Long Goodbye, The (1973; USA; Technicolor; 112m) *** d. Robert Altman; w. Leigh Brackett; ph. Vilmos Zsigmond; m. John Williams. Cast: Elliott Gould, Nina Van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Mark Rydell, Henry Gibson, David Arkin, Jim Bouton, Warren Berlinger, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rutanya Alda, Jo Ann Brody, Vincent Palmieri, Pancho Cordova, Enrique Lucero, George Wyner. Detective Philip Marlowe tries to help a friend who is accused of murdering his wife. Altman re-imagines Raymond Chandler’s classic novel in a contemporary setting with Gould portraying Marlowe as a detective out-of-his time. The gimmick allows Altman to pass comment on the degradation of society and the values of life, but in doing so he sucks the power from Chandler’s original story. There are some nice directorial touches and improvised set-pieces, but this will ultimately only fully please those fully attuned to the director’s surreal vision. Schwarzenegger, who plays a bodyguard, has no lines in the film. 
The List reports today that One Tree Hill actor Robbie Jones is the latest addition to the cast list of New Line’s Son of Shaft. It is also reported the new Line are still trying to secure the services of original Shaft, Richard Roundtree. Production continues on the film, which is currently shooting in Atlanta.
Raise the Titanic (1980; UK/USA; Colour; 115m) ** d. Jerry Jameson; w. Adam Kennedy, Eric Hughes; ph. Matthew F. Leonetti; m. John Barry. Cast: Jason Robards, Richard Jordan, David Selby, Anne Archer, Alec Guinness, J.D. Cannon, M. Emmet Walsh, Bo Brundin, Norman Bartold, Elya Baskin, Dirk Blocker, Robert Broyles, Paul Carr, Michael C. Gwynne, Harvey Lewis. To obtain a supply of a rare mineral, a ship raising operation is conducted for the only known source, the Titanic. Flat adaptation of Clive Cussler’s novel is slow-moving and blighted by a bland script. The characters are two-dimensional and there is little opportunity to develop them through the story. There is a distinct lack of suspense and the political conflict is not fully explored. on the positive side Barry’s core is sumptuous and the visual effects are excellent. [PG]
Sad to hear of the death of Joel Freeman on 21 January at the age of 95, producer of 1971’s Shaft. Other major productions he was involved in included The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Camelot, Finian’s Rainbow and Love at First Bite. He had been battling with lung cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Hollywood Reporter have posted an obituary on their website.
I contacted Joel whilst writing my book The World of Shaft and he told me he was preparing a book about the making of Shaft. Unfortunately it seems this will not now be completed.
Joel is survived by his wife, Betty, who described him as “a wonderful man and entertainer.”
“Crocodile” Dundee II (1988; Australia/USA; DuArt; 108m) **½ d. John Cornell; w. Paul Hogan, Brett Hogan; ph. Russell Boyd; m. Peter Best. Cast: Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, Charles S. Dutton, John Meillon, Hechter Ubarry, Juan Fernandez, Luis Guzman, Kenneth Welsh. Australian outback expert protects his New York love from gangsters who’ve followed her down under. Tired re-tread, which reverses the scenario of the original. Hogan again evokes an easy-going charm, but the plot gets in the way of the laughs, which are few and far between once the action returns to Australia. Followed by “CROCODILE” DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES (2001). [PG]
“Crocodile” Dundee (1986; Australia/USA; DuArt; 97m) ***½ d. Peter Faiman; w. John Cornell, Paul Hogan, Ken Shadie; ph. Russell Boyd; m. Peter Best. Cast: Paul Hogan, Linda Kozlowski, Mark Blum, John Meillon, Michael Lombard, David Gulpilil, Irving Metzman, Reginald VelJohnson. An American reporter goes to the Australian outback to meet an eccentric crocodile poacher and invites him to New York City. Hogan’s commentary on culture clashes is delightfully funny. The charm of the leads is enough to carry a formulaic plot and there is much fun to be derived from seeing Hogan’s “Crocodile” Dundee cope with multi-layered city life – from the trappings of the rich to the sleaze of street life. Finale is rushed, but a sequel was pretty much guaranteed. Followed by CROCODILE DUNDEE II (1988) and CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES (2001). 
