My wife and I for a short time would sit down and watch a Film noir every Friday night. We called it Film noir Friday. Now I run Dungeons & Dragons for my 15-year-old son and his buddies on Friday nights. With the amount of writing I’m doing, and the other stuff entailed with publishing, and working at least 40 hours per week at the real job, and reading (critical to writing craft), and ensuring I leave four hours every Saturday to watch my Alma Mater, I don’t get a lot of time to watch old movies (or any movies).
There will not be a Film noir Friday this week, either. But—, TCM’s Noir Alley series is screening Odds Against Tomorrow (OAT) this weekend (Sun 12 a.m. and 10 a.m. EST). This is a notable entry for two reasons:
1) It is IMO the last film of the original Film noir cycle. Many experts claim the cycle ended in 1958 with Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil, but I’ve seen none of them deny that Odds Against Tomorrow is a Film noir. This is not a comment on the relative merits of the two films. My only argument is that Odds Against Tomorrow released in 1959 is a Film noir and should rate as part of the Classic period. For example, it is not a neo-noir like Chinatown. (If you are interested at all, I prefer OAT to Welles’ film)
2) It is one of a handful of classic Films Noirs to tackle the race issue. I know talk of race issues in the USA (and global) is exhausting. However, it is fascinating to look back. Back to a time before I was born from the perspective of someone who grew up in the 70s and 80s. I think it’s common to think these scabs weren’t picked at in the 40s and 50s (or maybe that’s just my narrow perspective?). But there were a few noirs that tackled it before or in the early days of the escalating civil rights movement. Crossfire (anti-Semitism) and No Way Out, come to mind. And OAT. I’ve seen these movies, but it has been years. I think I own Crossfire and I know I own OAT. I forget movies like I forget my own stories when I’m through with them (ask my wife, she knowsmore about what happens in Everything is Broken than I do!). But I am left with the impressions. And I recall Odds Against Tomorrow as the best race picture of the Noirs I’ve seen, and I recall Robert Ryan as being believable and fantastic as a disgusting racist.
I own the DVD, but I’m hoping to catch the Noir Alley screening to hear what Eddie Muller has to say about the film. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. The message hides in pretty good heist film, so even if you are tired of race and don’t share my fascination in looking back on the issue I think it is enjoyable on those grounds alone. Plus, it features Gloria Grahame in a small role. Gloria is always a good reason to check out a film.
I’ve received some interesting messages this week which basically amounted to Why Pulp?
Seemed like a worthy blog post.
The answer is pretty simple. I don’t intend to wade into the literary waters. I enjoy reading literary fiction, but I have little desire to write it. I suspect I will always be simply a genre writer. The original pulps were the popular genre fiction of their day. I think there is a tendency to think pulp was, I don’t know, Indiana Jones-type stories. I love those stories. Love. But the pulps were also filled with detective stories, westerns, romance, sci-fi, weird horror, and the list goes on. So, when I say “writes pulp” I mean “writes genre fiction.” But there is more…
The pulp writers were also very prolific. They had to be at a penny (or fraction thereof) a word. They didn’t labor over a novel or short story for a year to make sure it was perfect. A polished story was the least of their concern. This led to a reputation of poor quality, partly because there was some. (Guess what? There are quite a few stinkers on the shelves of your local Barn o’ Novels.) However, Charles Dickens was, for all intents and purposes, a pulp writer. So was Raymond Chandler. Dashiell Hammett. Edgar Rice Burroughs. H.P. Lovecraft. Robert Howard. Tons of others who wrote great stories without as much name recognition today. They wrote a million words a year, and they got better at telling stories because of it. My favorite author John D. MacDonald got his start in the pulps. He famously once said a writer had to get a million words out of his/her system before he/she produces anything of quality (I paraphrase). I believe in the value of practice. I believe in the value of being prolific. I do not worship at the altar of continually revising a story to make it just right. Especially, early on in my writing journey.
Simply put, I think I’ll learn to be a better storyteller by telling more stories.
I have no better answer for Why Pulp?
As pointed out in the comments, I’ve been slow in linking Social Media. This is partially because the only social media I ever use is Facebook, and that’s just a personal profile.
I created a Facebook Group, which once I actually get something out I will use like a newsletter to announce releases, interact with readers… and maybe even provide the occasional freebie. I am not a marketer. I am not a salesperson. It all makes me very uncomfortable, but at least people will know that by joining the group they will receive promotional stuff. Which beats me using my personal profile like it’s some MLM.
So… I had hoped to avoid a Facebook “Page”, simply because it seems to have turned into a tool for Facebook Ads. I don’t necessarily have anything against the Ads. I may get around to using them, but that is somewhere down the line. The thing I like about the Group? If someone signs up, unless they un-follow, they should get notified of anything I post to the Group. Not so, with the Page. Only a percentage of those following the page will get notified…unless I pay to Boost the post. But… Facebook as of August 1st only auto-links WordPress posts to Pages, not Profiles…not Groups. So, I have a Page, too! (as of 30 minutes ago, and I’m already getting propaganda from Facebook to pay for boosting). I do have a Page. Please be sure to “Follow”. Hopefully, that means you have a better chance of getting notifications.
Finally, Twitter (sigh). Twitter is a complete mystery to me, but I do have an account linked to this page.
If that is not enough social media, amen. For this is all I am capable of at the moment.
And thank you to reader, L.M. Warren for gently nudging me in the direction of linking my social media to the page. I have no clue whether any of this will work properly, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.