Monday, September 26, 2016

Mapping Sherlock Holmes.

Violet Smith pursued in "The
Solitary Cyclist." Detail from
the Sherlock Holmes
Mystery Map (1987).
One of the treasures accessible online via Recollection Wisconsin is the "Sherlock Holmes Mystery Map" (1987) created by Jim Wolnick and Susan Lewis and published by Aaron Blake Publishers. Complete with a "Dancing Men" border, it provides a visual guide to 130 locales in the Holmes canon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A 2001 flashback with Ed McBain.

WYSO's The Book Nook recently rebroadcast Vick Mickunas's 2001 interview with Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter, 1926–2005) that coincided with the release of McBain's 87th Precinct novel Money, Money, Money. Mickunas describes it as one of his favorite interviews. In addition to Money, Money, Money, McBain discusses The Blackboard Jungle (the first Hunter novel), Cop Hater (the first McBain novel), The Chisholms (a Western), and Candyland (the innovative novel with the double byline of McBain and Hunter). He also talks about growing up in New York City, visiting the Apollo Theater, and working for the Scott Meredith Literary Agency (including editing P.G. Wodehouse).

Monday, September 19, 2016

Murder in song.

University of Kentucky law professor Richard H. Underwood looks at the real-life cases behind ballads featuring murder in Crime Song: True Crime Stories in Southern Murder Ballads. Individuals covered include Frankie Silver, Frankie Bailey (of Frankie and Johnny fame), Delia Green (of Delia's Gone), and Mary Phagan and Leo Frank (of The Ballad of Mary Phagan).  (Thanks to Law & Humanities blog)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

John le Carre reads from The Pigeon Tunnel.

Via BBC Radio, you can listen to John le Carre reading from his new memoir The Pigeon Tunnel (including an explanation for the title and the intersections of his life between real-life espionage and fiction):

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Happy 80th birthday, Peter Lovesey.

Peter Lovesey—story consultant for the TV mystery series Rosemary & Thyme as well as creator of Victorian detective Sergeant Cribb; present-day detective Peter Diamond; and hapless, would-be detective Bertie, Prince of Wales—turns 80 today. His latest novel is Another One Goes Tonight. He appears in this CBS Sunday Morning tribute to P. D. James.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Heartbeat (1946).

Adolphe Menjou and Ginger Rogers in Heartbeat (1946)
In Heartbeat (dir. Sam Wood), Ginger Rogers flees reform school for tutoring at Basil Rathbone's school for pickpockets. She is caught in mid-theft by Adolphe Menjou, who compels her to steal a watch from diplomat Jean-Pierre Aumont, as Menjou is suspicious of Aumont's relationship with his wife. Further complications ensue as Ginger is threatened with a return to the reformatory.

Monday, September 05, 2016

More on Conan Doyle and spiritualism.

Arthur Conan Doyle. Library of
Congress, Prints & Photos Div.
New in the journal ELT (English Literature in Transition, 1880–1920) is Angela Fowler's discussion of the post-World War I career of Arthur Conan Doyle, examining his works dealing with spiritualism (The New Revelation, the Professor Challenger novel The Land of Mist, and the horror novella The Parasite) as well as considering his belief in spiritualism in a global context.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Conflict (1945).

Alexis Smith, Sydney Greenstreet, and Humphrey Bogart
in Conflict
In Conflict Humphrey Bogart plots the perfect murder of his wife (Rose Hobart) and courts her sister (Alexis Smith), but psychiatrist Sydney Greenstreet is skeptical of Bogart's version of his wife's death.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Clues 34.2:
Webb, Woollcott, and actuarial detection.

The vol. 34, no. 2 issue of Clues (2016) has just been published and can be ordered from McFarland. I will post when the issue is available on Kindle and Google Play. The following are abstracts for the issue.

Probability and Capital Crime: 

The Rise and Fall of Actuarial Detection in Victorian Crime Fiction
CHERYL B. PRICE (University of North Alabama)
The author examines the influence of life assurance on early detective fiction. Actuarial detectives in Charles Dickens’s “Hunted Down” (1859) and life assurance influenced both the language and methodology of later fictional detectives, and the life assurance profession impeded detection in Charles Warren Adams’s The Notting Hill Mystery (1865).

