NEW FICTION: Bourbon & Blondes has arrived!

From the bus stations of Rt. 66 to the smoky, neon-tinged jazz dives of the big cities, these wanton tales of longing introduce us to vixens on the fringe and those shifty men that drove them there.

Subscribe for the latest updates

Sign up to get Anthony's newsletter featuring news on his new books, stories, events and pop culture musings

Watch: The 'Bourbon & Blondes' Book Trailer

Get your shot glass ready because you're about to enter a retro world of showgirls, drifters, barmaids and thieves.

The eternal question for scribes?

In this new social media landscape, the question becomes: Is blogging dead? It just may be...

Watch: The 'Front Page Palooka' Book Trailer

Read the pulp novella that one reviewer called 'A potboiler in the style of old school writers like Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler...'

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Clockwise from top left: Joe Pesci, Gina Gershon and Billy Zane, Woody Harrelson and Robert Mithum.

The best thing about noir as a genre is that it can be bent a thousand ways from Sunday. I've said that once and I'll continue.

While most classic noir films we've come to love have stemmed from the 40s and 50s (too many to name), plenty of neo noirs have been delivered in the modern day from director Roman Polanski's take of the private eye film in "Chinatown" to the burnt-neon world of Ridley Scott's sci-fi "Blade Runner." Those are givens. But what about the flicks off the beaten path?

Just as in my prior post, I'm going to recommend four more neo-noirs that some of you may have missed the first time around.

PALMETTO (1988) 

This gist: Woody Harrelson as a noir schnook borders on pure genius. Here's the gist: Jilted reporter Harry Barber (Woody Harrelson) is framed for for exposing corruption in City Hall in Palmetto, Fla. Once he's sprung, Barber is quickly seduced by the devil in a dress named Mrs. Malroux (Elisabeth Shue). She lets him in on a lil' fake kidnapping scheme: For pretending to abduct her stepdaughter, Harry snags $50,000. The officer in charge of the case hires Barber as the police spokesman, but their simple plan runs into complications and unexpected twists.

Why I loved it: Woody is fabulous and the humid Florida atmosphere drips off the screen. And Shue... Wow. Was she born to play a femme fatale. A solid neo-noir.


The gist: What's a noir list without a Marlowe film? The second big screen adaptation of Raymond Chandler's novel, is much closer to the source text than the original 1944 film " Murder, My Sweet." The film centers on Hollywood detetcive Marlowe's attempts to locate Velma, a former dancer at a seedy nightclub and the girlfriend of Moose Malloy, a petty criminal just out of prison.

Why I loved it: Robert Mitchum, for my money, is one of the best Marlowe's I've seen. Dare I say, he might be better than Bogie? Shot in lush, period detail, everything about it works. Look for a Sly Stallone cameo. Trivia: In 1978, Mitchum reprised the role of Marlowe in "The Big Sleep" but the drama was oddly set in the present day and in England.



The gist: Undoubtedly the oddest of this lot, the neo-noir is based on a posthumously published Jim Thompson story in all its seedy glory. And I DO mean seedy. Billy Zane stars as Marty Lakewood, a reporter forced to leave Chicago because he had uncovered too much police corruption (sounds similar to 'Palmetto.') He returns to his small hometown on the California coast to his ailing mother and prostitute sister (Gina Gershon), with whom he had an incestuous affair. The scheming begins...

Why I loved it: This is by far the kinkiest noir I've ever seen. And yes, kinkier than Thompson's other adaptation, 2010's 'The Killer Inside Me.' This B picture is filled with gangsters, policewomen and LOTS of double-crossing. No doubt, the film feels icky. A real neo-noir, but be warned. Caveat: This is a tough film to find. While some may be able to find it on VHS, I was able to snag it a few years ago on cable.


The gist: When the mob bears down on a widowed nightclub owner (Barbara Hershey), she enlists the help of New York City's most reliable crime scene photographer Leon "Bernzy" Bernstein (Joe Pesci), who agrees to get involved in exchange for good pictures -- and a potential romance. 

Why I loved it: Pesci delivers. This was an attempt to make Pesci a real leading man after he won his Oscar for 'Goodfellas.' Sadly, the film never found an audience. This is perhaps the most conventional film of this bunch, despite all the period detail. Still, a fine and worthy movie to add to any neo-noir canon. Trivia: The film is loosely based on the famed New York Daily News photographer Arthur "Weegee" Fellig. Currently streaming on Comcast.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


The gorgeous Janet Montgomery in 'Made in Jersey.'
As the networks pimp their shows with announcements from the upfronts in Cali., I have to admit that nothing is exactly tickling my fancy. 

