The Power of ‘True Detective’: 19th Century Title Becomes Bestseller

Woody Harrelson in ‘True Detective’/Photo © HBO

Editor's Note: We're looking back through time, inspired by "True Detective" literature, fifty greatest Bechdel-approved films, and more in our pre-weekend roundup.

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson don't necessarily strike one as literary types, but their new HBO show "True Detective" has become an unexpected treat for book nerds. The murderous storyline repeatedly alludes to a book called The King in Yellow, an 1895 collection of stories that later influenced  authors like H.P. Lovecraft. The references have grown so apparent that the show's fans have caused digital sales of The King in Yellow to spike practically overnight -- it's suddenly become the seventh bestselling book on Amazon.

In case you're unfamiliar, the Bechdel Test is often used to gauge gender bias in movies and fiction. To pass, the work in question must feature at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. It sounds simple, but it's astonishing how many don't make the cut. Total Film has compiled a terrific guide to the fifty greatest films that meet the Bechdel criteria, which includes titles like "No Country for Old Men," "Die Hard," and "Evil Dead 2." As you can see, there's no shortage of testosterone here -- it's really just a matter of consistent character development across all genders.

I don't know you, but it's likely we're united by a common trauma: the death of Atreyu's horse Artax in "The Neverending Story," a cinematic moment that, according to one blogger, "screwed up a generation." The next time you're feeling sad, think of Artax in the Swamps of Sadness. Don't just stand there sinking deeper and deeper into the mud -- you'll just perpetuate the chain reaction, bumming out anyone who happens to witness it. While you're at it, might as well avoid Morla's tiresome ennui: "We don't even care whether or not we care."

The Warner Brothers logo that you've seen displayed at the beginning of so many films has gone through tons of changes over the decades, and on many occasion it's been customized to memorably blend in with the art direction. One devoted movie-hound has spent years collecting dozens of screenshots, tracking the evolution of the famous shield from 1923's original look to the playful redesigns of "V for Vendetta" and "Where the Wild Things Are." Perhaps the studio's producers and graphic designers ought to try switching places -- some of these logos are far more artful than anything that followed them.