Nick Pinkerton

  • We Love This Dirty Town

    BECAUSE THE MAKING OF EVERY single motion picture has its uphill battles and its moments of high drama, and because a film can reflect its times in fascinating ways, a book about the making of John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy (1969) could very well be a compelling read, even though the movie itself is as phony as its central hustler Joe Buck’s cowboy credentials. That the United States is the land of the sham is part of the film’s hammered-home point, and to emphasize this Schlesinger lingers attention on the garish billboards and urban signage that posh visiting European filmmakers often

  • culture July 12, 2013

    Nice Guys Don’t Work in Hollywood: The Adventures of an Aesthete in the Movie Business by Curtis Harrington

    It may seem absurd that the director of fare like Queen of Blood or Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell should tag himself with a highfalutin word like “aesthete," but Nick Harrington is a fount of erudition, accumulated through a singularly free-ranging career that paralleled those of Keneth Anger and David Lynch.

    “Who is Curtis Harrington, and what other films has he made?” This was asked by an audience member after a screening of Harrington’s What’s the Matter with Helen? , a drolly macabre thriller about two middle-aged women operating a dance school in ’30s Los Angeles. In Nice Guys Don’t Work in Hollywood, Harrington sets down this query as evidence of his fated obscurity—though the filmmaker’s anecdote-rich posthumously published autobiography goes some ways toward answering both questions, and will hopefully earn his work recognition from a new audience.

    It may seem absurd that the director of

  • culture July 20, 2011

    Fowl Play: Charles Willeford's cult chicken novel

    An expert at documenting low-life America in Kodachrome colors, Charles Willeford was one of the finest curveballing genre-fiction writers of the twentieth century. His “comedies” are populated by cracked art critics, skid-row romantics, blithe psychopaths, morally bankrupt Miami bachelors, and, in the case of his recently re-released Cockfighter, men who train chickens to fight to the death.

    Charles Willeford’s Cockfighter was first obscurely released in 1962, later revised in ’72 for hardcover and excerpted in Sports Illustrated, prompting incensed reader mail about its SPCA-baiting subject matter. Now, thanks to the Brooklyn-based PictureBox, Willeford’s unsentimental and funny bloodsport drama is in print again.

    Cockfighter strains to bust out of the pulp-fiction ghetto it was born into, as has Willeford’s body of work as a whole; since his death in 1988, his readership has gone up-market, from cult to academy (2001 brought a study with title Comedy After Postmodernism: Rereading