A few of FNB’s fave posts from 2012

Happy 2013, all! Here’s a look at FNB highlights from 2012.

Marilyn Monroe shot by Bert Stern

Top 10 FNB posts (misc.)

Remembering Beth Short, the Black Dahlia, on the 65th anniversary of her death

TCM festival in Hollywood

Interview with Tere Tereba, author of “Mickey Cohen: The Life and Crimes of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster”

Marilyn Monroe birthday tribute

Marilyn Monroe exhibit in Hollywood

Film noir feline stars: The cat in “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers”

Famous injuries in film noir, coinciding with my fractured toe, or broken foot, depending on how dramatic I am feeling

Panel event on author Georges Simenon with director William Friedkin

History Channel announcement: FNB to curate film noir shop page

Retro restaurant reviews: Russell’s in Pasadena

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REVIEWS: 2012 neo-noirs or films with elements of noir

Crossfire Hurricane” documentary

Hitchcock

Holy Motors

Killing Them Softly

Momo: The Sam Giancana Story” documentary

Polisse

Rust and Bone

Searching for Sugar Man” documentary

Unforgivable

Wuthering Heights

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REVIEWS: Classic film noir

Anatomy of a Murder

Criss Cross

Decoy

Gilda

Gun Crazy

Murder, My Sweet

The Postman Always Rings Twice

Possessed

Sunset Blvd.

They Drive By Night

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REVIEWS: Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Dial M for Murder

The Lady Vanishes

Marnie

Notorious

The 39 Steps

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Director William Friedkin reveals the father of film noir

Mystery writer Georges Simenon “probably invented film noir,” said Academy Award-winning director William Friedkin on Thursday at a tribute to the famed Belgian author. The panel discussion and cocktail party at the W Hotel in Hollywood was hosted by Georges Simenon Ltd. and the Ile de France Film Commission.

An image from the Simenon tribute invitation

One of the best-selling writers of the 20th century, Simenon (1903-89) was uncommonly prolific – he produced 191 novels and 160 short stories, in addition to other writing.

His spare, minimalist crime stories (particularly his tales of the pipe-smoking café-frequenting Inspector Jules Maigret) clicked with millions of readers and the likes of William Faulkner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jean Renoir, Claude Chabrol and Akira Kurosawa.

Simenon’s work inspired 70 feature films and 500 hours of TV worldwide.

“I started reading Simenon around the time I made ‘The French Connection,’ ” said Friedkin. “I certainly was influenced by his writing. He’s thought of as a thriller writer but he defies genre. The ‘romans durs’ [tough novels] were the ones that most resonated with me. They’re so simple and yet complex in their portrayal of character.”

Friedkin pointed to “The Man on the Eiffel Tower” (1949, Burgess Meredith) as one of the most exciting Simenon adaptations. Based on the novel “A Battle of Nerves” and starring Charles Laughton as Maigret, Friedkin said the scene in a crowded restaurant as the murderer and detective get into a heated talk amid ever-louder violins is “absolutely magnificent and may be my favorite scene in the movies.”

(More of Friedkin’s cinematic influences and inspirations likely will be revealed in his forthcoming book, “The Friedkin Connection: A Memoir,” which he confirmed at the party is scheduled for publication in March 2013.)

Joining Friedkin on the panel were John Simenon (one of the author’s sons), scriptwriter John Brian King and Olivier-René Veillon of the Ile de France Film Commission.

John Simenon confirmed that his father’s friendships with cops, criminals and doctors (he also read medical journals regularly) lent his work a gritty authenticity. Furthering the inventor-of-film-noir description, Veillon explained that the city of Paris, which was radically rebuilt and modernized in the 1860s according to Baron Haussmann’s vision, served as a gift to artists, especially Simenon.

“All the characters are defined by their location and their relationship with the city,” Veillon said. Just as the reconceived Paris and its denizens provided rich fodder for Simenon’s imagination, his fiction is ripe for new adaptations on screen.

Friedkin also asked John Simenon to recount his relationship with his father. “He was demanding in terms of how to conduct yourself and how to be a man. But he was there and he was very present, much more present than many fathers are today and more present than I can be for my son.”

Georges Simenon, 1963, by Erling Mandelmann.

One of the first questions from the audience came from a sly Brit, who wanted to know the secrets to Simenon’s sex life, referencing the notion that Simenon was one of the great Casanovas of his time and claimed to have slept with 10,000 women.

First noting that he had not inherited this trait, John Simenon said this comment was “totally overblown” and “more of a joke” stemming from a reported conversation with director Federico Fellini. Between his work, his children and his love for food and cooking, that much bed-hopping would have been a mighty scheduling challenge.

His personal life aside, one of the most important women Georges Simenon knew was the French novelist Colette (1873-1954), whom he met early in his career and who advised him to eschew the literary, to cut his stories to the bone.

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Book ’em: Parry, Keller, Kardos, Braver, Baker, Winter, Black, Nakamura, Lehane, Vincelette

Lately I’ve been getting up a little earlier than usual so I that I can read a few pages of a good book as I drink my morning coffee. It’s a lovely way to start a morning, assuming you’re into murder and the dark mysteries of the human heart. In the past few weeks, I’ve been lucky – there’s a feast of new books to choose from. I’m making progress on many of these titles and plan to run full reviews in upcoming posts.

People Who Eat Darkness” by Richard Lloyd Parry (FSG, $16) A British journalist’s unforgettable account of a true crime that took place in Tokyo in 2000: the disappearance and murder of bar hostess Lucie Blackman, just 21 when she died.

A Killing in the Hills” by Julia Keller (Minotaur, $24.99) Keller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist (Chicago Tribune), crafts a spellbinding murder mystery set in her home state of West Virginia.

