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Category: Books

The Top 10 Stephen King Movies of All Time

Alex Maidy and JoBlo.com present their choices for the Top 10 Stephen King Movies of All Time.  Using just their choices here are my top three…

#1 – THE MIST

Frank Darabont films represent three of the films on this list but it is THE MIST that deserves the number one spot. A perfect representation of King’s sense of horror combined with a master filmmaker’s eye for framing and storytelling. Couple a stellar ensemble cast led by Thomas Jane with one of the most gut-wrenching endings in movie history, THE MIST shows what can be accomplished when a Stephen King novel is given the best treatment possible.

#5 – STAND BY ME

Based on King’s novella “The Body”, STAND BY ME is a movie that represents an entire generation. Helmed by Rob Reiner, this is a movie about growing up that proved Stephen King was more than just a writer of horror stories. This film encapsulates the adventure young kids have gone on for generations but mixes it with very real and candid conversations about life and becoming adults. Reiner would go on to adapt another King novel but this one shows he should definitely make another.

 

#6 – CARRIE

The first Stephen King novel published was also the first turned into a film. Despite a lackluster sequel and remake, Brian De Palma’s original CARRIE remains a classic. Owing more to Hitchcock than any true horror inspiration, CARRIE is an examination of what it means to be a teenage girl growing up with the threats of abuse, bullying, and psychological trauma. CARRIE remains to this day a great movie and one hell of a scary one at that.

 

If it was my list I would have included The Dead Zone but it sure would be hard to decide which of these three to remove.

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10 Self-Defense Tips from Boxer Jack Dempsey

Jack Dempsey, the Heavyweight Champion who many call the Greatest Heavyweight Fighter of the 20th Century wrote a book on self-defense.

Jake Rosen and Mental_Floss present 10 Self-Defense Tips from Boxer Jack Dempsey.  If you click over you can see all 10 tips as well as a pdf of Dempsey’s book.  In the mean time, here’s my top three tips…

3. KNOW YOUR ENVIRONMENT.
Has a hooligan drawn you into a physical confrontation? Before you even think about raining blows upon him, consider your arena: “Let me suggest that any time you are about to be drawn into a fight, keep your head and make a split-second survey of your surroundings,” Dempsey cautions. “Decide immediately whether you have fighting-room and whether you have good footing. If you haven’t, try to force your opponent to shift to another battleground, where your knowledge of fighting will leave the percentage in your favor. Yell at him, for example: ‘Okay, wise guy! You want to fight! Let’s see if you’ve got the guts to come out into the street and fight me like a man!’”

This, Dempsey says, will allow you to avoid obstacles and crowds, “so that you’ll be able to knock his head off when you get him where you can fight without footing handicaps.”

7. NEVER SWING, UNLESS YOU WANT A RIDE IN A HEARSE.
Any pro will tell you that straight punches are the key to victory: Wild, looping punches dilute your guard and lack precision. Dempsey is no different. “Some current fighters attempt a long-range right upper-cut called the ‘bolo’ punch. They even attempt to lead with it. Let me warn you that the bolo is more showy than explosive. It’s more dangerous to the user than to his opponent. The bolo, or any long-range uppercut, is merely an underhanded swing. And you know that any type of swing, against a good straight puncher, signals to the mortician.”

10. FINISH IT QUICK.

The number one obstacle to victory in any altercation, Dempsey writes, is fatigue. “True, your opponent also may be getting fatigued; but you can’t be certain about his exact condition unless he’s blowing and staggering. You know for sure only that you’re nearly ‘all in,’ and that he’s still out there swinging at you. Accordingly, the longer he keeps fighting, the less chance you have of winning; but the greater chance you have of being battered, cut up, knocked down, knocked out, or injured.”

The “Manassa Mauler” has practical advice to combat this issue. “Because of the danger in a fist-fight, it is imperative that you end the brawl as quickly as possible; and the best way to do that is by a knockout. The knockout is far more important in fist-fighting than in boxing, YOU’VE GOT TO KNOCK ‘EM OUT IN FIST-FIGHTS.”

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TCM’s Noir Alley!

Film Noir fans are going to love TCM’s Noir Alley.  Each week at 10am Eddie Muller will introduce a classic film noir that will then run on TCM.  Fans will live tweet as enter “a shadowy cinematic world populated by tough guys, femmes fatales and assorted thugs and slugs.”

First up is the Maltese Falcon staring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet in the classic adapted (from Dashiell Hammet’s novel) and directed by John Huston.

Click here for the full TCM Noir Alley schedule.

