Seen Scarface? No, not that goddamn Pacino movie. Soul-sucking remake. I mean the first one. The original with Paul Muni. You don’t know it? Oh, man… No, no, that’s okay. I mean, even I didn’t know there was another one until a few years ago. You gotta see it. The best scene is when Paul Muni is trapped in a restaurant, shooting it out with the cops and their meager pistols. Anyway, it’s the first time Scarface uses his new tommy gun. And, man, it’s love. He’s got it up in his arms, kicking against his chest like a tiny black mare, the empty shells are flying, tinkling on the restaurant floor. You’ve never seen such joy on a man’s face. Pure malevolent glee, as the windows are shattering all around. It’s the greatest moment of gangster film, if you ask me, because for once crime is completely unrepentant and fun as hell. Pacino, Brando, you can take all that morbid shit and stuff it, man, because they’re not worth this single scene. The crackle of a tommy gun lighting up a man’s life. Listen, my friend, and I used to tell my ex-wife this: if I can ever love a woman the way Paul Muni loved that fucking gun, I’ll die happy. I mean it.





Not to be disrespectful, but I think there’s a pair of religious figures in On the Waterfront. Two simple brothers in the back of a taxi going to 437 River Street, where the goons wait to make one a new martyr. Uneasy in his fedora, Rod Steiger, desperate, voice cracking, torn between love and criminal duty, pushes his pistol into Marlon Brando’s ribs, just the way Cain did before gunning down Abel, while their sacrifices smolder on the distant docks, unwanted, like the stubs of God’s cigars. The idea of fratricide seems so absurd that Brando turns the gun away with pity. Steiger’s face a moon of sweat, he collapses back into the seat, dizzied by his failed crime. But the betrayal lingers in the air and moves across the city streets until even Eden has the stink of Palookaville, and the denizens of the world sleep restlessly in their beds, a world full of bums and not a single contender.





I wanna sneer like Richard Widmark in Kiss of Death. The twitching lip, the iron face, the hate ecstatic. I wanna shove crippled old ladies down the stairs as I grin, mesmerized by the battered wheels of their chairs… Spinning slower, ever slower. I wanna name like Tommy Udo, a name worth fearing, embossed on brass knuckles and the handle of my gun. I wanna cackle at the dying stars and, with a stare, silence that worthless stool pigeon called God. I wanna sweat other men’s blood. I don’t ever wanna see another man smile when I laugh. Ever.





Soylent Green made me a vegetarian, but not for the obvious reasons, not because of those crazy fucking wafers. No, it was the scene when Sol Roth––desiccated, frail, liverspotted––cooks Heston a steak dinner. Sweet little Sol Roth (Edward G. minus his menace, his mad strut) smacking his bloated lips at the sight of meat. That mouth, parched of blood, that enormous aching hole, dry from the heat and the many fleshless years, straining to work up a slaver, a perverted sound of moving lips longing to kiss something dead. Edward G. and Heston share the horrors of the table and laugh and the giant mouth chews on, like its own Hollywood monster, when suddenly Sol Roth catches himself, his gluttony before him, and he feels… ashamed. His eyes close to catch the tears and he turns to Heston to say, tenderly, “How did we come to this?”




  I saw this film where Joseph Cotten chases Orson Welles through the sewers of Vienna. Shadows and darkness pulsing like the living black guts of the city. Spotlights. Clicking soldiers’ boots. And Joseph Cotten has a gun. Orson Welles is his evil friend. On his knees, splashing in the tunnel water. And Joseph Cotten shoots him. Right there. Right in his chubby genius. And I yelled at the screen, “You fucker, Joseph Cotten! He put you in Kane! He put you in Kane and you fucking shot him!” And Joseph Cotten watches as Orson Welles climbs slowly up a ladder to the light, hands clutching for redemption, with Joseph Cotten’s stinking bullets in him. And Orson Welles dies. He fucking dies. I threw my popcorn in the aisle and went out to catch a cab. I punched the back seat over and over just like it was Joseph Cotten’s curly head.