Making Crime Pay: 
Alexander Woollcott, the Algonquin Round Table, and the Aesthetics of Crime Fiction
MARY LOUISE REKER (Library of Congress)
Between the two world wars New York theater critic Alexander Woollcott was deeply enamored of crime writing. He corresponded with both U.S. and British crime writers and promoted their work through his columns and broadcasts. Woollcott also wrote a regular column for the New Yorker, whose founding editor, Harold Ross, encouraged the writer Edmund Wilson to challenge Woollcott’s crime fiction aesthetic.

Policing the Crime Drama:
Radio Noir, Dragnet, and Jack Webb’s Maladjusted Text
JEFF OUSBORNE (Suffolk University)
The links between film noir and “radio noir” crime drama remain largely unexamined. The author explores the relationship between Jack Webb’s early radio-noir mystery program Pat Novak, for Hire and his work on the semi-documentary police procedural Dragnet. The programs suggest the porous borders of film, radio, and television, which together shed light on aesthetic, thematic, generic, and cultural shifts in the development of noir and procedural drama across different media.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"Deception" (with Linda Darnell and Trevor Howard, 1956).

Linda Darnell, ca. 1940
Based on the Alec Waugh Esquire story "A Small Back Room in St. Marylebone," this episode of the 20th Century-Fox Hour features a British plot to misdirect the Nazis through the capture of an Allied agent and the agent divulging information under torture. It is agent Linda Darnell's job to choose the person for the mission. Of course, the agent selected (Trevor Howard) cannot be informed about the real mission and the falsity of his information, so he ultimately believes that he is a traitor. John Williams and Alan Napier costar.

A later incarnation of the Waugh story is Circle of Deception (1960) with Bradford Dillman and Suzy Parker (later real-life spouses).

Monday, August 22, 2016

The female heist film.

In the spring 2016 issue of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, Aya de Leon provides an interesting discussion of the female heist film, stating "women's heist narratives are comparatively rare" and outlining characteristics of male-centered heist films versus ones with female characters. She mentions How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980), Set It Off (1996), Bound (1996), Sugar & Spice (2001), Demi Moore in Flawless (2007), Mad Money (2008), and the TV series Leverage (2008–12). However, some might point out omissions that have important female characters such as The Big Caper (1957) and Modesty Blaise (1966). (Thanks to the latest issue of Feminist Periodicals for bringing this article to my attention.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Shed No Tears (1948).

June Vincent in
Shed No Tears
In Shed No Tears, a couple (Wallace Ford and June Vincent) collude to fake the husband's death for the life insurance payout, but little does the husband know of his wife's plans for the money. The film is based on the novel of the same name by screenwriter Don Martin (1948), with a screenplay by Brown Holmes (The Maltese Falcon, 1931) and Virginia Cook (Lassie).

Monday, August 15, 2016

"Twelve Angry Men" by LA Theatre Works.

LA Theatre Works, which nabbed the 2015 Audie Award for Audio Drama with its production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, has a past program of interest to mystery fans on its SoundCloud channel: a production of Reginald Rose's juror drama Twelve Angry Men (1954) featuring actors such as Hector Elizondo, Robert Foxworth, and Joe Spano. It was directed by John de Lancie (Star Trek: The Next Generation, etc.), and he can be heard on the program as the judge in the case.



Tuesday, August 09, 2016

"Blind Spot" (w/Charles Bronson, 1958).

Charles Bronson, the
man with a camera
The TV series Man with a Camera (1958–60) starred Charles Bronson as a former combat photographer freelancing in New York and getting involved in crime-related cases. In "Blind Spot" (1958) he looks into the murder of a friend and fellow photographer in Lisbon. The screenwriter is Donn Mullally (Mr. and Mrs. North; 87th Precinct; Richard Diamond, Private Detective); F Troop's Frank DeKova appears in a supporting role.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Edgar Wallace's PC Lee on BBC's Radio 4 Extra.

Edgar Wallace, from
Wallace's My Hollywood
Diary (1932)
"England," said Police Constable Lee presently, "is the home of the free, an' the half-way house to liberty." (Wallace, "Pear-Drops" 1909)
This week, BBC Radio 4 Extra is airing stories featuring Edgar Wallace's London police constable P. C. Lee (1909). Actor Toby Jones stars, and the production company is Greenlit, which is responsible for Foyle's War.