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Child 44 (The Child 44 Trilogy) by Tom Rob Smith

Child 44 (The Child 44 Trilogy) by Tom Rob Smith

First sentence…

Since Maria had decided to die her cat would have to fend for itself.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

1953.  Soviet Russia. Leo Demidov, a young decorated war hero, now an idealistic security officer, is beginning to see the hypocrisy of the Soviet government.  Because all are equal there will be no crime.  Murder, especially is a symptom of Western corruption.  Soviet murderers like all criminals must be mentally ill.

When Leo looks into the case of a boy supposedly killed when struck by a train, he discovers the boy may have been murdered by a serial killer of children.  Told to back off, Leo refuses and finds himself at odds with not only his fellow officers but higher ranking Soviet officials.  Soon enough Leo and his wife are under investigation and from there the book really takes off.

To say more would deprive the reader of a great ride.  Child 44 has more twists and turns than any book in recent memory.  Tom Rob Smith has created a page turner that shocks, surprises and thrills.  I loved every page of it and look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

 

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Better Dead: A Nathan Heller Thriller by Max Allan Collins

Better Dead: A Nathan Heller Thriller by Max Allan Collins

Publisher: Mysterious Press

First sentence…

I was there when the Commies took over.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

 

Better Dead is actually two interconnected novellas.

In the first Nathan Heller is hired to find evidence to exonerate Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, a married couple sentenced to die for providing Russia with secret information on how to build nuclear bombs.  Senator Joe McCarthy, who is leading the hunt for American Commies, wants Heller to serve as a double agent and provide him with whatever information Heller learns about the Rosenbergs.  Before long Heller is on the wrong side of government agents and gangsters and a possible death sentence of his own.

In the second story, Heller learns about government-funded mind control experiments on unknowing subjects from a scientist who has a change of heart.  When the scientist turns up missing, Heller knows that he’s next up unless he can figure a way out.

I’m a huge fan of Max Allan Collins’ Nate Heller series.  Heller is a fictional detective who finds himself in the middle of real crimes.  Heller ages as the series progresses and fiction is mixed with extensive research and historical fact.  It’s fun watching Heller interact with famous (and infamous) folks right out of our history books.  Equally enjoyable is Collins’ take on the crimes and what may have really happened (if it is not as we’ve been taught).

In Better Dead Heller interacts with Joe McCarthy, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Roy Cohen, Bettie Page, Bobby Kennedy and others.  I also like that Heller in these outings is a bit more hardboiled.  Perhaps it’s the decade.

Better Dead is another great addition to the Nate Heller legacy.  I’m hoping for more!

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“The Big Sleep” Character Connections Score Card

The Big Sleep is a classic adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s novel of the same name.  There’s so much going on on-screen and off with so many twists and character interactions you can enjoy the ride without getting all of the details.  And don’t feel bad if you don’t.  Even the actors and film makers weren’t sure who committed one of the murders!

TATJANA SL has provided us a score card to keep track of all the characters and their relationships.

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962)

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962)

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Screenplay: Robert Ardrey and John Gay based on the novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez

Stars: Glenn Ford, Ingrid Thulin, Charles Boyer, Lee J. Cobb,  Yvette Mimieux and Paul Henreid.


The Pitch: “Hey, adapt the novel by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez!”

Tagline: From Ibanez’ immortal classic, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents an unforgettable motion picture

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

As World War II rages, Julio [Ford] a playboy from Argentina is living in Paris.  Although not a fan of the Nazis, like his country, Julio is neutral… until he falls in love with a married woman [Thulin] whose French freedom-fighting husband is a prisoner of war.  Julio begs Marguerite to leave Paris before it is overrun by Germans, but she refuses.

The German take over Paris and Julio is not to surprised to learn that his cousin and uncle are high ranking Nazis.  When Julio discovers that Marguerite is a member of the French underground he knows that he will have to chose sides.

Vincent Minnelli has created a unique film.  I really enjoyed it but bet it won’t be for everyone.

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The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

Director: John Huston

Screenplay: Ben Maddow and John Huston from a novel by W.R. Burnett 

Stars: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe, John McIntire, Marc Lawrence, Barry Kelley, Anthony Caruso and Marilyn Monroe.

The Pitch: “Hey, John Huston wants to make The Asphalt Jungle!”

Tagline: The City Under the City

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Ex-con,  “Doc” Riedenschneider (Jaffe) brings together a team for a $750,000 heist.  Even though the job goes sideways, they get away with the money.  Then the double-crosses start.

Marilyn Monroe has a bit part — she wasn’t even listed in movie poster credits on the film’s initial release — but she made such an impact future posters featured her prominently.  The Asphalt Jungle made Marilyn a star!

John Huston with another classic!

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Of Mice and Men (1939)

Of Mice and Men (1939)

Director: Lewis Milestone

Screenplay: Eugene Solow based on the novel by John Steinbeck

Stars: Lon Chaney Jr., Burgess Meredith, Betty Field, Charles Bickford, Roman Bohnen, Bob Steele and Noah Beery Jr.

