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Gangsters in Hats

Richard Mayne, 17 May 1984

Essays on Detective Fiction 
edited by Bernard Benstock.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £20, February 1984, 0 333 32195 2
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Dashiell Hammett: A Life at the Edge 
by William Nolan.
Arthur Barker, 276 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 213 16886 3
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The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 344 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 9780701127664
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Hellman in Hollywood 
by Bernard Dick.
Associated University Presses, 183 pp., £14.95, September 1983, 0 8386 3140 1
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... scripts: films, radio and TV series, distant derivatives such as Hart to Hart. Impersonated by William Powell and Myrna Loy, the Charles pair embodied what Otis Ferguson called ‘the tanned leather of an equable married life rather than the friskier calf of boy-chases-girl’: but, like Bogart and company, they slightly embellished the ...

Burning Witches

Michael Rogin, 4 September 1997

Raymond Chandler: A Biography 
by Tom Hiney.
Chatto, 310 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6310 0
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Raymond Chandler Speaking 
edited by Dorothy Gardiner and Kathrine Sorley Walker.
California, 288 pp., £10.95, May 1997, 0 520 20835 8
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... investigator, immortalised on the screen by Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep, mortalised by Dick Powell and Robert Montgomery during Chandler’s lifetime, and afterwards by Elliot Gould, Robert Mitchum and James Garner. He was the hero of the most listened to radio detective serial in history, and, by the time Chandler died in 1959, had sold over five ...

Gosh oh gee

Alan Allport: ‘Being Boys’, 21 November 2013

Being Boys: Youth, Leisure and Identity in the Interwar Years 
by Melanie Tebbutt.
Manchester, 352 pp., £75, February 2012, 978 0 7190 6613 9
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... pavements and parlours. Big screen icons – at first Rudolf Valentino and Ramon Navarro, later William Powell and Franchot Tone – increasingly defined what it meant to be a man. The education in performative masculinity acquired within the dark recesses of the local Hippodrome or Coliseum needed a practical outlet. The Sunday evening stroll or ...

Say thank you

Clive James: Witty Words in Pretty Mouths, 23 May 2002

Fast-Talking Dames 
by Maria DiBattista.
Yale, 365 pp., £19.95, June 2001, 0 300 08815 9
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... a glance is all you get. Nowadays her movies are hard to find, but DiBattista has seen enough of William Randolph Hearst’s mistress working at her other job to reach the proper conclusion: she had a disarming gift for delivering a line. Just the gift, in fact, that Marilyn Monroe didn’t have. All the blah about Monroe’s lighting up the screen is well ...

A bout de Bogart

Jenny Diski, 19 May 2011

Tough without a Gun: The Extraordinary Life of Humphrey Bogart 
by Stefan Kanfer.
Faber, 288 pp., £14.99, February 2011, 978 0 571 26072 0
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... wearing earrings. Mind you, even in the butch 1940s Mickey Rooney, Vincent Price, Clifton Webb and William Powell played nearer to the other end of the man’s men spectrum, to appreciative audiences. To say nothing of pretty-boys Cary Grant and Leslie Howard. Kanfer doesn’t by any means dismiss the argument, but he isn’t sure that loss of American ...

A Cine-Fist to the Solar Plexus

David Trotter: Eisenstein, 2 August 2018

Beyond the Stars, Vol.1: The Boy from Riga 
by Sergei Eisenstein, translated by William Powell.
Seagull, 558 pp., £16.99, June 2018, 978 0 85742 488 4
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On the Detective Story 
by Sergei Eisenstein, translated by Alan Upchurch.
Seagull, 229 pp., £16.99, November 2017, 978 0 85742 490 7
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On Disney 
by Sergei Eisenstein, translated by Alan Upchurch.
Seagull, 208 pp., £16.99, November 2017, 978 0 85742 491 4
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The Short-Fiction Scenario 
by Sergei Eisenstein, translated by Alan Upchurch.
Seagull, 115 pp., £16.99, November 2017, 978 0 85742 489 1
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Movement, Action, Image, Montage: Sergei Eisenstein and the Cinema in Crisis 
by Luka Arsenjuk.
Minnesota, 249 pp., £19.99, February 2018, 978 1 5179 0320 6
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... But​ where does the Potemkin go?’ That, according to Sergei Eisenstein, was what the people who had just seen his most famous film really wanted to know. At the climax of the film, the battleship’s mutinous crew, having got rid of all its officers and intervened decisively in the first stirrings of revolt in the Black Sea town of Odessa, head out of harbour to confront the rest of the imperial fleet, which has assembled to block their escape ...

