Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bibliography, early occult detectives in fiction.

Willa Cather, NYPL
In time for Halloween, Clues contributor Tim Prchal (under his pseudonym Tim Prasil) is compiling a "chronological bibliography of early occult detectives" that begins in 1817 with Doktor K in E. T. A. Hoffman's "Das oede Haus" and runs to 1938 with Judge Keith Hillary Pursuivant in works by Gans T. Field. Authors include Alice and Claude Askew, Willa Cather, Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Tennyson Jesse, Arthur Machen, Sax Rohmer, and the obligatory Bram Stoker.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shadows on the Stairs (1941).

Frank Vosper
In Shadows on the Stairs, a London boardinghouse is the site of murder. The basis for the film is the play "Murder on the Second Floor" by actor-playwright Frank Vosper (The Man Who Knew Too Much; adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Philomel Cottage" as Love from a Stranger). He died at age 37 in 1937 when he fell from the liner Paris after a party. The death was ruled accidental.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Rathbone, Colman, Marshall, Rains:
WWI regiment fellows.

"There's an east wind coming,
Watson": Basil Rathbone, left,
and Nigel Bruce in
Sherlock Holmes and
the Voice of Terror
Using primary documents, James Cronan discusses on the UK National Archives blog the WWI service records of actors Ronald Colman (injured by an exploding shell), Herbert Marshall (lost a leg), Claude Rains (gassed), and Basil Rathbone (decorated). They served in the same regiment, albeit at different times. The comments mention the war records of Nigel Bruce (Rath-bone's Watson) and Victor McLaglen.

Part 1 of the blog post (Colman, Rathbone)
Part 2 of the blog post (Rains, Marshall)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Alley Oop and his legacy.

Alley Oop: The Complete Sundays (vol. 1)
Dark Horse Comics
There is an online exhibition on cartoonist V. T. Hamlin at the Univ of Missouri Libraries' Rare Books and Special Collections, which shows the influence of his caveman comic "Alley Oop" (chosen as a mascot by the Army Air Corps' 92nd Bomb Group and adapted as board games and a hit song). It mentions Frank Miller's noir comic "Sin City" (first published in 1991, adapted as a film in 2005).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"The Case of the Screaming Bishop" (1944).

In this Sherlock Holmes parody, Hairlock Combs is on the trail of a missing dinosaur skeleton.

Monday, October 20, 2014

From the Vault: Sorry, Wrong Number.

Ad for 1948 film Sorry, Wrong Number
The archival program From the Vault of Pacifica Radio Archives offers an episode from 2003 on Sorry, Wrong Number; Shirley Knight and Ed Asner star in Lucille Fletcher's classic radio drama about a woman who overhears a murder plot that hits close to home. The program includes background on Fletcher (the first wife of film composer Bernard Herrmann), a clip from the first broadcast (in 1943) featuring Agnes Moorehead, and a discussion with Knight.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Van Dine's Calling Philo Vance (1940).

Clues 30.1, with Brooks Hefner article
on S. S. Van Dine
Willard Huntington Wright, aka Philo Vance creator S. S. Van Dine, was born on October 15, 1887, in Charlottesville, VA. Calling Philo Vance was adapted from Van Dine's The Kennel Murder Case (1933).

Monday, October 13, 2014

Great Lives: Dorothy L. Sayers.

A recent episode of BBC Radio 4's series Great Lives focused on Dorothy L. Sayers, selected by ex-MI5 chief turned novelist Stella Rimington and discussed by Sayers Society chair Seona Ford. Subjects covered include the obligatory Lord Peter Wimsey and the controversial series of radio plays penned by Sayers, The Man Who Would be King.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

"The Deceiving Eye" (TV, 1955).

In this episode from Stage 7, a criminology professor teaches about the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, only to find himself accused of murder.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Ed McBain speaks.

Evan Hunter, NYPL
In November 2001, the radio program Focus 580 from Illinois Public Media featured Ed McBain (aka Evan Hunter, 1926–2005) discussing his early career and his pseudonyms; his writing routine; his series with his "conglomerate hero," the 87th Precinct (including Money Money Money); his aborted book tour in the wake of 9/11; and his differences in approach between McBain and Hunter works. During the program the granddaughter of mystery author Craig Rice calls in; McBain finished Rice's The April Robin Murders after her death, and he explains how he came to be involved with the book.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

T. S. Eliot in publishing (at age 10).

T. S. Eliot, ca. 1923
Harvard's Houghton Library blog displays T. S. Eliot's charming attempt at age 10 to publish a magazine and his foray into theater criticism: "Theatre. Nothing good."