The Three-Day Affair” by Michael Kardos (The Mysterious Press, $24) A debut thriller about three longtime friends who make one mistake, forcing a chain of decisions that will haunt them forever.

Misfit” by Adam Braver (Tin House Books, $15.95) Braver gives a literary, imaginative rendering of the final days of Marilyn Monroe, who died Aug. 5, 1962 in her Brentwood home.

The Empty Glass” by J.I. Baker (Blue Rider Press, $25.95) The LA County deputy coroner discovers Marilyn Monroe’s secret diary and starts to probe the sad and sinister details of the star’s death in this first-time novel by a veteran magazine journalist.

The Twenty-Year Death” by Ariel S. Winter (Hard Case Crime, $25.99) A mystery divided into three sections. Part one, set in 1931, is an homage to the marvelously prolific French author Georges Simenon. Part two takes place in 1941 and honors noir great Raymond Chandler. And last the darkly compelling Jim Thompson gets his due in a 1951 setting.

Vengeance” by Benjamin Black (Henry Holt, $26) A Dublin-based pathologist finds himself in the middle of a battle between two families. Noir with a 1950s Irish twist by this Booker prize-winning author (aka John Banville).

The Thief” by Fuminori Nakamura (Soho Press, $23) The first novel by the celebrated Japanese author to be translated into English, “The Thief” is a minimalist sliver of Tokyo noir told in the first person by an anonymous pickpocket, says Laura Wilson of the Guardian newspaper. As she puts it: “This isn’t for those who prefer the conventional crime novel. It is, however, an intelligent, compelling and surprisingly moving tale, and highly recommended.”

Live by Night” by Dennis Lehane (Morrow, $27.99) According to Publishers Weekly, Warner Bros. and Leonardo DiCaprio have optioned the film rights to this police saga set in Prohibition-era Boston. (Releases Oct. 2)

Polynie” by Melanie Vincelette (McArthur & Co., $18.95) This novel about a lawyer whose body is discovered in the hotel room of a stripper was shortlisted for a Governor General’s literary award when it appeared in French, according to Quill & Quire. An English-language version will appear in November.

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Film noir gifts for the holidays: Books

Last week, I was beauty-product happy. This week, it’s all about pages.

Here are my book-buying suggestions and descriptions from their sellers/review highlights.

Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark” by Brian Kellow, $27.95
Says fellow film critic Todd McCarthy in The Hollywood Reporter: “Kellow … writes beautifully and dexterously interweaves the story of a career long-thwarted with a sensitive reading of his subject’s youthful enthusiasm and intellectual growth. … Kellow admirably brings Pauline’s wit, insight and passion to life on the page and has made at least one critic nostalgic for the days when heavyweight critical battles raged and at least one of us lived a life worthy of a biography.”

The Doll: The Lost Short Stories” by Dame Daphne du Maurier, $15
Writing in ElleKate Christensen says of du Maurier (who wrote “Rebecca,” “My Cousin Rachel” and “Jamaica Inn”): “It’s all here: her fascination with the interplay between ingénue and femme fatale, her caddish male characters and the clinging females they devastate, and the inevitable disillusionment of innocence. … The stories are not all equally well realized – a few of them feel more like sketches – but the best ones are astonishingly good.”

Maigret at the Gai-Moulin,” a novel by Georges Simenon, $8
Belgian writer Simenon (1903-89) published his first novel at 17 and wrote more than 200 novels, many featuring a detective named Commissaire Maigret. Says People magazine: “Maigret … ranks with Holmes and Poiret in the pantheon of fictional detective immortals.”

Marilyn: Intimate Exposures” by Susan Bernard/Bruno Bernard, $35
Hollywood photographer Bruno Bernard’s iconic photograph of Marilyn Monroe standing over the subway grate in a billowing white dress is synonymous with Hollywood glamour. Many of the images in this volume have never before been published.

Gary Cooper

Also includes forewords from Jane Russell, Marilyn’s co-star in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” and Lindsay Lohan as well as excerpts from Bruno’s journal and a frameable print. (Next year is the 50th anniversary of Marilyn’s death.)

Gary Cooper: An Enduring Style” by Maria Cooper Janis and G. Bruce Boyer, $60
The first monograph focused on the timeless fashion and allure of this leading man who was a fashion inspiration to his Hollywood peers, clothing designers and generations of stylish men. Unpublished, never-before-seen personal photographs, shot primarily by his wife Rocky.

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel” by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, $55
From Town & Country: “Before there was Daphne Guinness, before there was Lady Gaga, there was the original style setter. A new book takes a look at the career and influence of the woman who made fashion modern.”

Lisa Immordino Vreeland runs her own fashion design and production consulting business. She is the producer of a documentary film about Diana Vreeland, and is married to Vreeland’s grandson Alexander.

Christian Louboutin,” $150
Red rules in more than 300 pages of the legendary designer’s work. Read more about him and his career here.

Works on Paper” by David Lynch, $195
A collection of more than 500 drawings, dating from the 1960s by the renowned American film director, offers a unique glimpse into the artist’s creative process.

If you are in the LA area, treat yourself to a trip to Dragon Books, 2954 Beverly Glen Circle, 310-441-8545. There, you’ll find an inscribed first edition of 1984’s “Things I Did … and Things I Think I Did” by director Jean Negulesco (“The Mask of Dimitrios,” “Humoresque,” “Johnny Belinda” and “How to Marry a Millionaire,” along with many others); $150.

Also: a first edition of Don Allen’s “François Truffaut” from 1974, signed by Truffaut; $1,500.

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