Pulp Quotes

Posted in General Pulp with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2011 by gustravis

Pulp Quotes


From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made to be seen from 30 feet away.


Bogart can be tough without a gun. He has a sense of humor that contains that grating undertone of contempt.


What did it matter when you were dead…You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.


Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic. The second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off.


I do a great deal of research, particularly in the apartments of tall blondes.


I knew one thing. As soon as anyone said you don’t need a gun, you’d better take one along that worked.


-Raymond Chandler




Man does not live by murder alone. He needs affection, approval, encouragement and occasionally, a hearty meal.

-A. Hitchcock.


I killed him for money and for a woman. I didn’t get the money and I didn’t get the woman.

– Walter Neff (Double Indemnity-1944)


And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper.

-M.Gunderson (Fargo-1996)


We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody threw the girl off the bridge.

– John D. MacDonald


I don’t like jail; they got the wrong kind of bars in there.

– C. Bukowski


There’s nothing safe about sex. There never will be.

– N. Mailer


I guess God made Boston on a wet Sunday

– R. Chandler

What the tongue has promised, the body must submit to.

– R. Stout


Some people never go crazy. What horrible lives they must live.

– C. Bukowski


Love; when you get fear into it, it’s not love anymore. It’s hate.

– James M. Cain


The world’s really wild at heart and weird at the top.

-Barry M. Gifford


Los Angeles is the world’s biggest third rate city.

– J. D. MacDonald


I will ride my luck on occasion, but I like to pick the occasion.

– R. Stout


Stealing a man’s wife, that’s nothing. But stealing his car, that’s larceny.

– J.M. Cain


Look at that fat bastard trying to get out of his car.

– R. Chandler looking at A. Hitchcock


Dreaming of Babylon: Thinking about Brautigan

Posted in Richard Brautigan with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2011 by gustravis

Dreaming of Babylon: Thinking about Brautigan

by Gus Edwards


I’ve just finished reading Richard Brautigan’s Dreaming of Babylon (A Private Eye novel 1942) and I think it’s a doozy. It’s Brautigan which means that it’s kooky, absurd, insane, hilariously funny and completely fractured even in the way the novel is constructed. Now those should be reasons enough to recommend it, but in addition to all those virtues I have to add another. And that is respect. Because in spite of its absurdities the novel adheres to the traditions of the genre with a respectful degree of intelligence and affection.


The story is told in the first person by the Private Eye of the subtitle a Mr. C. Card who might just be the worst PI in the business. Of course just as he’s feeling completely down and out, along comes a job. He is hired by this beautiful blonde with a seemingly bottomless capacity for beer. She is accompanied by a murderous looking bodyguard/driver referred to as “The Neck”. The job is to steal a body from the San Francisco City morgue and deliver it to them at midnight in an appointed graveyard. Card takes the job because he’s been down so long that a job, any job, looks like up to him. He owes his landlady six months back rent, his mother eight hundred dollars and because he has no car so he has to take public transportation to get him from one place to another. He can’t afford cabs. That’s how bad things are.


But our Mr. Card is no ordinary down-and- out Private Eye. He is a man who exists fully on an alternative mental plain. A city not unlike San Francisco where he is a tough guy detective in the Dashiell Hammett’/Sam Spade, Raymond Chandler/ Phillip Marlowe tradition. Where like Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, who came along later, he has a sexy, knockout secretary who’s crazy for him.  So where everything’s wrong for him in San Francisco, everything’s right for him in Babylon. And much of the novel’s narrative is addressed to him balancing these two plains of existence.

Now as we go through the story we come across a plethora of curious characters. His mother, his landlady, a peg-legged manager of the city morgue, a tough cop (Sgt. Rink)that no criminal should ever want to encounter and a couple of Femme Fatales that neither Bogie or Dick Powell ever had to deal with. Then there are some thugs who seem to come right out of Laurel and Hardy or a Mack Sennett movie.


