Alan Carter: Some Vampire-Hunting …
So here we are at the end of another year and, as much as we might wish it away, the pandemic remains a big part of our lives. But at least the year started well with the removal of the Trump virus although I suspect that he too remains ready to break out again. The rise of aggressive wilful fuckwittery on the part of anti-vaxxer conspiracist nutjobs continues to perturb.
Tasmania has fared pretty well over that time, our little island state has used its natural defensive moat well. But this week our beloved hermit fiefdom opened up once more to the world and covid reality is about to bite us too.
This year sees the rounding up of my Cato Kwong series with the fifth and final book Crocodile Tears – a hybrid police procedural and spy thriller reuniting Cato and spook frenemy Rory Driscoll who first made his appearance in Bad Seed. Together they investigate the murders of two retirees in suburban Perth and the trail leads to Timor Leste and its blood-soaked history in which Australia has played no small part. It feels bitter sweet to be bidding farewell to the character I created ten years ago and who has built up a boutique but devoted following.
Some great books have been released this year; Garry Disher continues to shine with The Way it is Now, his zeitgeisty covid-era novel. I also became re-acquainted with Martin Cruz Smith’s Arkady Renko in the second novel of the series, Polar Star. Those early Renko novels take some beating for evoking time and place and the Perestroika/Glasnost era of Renko was a treat.
Hopefully in the first half of 2022 we will be rid of this corrupt, entitled, smug, misogynist blood-sucking Morrison government. The TV drama Total Control fronted by ace actor Deborah Mailman has captured the essence of the Morrison years in all its compelling ugliness. Another drama series which bodes well, also having First Nations people in key creative control, is Firebite (helmed by Warwick Thornton): indigenous vampire hunters tracking those evil bloodsuckers released by the First Fleet and who’ve been murdering blackfellas and stealing their land for centuries. Sound familiar? Sure, and it sounds great fun too.
While Covid has revealed the best in most of us it has also revealed the worst in some of us too.
Happy vampire-hunting in 2022.
Alan Carter ist der Autor von Prime Cut und Des einen Feind, zwei weitere Cato-Kwong-Thriller warten auf Übersetzung: Bad Seed und Heaven Sent. Im Mai 2019 erschien Marlborough Man in der von TW herausgegebenen Reihe bei Suhrkamp, Übersetzung: Karen Witthuhn, im August dann 2021 Doom Creek. Alan Carter with CrimeMag here and here.
Andrew Cartmel: „The Night of the Following Day“
This film is a stylish and stylised crime nightmare, one that has haunted me since the first time I saw it when I was a kid.
Part of the appeal is certainly Marlon Brando with a machine gun — probably the last sighting of the heroic young Brando (the trailer celebrates the return of “Brando the lean adventurer”).
But anyone expecting a conventional action thriller will be thwarted and baffled.
The Night of the Following Day is the work of Hubert Cornfield, a fascinating maverick who could, with a minor shift of the wind, have ended up esteemed alongside Peckinpah or Boorman.
Indeed, John Boorman’s Point Blank is one of the films that consistently returns to mind when watching this masterpiece of Cornfield’s. Both were filmed in 1967, though The Night of the Following Day was only released in 1969 after a troubled passage.
Both movies have a luminous and rather surreal beauty to their menacing mise-en-scène.
And both possess a kind of emptiness at the centre of the action, an existential detachment in the eye of the storm.
And they each gain sustenance from an eerie jazz score (Johnny Mandel for Point Blank, Stanley Myers for Night of the Following Day).
But unlike Boorman’s film, Cornfield’s is a compromised masterpiece, as we learn from the commentary track provided by the director.
In a noir plot twist, throat surgery has now rendered Cornfield’s voice a menacing, burbling croak that might terrify the unwary. It’s like something out of his earlier B-movie milestone The Third Voice (1960, from a Charles Williams novel).
But it is well worth listening to as, in this gurgling snarl, the wily director recounts his battles with his star Brando and his cinematographer Willi Kurant.
It turns out that some of the enigmatic quality that makes his film so great derives from Brando’s wilful disinclination to abide by the script, throwing the plot into confusion, and Kurant’s refusal to light scenes so they’re entirely comprehensible.
So Cornfield was required to improvise and find alternative approaches, which he did brilliantly.
The Night of the Following Day has its origins in The Snatchers, a paperback original by the American crime writer Lionel White. It is a tale of kidnapping — a topic considered too hot to handle in 1953 when the book came out. As Stanley Kubrick discovered.
Kubrick had snapped up the novel with the intention of immediately filming it, but found the subject matter was utterly taboo in Hollywood. So he swapped it for another book by White, Clean Break, which became the classic The Killing.
Hubert Cornfield then acquired the rights to The Snatchers. Even by the 1960s the theme of the film was still considered problematical. So Cornfield came up with a way of softening the impact — the story of the film never actually takes place…
Rather, it is structured as a premonition by Pamela Franklin. The teenager daughter of a millionaire, she dreams a presentiment of her abduction as she dozes in first class, roaring through the skies on a flight bound for Paris — where her kidnapper Brando awaits, both at the beginning of the film and the end.
This was the crucial insight that allowed Cornfield to finally make the movie. “I stole it from the British film Dead of Night,” he recalls fondly.
The circular story that unfolds charts Pamela Franklin’s capture by Brando and his accomplices Richard Boone and Rita Moreno. Boone is outstanding — amiable and cordial, but evil personified — and Rita Moreno is magnificent (“The best actress I ever worked with… absolutely incredible” recalls Cornfield).
Pamela Franklin is never really allowed to display her own exceptional talents. The script had called for her character to fall for Brando — her kidnapper — in a Stockholm Syndrome sort of way…
But when they shot this scene Brando refused to accept her advances, creating a rupture with the screenplay and enforcing the abandonment of a number of subsequent scenes and an entire subplot.
