September 17th, 2008

Taking the SAVAGE DETOURS

Since I just wrote the first 3,000 words of the new book last night (and since the contracts are basically figured out now), I guess I can announce...

Savage Detours: The Life and Work of Ann Savage


I'll be sharing the credit on this with my longtime pal Kent Adamson, who has been working with Ann for some time. We'll be combing through her substantial collection of correspondence, clippings, contracts, interviews, stills and more to put together the first book-length study of the star of the classic film noir Detour. In that film Ann (as "Vera") created one of the most astonishing femme fatales in cinematic history, and the rest of her life has been no less fascinating.

Last night I wrote about Apology for Murder, another film Ann made in '45 at PRC, the same company she made Detour for. Now granted, Apology is a pretty blatant rip-off of Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity, but - okay, film buffs, get out your stones and prepare to hurl - I actually prefer it. It's faster and far sexier, with Ann just oozing an earthy seductiveness; she plays her femme fatale as someone who enjoys sex even while she's using it to control the hapless men around her. She's forceful (love it when she calls co-star Hugh Beaumont "a jellyfish"!), but still elegant. It's a terrific performance, and will be released shortly on DVD.

We have an interesting schedule on this book, because much of Ann's collection is going to a new home at a university, so we have to work fast for now. But it's nice to have a deadline on a book again, and I'm thrilled to be involved with this one.

Next up: The Detour chapter. The book will include a reproduction of Ann's original script for the film, complete with her annotations, as well as a great deal of private insight about the making of the film. I'm now reading the original novel by Martin Goldsmith (who I've just found out was Anthony Quinn's brother-in-law!) and the BFI film guide.