Boy, it's been a bad couple of weeks. Visionary science fiction author Sir Arthur C. Clarke went to meet the monolith on the 19th – Childhood's End and Rendezvous With Rama are still two of my favorite SF novels of all time – then film noir icon Richard Widmark, of Kiss of Death and Night And The City fame, experienced his final fade to black on the 24th.
I'll never forget the first time I saw Kiss of Death and Widmark's terrifying portrayal of giggling sociopath Tommy Udo. I had bought the VHS of the movie – which had just been re-released on home video to tie-in with the inferior, 1995 remake – and was eager to catch up with another classic noir that I'd read about in my many film reference books. Well, it more than lived up to its reputation... and Widmark was why. No written description could have possibly conveyed the chilling impact of Widmark's Udo.
I just found out today that crime novelist Arthur Lyons, whose "Jacob Asch" private eye novels were a huge influence on me, died last Friday. Not only were his private eye novels a big part of why I became obssessed with the P.I. genre back in the 1980's (and "obsession" may be too mild a word), but his book, Death On The Cheap: The Lost B Movies of Film Noir, was a treasured resource as I began delving deeper and deeper into that shadowed realm on my own. Paul Bishop has a nice remembrance of Lyons at his blog.