The Cultural Gutter

taking the dumb out of fandom

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

RIP, Louis Jourdan

Actor Louis Jourdan has died. Jourdan starred in both films and television including, Gigi (1958), Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948), Swamp Thing (1982), Octopussy (1983), Madame Bovary (1949), Julie (1956), Columbo (1978), Paris Precinct (1955) and Dracula (1977). The BBC, The Guardian and The New York Times have obituaries. Here’s a brief interview with […]

“The James Bond Songs That Never Were”

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Cinema Reservoir has a collection of James Bond film theme songs “that never were.” (via @pornokitsch)

“How To Write A Thriller”

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Ian Fleming writes about writing: “We are all fed fairy stories and adventure stories and ghost stories for the first 20 years of our lives, and the only difference between me and perhaps you is that my imagination earns me money. But, to revert to my first book, Casino Royale, there are strong incidents in […]

RIP, Geoffrey Holder

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Actor, dancer, choreographer, director, designer and artist Geoffrey Holder has died. Besides his iconic role as Baron Samedi in Live And Let Die (1973), he directed and designed the costumes for the 1975 stage production of The Wiz, performed as the Metropolitan Opera Ballet’s principal dancer in 1955-6, choreographed pieces for the Holder Dance Company […]

RIP, Richard Kiel

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Actor Richard Kiel has died. Kiel worked in both film and television, including performances in The Twilight Zone episode, “To Serve Man”; Eegah (1962); The Barbary Coast with William Shatner; Happy Gilmore (1996); Pale Rider (1985); as Vlad in Tangled (201); and as Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979).   […]

Carnival and Clairvoyance: Why Casino Royale (’67) is Your New Favourite Bond

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Gutter Guest Star Matt Finch shares his favorite Bond film at Of Inhuman Bond Age: “Right at the start of Casino Royale, an alliance of world powers attacks the mansion of our hero, James Bond, an ageing World War I veteran. (Perpetually 35-ish no more.) Only such drastic invasion of privacy can motivate Britain’s happily […]

“He Strikes Like A Ball Of Thunder!”

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The Gutter’s own Keith writes about Lightning Bolt for The Gentleman’s Guide to Midnite Cinema. “Imagine Sean Connery asking Robert Shaw how much money he’d need not to kill Bond, then saying, ‘OK, mind if I write you a check?’”

RIP, Lorenzo Semple

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Screenwriter and creator of the Sixties Batman television series Lorenzo Semple has died. Besides Batman, Gutter readers might know Semple best from his screenplays for, The Parallax View, Flash Gordon (1980), Papillon, The Drowning Pool, Never Say Never Again, Sheena, and King Kong (1976). The Los Angeles Times,  The Hollywood Reporter and Comics Alliance have […]

Vic Armstrong on Buster Keaton

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Stunt performer Vic Armstrong talks about the stunt work of Buster Keaton. (via Graham Wynd)

“The Fleming Files”

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At Teleport City, The Gutter‘s own Keith examines Ian Fleming’s historical and fictional lives in espionage. “There were many British celebrities who dabbled to some degree or other in intelligence work during the war: Fleming, of course, but also entertainer Noel Coward[,] occult fiction author Dennis Wheatley, even notorious Ordo Templi Orientis leader Aleister Crowley […]

Interview with George Lazenby

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The guys at The Daily Grindhouse interview with George Lazenby, star of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and The Man from Hong Kong, aka, Dragon Flies.

