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  • Murder on the Orient Express, 1974 for Mod Movie Monday

    Posted on September 13th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    murder_on_the_orient_expressposterNot all detective stories feature a tough guy in an old fedora, lugging around a .45 caliber piece of iron and bedding every hot dame that crosses his path. One of the best and most entertaining characters in the realm of Who-dunnit mysteries is that of Hercule Poirot, the wax-mustached Belgian detective created by Agatha Christie. Without doubt in the top ten of the most famous detectives ever in print, Poirot is absolutely most known for his role in

    Murder on the Orient Express.

    Originally written in 1934, this masterpiece of murder was transformed into an all-star movie by director Sidney Lumet and screenplay writer Paul Dehn 40 years later. Dig this lineup:

    Albert Finney Hercule Poirot
    Lauren Bacall Mrs. Hubbard
    Martin Balsam Bianchi
    Ingrid Bergman Greta
    Jacqueline Bisset Countess Andrenyi
    Jean-Pierre Cassel Pierre
    Sean Connery Colonel Arbuthnot
    John Gielgud Beddoes
    Wendy Hiller Princess Dragomiroff
    Anthony Perkins McQueen
    Vanessa Redgrave Mary Debenham
    Rachel Roberts Hildegarde
    Richard Widmark Ratchett
    Michael York Count Andrenyi

    murder-on-the-orient-expressfinneyShot in an old, classic-era Hollywood style, the film is a nice diversion from some of the grittier, dirtier movies of the 1970s. It’s also a nice look back at the way life was at a time when people took trains instead of cars or planes to far-off destinations. The story is intriguing and the acting top notch, as you might expect from such a hip roster of stars. orient-still

    Finney is great as the somewhat strange Poirot, playing the part much older than his actual age. And of course the ending…the resolve…is one of the most famous in history, with dozens of other books and movies borrowing from it or parodying it. (I won’t give it away here).

    Don’t forget this was a book first…watch the movie, then read the book.

    Food & Booze: I would suggest an aperitif, perhaps a Champagne Cocktail or Negroni to go with this upper-crust flick. Roast chicken, Brussels sprouts and Waldorf Salad should make an entertaining dinner. Then again, a pizza and beer works just as well.

    Here’s the original trailer from 1974:

    Tiki Chris reporting from the terminal at the Orient Express

  • Orson Welles Directs The Stranger, 1946 for Noir Movie Monday

    Posted on March 14th, 2011 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    the-stranger-posterEdward G. Robinson as a Federal Detective. Post-war Nazi plots. Deceit, murder, and clocks. Orson Welles directs this classic 1946 Noir thriller in a way other directors only dreamed of. Even the title takes on a new meaning as the story unfolds in

    The Stranger, 1946

    starring Edward G. Robinson, Orson Welles, and Loretta Young.the_stranger_young-welles

    The film opens darkly as authorities plan to find and capture Franz Kindler (played by Welles), the heartless mastermind of the Holocaust. Kindler managed to evade capture, erase his identity, leading him to take up life as a professor in a small town in Connecticut. (Remember, this is 1946, the time when Nazi atrocities were first coming to light and war criminals were being hunted around the globe). Robinson’s character eventually tracks Kindler down…I won’t tell you how here, as that would give away the whole story…welles-robinson-stranger

    As you’d expect from a classic, every scene is filmed artistically, bringing together perfect camera angles with deliberate-styled acting to achieve a final print that holds up 65 years later.

    It’s also a wonderful window into small-town life in pre-television days. People spend their time listening to the radio, or playing checkers with the local general store/diner owner. It might as well have been a million years ago, compared to today’s world.

    robinson-the-strangerExceptional performances by Robinson, Young and Welles combined with a fantastic story and true Noir filming make The Stranger a five-coconut winner at the Tiki Lounge.

    -Tiki Chris Pinto reporting from the theater, down the avenue from Pirate’s Cove Tiki Bar.

  • Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill!

    Posted on August 2nd, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 2 comments

    faster_pussycat_kill_killStraight out of hell comes three krazy hot roddin’ chicks out for kicks. From 1965 here comes Russ Meyers’

    Faster Pussycat! KILL! KILL!

    Starring Tura Santana, Haji and Lori Williams.

    It’s been said that Russ Meyer named this movie Faster Pussycat! KILL! KILL! because he believes that a movie has everything when it contains speed (faster), sex (pussycat) and violence (KILL! KILL!). Well, there’s plenty of all of it in this Black & White B-Beauty.faster_pussycat_3-screen

    First off, I don’t think there were three hotter chicks to zoom out of the ’60s. Santana is so stacked it’s a wonder she can fit behind the wheel of that sportster. Of course I have a thing for the blonde stripper.

    faster-pussycat-girlsWhat’s the flick about? Three sleazy, badass girls that like to race hot European sports cars and start brawls go too far and commit murder. It gets more insane from there. Some of it is so violent you’ll wonder how they got away with it in the ’60s. Some of it is funny, intentionally. Some of it is krazy sexy, even by today’s standards. The flick is such a cult classic that one of our favorite retro-lovin’ kats, Quintin Tarantino has his own version in the works, slated for 2012 release. If anyone else were re-making the flick I’d say hell no. But with QT at the wheel, it’s got to be good (but still no match to the original). In the mean time see the original in all its black and white glory, and get ready to experience the dirty, gritty, sleazy side of the 1960’s.

