stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Gosh, another critical favorite I thought was just barely OK. But this 1947 movie has Robert Young, way before he was the Father who Knew Best. Also Robert Mitchum. And Robert Ryan. And someone not named Robert, the endlessly watchable Gloria Grahame. Directed by Edward Dmytryk. So the pieces were in place, enough of them for it to be nominated for five Oscars. But…

Young plays a jaded police detective investigating a brutal homicide of a Jewish civilian; Suspicion falls on a group of soldiers, eventually settling on a hapless youngster who can't account for his activities. But Mitchum is skeptical, and eventually so is Young. Helping them along is the occasional anti-semitic outburst from Ryan. This causes Young to become less jaded, and he switches from smoking a ubiquitous pipe to ubiquitous cigarettes.

It eventually drops into a preachy and unsubtle melodrama about anti-semitism. (Not that anti-semitism's a bad thing to be preachy about, probably even more so in 1947.) Interestingly, according to Wikipedia:

In the novel [on which the movie was based], the victim was homosexual. As told in the film The Celluloid Closet and in the documentary included on the DVD edition of the Crossfire film, the Hollywood Hays Code prohibited any mention of homosexuality because it was seen as a sexual perversion. Hence, the book's theme of homophobia was changed to one about racism and antisemitism.
It would be a few more years before Hollywood considered it to be safe to produce a movie taking a brave stand against murdering homosexuals.

Last Modified 2012-09-27 9:36 AM EST

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[Amazon Link]

The ninth, and probably the last, novel written by the late, great, Robert B. Parker in his Jesse Stone series. (But not the last in the series, apparently. See below.)

A thug's body is found in the trunk of his Cadillac Escalade on the scenic causeway in Paradise, Massachusetts (a thinly disgusied Marblehead). Jesse's task here is to discover the perpetrator; he's immediately drawn to the thug's employer, organized crime boss Reggie Galen, who lives in a nice house out on the neck. Coincidentally, Galen lives right next door to another crime boss, Knocko Moynihan. Even more coincidentally (and what might be deemed far-fetched), Knocko and Reggie are married to identical beautiful twin sisters. If you already smell something sordid going on, you're right.

In a parallel case, Boston female PI Sunny Randall has been hired by concerned parents to locate their wayward daughter; she's taken up with a bunch of cultists in Paradise. This naturally involves Jesse as well, and gives them a chance to rekindle their romantic relations from previous books. Cool!

So is this the end for Jesse? Apparently not: Amazon has a page up for Robert B. Parker's Killing the Blues, authored by Michael Brandman, to be released in September of this year. A little poking around reveals that Brandman is a TV writer/producer, most recently for the Jesse Stone series of made-for-TV movies starring Tom Selleck as Jesse.

I'm not sure how I feel about that! Generally, I frown on cynical attempts to squeeze more money from book-buying rubes based on their auto-purchasing affection for a suddenly (um) nonprolific author.

On the other hand, I'd kind of like to know what happens next to Jesse, Sunny, and the various supporting characters.

On the third hand, is it really "what happens next", if it's not Parker telling the story? Hm…

Last Modified 2012-09-27 9:35 AM EST