Insomnia has grabbed me by the throat this week. It may, however, be better than the weird dreams I’ve had while asleep. I’m not sure what sparked them. Perhaps I should hire Mike Hammer to investigate. Of course, he might try to shake some sense into me instead. I posted that image from Kiss Me Deadly to placate him, after all.
This week’s theme song was written by Frank Zappa and first appeared on the 1975 live album Bongo Fury. It’s a bit of lowlife sleazy LA Noir with Napoleon Murphy Brock on lead vocals and Captain Beefheart blowing the blues harp.
Advance Romance has appeared on multiple live albums but we’re sticking to the original:
Repeat after me: Napoleon Murphy Brock is one of the greatest names in rock history.
Speaking of Don Van Vliet and blues harps, I give you dis song:
I would be remiss in my curatorial duties if I didn’t post a song by the ultimate blues harmonicat:
Let’s juke and jive to the beginning of our second act.
We begin with a piece that I discovered while searching for film noir images. Rumor has it that I like film noir. I have no choice: Mike Hammer insists. Right, pally?
Bunker Hill Noir: That’s Bunker Hill in Los Angeles, not Boston. I did not know that the Criterion Collection website has some swell essays about my favorite film genre. Ya learn something new every day.
There’s a fine piece about the importance of the Bunker Hill neighborhood in film noir by Imogen Sarah Smith at said website. I stole the Kiss Me Deadly illustration from it. Mike Hammer told me I could do it. Never argue with Mike whoever is playing him. There was nothing meek about Ralph Meeker…
Carly Simon released an album called Film Noir in 1997. She co-wrote the title track with Jimmy Webb:
Silent Bruce: There’s a brilliant piece at Vulture by Matt Zoeller Seitz about the evolution of Bruce Willis’ acting career. Willis has gone from playing a gabby private eye on Moonlighting to playing nothing but strong and silent types. Get thee to Vulture for the details.
Before he became Silent Bruce, Willis had a sideline as a singer. He gets the last word of our second act with this cover of a Ry Cooder song followed by the original:
Now that we’ve bopped til we dropped, we begin our third act with our favorite stolen feature.
Separated At Birth Casting Edition: Let’s move our film noir journey north to San Francisco. The great crime fiction writer Dashiell Hammett has been played onscreen by Jason Robards in Julia and Fredric Forrest in Hammett. Here’s a Dash triptych with the novelist in the middle.
Those were both fine films directed by outstanding directors: Fred Zinneman and Wim Wenders for Julia and Hammett, respectively. Robards won his second supporting actor Oscar for Julia. I bet the rakish angle at which he wore a fedora had something to do with it.
It’s time to dash off a non-film noir movie list. I hope Mike Hammer will forgive me. If he calls in Sam Spade I’m doomed.
The Movie List: Doing the dozens has inspired me to do two half dozens this week. Bob Rafelson died last month at the age of 89. He had a fascinating albeit checkered career as one of the leading directors of the New Hollywood movement of the 1970’s. The late Hal Ashby was in that group as well and the second half dozen is dedicated to his movies.
The Bob Rafelson Half Dozen
- Five Easy Pieces
- Mountains Of The Moon
- The King Of Marvin Gardens
- Black Widow
- The Postman Always Rings Twice
I usually dislike remakes, but the Rafelson-Nicholson-Lange take on the Cain classic is excellent.
As to Head, Rafelson was one of the creators of The Monkees teevee show. Hey, hey. I did that on porpoise:
The Hal Ashby Half Dozen
- The Last Detail
- Being There
- Harold and Maude
- Bound For Glory
- Coming Home
The soundtrack for Harold and Maude was done by my countryman Steven Georgiou DBA Cat Stevens.
Best Of SCTV: This week, one of my favorite sketches by the Canadian cutups. See Julia Child in the boxing ring with Fred Rogers. Punch, Julia, punch. I am not making this up; SCTV did.
Bonus points for pairing Cosell and Cavett as the MCs, eh.
Saturday GIF Horse: Here’s Bruce Willis in his pre-Silent Bruce days as the garrulous shamus David Addison in Moonlighting.
Celebrity Ad Corner: Since our theme song mentions liquor stores, I decided to revive this feature with a surreal twist.
I refuse to believe Dali drank vodka. Sal was all about the money. It would have been fun, however, to see the old reprobate in a kilt.
Tweet Of The Week: I’ve been in a bad mood this week. This news briefly lifted my spirits:
The life and legacy of 11-time NBA champion and civil rights pioneer Bill Russell will be honored by retiring his uniform number, 6, throughout the league. The iconic Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer will be the first player to have his number retired across the NBA. pic.twitter.com/OSVx02bQDl
— NBA (@NBA) August 11, 2022
A well-deserved honor. Bill Russell was as good a human being as he was a player. That’s saying a lot.
Let’s close down this virtual honky tonk with some more music.
Saturday Closer: I posted the cover of The London Howling Wolf Sessions on Wednesday. Here’s the whole damn album.
That’s all for this week. The last word goes to the cast of Hal Ashby’s Shampoo at Jack Warden’s election eve party. Nixon’s the one on the wall.