    faster-pussycat-turaDinner & Drinks: If you can get your hands on some moonshine, go for it. And Southern cooking all the way…fried chicken, biscuits, you catch my drift. If you’re brave you can try a Tura Santana Cocktail: three parts moonshine, one part hi-test gasoline, with a dash of blood. Light it up. (Tiki Lounge Talk not responsible for burnt eyebrows or damaged organs)faster-pussycat-kill-kill-h

    -Tiki Chris Pinto reporting from the back seat of the ’53 Chevy Hot Rod, at the drive-in movies behind the Tiki Bar.

    Tiki Lounge Talk – The swingin’ retro & tiki culture blog for red-blooded vintage hipsters, man.

  • Murder Behind The Closet Door – Now Available Online!

    Posted on April 10th, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 5 comments
    Murder Behind the Closet Door by Chris Pinto

    Murder Behind the Closet Door by Chris Pinto

    Buy it here!

    I’m very proud to announce that the krazy book I’ve been working on for ever is finally available! I mean dig it, it’s a real book!

    In fact, it’s 600 pages of a real book. With a pretty color cover and all.

    For you kats and kittens that dig the retro stuff, you’ll love it. The whole thing takes place in 1979, with flashbacks to 1938 and 1957. And it takes place in one of the swingingest retro meccas on the planet, Wildwood New Jersey – a town that was built up in the 50s, and still retains ( and celebrates) a lot of its mid-century mod architecture, hotels, diners and boardwalk amusement piers.

    If you like reading Tiki Lounge Talk, I think you’ll like my Murder Behind The Closet Door. It’s full of fun references to the past, including the cars, music and places that are gone forever but not forgotten.

    What? What’s it about? Oh, yeah, I guess I should clue you into that, huh…Ok, it’s a murder mystery wrapped up in a ghost story. It’s about a young chick named Heather who is just starting out in life. She moves into a 70 year-old rooming house near the beach in Wildwood-by-the-Sea, and soon starts experiencing strange occurrences around her bedroom closet. It ain’t long before she realizes the odd happenings are being caused by an entity from another plane. This ghost in her closet is actually trying to communicate with her. She and her friends try to find out why this is happening, and discover a mystery that goes way back to 1938, and includes her mother, best friend’s family, and more people in her life than she thought possible. gun

    Meanwhile, her step-dad-to-be, Detective Bill Riggins begins his own investigation into a 40 year-old murder behind the closet door. Truths hidden for years are uncovered, and the more facts that are found, the more intense the hauntings become, until an unavoidable climax changes these peoples’ lives forever.

    From the book’s description: “A dilapidated house with an evil secret in the basement. An auto-wrecking yard with the devious, rusted remains of a murderer’s getaway car. An unsolved bank robbery with hundreds of thousands of dollars never found. A detective trying to solve an age old murder before his ticker runs out. A slow, agonizing death for an unfortunate victim and his soul reaching from beyond…”Murder Behind The Closet Door” keeps you engaged and guessing from the first paragraph. Creepy, riveting, this story reveals another existence, one just beyond our own, where the occult and the paranormal meet reality and everyday people find themselves swept into very extraordinary circumstances.”

    old-carCheck it out at the link above, or for more details including snippets from some of my favorite passages visit my StarDust Mysteries website at

    Comments welcome! I want to hear what you think! C’mon, it’s free to leave a comment. Don’t let the Tiki Bar Conversations be so one-sided! Have a highball, sit back and slide me your rap. I’m all ears.

    -Tiki Chris for Tiki Lounge Talk, The Hipster’s Hip Joint for Tiki Culture and Retro Digs

  • Mike Hammer…They Don’t Build Tough Guy Detectives Like This Anymore

    Posted on February 3rd, 2010 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 22 comments

    juryI am sitting at the Tiki Bar on the lanai, sipping a Jack and Ginger and enjoying the cool South Florida evening breeze. This is my favorite time of year, when it’s warm and sunny by day and crisp at night. It’s evenings like this when I remember the old days, before I moved to Florida; how it’s icy cold and dark and gray and morbid in the North East, how everything is dead up there and everything is green and lush and full of life here. It’s evenings like this when I like to crack open a Mike Hammer novel, and remember the past.

    When I read Mike Hammer, it takes me back to that other time, that other place. That dark, rough time in the city, when the nights were full of alluring dames and cheap booze and the weight of my .45 kept dragging me down, reminding me that there were big, tough wiseguys that needed a lesson in respect, beat into them the right way, with a crowbar. That other time, long ago; that dark, evil time in the rain-soaked, soot-streaked city.

    Phillip Marlow was tough. Sam Spade knew his way around a .38. Even Sonny Crocket could pull a trigger on an Uzi without blinking an eye. But in the tough guy department, none of them came close to Mike Hammer.

