Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links to the reviews, profiles and interviews

The selections (reviews and citations at the links below) of undeservedly (and a few deservedly) under-appreciated audio/visual experiences...as always, thanks to all the contributors and you readers...

Allan Fish: From What is Before

Anne Billson: JFK assassination films

Anonymous: They Were Expendable

Bill Crider:  The Librarian: Quest for the Spear [trailer]

Brandie Ashe: Pan's Labyrinth

Brian Arnold: "The Wild Hare"

Brian Greene: Two-Lane Blacktop

BV Lawson: Media Murder

Colin: The Moonlighter

Comedy Film Nerds: Emily Gordon

Cynthia Fuchs: (POV:) Tea Time (aka La Once)

Elgin Bleecker: La bête humaine

Elizabeth Foxwell: The Violent Enemy; Sax Rohmer on US v. UK crime

Evan Lewis: The Adventures of Sir Lancelot 

The Big Caper
Gary Deane: The Big Caper

George Kelley: Police Squad!

How Did This Get Made?: Sharknado 3

Iba Dawson: Gun Crazy

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.: The Lineup (radio, television, film)

J. Kingston Pierce: Jeff Rice and The Night Stalker

Jack Seabrook: Alfred Hitchcock Presents: "Don't Come Back Alive"

Jackie Kashian: It's Complicated; Liz Miele, comedian and animator

Jacqueline T. Lynch: Tension

James Reasoner: The Winning Season

Jeff Flugel: Four Frightened People

Jerry House: Western Heroes
A Matter of WHO

John Grant: A Matter of WHO; Midnight Intruder

Jonathan Lewis; Moving Violation; Romulus and the Sabines

Kate Laity: Canongate Kirk; It's Not Repetition, It's Discipline

Kliph Nesteroff: Paul Krassner

Kristina Dijan: World Without End; The Black Raven; The Penalty; Invisible Invaders [Scott Cupp last week]

Laura: The Adventures of Mark Twain; The Proud Rebel; Woman They Almost  Lynched

Lucy Brown: Party Girl (1958 film)

Marilyn Ferdinand: A Bright Summer Day

Martin Edwards: Partners in Crime: "The Secret Adversary" (pilot)

Marty McKee: Street Crimes; The Death Squad; The Private Eyes

Mystery Dave: Cool World

Nick Jones: Love Supreme Festival

Patrick Murtha: The Violators

Patti Abbott: Jim Jeffries

Pearce Duncan: Kill List

Pop My Culture: Laura Dreyfuss

Randy Johnson: Dead Men Don't Make Shadows

Rick: The Slipper and the Rose

Rod Lott: Spring; Student Bodies

Sam Juliano: Careful, He Might Hear You

Sergio Angelini: The Strange World of Planet X aka...

Scott Cupp: Zombies on Broadway

Stacia Jones: Wolfen; Wicked, Wicked

Stephen Bowie: The Bold Ones: The Senator

Victoria Loomes: Audrey Hepburn at the National Portrait Gallery

Walker Martin: adventures in painting collection

Walter Albert: Henri-Georges Clouzot

Yvette Banek: Dangerous Crossing

Dangerous Crossing

Monday, July 27, 2015

BEST FROM STARTLING STORIES, THE SHAPE OF THINGS, WONDER STORIES 1957 and other reprints from the Thrilling Group science fiction titles

After Standard Magazines/Better Publications shut down their Thrilling Group pulp magazines in 1955, they concentrated their activities mostly in the Paperback Library division of the Ned Pines organization...but James Hendryx, Jr. was given the task over the next decade to edit reprint magazines (with a couple of stories reprinted from the slicks rather than pulp back issues) two almost identical issues of Wonder Stories (the first in digest format, the second in pulp size) and eventually three issues of Treasury of Great Science Fiction Stories (with the last cutting the title down), also in pulp format. 
Cover painting by Richard Powers


And the anthologies drawn from the Thrilling Group magazines:
cover painting by Alex Schomberg