For the most part it's the same bumper crop of sitcoms, police procedurals and paranormal caca with the name J.J. Abrams stamped on it. Call me jaded.

Two shows, however, stood out. Since I hail from the state Tony Soprano called home, "Made in Jersey" seems intriguing enough. It centers on a young working class woman who uses her street smarts to compete among her pedigreed Manhattan colleagues at a top New York law firm. It also helps that star Janet Montgomery (a Brit playing a jersey gal!) is impossibly gorgeous.
The second a waaaay  more my speed. Fresh of the heels of successful period programs like "Mad Men" and "Magic City," comes "Vegas." The drama is inspired by the true story of former Sin City  Sheriff Ralph Lamb, a rancher tasked with bringing order to Las Vegas in the 1960s. We're so in... The fact that it stars Dennis Quaid as the lawman and Michael Chiklis as a Chi-town mobster s just icing.

The following are the trailers and official synopsis for each show.


The official synopsis: Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis star in VEGAS, a drama inspired by the true story of former Las Vegas Sheriff Ralph Lamb, a fourth-generation rancher tasked with bringing order to Las Vegas in the 1960s, a gambling and entertainment mecca emerging from the tumbleweeds. Ralph Lamb (Quaid) wants to be left in peace to run his ranch, but Las Vegas is now swelling with outsiders and corruption which are intruding on his simple life.

Recalling Lamb's command as a military police officer during World War II, the Mayor appeals to his sense of duty to look into a murder of a casino worker – and so begins Lamb’s clash with Vincent Savino (Chiklis), a ruthless Chicago gangster who plans to make Vegas his own. Assisting Lamb in keeping law and order are his two deputies: his diplomatic, even-keeled brother Jack (Jason O'Mara) and his charming but impulsive son, Dixon (Taylor Handley). Ambitious Assistant District Attorney Katherine O'Connell (Carrie-Anne Moss), who grew up on the ranch next to the Lambs, also lends a hand in preserving justice. In Vegas, two powerful men – Lamb and Savino – are engaged in a fierce battle for control of the budding oasis, and for both of them, folding is not an option. Nicholas Pileggi, Greg Walker, Cathy Konrad, Arthur Sarkissian and James Mangold, who also directed the pilot, are the executive producers for CBS Television Studios.


The official synopsis: MADE IN JERSEY is a drama about a young working-class woman who uses her street smarts to compete among her pedigreed Manhattan colleagues at a prestigious New York law firm. Martina Garretti (Janet Montgomery) finds her firm’s cutthroat landscape challenging, but what she lacks in an Ivy League education she more than makes up for with tenacity and blue-collar insight.

After just a few weeks, firm founder Donovan Stark (Kyle MacLachlan), takes note of Martina’s ingenuity and resourcefulness, as does her sassy secretary Cyndi Vega (Toni Trucks). With the support of her big Italian family, including her sexy older sister Bonnie (Erin Cummings), Martina is able to stay true to her roots as a bold, passionate lawyer on the rise in a new intimidating environment. Jamie Tarses, Kevin Falls, Julia Franz and Mark Waters, who also directed the pilot, are the executive producers for Sony Pictures Television in association with CBS Television Studios. Pilot was written by creator and co-executive producer Dana Calvo.

Friday, May 11, 2012

HIPPY CHICKS (#fridayflash)

Press play for some mood music

They didn’t give a flying rat's ass about poetry or jazz. They just wanted to maybe smoke and get drunk. Maybe score some of that good reefer from the new beatnik kid who wanted to be Kerouac.

They were young American girls who thought they knew it all. They were runaways but would never admit it and, under normal circumstances, would probably be pretty were it not for the vigors of bohemian life like tobacco, booze and certain mild psychedelics.

Being from a big Northeastern city, the two girls were both children of hard-working immigrants and it's pretty safe to assume that the goatees, slang and hipster clothes were lost on their parents, a generation who left their own country to build ours.

Monica, the brunette, insisted everyone call her 'Monique' while the blonde, Yelena, of Russian descent, had to endure the nickname 'Sputnik I' from all of the resident Dobie Gillises around the way.

One night while she was out, Monique's father found books on Buddhism under her bed and when she came home, threatened to throw her out. When she explained that it opened her mind, he opened his wallet, handed his only daughter a fifty dollar bill and called her an evil gypsy. She snatched the money from his trembling hand and never looked back.