The P. C. Lee stories can be found at this Web site; the ones noted below with an asterisk are the BBC Radio 4 Extra episodes:

• "Mr. Simmons' Profession"*
• "Change"
• "A Man of Note"*
• "A Case for Angel, Esquire"* (aka "The Inspector Gets a Brainwave" and "The Impossible Theft")
• "For Jewey's Laggin"
• "Pear-Drops"
• "How He Lost His Moustache"*
• "Sergeant Run-a-Mile"*
• "The Sentimental Burglar"
• "Contempt"
ยช "Confidence"
• "Fireless Telegraphy"
• "The General Practitioner"
• "The Snatchers"*
• "The Gold Mine"
• "Mouldy the Scrivener"
• "Mrs. Flindin's Lodger"
• "The Derby Favourite"
• "The Story of a Great Cross-Examination"
• "Tanks"
• "The Silence of P.-C. Hirley"
• "The Power of the Eye"
• "The Convict's Daughter"
• "The Last Adventure"

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Fat Man, 1951.

J. Scott Smart
Based on a radio character created by Dashiell Hammett that has been described as a cross between the Thin Man and the Continental Op, The Fat Man features J. Scott Smart as private detective Brad Runyon, who looks into the murder of a dentist. The film is directed by William Castle, and its costars include Rock Hudson, Julie London, Jayne Meadows, Emmett Kelly, and Jerome Cowan.

Monday, August 01, 2016

The Armed Services editions and mysteries.

Cover of Armed Services edition
of Rex Stout's Not Quite Dead
Enough
(1945)
I just finished Molly Guptill Manning's When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II, which provides a lively and often poignant discussion of the importance to service members of the Armed Services editions in World War II. They were produced to be sturdy, lightweight, and sized for a pocket, and the Council on Books in Wartime, in charge of the effort, tried to supply a book "to fit the tastes of every man" (79). (One of the council's members was Farrar & Rinehart's Stanley Rinehart, son of Mary Roberts Rinehart). The council printed more than 123 million copies of Armed Services editions.

To mention a few mystery-related elements in the book:
  • One of the authors listed as banned in Germany:
    G. K. Chesterton
     
  • "The most popular genre was contemporary fiction . . . followed by historical novels, mysteries, books of humor, and westerns" (79–80).
Related:

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Huxley's "The Gioconda Smile" (radio, 1945).

Charles Boyer and Ann Blyth in
A Woman's Vengeance (1948)
There have been several film, TV, play, and radio versions of "The Gioconda Smile" (1921) by Aldous Huxley, who was born today in Surrey in 1894. "The Gioconda Smile," listed as one of the best mystery short stories of all time, was adapted as the film A Woman's Vengeance (1948) with Charles Boyer and a 1950 play with Basil Rathbone. The story involves a man who faces questions after the death of his wife and his marriage to a much younger woman. This 1945 radio version is from the Molle Mystery Theater.

Monday, July 25, 2016

UCLA celebrates the films of Kirk Douglas.

Kirk Douglas and Eleanor Parker
in Detective Story (1951)
The UCLA Film & Television Archive is marking Kirk Douglas's upcoming 100th birthday in December with showings of Douglas films through Sept. 30. They include Posse and Tough Guys (Aug 14), Lonely Are the Brave and Strangers When We Meet (Aug 20; the latter written by Evan Hunter), and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and Out of the Past (Sept. 18).

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Web of Evidence
(aka Beyond This Place, 1959).

https://www.panmacmillan.com/authors/a-j-cronin/beyond-this-place
In Web of Evidence Van Johnson returns to the United Kingdom after a long absence to find his father imprisoned for murder and becomes convinced of his father's innocence. Based on the novel Beyond This Place (1950) by A.J. Cronin (The Citadel, The Keys of the Kingdom, etc.), the film costars Vera Miles, Bernard Lee, Emlyn Williams, and Leo McKern.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Happy birthday, Donald Westlake:
Bank Shot (1974).

Versatile mystery author Donald Westlake (aka Richard Stark) was born today in Brooklyn in 1933. This adaptation of Westlake's 1972 Dortmunder novel Bank Shot by screenwriter-producer Wendell Mayes (Anatomy of a Murder, Death Wish, Von Ryan's Express) features criminal mastermind Walter Ballantine (played by George C. Scott), who decides to pull a bank heist by removing an entire bank from its location. Dancer-choreographer Gower Champion directed the film; co-stars include Bob Balaban, Sorrell Brooke, and Joanna Cassidy.

Of related interest: clips from the soundtrack for Bank Shot.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Found! The grave of Australia's Mary Fortune.

Wildside Press edition of
stories by Mary Fortune
Lucy Sussex, who has recently published a book on Fergus Hume (author of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, 1886) and was instrumental in recovering the work of early Australian mystery writer Mary Fortune, has discovered Fortune's grave. Although Fortune wrote more than 500 detective stories in her lifetime, she is not the first female detective-story writer; New England's Harriet Prescott Spofford predates her with works such as "In a Cellar" and "Mr. Furbush."