As a disgusted Hubert Cornfield snarls, “He becomes the knight in shining armour, destroying the whole point of the picture.”
One might agree with Brando’s refusal for his character to sexually exploit his hostage. But, as Cornfield points out, the knock on effect is that Pamela Franklin’s part is obliterated and she is hardly in the picture.
The relationship between Brando and the director continued to deteriorate until Cornfield finally decided, “Let’s get rid of the son of a bitch.” And he went on to complete the movie without the participation or cooperation of his star.
And Cornfield did so with great imagination and resourcefulness. Not to mention the odd inventive surreal flourish.
The result is a strange and beautiful movie that calls to mind the work of Nicolas Roeg
It’s also a hollowed-out and haunting existential thriller that sits beside Two Lane Blacktop — indeed, here as in Hellman’s movie the characters aren’t given names, but rather are the Chauffeur (Brando), the Blonde (Moreno), the Girl (Franklin).
I’ve always loved this film. Now I’ve learned the troubled circumstances of its creation, it turns out to be even more of a miracle.
Andrew Cartmel is a British author and journalist, he was also the script editor for „Doctor Who“ from 1987 to 1989. His Vinyl Detective Series is published in Germany at Suhrkamp as Murder Swing, translated by Susanna Mende, followed by Killer Rock. Andrew here at CrimeMag.
Liza Cody – from the Plague Island
2021 is not a year that anyone will want to repeat but there were certainly some good bits for me. A highlight was the publication in Germany of my latest novel, Milch oder Blut. It’s always a pleasure to see and feel Argument Verlag’s attractive books.
By the end of the year I managed to complete and publish a collection of my stories since 2003, My People and other crime stories, two of which have not been published before. The others have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies. So far some gracious readers have been generous about the book – and its attractive cover, which was designed by my grandson.
You may recall that last year I mentioned having enjoyed Matthew Bourne’s ballet, “The Red Shoes,” just days before the first lockdown here. Coincidentally I saw his “The Midnight Bell,” days before the most recent wave resulted in a return to many restrictions on what I now think of as Plague Island.
Other pleasures this year have included being able to attend a concert by Patti Smith at last – it was delayed twice over the previous eighteen months. I’m delighted to report that the silver-maned wonder can still rock your socks off.
I’ve only just discovered Chloé Zhao and absolutely loved THE RIDER and NOMADLAND. A real treat was THE SUMMER OF SOUL, which had not been seen by anyone since it was shot in 1969. It shows what was going on in Harlem while Woodstock took place elsewhere. I had never seen many of my musical heroes perform before. And, only yesterday I blown away by Spielberg’s new version of West Side Story. I’m a sucker for good musicals and this one has to be the best.
I hope the new year treats us all better than the old one. Stay all well and safe.
Zuletzt erschienen von Liza Cody sind bei Ariadne die Neuausgabe von Gimme more, übersetzt von Pieke Biermann, und Milch oder Blut.
Sturmflut, geteilte Meere, eine versunkene Kathedrale und schließlich der Aufbruch des Wassers in Himmel und Meer – das ist der Ausklang des Jahres 2021 für mich. Nichts hat mich in diesem Jahr künstlerisch mehr beeindruckt als Teodor Currentzis in der Philharmonie. Schostakowitschs 4. Symphonie, die ihre Wucht aus Verzweiflung schöpft. Evolution, Wandlung, Umdeutung und Umgestaltung von Trübsinn und Defätismus haben eine energetisierende Wirkung. Mit Schostakowitschs Worten: „Ich ging aus dieser Krise sogar gestärkt hervor, mit mehr Vertrauen in meine eigenen Kräfte.“
Diese Kraft spürt man auch in Marko Nikodijevics „parting of the waters into heavens and seas„. Ein unglaubliches, erschütterndes, das Mark durchdringende Stück! Der serbische und der russische Künstler – Zeitensprünge und doch so, ja, seelenverwandt! Wie diese Stücke korrespondieren und zugleich noch Klänge auftauchen lassen, die von Debussy stammen könnten, schimmernd wie Hélène Grimaud, wenn sie die „La Cathédrale engloutie“ spielt. Beglückend!
Ach ja, die Seele auch! Wann befasst man sich mit ihr? Viel zu selten! Es sei denn, man heißt Ingrid Caven und vertraut ihr. In meinem vor Kurzem im Kampa Verlag erschienen Band Chaos? Hinhören Singen spreche ich mit Caven über die Seele und Kleist … évidemment.
Das letzte Wort aber möchte ich Gustave Flaubert erteilen, dessen 200. Geburtstag wir gerade feierten. An Mademoiselle Leroyer de Chantepie schrieb er 1857: „Weil Sie jenseits der weiblichen Bedingungen gelebt haben, leiden Sie mehr als eine Frau und für sie alle. Die dichterische Einbildungskraft spielt hinein und Sie kreisen in Abgründen und Schmerz. Ach, wie ich Sie dafür liebe. Stürzen Sie sich Hals über Kopf, oder vielmehr mit ganzer Seele in die Literatur. Nehmen Sie sich eine große Arbeit vor und schwören Sie sich, sie zu Ende zu bringen.“
Promis, mon cher!
Ute Cohens Texte bei CrimeMag hier. Im Sommer 2017 kuratierte sie das CulturMag Sex Special. Danach das Special Tabu. Im Jahr 2020 ist ihr Roman Poor Dogs bei Septime erschienen. Zur Besprechung von Alf Mayer und zu der von Andrea Noack. Satans Spielfeld kam 2021 als Taschenbuch heraus. Joachim Feldmann dazu bei uns: Was kann Literatur?