Yelena left home quite differently. She began dating a journalist whose scribbled a tad too much about certain 'isms,' which, quite frankly, hit a tad too close to home for Russian expatriates like her parents. When Yelena suggested at the supper table one night that Uncle Sam should start equalizing the playing field a bit more and that men like Henry Ford were the devil incarnate, her parents suggested she enter the world that she knew nothing about. Sputnik I accepted, grabbed her beret, and embarked on a year-long couch hopping tour.

Yelena's tour ended when her journalist boyfriend's tour in the Vietnamese jungle began. Eventually, she snagged a job as a shopgirl where she would eventually meet her husband, a bank manager from two towns away. It's safe to assume that yes, she would endorse Capitalism.

And what of Monica -- err, Monique? She would eventually migrate west and couldn't afford to get past Reno. She wasn't complaining, though. As a hat check girl, she paid her bills and met many fine young suitors.

Years passed ad it's funny how times ad those doors of perception change because these two mature women would eventually give those slobs at Woodstock the stink eye.

At this point in their life thousands of miles apart, the jazz of those bohemian nights never sounded better.

Music: 'Bohemian Nights' by Adam Wojtanek. It can be downloaded HERE.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Clockwise from upper left, Denzel Washington, Michael Shannon, Billy Bob Thornton and Elliot Gould
The best thing about noir as a genre is that it can be bent a thousand ways from Sunday.

While most classic noir films we've come to love have stemmed from the 40s and 50s (too many to name), plenty of neo noirs have been delivered in the modern day from director Roman Polanski's take of the private eye film in "Chinatown" to the burnt-neon world of Ridley Scott's sci-fi "Blade Runner." Those are givens. But what about the flicks off the beaten path? I'm going to recommend four neo-noirs  that some of you may have missed the first time around. 


The gist: Of all directors, Robert Altman takes on Raymond Chandler's hard-boiled gumshoe Phillip Marlowe in an update of "The Long Goodbye" with Elliot Gould stepping into the iconic role as he bops around Los Angeles in the early 70s. Yes, it's odd. Between Altman (who I felt couldn't tackle Chandler), and Gould (who I felt was woefully miscast), I had reservations from the first frame. Was I wrong. In a big way.

Why I loved it: Gould gives us such a quirky, unconventional muttering-to-himself Marlowe that he makes you like him. He's not a tough guy which is oddly refreshing in any noir. What's more, Sterling Hayden, a vet himself of vintage noir films, shows up as a grizzled Hemingway-eque scribe. And finally, "The Long Goodbye" boasts one of the catchiest theme songs I've heard in a while that you'll want to own it. Easily worth a watch. (Netflix streaming)


The gist: Boozy private-eye John Rosow (Michael Shannon) is hired to shadow a mysterious man leaving on a train from Chicago bound for Los Angeles and soon finds out that he's not who everyone thinks he is. As a result, it's not long before the detective channels his own inner demons by discovering he and the man he's looking for are very much alike. If there was a quintessential post 911 noir, this would be it.

Why I loved it: Two words - Michael Shannon. Anyone who is a fan of 'Boardwalk Empire' knows that the Oscar-nominated Shannon ('Revolutionary Road') is a fine thespian and his ballsy interpretation of the typical gumshoe is first rate. (Netflix streaming) 


The gist: This Joel Coen and Ethan Coen film casts Billy Bob Thornton as sad sack California barber Ed Crane. When his wife cheats on him (Frances McDormand), he embarks on a devious blackmail scheme that eventually explodes in his face. James Gandolfini co-stars.

Why I loved it: This is perhaps the most typical noir of these neo examples. In fact, this black-and-white flick could easily have been released in 1949 and no one would be able to tell. I've said it before and I'll say it again: No one does retro films better than the Coens. Their visual aesthetic and attention to detail make each frame a virtual painting. Add in moody noir elements, and you have a damn near classic.


The gist: Based on the character created by writer Walter Mosley, the film is set in Los Angeles circa 1948. A stranger asks war veteran (and self-taught private dick) "Easy" Rawlins (Denzel Washington) to help find a missing woman and he quickly gets in over his head becoming entangled in a murder mystery.

Why I loved it: Denzel ooooooozes charisma in this. So much so, that one wishes there were more films in the Easy Rawlins cannon. Good news, however. According to Deadline ad CNN, NBC is developing a project called "Easy Rawlins," based on Mosley's best-selling series. Quick... someone call Idris Elba. Let's hope the Peacock Network doesn't screw it up in development like they did with 'The Playboy Club' and 'Prime Suspect.'