Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy Friday, Dizzy Davis

Since it's Friday, I'll just list a quick roundup of things that merit my roaring, gushing approval.

Sarah Weinman reviews a newly re-discovered work of detective fiction, which has been lost since 1865. The book is called "New York Detective" and features a fictional detective named James Brampton. Incidentally, Brampton is also the name of a smallish town in Ontario, Canada, with which I am most familiar.

A 24-year-old intern at the San Diego Police Department apparently cracked a 36-year old cold murder case. This better not turn out to be some kind of hoax, or I'll be disappointed.

Finally, on the cinematic front, Ceiling Zero is a freaking awesome Howard Hawks movie that I saw at BAM last night and which everyone should see if they get the chance. I'm sure there'll be an intelligent post on it somewhere soon (Rob?), but for now I'd like to say that its mix of comedy, melodrama, adventure, camaraderie and James Cagney really did it for me. (Pat O'Brien's not bad either.) Someone smarter than me once said:

"Howard Hawks's 1936 film is a superlative airport melodrama, comparable with Only Angels Have Wings. All of the lines of Frank "Spig" Wead's stage play are there and the action is confined to a few sketchy sets, yet the film is never theatrical ... [T]he overlapping, speeding dialogue is perfectly launched, as Hawks cuts to the core of the play with his own meditations on personality and responsibility."

I'd also like to note (for you dramatists out there) that it's a perfect example of Lajos Egri's principle of plot growing out of character. James Cagney's daredevil drives the whole story forward, and all actions spring out of his characteristic reactions within the world of the film. It's all about going down in a blaze of glory, and will make you nostalgic for the old, pre-de-icing days of aviation, when delivering the night mail was full of glory.

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