Bringing Up the Rear: The Literary Mic Drop

Many years ago, my agent offered me the following advice: "The most important sentence of your novel is the first one. The second most important sentence is the last one." There certainly have been vivid, memorable first lines, many of which we can quote by heart--from "Call me Ishmael" in Herman Melville's Moby Dick to ...

From Hard-Boiled Mysteries to Film Noir to the World

Earlier this month, the St Louis Jewish Film Festival asked me to introduce the screening of Fire Birds, an Israeli murder mystery set in Tel Aviv (with English subtitles). To prepare my introductory remarks, I watched the film. Somewhere toward the middle of the movie, I had my epiphany. "Thank ...

The Perfect Ending: Hollywood v. the Novel, Part 3

And now for the third and final comparison of the closing scene in a major Hollywood movie with the closing scene in the novel on which it was based. Our focus today: The Maltese Falcon. The supposed last line of the movie version invariably makes those lists of Top Ten Greatest ...