The Best from Startling Stories ed. Samuel Mines (Henry Holt LCC# 53-8980, 1953, $3.50, 301pp, hc) Also as Startling Stories and Moment Without Time
    • vii · Foreword: Blueprint for Tomorrow · Samuel Mines · in
    • ix · Introduction · Robert A. Heinlein · in
    • 1 · The Wages of Synergy · Theodore Sturgeon · nv Startling Stories Aug 1953
    • 61 · The Perfect Gentleman · R. J. McGregor · ss Startling Stories Sep 1952
    • 81 · Moment Without Time · Joel Townsley Rogers · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr 1952
    • 113 · The Naming of Names · Ray Bradbury · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Aug 1949
    • 135 · No Land of Nod · Sherwood Springer · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec 1952
    • 163 · Who’s Cribbing? · Jack Lewis · ss Startling Stories Jan 1953
    • 173 · Thirty Seconds — Thirty Days · Arthur C. Clarke · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec 1949
    • 207 · Noise · Jack Vance · ss Startling Stories Aug 1952
    • 225 · What’s It Like Out There? · Edmond Hamilton · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec 1952
    • 255 · Dormant · A. E. van Vogt · ss Startling Stories Nov 1948
    • 279 · Dark Nuptial · Robert Donald Locke · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Feb 1953
Cover painting by Eugene Berman

    • Introduction · Damon Knight · in
    • Don’t Look Now · Henry Kuttner · ss Startling Stories Mar 1948
    • The Box · James Blish · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr 1949
    • The New Reality · Charles L. Harness · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec 1950
    • The Eternal Now · Murray Leinster · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Fll 1944
    • The Sky Was Full of Ships · Theodore Sturgeon · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Jun 1947
    • The Shape of Things · Ray Bradbury · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Feb 1948
    • The Only Thing We Learn · C. M. Kornbluth · ss Startling Stories Jul 1949
    • The Hibited Man · L. Sprague de Camp · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Oct 1949
    • Dormant · A. E. van Vogt · ss Startling Stories Nov 1948
    • The Ambassadors · Anthony Boucher · ss Startling Stories Jun 1952
    • A Child Is Crying · John D. MacDonald · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec 1948
My review of The Shape of Things
Indices and images from ISFDB and Homeville.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Covers gallery: some short-lived fantasy and horror fiction magazines: the brilliant, the poorly designed, and the ridiculous

Fantasy Magazine/Fantasy Fiction (1953):
The first fantasy fiction magazine edited by Lester Del Rey, who would later edit the first short run of Worlds of Fantasy, then have a sustained run as the fantasy-fiction editor at Ballantine, then officially Del Rey Books. All four covers are by Hannes Bok.

Fear! (1960)
The horror title from Great American Publications, also including The Saint Magazine and Fantastic Universe, newly acquired (and the latter soon folded). Only two issues were published.

Shock Tales,  Suspense (both 1959); Thriller (1962)
Myron Fass, one of the more prolific publishers of exploitation magazines over the latter half of the 20th Century (and perhaps best remembered as the producer of some of the more durable imitators of Warren Publishing's Creepy and Eerie with his Eerie Tales line of black & white horror comics magazines in the latter '60s and early '70s), apparently is responsible for these magazines, the first two more or less the same magazine (and perhaps the only issues published, even though Suspense is labeled #4), and the last having three known issues...all with similar amateurish photography as the interior illustration for what can be called "confessions-style" attempts at horror fiction, perhaps masquerading clumsily as true accounts. Note model recurrence.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

ca. October 1950: PLANET STORIES, STARTLING STORIES, THRILLING WONDER STORIES and their companions as GALAXY debuts, conclusion/part 5

Cover by Allen Anderson?
read this issue at Archive.org
Part 1
Part 2 
Part 3 
Part 4
As readers of the previous installments might know, Galaxy Science Fiction magazine made a big splash in sf circles and beyond with its October 1950 first issue, as part of an effort by a very successful European magazine publisher trying establish some lucrative US projects, after their international hit in various languages, the all-ages romance comics title released here as Fascination, flopped. Galaxy, however, was an immediate success, if not the kind of huge moneymaker World Editions was hoping for...and it was widely hailed in the sf community, with good reason, as the best new sf magazine to arrive in at least a year, when heavily fantasy-oriented The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction launched, and possibly ever (see Robert Silverberg's brief testimonial in Part 1).  But the tendency to discount the contribution and quality of many of the magazines already in place at Galaxy's foundation (and at least one just after, Damon Knight's Worlds Beyond) are, by me, unfortunate at best, and for this last installment, we deal with three of the best extant rivals of Galaxy at its birth, and their certainly not-bad reprint companions. 