This is the 5th or 6th Brautigan novel I’ve read and I’ve loved them all. He makes me laugh with his unexpected turns of phrases and lines of dialogue. I can’t think of too many writers I can say that about. And whenever I’m reading one of his novels I always find myself asking; “Why hasn’t somebody made a film out of this?” But when I think about it some more I realize that most of the humor and the originality in his work is in both his idiosyncratic use of language and the attitude he brings to the enterprise. Both would be difficult if not impossible to translate onto film. Brautigan, in his novels and short stories too, often incorporates a kind of American “magic realism” that critics don’t always credit him for and appreciate. But it’s there in books like The Hawkline Monster, Sombrero Fallout and others. It is here in Dreaming of Babylon too. And he makes it work in a way that defies all expectation.

He may be gone but the books are here to be read and re-read, to treasure and to laugh about. Richard Brautigan was a one-of-a-kind talent. And it’ll be a millennium before the likes of him appears on the literary horizon again. Check him out if you haven’t already. He’s a pip.

Pulp Fiction Bumper stickers – Part One

Posted in General Pulp with tags , , , , , , , on April 19, 2011 by gustravis

Pulp Fiction Bumper stickers – Part One 

I have always felt that there should be bumper stickers taken from hard boiled pulp fiction and films. Here are some I would start with.

Life is a bucket of shit with a barbed wire handle. – Jim Thompson (author of The Grifters and other books.)

When the phone rang Parker was in the garage killing a man. – Richard Stark (author of the Parker series including Point Blank)

“Who shot him?” I asked…The grey haired man scratched the back of his neck and said: “Somebody with a gun.” – Dashiell Hammett (author of The Maltese Falcon and other books)

“I was born when you kissed me. I died when you left me. I lived for a few weeks when you loved me.” – Humphrey Bogart as Dixon Steele (In a Lonely Place -1950).

There will be more in the future. And please send in any that you think of. I would love to add them to the list. – GE.

The Last Line of a Pulp Novel

Posted in James Ellroy with tags , , , , on March 19, 2011 by gustravis

The last line of a novel, any kind, casts such a feeling over the entire length of the pages that came before it. After the pure pulp experience that was James Ellroy’s White Jazz, the last line sizzled, it sank into my blood-pumping bad heart.

“Love me fierce in danger.”

Sam Spade/Blond Satan

Posted in Dashiell Hammett with tags , , , , , on February 20, 2011 by gustravis

A flicker of thought at the end of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon:

Bogie wasn’t mean enough. No way. Sam Spade, a.k.a. a blond Satan, has yet to be realized on screen, perhaps something that is impossible. It’s too tough for the pictures.

By the way, the part when he takes O’Shaughnessy in the bathroom and makes her take off all her clothes: true pulp moment.

Richard Stark and the Movies – by Gus Edwards

Posted in Richard Stark with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 4, 2011 by gustravis

Richard Stark and the Movies
by Gus Edwards

If you’re a fan of ‘rough noir” as I am and you like that kind of action in your crime novels then you can’t help but love the ones by Donald E. Westlake’s writing alter ego Richard Stark. I’m talking about the Parker books about a professional thief known by only that name who gets guys together and pulls off ingenious heists in all kinds of difficult places (banks, museums, military instillations etc.) only to have things fall apart when thieves fall out or the Mob somehow gets into the mix. The plots are always compelling and the Westlake/Stark writing style is muscular and sinewy. But the real driving force of the narratives is the main character Parker. He is tough, pragmatic, unsentimental and thoroughly professional all the way. He kills with impunity but it is never gratuitous or sadistic. It is always because it couldn’t be helped.


The books came out as paperback originals and found a faithful following almost immediately. I was among that number. And although Westlake / Stark hadn’t originally intended to write a series of these books the fan base virtually demanded it after the first one came out. He acquiesced and wound up writing 22 books about our man Parker.

