Pulp Curry, where he further unpacks his knowledge and taste and it's tasty and knowledgeful. Third Gunshine State sounds like a slice of hardboiled crime stuffs along the lines of Richard Stark and Garry Disher and that is absolutely my cuppa.
check out this piece about underseen caper flicks for a taste) and I've been hounding him for a while to gimme a guest spot along those lines.
Holy crap if the flicks discussed in this piece are influences on Gunshine State it only stokes my appetite more. These are my favorite movies. If you're gonna be at Noir Con this year be sure to hunt him down, buy him a drink, get him talking about his favorite subjects and take fucking notes.
Take it away, Andrew...
Like a lot of writers, I can be a bit of a scavenger when it comes to finding source material for my crime fiction. And one of the things I draw most heavily on is screen culture. Film and television, old and new, provides me with a tonne of inspiration and ideas. Mostly, the influences are subtle, incorporating a particular image, mood, or way of expressing something. Occasionally, it can be more overt. If I am really taken something I’ve seen, I’ll actually try and mould or change the story so I can incorporate it.
My second novel, Gunshine State, is no exception. It's a heist novel set in Queensland, the outskirts of Canberra (Australia’s capital city), Thailand and Melbourne (where I live). I won’t say anything more about the book than that. But here are five pieces of screen culture that I like and, one way or another (I won’t say exactly how) influenced the book.
There’s good reasons why John Huston’s 1950 film noir is seen as the grandfather/mother of heist films. Based on the excellent 1949 novel by pulp author (and screenwriter) W.R. Burnett aka William Riley, it tells the story of recently released criminal, Doc Erwin Riedenschneider, who borrows fifty grand from a supposedly successful lawyer, Alonzo Emmerich (Louis Calhern) to finance a multi million dollar jewelry heist. Although the actual heist goes off without a hitch, things quickly fall apart due to a combination of human greed, suspicion and double-dealing.
What I love about The Asphalt Jungle, apart from its classic take on the heist always goes wrong trope, is its depiction of setting, an incredibly downbeat unnamed US Midwest river city and the criminals that occupy it. Huston takes us through the process by which Doc Riedenschneider secures funding from Emmerich and recruits his team: the gunman, Dix Handley (Sterling Hayden), the driver, Gus Minissi (JamesWhitmore), Ciavelli, and the safecracker (Anthony Caruso). Huston mercilessly portrays the motivations and human weaknesses driving each of the gang. There are plenty of atmospheric scenes in smoke filled rooms as the gang plan the heist and some wonderfully sharp interactions between the various criminals and the women in their lives, including Hayden’s love interest, Doll Cameron (Jean Hagen), and Angela Phinlay, Emmerich’s young and dangerously naive mistress (a very early appearance by Marilyn Monroe).
People often talk about Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) or The Wild Bunch (1969) as peak Sam Peckinpah. They’re good films, no argument from me on that score, but I’d argue his 1972 version of Jim Thompson’s The Getaway, represents the director at his best (I am also partial to the rather seamy 1994 version of Thompson’s book, starring Kim Basinger, Alec Baldwin and James Woods, but that’s another story).
The Getaway has a wonderful leanness and economy to it, despite the multiple strands of treachery woven into the story. Not only are Doc and Carol on the run from the police, they are stalked by Rudy and pursued by Butler’s organization, all the while unsure whether they can trust each other.
I am a huge fan of Australian director Bruce Beresford’s 1979 heist movie. Brothers, Brian (iconic Australian actor Bryan Brown) and Eric (Terence Donovan), are hatching a plan to rob the armored car company they work for as drivers. They are forced into doing the job earlier than planned when a local crime boss, Henderson (another veteran Australian actor, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell), gets wind of their scheme and, with the help of a pair of bolt cutters, persuades the brothers to fast track it and share the take with him. The firm’s management, meanwhile, have also got wind of a potential robbery and are taking steps to thwart it.
City of Ghosts (2002) is another relatively little known film that has had a big impact on me. This is partly because of the setting, Thailand and Cambodia, countries I lived and worked in. Jimmy (Matt Dillon) is a long con artist who grows a conscience after the fake insurance company he’s been fronting forfeits on claims to the survivors of a hurricane. In order to get his share of the proceeds from the scam and escape the clutches of the FBI, Jimmy travels from New York to Thailand where Marvin (James Caan), his mentor and the brains behind their operation has fled. In Bangkok, Jimmy meets up with one Marvin’s associates, Casper (Stellan Skarsgard), who informs him Marvin has gone to Cambodia to escape his former partners in the Russian mob who unbeknown to Jimmy put up the seed money for their insurance scam. Jimmy locates Marvin who is living like a king in a rundown French colonial villa. He’s ploughed the proceeds from their insurance scam into a new project – a proposed casino complex he and his local partner, a former high-ranking Cambodian military intelligence officer, hope will turn Cambodia into the Acapulco of Asia.
Ben Gazzara is Cosmo Vittelli, owner of a down market LA nightclub, constantly battling to keep his business above water. He is also an inveterate gambler. A night out with his three favorite dancers, “Margo”, “Rachael” and “Sherry” ends up with Cosmo $23,000 in debt. The mobsters to whom he owes the money, headed up by veteran character actors Timothy Carey and Seymour Cassel, offer to wipe Cosmo’s debt if he’ll perform a hit on one of their competitors, an elderly Chinese gangster (the ‘Chinese bookie’ in the title). Of course, the criminals have no intention of allowing Vittelli to live regardless of whether or not he carries out the killing.
There are two versions of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie: the original release that clocks in at over two hours and fifteen minutes and a shorter one that goes for a hundred and eight minutes. Go for the vastly superior shorter version.
@Pulpcurry. Gunshine State is currently available in e-book and hard copy from the crime publisher, 280 Steps. More information about the book and how to get it is available at the 280 Steps site.