Perhaps things picked up for him when he joined Faber in 1925...

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

BackStory: History of the police.

The history radio program BackStory discusses the development of law enforcement in the United States from an ad hoc configuration of sheriffs and constables into a professional force. Discussion includes the LA police and a case that appears in James Ellroy's LA Confidential.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Innes's Candleshoe (1977).

Mystery author and Oxford professor John Innes Mackintosh Stewart, aka Michael Innes, was born today in Edinburgh in 1906. The creator of a long-running series with Sir John Appleby, Innes also wrote the novel Christmas at Candleshoe (1953), which was adapted as Disney's Candleshoe (1977) with screenplay work by Rosemary Anne Sisson (e.g., Sayers's Have His Carcase with Edward Petherbridge). In the film, unscrupulous David Niven thinks there is a cache of treasure in the house of Helen Hayes and enlists Jodie Foster to help him find it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

University of the Air: Bernard Herrmann.

Bernard Herrmann, left, with
chorale director Roger Wagner,
center, and director Ralph Levy
1954 TV production of
A Christmas Carol
Following a program on John Williams, the radio program University of the Air focuses on film composer Bernard Herrmann. Host Norman Gilliland discusses his work with author-film professor Raymond Benson, playing excerpts from Citizen Kane, The Day the Earth Stood Still, North by Northwest, PsychoTaxi Driver, and Vertigo.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Forgotten Book:
Atwater's Crime in Corn Weather (1935).

Was William Breen at that moment on a train or an airplane on his way to unextraditable ease with a few hundred thousands of the bank's funds in a modest suitcase at his feet? Mr. Vane knew how it could have been done. He had worked out a perfect system years ago. Now, of course, it would be too late—for him. Why hadn't he done it first? He pretended he believed it was his moral uprightness that had prevented, but as a matter of fact he was afraid of airplanes and got desperately seasick even in a rowboat on the lake. Of such things are virtue made sometimes. (Crime in Corn Weather 51)
A tyrannical banker from a rural town in the Midwest disappears, and his neighbors suspect foul play in Mary Meigs Atwater's only mystery novel. Atwater's focus is the effect of the event on the residents, and there is a great deal of wisdom in her observations of people seeking to capitalize on the case (merchants, reporters) and those with sadder legacies (a World War I veteran, a young woman, a henpecked husband). Younger readers may not know what a switchboard is, and there is one appearance of the six-letter "N" word (in reference to a lawn jockey) that contemporary readers may find disconcerting.

Mary Meigs Atwater (1878–1956) was referred to as the "dean of American handweaving" and as "gun toting" and "chain smoking" in the Interweave Press 1992 reprint of Crime in Corn Weather (iii). She was a granddaughter of Montgomery C. Meigs, the Union quartermaster general during the Civil War who later played a key role in the development of Arlington Cemetery, the Pension Building (now the National Building Museum), and the Washington Aqueduct. Her sister, Bryn Mawr professor Cornelia Meigs, received a Newbery Medal for Invincible Louisa, a biography of Louisa May Alcott. In the Interweave Press edition of Crime in Corn Weather, there is a tantalizing reference to an unpublished mystery manuscript by Atwater.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Orczy's The Emperor's Candlesticks (1937).

Baroness Orczy,
from the July 1908
Brooklyn Daily
Baroness Emmuska Orczy was born today in Hungary in 1865. In The Emperor's Candlesticks, based on the Orczy novel of the same name, William Powell and Luise Rainier are rival agents using candlesticks to convey secret messages. Robert Young and Maureen O'Sullivan costar.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Boston College's "The Law in Postcards."

Boston College's Law Library is featuring the exhibition "The Law in Postcards" based on a collection donated by Michael H. Hoeflich (University of Kansas). Some of the postcards may be viewed online. Themes include animals, bars, divorce, female lawyers, holidays, humor, kids, love, and money. The exhibition will be on display until early 2015.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Clues 32.2: Global crime fiction.

Just published is vol. 32, no. 2 of Clues: A Journal of Detection—a theme issue on global crime fiction guest edited by Stewart King (Monash University) and Stephen Knight (University of Melbourne). If interested in ordering the issue or subscribing, email McFarland.

The cover features Swedish author Arne Dahl. The table of contents follows below. I will add links when available.

The Challenge of Global Crime Fiction: An Introduction

Crime Fiction as World Literature STEWART KING 
This article explores crime fiction within a world-literature framework. It argues that the study of national traditions can blind us to the dialogue across borders and languages between texts and authors. It proposes a reading practice that aims to develop a more nuanced understanding of this truly global genre.