The stories and the character right at the start seemed a natural for the movies. And to date there have been six films adapted from the novels. The first Made in USA (1966) (from the novel “The Jugger”) was filmed by Jean Luc Godard apparently without the author’s permission. A lawsuit followed and Westlake won. The end result being that the film was never released in the US. But in a way that one doesn’t really count because Godard doesn’t exactly adapt the novel but uses it as a point of departure to do his own thing…The best reviewed and best known adaptation came one year later with Point Blank (1967) starring Lee Marvin as “Walker” as sort of a “walking dead” avenger. The film received high critical praise as an “existential “gangster riff. And when I first saw it I went along with that assessment. But looking at the film several times in the intervening years it now strikes me as being directorially self-indulgent and over mannered. A kind of artsy mainstream filmmaking whose techniques have dated badly… In the next Hollywood adaptation (The Split – 1968) Parker is transformed into an African American named McLain played by football player turned actor Jim Brown. It wasn’t anything to write home about.


A  side note about the name change.

Apparently there was something in Westlake’s contract stipulating that in movie adaptations the Parker name had to be changed to something else in order to separate the films from the novels. It turned out to be a smart move because all the novels are superior to the movies that were made from them.


The best film adaptation as far as I’m concerned is The Outfit (1973) starring Robert Duval in the Parker role now called Macklin. And one of the real pleasures of this film is the killer of a supporting cast they assembled for it. Included are such noir favorites as: Robert Ryan (this was his last film), Marie Windsor, Richard Jaeckel, Jane Greer, Elisha Cook Jr., Emile Meyer, Sheree North, Henry Jones and Timothy Carey. The other leads are Joe Don Baker and Karen Black. All provide sharp, knowing performances. But Duval stands out. For my money he is the best incarnation of the Parker character on film. Marvin was good but I prefer Duval’s take on the character as a sort of working class blue collar criminal. He also teamed up well with Joe Don Baker…I also like John Flynn’s no frills direction. He’s just telling a gangster story in a simple, straight forward manner without any extra moves or flourishes. And best of all he doesn’t seem to be trying to “elevate” the genre into being something else. It’s a crime story and that’s all it needs to be.

In 1999 Mel Gibson produced and starred in what I can only call a variation on The Hunter, the novel from which Point Blank was also adapted. That too is a miss fire although I’ve heard that it has its fans. Gibson seems miscast in the role to me and the film is way too violent without much good reason for it. And by the way, in this one Parker is called Porter…Before that the British slipped in their Parker adaptation of Slayground (1983) starring Peter Coyote as Stone. It wasn’t much either. So the definitive Parker film or better yet, series of films is still waiting to be made.


I think that the key to success for this series besides good scripts and good direction lies in the casting of the right actor as Parker or whatever they want to call him. Years ago when he was young and very much in the mix of things I thought that Roy Scheider (1932-2008) would’ve been perfect. But now I don’t have any idea as to who would fit. Still I’m sure that there’s someone out there who can fill the bill and give this character the celluloid life he so richly deserves. Only time will tell, I guess. But until then we have the novels to read and savor and then reread again.

 So “Thank you, Mr. Westlake”, or should I say “Richard Stark”.


Peter Cheyney: Dark Bahama, or I’ll Bring Her Back

Posted in Peter Cheyney with tags , , , , on November 3, 2010 by gustravis

I’m back on Peter Cheyney (Hammett-rival, great Brit-pulp writer) again. This time it’s not Lemmy Caution or Slim Callaghan, but another of his spy-pulp adventures, this one called Dark Bahama or retitled as I’ll Bring Her Back. Cheyney includes a nice teaser for the hundred or so pages of womanizing and Nazi-killing ahead. I’ve reprinted it here.

HE COULD still feel the goon’s fist in his belly. Forcing down a feeling of nausea, he looked the place over. The plush living room faded in and out of focus. Brother, could he use a shot of scotch. Then Thelma came in.

HE WAS GLAD his vision wasn’t too blurred. She came towards him, her full bosom undulating slowly, enticingly under a sheer pink dress. “Hello, Julian.” Her voice played around his ears like a gentle blow-torch, while the smell of her had an even more desirable effect than the scotch. “You look slightly less than handsome.”

AS SHE MOVED CLOSER to him a warm sweat broke into nervous little beads on his forehead and as he moved towards her outstretched arms he promised some day he’d kick her beautiful teeth in for having him beaten up. . .