Europe could damage her health

William Rodgers, 6 July 1989

The Challenge of Europe: Can Britain win? 
by Michael Heseltine.
Weidenfeld, 226 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 0 297 79608 9
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... today. The determination to retain economic sovereignty – which united Michael Foot and Enoch Powell in opposition to Britain’s entry in the debate of October 1971 – is the most persistent of the themes that have run since the Schuman Plan. In an introductory gallop through a thousand years of history, Michael Heseltine finds space to mention the ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Colourisation, 22 March 2018

... high street shoppers being shown another of Amaral’s colourised photographs, this time of Lewis Powell, one of the men who conspired with John Wilkes Booth to assassinate Lincoln, and who on the same night made a savage attempt on the life of his secretary of state, William H. Seward. The shoppers were asked when they ...

Olallieberries

Stephanie Burt: D.A. Powell’s poems, 24 September 2009

Chronic: Poems 
by D.A. Powell.
Graywolf, 79 pp., $20, February 2009, 978 1 55597 516 6
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... The first collection published by D.A. Powell, Tea (1998), looked oddly like a smart restaurant menu: Wesleyan University Press manufactured a shiny, green and gilt hardback, six inches tall and nine inches wide, to accommodate Powell’s very short poems and very long lines. The promise the cover gave was borne out inside, where those long lines flaunted multiple midline stops, unruly punctuation (stopping where the grammar said go), terse yet explicit depictions of gay sex and profuse quotation from disco hits: now the mirrored rooms seem comic ...
Friends of Promise: Cyril Connolly and the World of ‘Horizon’ 
by Michael Shelden.
Hamish Hamilton, 254 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12647 9
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Coastwise Lights 
by Alan Ross.
Collins Harvill, 254 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 00 271767 0
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William Plomer 
by Peter Alexander.
Oxford, 397 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 19 212243 6
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... voices of the time. During or just after the last war it was Connolly and Koestler and Spender, William Plomer, Alun Lewis, Dylan Thomas, Peter Quennell. Some still have life or fame or both, some not: but then, not now, was their moment. Was Connolly himself any good as a writer? The question means little because the point of Connolly turned out to be ...

Chances are

Michael Wood, 7 July 1983

O, How the wheel becomes it! 
by Anthony Powell.
Heinemann, 143 pp., £6.95, June 1983, 0 434 59925 5
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Brilliant Creatures 
by Clive James.
Cape, 303 pp., £7.95, July 1983, 0 224 02122 2
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Pomeroy 
by Gordon Williams.
Joseph, 233 pp., £7.95, June 1983, 0 7181 2259 3
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... is said to be a ‘chapter of accidents’, and in the title and precarious plot of Anthony Powell’s O, How the wheel becomes it! The wheel is Ophelia’s, and suggests the incessant circlings of fortune, but quickly, in Powell’s hands, comes to hint at roulette and the dodgy hazards of English literary ...

Woof, woof

Rosemary Hill: Auberon Waugh, 7 November 2019

A Scribbler in Soho: A Celebration of Auberon Waugh 
edited by Naim Attallah.
Quartet, 341 pp., £20, January 2019, 978 0 7043 7457 7
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... As a survey of Waugh’s career this collection is less balanced than William Cook’s anthology of 2010, Kiss Me, Chudleigh, the World According to Auberon Waugh. Attallah, who is chairman of Quartet Books and who bankrolled the Review and Ingrams’s magazine the Oldie for many years, is not unreasonably concerned to focus on his ...

Underlinings

Ruth Scurr: A.S. Byatt, 10 August 2000

The Biographer's Tale 
by A.S. Byatt.
Chatto, 224 pp., £14.99, June 2000, 0 7011 6945 1
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... out the sun. A thing.’ An earlier Byatt novel, Still Life, invoked the well-worn line from William Carlos Williams’s Paterson: ‘Say it, no ideas but in things.’ Still Life is the second in a trilogy of predominantly realist novels about the extended Potter family. It details the cerebral and romantic struggles of the clever middle-class sisters ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust, 19 July 2018

Anthony PowellDancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... Reiner Stach. Proust, expiring at 51, got just under a thousand apiece from Jean-Yves Tadié and William Carter; Joyce, at 59, eight hundred from Richard Ellmann. Moving down the scale to medium or lightweights, there is little reduction in size. If we confine ourselves to Britain, Martin Stannard produced a thousand pages on Evelyn Waugh, who died when he ...

I have written as I rode

Adam Smyth: ‘Brief Lives’, 8 October 2015

‘Brief Lives’ with ‘An Apparatus for the Lives of Our English Mathematical Writers’ 
by John Aubrey, edited by Kate Bennett.
Oxford, 1968 pp., £250, March 2015, 978 0 19 968953 8
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John Aubrey: My Own Life 
by Ruth Scurr.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, March 2015, 978 0 7011 7907 6
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... Lord John Russell told him that his father the sixth Duke of Bedford told him that he had heard William Pitt the Younger speak in Parliament during the Napoleonic Wars, and that Pitt had this curious way of talking, a particular mannerism that the sixth Duke of Bedford had imitated to Lord John Russell who imitated it to Bertrand Russell who imitated it to ...

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