Love Romances Publishing Co./Fiction House; 
Jerome Bixby, editor
If any sf magazine was more loved and more mocked, with only some justice, than Planet Stories, I'm not sure which title that might be.  Planet was the epitome of adventure sf magazines; despite its title for today's literary taxonomists in sf circles, it was the unabashed home of space opera as well as planetary romance (is your adventure in free space or on a planetary or other gravitational body?), and also would publish rather more sedate pieces, not least as one of the first regular markets for Ray Bradbury. In fact, among Bradbury's first professional publications was his collaboration with the single greatest writer as well as the heart and soul of Planet throughout its 1939-1955 run, Leigh Brackett. While most of Planet's editors throughout the 1940s apparently barely demonstrated knowing how to properly hold a red pencil, they were fortunate in having Brackett as a passionate and prolific contributor of some of the best and most heartfelt adventure sf yet published. And she wasn't alone...actually, throughout the history of the magazine, it published no little good or better work from a range of the best writers in the field, including many who were also stars over at the much more widely respected Astounding Science Fiction, where Robert Heinlein served as the primary example of what that magazine could produce...but, unfortunately, the 1940s Planet editors
seemed just as happy to take in the writing of the likes of Stanley Mullen, some of the clumsiest bits of prose you don't want to read. But with the appointment of Jerome Bixby to the editorship, officially under the founding and magazine group editor Malcolm Reiss,  the old crew of writers, such as Brackett, Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Nelson Bond and the wildly uneven Ross Rocklynne, were supplemented by Poul Anderson, Charles L. Harness, Margaret St. Clair, Allen Kim Lang, John D. MacDonald and others (including Bixby himself) who were just coming into their own, and writing often brilliant fiction by any standard. (Unfortunately, Bixby also published a Mullen or two, whether because he inherited the clunking stories in inventory or not, I don't know.)  Like Columbia's magazines and Marvel Tales, Planet and its stablemates at Fiction House were also cousins to a flourishing line of comic books; Bixby was also editing Jungle Stories, the original home of Tarzan clone Ki-Gor, who with his pal Sheena, Queen of the Jungle were major figures in the likes of Jungle Comics, which had as a stablemate Planet Comics. I don't know if Bixby was also editing Detective Book or any of their other crime-fiction magazines, which would also run Bradbury's fiction...or if Brackett sold much to their cf titles, as she was beginning to establish her crime-fiction writing career in the early '40s, which led directly to being hired by Howard Hawks to work on the script for the Bogart & Bacall-starring film adaptation of The Big Sleep from the Raymond Chandler novel...and her subsequent Hollywood career, which included adapting The Long Goodbye for the 1970s film, and, just before her death, writing the first treatment and version for the Star Wars sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. Brackett's non-adventure sf novel The Long Tomorrow was recently issued in a new edition by the Library of America. For that matter, Jerome Bixby's writing career was also starting to pick up speed in the early '50s, when he would write and see published his most famous story, "It's a Good Life"...perhaps, like Damon Knight's "To Serve Man" or Lyn Venable's "Time Enough at Last", one of those sf magazine stories much better known for their Twilight Zone adaptations (and The Simpsons parody riffs) than in their original form. Bixby had some Hollywood work as well, including the original treatment for the 1960s film hit Fantastic Voyage.
Planet Comics #38 (1945) art: Joe Doolin

Major comics icons such as Will Eisner and Jack Kirby had important career turning points with the Fiction House graphic line, and the art on both sides of the product line were improving throughout the '40s and into the '50s...the garishness of some of the early Planet covers helped turn off some perhaps overly serious fans, who were embarrassed enough by the small-print "Astounding" over the large-lettered SCIENCE FICTION on that more subtly covered magazine. Nonetheless, the elegance of the exotic art on Planet Stories certainly improved at the turn of the 1950s (as see above), and no one had a good reason to take a snobbish attitude toward the magazine for its last six years or so, before being one of if not the last Fiction House title to fold in the wake of distribution troubles, comics censorship and loss of audience, and the general slumping sales and retail exposure given the pulps in the mid-1950s onward. 
Cover by Allen Anderson

Under Bixby, the magazine went from quarterly to bimonthly publication with the issue out at about the same time as the first Galaxy.