The Pitch: “Hey, let’s turn Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men into a movie!”

Tagline: A mighty novel! A sensational stage success! Now! The year’s most important picture!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

George (Chaney, Jr.) and Lennie (Meredith) are old buddies who travel from farm to ranch looking for work just barely getting by during the depression. George is a strong giant of a man with the brain of a child.  Lennie constantly looks after George whose strength and lack of mental aptitude is always getting him them in trouble.   Although they dream of one day owning their own little place, it will probably never happen.

George and Lennie get work on a ranch owned by a mean old man and his son, Curley (Steele).  Curley takes an instant dislike to George.  Curley distrusts all the men on the ranch because of his attractive wife (Field), but he especially hates large men.  Lennie warns George to stay away from both Curley and his wife.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that they will stay away from him.

 

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The Rules of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake

The Rules of Wolfe by James Carlos Blake

Publisher: Mysterious Press

First sentence…

Eddie Gato pleaded with us to take him on that run last winter but we said no.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

 

Eddie Gato Wolfe is an ambitious young man who wishes to make a fast rise in the vast Wolfe family criminal organization.  When things aren’t moving as fast as he’d like, Eddie heads down to Mexico and takes a security job for the La Navaja drug cartel.

Assigned to a remote but luxurious desert villa, days and nights are boring.  The only time things liven up is when the cartel bosses fly in with young women to party.  Although contact or conversations with the help is not allowed one of the women seems interested in Eddie… and he in her.  Eddie learns her name is Miranda.

On Miranda’s next visit he sneaks a visit to her and they hit it off.  All is going well until the man who brought her finds them together.  He and Eddie fight and the man ends up dead.  The dead man is the brother of  La Navaja’s leader.  Eddie knows that unless he and Miranda can escape across the desert and back into the United States, a brutal merciless death awaits them both.

Eddie and Miranda head into the desert with the knowledge that the entire La Navaja cartel will be looking for them.  They’re only hope is a lot of luck and maybe some help from the Wolfe’s… the family that he deserted.

James Carlos Blake has another winner!

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Leadfoot by Eric Beetner

Leadfoot (A Rumrunners Novel) by Eric Beetner

Publisher: 280 Steps

First sentence…

Slow it down, McGraw.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

1971.  Calvin McGraw is known as one of the best outlaw drivers working.  Calvin’s son, Webb, looks to follow in his footsteps.  When an easy delivery comes along, Calvin takes Webb to show him the ropes.

Things go sideways and Calvin finds himself in the middle of a gang war.  To make matters worse he needs to be in two places at once so he sends Webb to retrieve a package (that turns out to be a young woman who doesn’t want to be returned to the crime boss’ brother).  Calvin then works to set things right (even if it means killing a whole lot of folks) to protect his family.

I loved this book.

 

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No Country for Old Men (2007)

No Country for Old Men (2007)

Director: Ethan Coen and Joel Cohen

Screenplay: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy

Stars: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson Woody Harrelson and Kelly Macdonald.

The Pitch: “Hey, the Cohen Brothers want to make No Country for Old Men.”

Tagline: You can’t stop what’s coming.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

In the badlands of modern day Texas, Llewelyn Moss (Brolin) comes across a massacre – a massive drug deal that went sideways.  Among the dead bodies Moss finds two million dollars in cash.  Moss takes the money and leaves the scene unreported.  When the drug dealers discover the missing money, they send Anton Chigurh, a psycho hitman (Bardeem) to track down the money.  Chigurh kills without remorse and the bodies start piling up as he tracks Moss.

Once Moss realizes that someone is on to him he prepares for the worst having no idea how bad it will get.

No Country for Old Men is a modern day masterpiece.  It is a film that will stick with you.

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The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)

Director: Tay Garnett

Screenplay: Harry Ruskin Niven and Busch  from the novel by James M. Cain

Stars: Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway, Hume Cronyn, Leon Ames, Audrey Totter and Alan Reed.


The Pitch: “Hey, let’s turn James Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice into a movie!”

Tagline: Their Love was a Flame that Destroyed!

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Frank Chambers [Garfield], a drifter stops at a diner and is offered a job by the middle-aged owner, Nick Smith.  As Frank begins to turn down the work, he spots Cora [Turner], a very attractive waitress and changes his mind.

Soon enough Frank learns that Cora is Frank’s wife.  Frank would be ready to move on except that Cora seems interested in him.  Although both Frank and Cora attempt to fight the attraction, it’s strong and will not be denied.  It doesn’t take long until Frank and Cora are planning Nick’s demise.  And we all know how those things work out, don’t we?

Garfield and Turner definitely had chemistry.  I love how each of them fights the attraction.  The Postman Always Rings Twice has a couple of great twists.  The cast and direction are top notch.

A classic.

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