

The Sabine was High takes place when Leonard arrives home from Viet Nam and Hap has recently gotten out of prison (for refusing to be drafted). They go on an overnight fishing trip and share stories about the hell each of them has been through.

Good Eats: The Recipes of Hap and Leonard is exactly what you’d imagine, recipes for preparing food from the stories.

Of Mice and Minestrone: Hap and Leonard: The Early Years provides a look at events that shaped Hap and Leonard into the men they would become. You don’t have to be a H&L fan to enjoy the book, but if you are you’ll enjoy it all the more.  My favorite story gave the book it’s title.  Lansdale sets up a classic situation and then throws in twists along the way (doesn’t he always) that will leave you smiling at his storytelling ability and sad at the situations the characters are in.  There’s not a weak story in the book and even though I’m not much of a cook, I think I’ll give a recipe or two a shot.

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