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The life and times of Clarence Darrow.

Clarence Darrow, c. 1922
Library of Congress,
Prints & Photographs Div
On the radio program University of the Air, lawyer-professor Dean A. Strang (author of Worse Than the Devil: Anarchists, Clarence Darrow, and Justice in a Time of Terror) discusses the career of Clarence Darrow (1857–1938), who was defense counsel for Leopold and Loeb in 1924.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

"The Petrified Forest" (w/Bogart/Fonda/Bacall, 1955).

Humphrey Bogart as
Duke Mantee,
"The Petrified Forest" (1955)
This 30 May 1955 episode of Producers' Showcase features Humphrey Bogart reprising his 1936 role as gangster Duke Mantee, who takes as hostages Henry Fonda (in the Leslie Howard part) and Lauren Bacall (in the Bette Davis role). Jack Warden, Richard Jaeckel, and Jack Klugman appear in supporting parts. Directed by Delbert Mann, the episode is based on a play by Robert E. Sherwood.

See other related clips:
• Delbert Mann discusses Producers' Showcase, including "The Petrified Forest"

• Jack Klugman talks about working with Bogart and Bacall in "The Petrified Forest"

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Illegal (w/Edward G. Robinson and DeForest Kelley, 1955).

Edward G. Robinson and Nina Foch
in Illegal (1955)
In Illegal, district attorney Edward G. Robinson convicts an innocent man (DeForest Kelley) and becomes entangled with racketeers. Costars include Nina Foch, Hugh Marlowe, Edward Platt (of Get Smart fame), and Jayne Mansfield. The director is Lewis Allen (The Uninvited, The Unseen, Appointment with Danger, etc.). One of the film's screenwriters is W. R. Burnett (Little Caesar, High Sierra, etc.), adapting Frank J. Collins's play The Mouthpiece (allegedly based on William J. Fallon, a former Westchester [NY] prosecutor and lawyer for Arnold Rothstein and Nicky Arnstein, who was dubbed "The Great Mouthpiece" by the press).


Monday, June 27, 2016

Update, Westminster Detective Library.

Mark Twain, ca. 1907.
Library of Congress, Prints
and Photographs Div.
Since I last posted about the Westminster Detective Library—the effort by Edgar winner LeRoy Lad Panek (Introduction to the Detective Story) and Mary Bendel-Simso (McDaniel College, MD) to compile an online repository of short detective works published in the United States prior to 1891, some 300 pieces have been added, and there is a new Web interface. The pieces include 87 stories by 48 female authors, and Panek states, "There are no doubt many more as the majority of the stories we have cataloged have no author listed in the original." Panek also notes that he and Bendel-Simso will be issuing a book based on the works in the library.

A sample from the Westminster Detective Library:

• "The Female Assassin" (1850) by Prince Cambaceres, archchancellor of the French Empire and Duke of Parma

• "Who Is the Thief?" (1864) by Elizabeth Campbell (a writer and actress trained by Edwin Booth)

• "The Stolen Letter: A Lawyer's Story" (1855) by Wilkie Collins

• "Mrs. Fitzgerald's Life Policy" (1863) by Andrew Forrester Jr. (pseudonymous author of The Female Detective  [1864] unmasked by Judith Flanders in The Invention of Murder)

• "The Murder at Carew Court" (1868) by Amy Randolph

• "Edward Mills and George Benton" (1880) by Mark Twain

For the project, Panek and Bendel-Simso seek help from students and others with tasks such as editing, proofreading, and locating materials; clues to finding additional stories and sources; and comments on the materials in the library. Contact Bendel-Simso.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Detective Kitty O'Day (1944).

Jean Parker, ca. 1937
Jean Parker plays the title role in this screwball mystery, seeking the murderer of her crooked boss.

Monday, June 20, 2016

"The Artists Who Make Argosy."

4 Nov 1922 Argosy cover by
Stockton Mulford
In advance of July's PulpFest in Columbus, OH, Mike Chomko gives a preview of "The Artists Who Make Argosy," the upcoming session with David Saunders that will celebrate the contributing artists to the legendary pulp magazine launched in 1882. The magazine's contributing writers included Max Brand, Norbert Davis, Erle Stanley Gardner, Robert E. Howard, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and Cornell Woolrich. Saunders is the son of illustrator Norman Saunders.