To read this issue online at Archive.org
Cover by Allen Anderson
Also launching just after the Galaxy debut, the worst-titled magazine (at least among the fully professional ones) was launched as a reprint title, with also a rather awkward cover format. You know a writer of Bixby's skill could've come up with a better title for the magazine, which was presumably forced upon the 'zine by the publishing brass 
(they published other Two Complete...Books titles, but no others with such a sad attempt at a new label for their content). Note also the first issue's rather interesting mix of still-reasonably-famous writers, both remembered today in some part for their religious work...the atheist Asimov for his presidency and staunch support of the American Humanist Association, Hubbard, of course, for the Church of Scientology...Dianetics, its core, had such a vogue in sf circles that even the skeptical Christian James Blish writes an article about it (which involves Bixby) and sees it published in Planet (see above).

Standard Magazines/Better Publications, Inc.; 
Sam Merwin, Jr., editor
And the last of our magazines from the US newsstand set in the last months of 1950 are the Thrilling group sf magazines, stablemates over the years of such titles as Thrilling Mystery and Thrilling Adventure, and which bought Hugo Gernsback's second major sf magazine, Wonder Stories, and augmented its title slightly in 1936; the first editor after the takeover was Mort Weisinger, who, even before Ray Palmer would at Ziff-Davis's magazines, aimed TWS and its eventual companions Startling Stories and Captain Future magazine squarely at a young audience (Weisinger's fantasy magazine, Strange Stories, was slightly more adult), and in doing so had the letter columns theoretically conducted by a Colorful old space-hoot named Sergeant Saturn, who had an irritating alien companion he called WartEars. Weisinger left the magazine to become the editor at Superman and other National Periodicals comics in 1941, and the less acute Oscar J. Friend continued most of the bad policies at the magazines (Strange was folded with Weisinger's departure; the Captain would lose his own magazine as Friend was about to leave, in 1944). But in 1945, Sam Merwin
1952 Bergey cover, a mix of "GGA"(Good Girl Art)
and the tragic for the first monthly issue.
was placed at the editor's desk, and announced an immediate desire to make his magazines better, including getting rid of  "Sarge" and starting to publish as much rather sophisticated sf as he could gather, trying to lean toward adventure fiction but not to the same degree as Planet (though TWS and Startling would also run a number of stories by the likes of Arthur C. Clarke, Margaret St. Clair, Leigh Brackett, Eric Frank Russell, Ray Bradbury, Henry Kuttner and Frederic Brown that pulled in other directions), and Astounding-style technologically rigorous work was welcome (from the likes of Clarke, James Blish or Charles Harness), but it wouldn't be the hallmark of the magazine, either.  Sadly, perhaps, the Captain Future novellas were retained for inclusion in Startling Stories (not the best work Edmond Hamilton or, sometimes, Manly Wade Wellman among others were doing, but who better?), but the magazines did markedly improve. The packaging was often still similar to what it had been earlier, including covers by Earle K. Bergey much loved by at least a few vocal readers of this blog (and its writer, and not without reason), but the fiction was much more engaging and diverse. Merlin's 1952 successor, Samuel Mines, got to reap even more reward with this, as his version of Startling became briefly the bestselling magazine in the field...and Startling absorbed its stablemates for the last few issu
es in 1955. Merwin would go onto assistant editing at Galaxy (as did Jerome Bixby), editing early issues of Fantastic Universe, and eventually editing Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

Thrilling Wonder Stories had perhaps the best lineup for the late 1950 issue, if perhaps also the worst of a bad set of cover illustrations:
But it's certainly close...Jack Vance head to head with John D. MacDonald and Eric Frank Russell...and the letter column is full of fans who would go on to write and edit in field when they weren't doing so already...
Cover by Earle Bergey

And the Thrilling Group added their own reprint magazines to the mix, beginning in early 1950, with a new story or two in each issue of Fantastic Story Quarterly (with one by Merwin and one by "William Morrison" in this issue):
And, reviving an old Gernsback tradition, Wonder Story Annual was introduced, as an all-reprint magazine, in mid 1950:

And, so, thanks for all the kind notes, folks...no more of this particular project to come, for now, but even a cursory glance over this blog will suggest this kind of post happens rather frequently...

And thanks for all the fine work done by the folks at ISFDB and Galactic Central, from which most of the images and all the indices have been borrowed. Thanks to ComicVine for information on and image of Planet Comics.