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Maximum Movies—Pulp Fictions

Maximum Movies—Pulp Fictions: Film Culture and the Worlds of Samuel Fuller, Mickey Spillane, and Jim Thompson

Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Maximum Movies—Pulp Fictions
    Book Description:

    In the words of Richard Maltby . . . "Maximum Movies--Pulp Fictions describes two improbably imbricated worlds and the piece of cultural history their intersections provoked." One of these worlds comprises a clutch of noisy, garish pulp movies--Kiss Me Deadly, Shock Corridor, Fixed Bayonets!, I Walked with a Zombie, The Lineup, Terror in a Texas Town, Ride Lonesome--pumped out for the grind houses at the end of the urban exhibition chain by the studios' B-divisions and fly-by-night independents. The other is occupied by critics, intellectuals, cinephiles, and filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Godard, Manny Farber, and Lawrence Alloway, who championed the cause of these movies and incited the cultural guardians of the day by attacking a rigorously policed canon of tasteful, rarified, and ossified art objects. Against the legitimate, and in defense of the illegitimate, in an insolent and unruly manner, they agitated for the recognition of lurid sensational crime stories, war pictures, fast-paced Westerns, thrillers, and gangster melodramas were claimed as examples of the true, the real, and the authentic in contemporary culture--the foundation upon which modern film studies sits.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-5103-6
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Richard Maltby

    Maximum Movies—Pulp Fictionsdescribes two improbably imbricated worlds and the piece of cultural history their intersections provoked.

    One of those worlds was occupied by a clutch of noisy, garish pulp movies pumped out for the grind houses at the end of the urban exhibition chain by the studios’ B-divisions and the fly-by-night independent production companies that replaced them—Globe Enterprises, Parklane Pictures, Pajemer Productions, Associates and Aldrich. These were the disposable products of a postwar mass culture that packaged sex, violence, and “True Action” to working-class American men in magazines likeInside Detective, Crime Confessions, Wildcat Adventures, and Rage...

    (pp. xiii-1)
    Peter Stanfield
  5. Introduction: Yours till the Boys Come Home
    (pp. 3-11)

    In a collage by Eduardo Paolozzi, titledYours till the Boys Come Home, three photographs of U.S. Navy fighter aircraft are pasted alongside two photographs of a burlesque dancer. The aircraft have crash-landed on a carrier. In the top left-hand panel the nose of the aircraft has been obliterated, and debris fills the air. In the top-right adjoining panel, the dancer pulls herself into the shape of a letterS, her arms wrapped around her head as if she were cowering from the impact. In the lower right-hand panel the dancer leans forward, breasts exposed toward the viewer. With knees...

  6. 1 Position Papers: In Defense of Pulp Movies
    (pp. 12-43)

    Myth has it that the Independent Group (IG), the British critical and artistic community formed in the 1950s at the newly established Institute of the Contemporary Arts, found its inspiration in a trunk full of American magazines and other ephemera brought back from the States by one of its key members, John McHale, of whom Mark Wigley writes:

    He visited the United States in 1955 and returned to England a year later with his partner, the artist Magda Cordell. They brought back a huge trunk filled with American magazines, catalogues, Elvis Presley records, and odd bits and pieces of what...

  7. 2 A Genealogy of Pulp: Black Mask to Mickey Spillane
    (pp. 44-73)

    Like punk, pulp has made the long journey from being a noun for organic matter to becoming a term of disdain, before becoming a marker of distinction against which the quotidian and mediocre can better be recognized. When it meant something other than a moist, slightly cohering raw mass,pulpwas shorthand for the products of the mid-twentieth century’s fiction factories. Its roots were in the proletarian story forms of the nineteenth-century dime novel, formulaic fiction that fed the maw of the newly literate urban working class.¹ Sensational literature was set on the new frontiers of modernity: in space, beneath...

  8. 3 A World of Small Insanities: The Critical Reception of Kiss Me Deadly
    (pp. 74-111)

    In 1999 the Library of Congress selectedKiss Me Deadly(1955) to be included in the National Film Registry, thus preserving “a significant element of American creativity and our cultural history for the enjoyment and education of future generations.”¹ The film’s selection as a national treasure brings into relief the shift in critical positions thatKiss Me Deadly, in particular, and pulp films, more generally, underwent in the almost half-century between 1955 and 1999. The award of cultural legitimacy placed on the film by the Library of Congress was made in the knowledge that whenKiss Me Deadlywas originally...

  9. 4 American Primitive: Samuel Fullerʹs Pulp Politics
    (pp. 112-151)

    In the opening sequence of his 1971 novel,144 Piccadilly, Samuel Fuller sets the scene for his story of London’s hippie and squatter culture. Strolling around the West End, an American film director encounters a group of young people breaking into an unoccupied four-story Georgian mansion located at the “ritzy junction of Park Lane and Piccadilly”: “No one else was observing them. They seemed identical to the gypsies I had met in Paris, tolerated in San Francisco, avoided in Los Angeles. And whether they gorged on Yoga, swamis, gurus, intellectual masturbation against the square wind, boo or chug-a-lug, their freaked-out...

  10. 5 Authenticating Pulp: Jim Thompson Adaptations and Neo-noir
    (pp. 152-188)

    Jim Thompson made his living in the 1950s writing paperback originals for the New York publishers Lion, Gold Medal, and Signet. He wrote crime stories in the tradition of James M. Cain’sThe Postman Always Rings Twice, overheated tales of sex and murder, or, as Thompson wrote, “through thick and thin: the true story of a man’s fight against high odds and low women.”¹ Like his contemporary Mickey Spillane, he wrote fast, but, unlike Spillane, he was also prolific. Driven by the period’s unprecedented demand for paperback books, Thompson crafted his novels to meet the heavy turnover called for by...

  11. Conclusion: Hiding Out in Cinemas
    (pp. 189-192)

    The pulp writer and crime novelist Charles Willeford caught something of the tension that exists between the individuated artwork and the anonymous formulaic commercial product in a short story, originally called “The Sin of Integrity,” published inGentmagazine, and retitled “Selected Incidents” in his short-story collectionThe Machine in Ward Eleven(1963). The story concerns the ruminations of a Hollywood film producer who is recounting his experience of working with a talented film director who recently committed suicide. The producer’s audience is Charlie, a professional writer who has been engaged to ghostwrite his autobiography. The news that J. C....

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 193-216)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 217-227)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 228-228)