“Death of a Citizen, Birth of an Agent”

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At Teleport City, The Gutter’s own Keith writes a four-part series about the adaptation of Donald Hamilton’s Matt Helm from his novels to film. “’I was taking a martini across the room…’ If that line, the first sentence in the first Matt Helm novel by Donald Hamilton, had been the only sentence in the book, […]

“The Rape of James Bond”

Sophia McDougall writes about “sexual assault and ‘Realism’ in popular culture.” (via @Pornokitsch)

The Spymaster and The Cuckoo

“This, then, is the story of Maxwell Knight—the man called M—and a cuckoo called Goo. Knight was a tall, patrician British intelligence officer in charge of MI5 departments dealing with counter-subversion on home ground. And yes, as ‘M’ he was the inspiration for James Bond’s controller.” Helen MacDonald recounts the story in an excellent piece. […]

The Suits of James Bond

A website dedicated to fab fashion and 007. (thanks, @World_Of_Hurt)

The Dark Knight and the Bitter Tears of Alfred Pennyworth: Batman and Realism Part 2

This week Screen Editor alex MacFadyen and Comics Editor Carol Borden continue discussing The Dark Knight Rises. We both like Batman and we’re fascinated by how many different Batmans there are. Even though there are things we like about the film, we want to figure out what is it about The Dark Knight Rises‘ Batman […]

Meeting A Film On Its Own Terms

Matt Stoller Seitz writes about meeting a film on its own terms, suspending your own disbelief and watching From Russia With Love and Singin’ In The Rain with audiences who wouldn’t or couldn’t do either. (Thanks, @DriveInMob)  

RIP, Bob Anderson

Olympic fencer, sword master, stunt choreographer, performer and actor, Bob Anderson has died. Anderson performed Darth Vader’s lightsaber battles in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Her served as sword master, fight coordinator and stunt performer in films such as 1953’s The Master of Ballantrae featuring a swashbuckling Errol Flynn, The Princess […]

“Chaos Cinema: The Decline of Action Filmmaking”

In his video essay (also available in text form), Matthias Stork details the elements of what he calls, “Chaos Cinema” and their effects on film and viewer experience: “The film doesn’t seduce you into suspending your disbelief.  It bludgeons you until you give up.”

The History and Art of the Title Sequence

A couple of looks at the art and history of film title sequences.

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    Rob and Mike watch Edgar Ulmer’s The Black Cat (1934) at The Projection Booth. “The first big American studio film — and last big American studio film – directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, The Black Cat is, uh, ‘inspired’ by Edgar Allan Poe’s short story and stars Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff in a taut game of life and death.”

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    Gentleman’s Gazette has a piece on the sartorial splendor of Hercule Poirot and of Captain Hastings in the BBC television adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Poirot mysteries.

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    At Pitchfork, Barry Walters writes about Grace Jones. “One night in 1993, I finally got my chance to see Jones perform at a local gay nightclub and took my friend Brian, whose partner Mark was too sick to join us….She didn’t back away from the elephant in the room: She dedicated one song to artist and AIDS casualty Keith Haring, who had used her body for a canvas on the occasion of her legendary 1985 Paradise Garage performance. That night’s show was remarkable for the simple fact that Jones just kept on going, granting one encore request after another, waiting patiently while the sound man scoured backing tapes to find the fans’ offbeat choices. When Jones got to such minor numbers as ‘Crush,’ it became clear that she didn’t want to leave. She was giving as much of herself as she could to the beleaguered troops, knowing full well that many wouldn’t live long enough to see her again.”

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    At Pornokitsch, The Gutter’s own dame with a shady past Carol writes about five films noir.  “Do you want to watch some film noir? I hope so, because I have five films to suggest. Films about dames gone wrong, poor doomed saps, murders, sex and modern knights errant.”

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    At The Alcohol Professor, The Gutter’s own Keith writes about Billie Holiday in a fantastic two-part piece. Part one traces “the history of Billie Holiday and NYC nightlife through the Harlem Renaissance to Café Society.” Part two covers “Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and the jazz scene in New York City clubs of a bygone era.”

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    The New Yorker has a profile of author Gene Wolfe. “His narrators may be prophets, or liars, or merely crazy, but somewhere in their stories they help to reveal what Wolfe most wants his readers to know: that compassion can withstand the most brutal of futures and exist on the most distant planets, and it has been part of us since ages long past.”

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