    I’m not talking about the watered-down-for-TV Mike Hammer, played by Darrin McGavin in the ’50s and Stacey Keach in the ’80s. I’m talking about the real Mike Hammer, the borderline-psychopath detective dreamed up by Mickey Spillane in the late 1940’s through the ’50s, the .45 automatic-toting ex-army special forces operative who learned how to track and maim and kill in the jungles of World War II, the big tough street mug with a fist of ice cold steel and a soft spot in his heart for the dames. That Mike Hammer.

    If you’ve read Spillane, you know what I’m getting at. If you haven’t, you should, on the double. Just the fact that you’ve read this far clues me in that you’re gonna like it something big.

    Of all the great (and not so great but nevertheless popular) detective stories that came out of the last 80 or so years, from Marlow to Veronica Mars, from Ellery Queen to Tony Rome, from James Bond to Batman, only one really stands out as something darker, something almost horrifying…the original down and dirty streetwise gumshoe, the hardcore dime-store private eye who did things his own way and got away with it, his way. Many copied his style down the line, but they never hit on the real difference, the one thing that made Hammer stand a couple of blocks away from all the rest.

    You see, Mike Hammer was a murderer.

    Sure, he had a private dick’s ticket, a little card stamped by the State of New York that gave him the legal right to carry a heater and arrest bad guys. But to Hammer, it was nothing more than a ‘get out of jail free’ card. A convenience when it came to court time. A slip of paper that gave him the right clean up his beloved city, to wipe up the back alleys and dimly-lit tap rooms with the faces of the city’s scum, and then to go a step further…because he’d been around the block few times, and he knew the score…arresting the bad guys didn’t do nuts. They’d get off; sure as hell they’d get sent up for a short stretch and be back on the streets mugging and robbing and beating up dames and little guys for spending cash and kicks. Jail wasn’t enough for this filth. They needed to be punished.

    The small-time hoods got off easy with a beating they’d remember for life. A couple of cracked ribs, a broken jaw and brain damage usually did the trick with Horse-pushers and lowlife pimps, two-bit gamblers and croocked politicians. But for the killers…well, that was another story. An eye for an eye. If they lived as killers they needed to die as killers, by an equally evil and screwed-up killer. Mike was the self-appointed jailer, judge, jury…and executioner. And he always found a way to make his story stick, make it legit…one way or another, he would kill, he would need to kill; he would justify it as ridding the world of evil and he’d get away clean.

    Don’t believe me? Think I’ve gone off the deep end? Set your peepers on this little bit of insight, taken from the first few pages of One Lonely Night, the fourth book in the Mike Hammer series. Published in 1951, the story gives an inner view of Hammer’s mind, the way he thinks, and what he thinks about the world he’s been forced into. To me, these few paragraphs sum up his character, the whole series, and the darker side of life in “the good old days”. It’s what made me really appreciate Mike Hammer when I first read I, The Jury at age 12. It makes me appreciate all the Hammer novels for what they are: The real diary of a madman.onelonelynight

    (talking about a judge who wanted to throw the book at him, but could not) “…I was a licensed investigator who knocked off somebody who needed knocking off bad and he couldn’t get to me. So I was a murderer by definition and all the law could do was shake its finger at definitions.”…”maybe he thought I should have stayed there and called the cops when the bastard had a rod in his hand and it was pointing at my gut…” “He had to take me back five years to a time he knew of only second hand and tell me how it took a war to show me the power of the gun and the obscene pleasure that was brutality and force, the spicy sweetness of murder sanctified by law. That was me.” “…There in the muck and slime of the jungle, there in the stink that hung over the beaches rising from the bodies of the dead, there in the half-light of too many dusks and dawns laced together with the crisscrossed patterns of bullets, I had gotten a taste of death and found it palatable to the extent I could never again eat the fruits of a normal civilization.”…”I was a killer. I was a murderer, legalized. I had no reason for living. Yeah, he said that!”*

    Mix that insanity in a shaker with a Colt .45 Combat Commander and an insatiable appetite for serving justice. Throw in a couple of ice cubes and a busty brunette secretary named Velda. Pour it in a tall chilled glass, frosty with the blood of a hundred hoodlums and garnish it with a peel of the city at night, and you’ve got a Mike Hammer Manhattan.

    There are 13 books in the Mike Hammer series, plus the TV scripts and screen plays. But with the passing of Spillane a few years ago flew any chance of ever hearing Mike’s voice say anything new again. Others may try, some may come close. But no one can dole out the imagery or lay down the style that Mickey gave to his fantastically flawed unsung hero, Mike Hammer.

    (Read the books, start from the beginning with I, The Jury and follow Mike all the way through to Black Alley. If you dig reading about real mid-century American culture through the eyes of an author who was writing these books at the time, as the present, you’ll absolutely enjoy Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer.)

    -Original Content by Christopher Pinto for Tiki Lounge Talk.
    *Passages from “One Lonely Night” written by Mickey Spillane, ©1951, 1979, used for informational/educational purposes only.