Hell Drivers (1957; UK; B&W; 108m) **** d. Cy Endfield; w. John Kruse, Cy Endfield; ph. Geoffrey Unsworth; m. Hubert Clifford. Cast: Stanley Baker, Herbert Lom, Peggy Cummins, Patrick McGoohan, William Hartnell, Wilfrid Lawson, Sidney James, Jill Ireland, Alfie Bass, Gordon Jackson, David McCallum, Sean Connery, Wensley Pithey, George Murcell, Marjorie Rhodes. Ex-convict takes a dodgy job driving loads of gravel through winding British roads, and realises that sneaky boss has rigged a scam with the brutal foreman, which inevitably leads to human wastage. Memorable and gritty drama with many future stars and character actors making early appearances. Baker and McGoohan are the standouts as warring truck drivers. Well-directed by Endfield and complemented by moody photography from Unsworth. Tough and uncompromising. [PG]
THE SECRET by KATERINA DIAMOND (2016, Avon, 404pp) ***
Blurb: When Bridget Reid wakes up in a locked room, terrifying memories come flooding back of blood, pain, and desperate fear. Her captor knows things she’s never told anyone. How can she escape someone who knows all of her secrets? As DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a horrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder right under their noses in Exeter. And as the past comes back to haunt her, Grey must confront her own demons. Because she knows that it can be those closest to us who hurt us the most.
Diamond’s follow-up to The Teacher treads much of the same ground with its penchant for graphic body horror and sexual violence. Here we delve deeper into DS Imogen Grey’s past and the case that haunts her from two years earlier becomes entwined with her current investigation. Diamond’s plot calls on the reader to accept a lot of coincidental twists, which stretch the credibility of the narrative. If you can accept these, then the book will give you an absorbing read. Others may find these contrivances distracting from an otherwise well-written crime thriller from a talented writer. The book leaves enough room for Diamond to further explore her characters and a third book in the series, The Angel, was published last year.
Hell is a City (1960; UK; B&W; 98m) ***½ d. Val Guest; w. Val Guest; ph. Arthur Grant; m. Stanley Black. Cast: Stanley Baker, John Crawford, Donald Pleasence, Maxine Audley, Billie Whitelaw, Joseph Tomelty, George A. Cooper, Geoffrey Frederick, Vanda Godsell, Charles Houston. A police inspector pursues a dangerous jewel thief. Fast-paced and atmospheric crime thriller shot on location in and around Manchester. Baker is excellent as the driven detective on the hunt for Crawford. Director Guest works efficiently with a strong supporting cast (notably Pleasence as a tight-fisted bookmaker and Whitelaw as his promiscuous wife) and witty dialogue. Exciting rooftop climax adds to the suspense. Based on the novel by Maurice Procter. [PG]
Serpico (1973; USA; Technicolor; 130m) ****½ d. Sidney Lumet; w. Waldo Salt, Norman Wexler; ph. Arthur J. Ornitz; m. Mikis Theodorakis. Cast: Al Pacino, John Randolph, Jack Kehoe, Biff McGuire, Tony Roberts, M. Emmet Walsh, F. Murray Abraham, Cornelia Sharpe, John Medici, Allan Rich, Barbara Eda-Young, Norman Ornellas, Edward Grover, Albert Henderson, Damien Leake. The true story about an honest New York cop who blew the whistle on rampant corruption in the force only to have his comrades turn against him. Pacino delivers an excellent portrayal of Frank Serpico, expertly capturing the frustrations of a cop isolated within the system. Lumet delivers an engrossing and realistic account spread over five years. Extensive New York City location work and a cast of relatively unknown actors add to the authenticity. Based on the book by Peter Maas. Followed by a TV pilot, SERPICO: THE DEADLY GAME, and series in 1976.