Date: 06 Apr 2000

Bill, I thought you didn't want us to discuss movies here? What happened?

(Actually, any interruption of the "HB Sports Comedy Channel" is welcome. That was a lot of one-liner posts today.)

JULIA is a slightly hardboiled chick flick. The Hammett scenes are good, but few. Screenwriter Alvin Sargent copped the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay of 1977 for the adaption of the Hellman "memoir" PENTIMENTO. It's worth a look, if only for Jason Robards' take on Hammett (also an Oscar winner Best Supporting Actor). Vanessa Redgrave also picked up the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Her presence nearly caused a riot out front of the auditorium, and her comments about Zionist Hoodlums during her acceptance speech was a real crowd pleaser. That was one hell of an awards show!

Alvin wrote a follow-up screenplay entitled TWO LIVES which was based on other Hellman writings and the Diane Johnson bio of Hammett. It is more along the lines of DASH AND LILLY, but a far superior take on the material (although structurally I thought the TV movie had some suspicious similarities to the Sargent script that I had read back in the eighties). TWO LIVES has been in and out of development hell for almost twenty years now. I hope it gets made one day, but it doesn't look likely.

A rare On-Topic aside: I just finished reading my first James Sallis, BLUE BOTTLE. I found it unusual (and interesting), but I've read some reviews that state it is one of his lesser works. How does it rate with the rare birds out there? Is it not one of his better books? What would be a preferable read? Sallis seems to use literary references in much the same way Pelecanos uses music (to riff on a recent thread). Sometimes it gets a bit overbearing. His use of time is very odd as well, but it's kind of refreshing, even if I had to go back once in a while to figure out what frame we were in. Another positive note: It was Gold Medal short (to tie in yet another thread). But it was also much more self conscious than any Gold Medal book (of course, that is the point of it in the first place). I want to read another Sallis, but I'd like it to be one of the best he has to offer. I need rara assistance, please.

And speaking of HOT SPRINGS (a title that came up on the Crumley short story thread) this is also the title of the new Stephen Hunter novel. It's all about Bob Lee Swagger's father Earl and his attempts to clean up mob-run Hot Springs, Arkansas, in 1946. I've just started reading the ARC and it is, as usual for Hunter, terrific. Hunter is stepping into Ellroy territory here and I think this will be a book that could convert even the Hunter hold-outs on the list. Keep an eye out for it.


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