Booze Bullets and Broads

Gunshots-600-X-900-457x685BOOZE BULLETS & BROADS by Bruce Scivally is an ebook examination of Dean Martin's Matt Helm movies and the subsequent TV series. I was thrilled when I heard about the ebook but it turned out to be a major disappointment. It's very short, more like an expanded article than a book. It's very light on details, and the author appears to rely almost entirely on facts and quotes culled from newspaper and magazine articles. I don't get the sense that he did many, if any, actual interviews of his own. Also, his declaration that the Bond producers were creatively influenced by the Helm films isn't based on any facts, but rather a wild assumption the author jumps to based on some plot and scene similarities between the two series. On that basis, you could just as easily argue the Bond films were influenced by THE WILD WILD WEST, THE AVENGERS, and MAN FROM UNCLE, too. But that's a minor quibble. Overall, the book is an interesting read, and you do learn some things about the development of the scripts and production of the films, but it's not nearly as well-researched and informative as I'd hoped it would be. The chapter on the MATT HELM TV series is particularly thin and, given how little information there is about it, was hardly worth including. In fact, if you take the plot synopses out, which are pure fat, there isn't much real meat left. That said, it's well worth the $2.99 investment for Matt Helm fans or fans of 60s spy films. (As an aside, the Kindle formatting of the book is terrible at the outset, but it gets better. Don't let that put you off).

Much more satisfying is Charles Kelly's fantastic GUNSHOTS IN ANOTHER ROOM, his long-awaited biography of Dan J. Marlowe, one of my favorite authors. This biography is almost as wild, compelling, dark and surprising as one of Marlowe's books, which includes the classic The Name of the Game is Death. Kelly has done an enormous amount of research and thoroughly knows his subject. What really sets this book apart from most literary biographies is the tight, novelistic approach he's taken to telling not only Marlowe's strange story, but also the tale of bank robber Al Nussbaum, who became Marlowe's collaborator. Marlowe fans will appreciate the fascinating, detailed look at the author as a person, as well as his complex relationships with his literary agent and two collaborators (William C. O'Dell and Nussbaum), but also the telling details behind the plotting and writing of his books, even those that never saw print. Highly recommended!

3 thoughts on “Booze Bullets and Broads”

  1. Lee, thanks from the bottom of my heart (or at least the lower part of my heart; I can’t be sure, I’m not a cardiologist) for your review of Gunshots in Another Room. You made me laugh out loud with your description of Travis McGee in Watch Me Die (you nailed him perfectly) and now this! Thanks again.


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