Beyond National Allegory: Europeanization in Swedish Crime Writer Arne Dahl’s Viskleken KERSTIN BERGMAN (Lund University)
Swedish crime fiction is experiencing a strong move toward Europeanization; increasingly more novels are set in Europe and discuss European identities and transnational criminality. The author examines how national and European perspectives clash and interact in Arne Dahl’s Viskleken (Chinese Whispers, 2011), a novel featuring a multinational police team within Europol operating across borders.

Hackers Without Borders: Global Detectives in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy NICOLE KENLEY (University of California, Davis)
The article argues that Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy is a response to the challenges of mediating digital crime. It suggests that as the technological aspects of global crime threaten to dissolve national borders, Larsson’s novels offer the computer hacker as a detective figure capable of partially managing these emerging threats.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Anna Katharine Green's
Three Thousand Dollars (1910).

Anna Katharine Green, from
The Reader (June 1907)
The tumblr site of the Digital Public Library has posted a cover of Anna Katharine Green's Three Thousand Dollars (1910) as an example of early-20th-century book cover design. The book is about, according to the Woman's Home Companion that serialized it, "the romantic adventures of a beautiful girl and the problem of a secret safe."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Creasey's Gideon's Way (TV, 1964-67).

John Creasey, thought to be one of the most prolific mystery authors ever, was born on September 17, 1908, in Surrey. The TV series Gideon's Way (aka Gideon C.I.D.) with John Gregson was based on Creasey's novels under the pseudonym J. J. Marric. These featured Scotland Yard's George Gideon (played by Jack Hawkins in the film Gideon's Day) and are important in the history of the police procedural. This episode, "The Tin God" (Nov. 1964), stars John Hurt in a tale about a gangster wanting revenge on the wife who put him in prison.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Coming soon: ME exhibition on pulp cover art.

Opening on October 3 at the Portland (ME) Public Library is "The Pulps," an exhibition of original cover art for the pulps that will include Tarzan, the Shadow, and Doc Savage. The exhibition, cosponsored by the Maine College of Art, will run until December 26.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Remembering Andrew McLaglen:
Man in the Vault (1956).

Director Andrew McLaglen, son of actor Victor McLaglen, died on August 30 at age 94. Known for his work in Westerns (such as Gunsmoke), he also attracted early attention for his crime film Man in the Vault, in which locksmith William Campbell (Star Trek) is pressured by a mobster to steal $200,000 or face dire consequences to his girlfriend. Anita Eckberg and Paul Fix also star.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Beer and mystery.

Mystery Brewing Co. in Hillsborough, NC, produces rustic ales, and its taproom has a library. Its resident historian-librarian, Sarah Ficke, posts weekly on recommended books, which often are mysteries. One featured work, Contending Forces, is by early African American mystery pioneer Pauline E. Hopkins (best known in mystery for "Talma Gordon").

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

UCLA: "Exile Noir."

As part of its "Exile Noir" program this month, the UCLA Film & Television Archive plans to screen Bluebeard (1944); The Blue Gardenia (1953); Caught (1949); City That Never Sleeps (1953); The Dark Mirror (1946); Hollow Triumph (1948); Jealousy (1945); The Locket (1946); Sleep, My Love (1948); Sorry, Wrong Number (1948); and Whirlpool (1950).

It also notes the upcoming exhibition that will open at the Skirball Cultural Center on October 23: "Light & Noir: Exiles and Emigres in Hollywood, 1933-1950."

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

"Twelve Angry Men" (TV, 1954).

Most people are familiar with the 1957 film starring Henry Fonda as the juror who isn't so sure that the defendant in a murder trial is guilty, but there was also an earlier Studio One version directed by Franklin Schaffner and starring Robert Cummings, Franchot Tone, Norman Fell, and Edward Arnold.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Academe: More notable U.S. espionage novels.

On the Academe blog Martin Kich (Wright State University) continues his series on "Fifty Notable American Espionage Novels" with the following:

Peter Lorre in
The Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938)
• Helen MacInnes, Assignment in Brittany (1942)

• Colin MacKinnon, Finding Hoseyn (1987)

• Joe Maggio, The Company Man (1972)

John P. Marquand, Stopover Tokyo
(1957; Mr. Moto takes on the communists)

• Wilson McCarthy, The Detail (1973) 

• Charles McCarry, The Miernick Dossier (1973)

Here's a rundown of Kich's earlier choices.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Remembering Richard Attenborough:
Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964).

Among the many distinguished performances of Richard Attenborough, who died at age 90 on August 24, was in Seance on a Wet Afternoon with Kim Stanley (1964, dir. Bryan Forbes). It was based on the novel Seance by Australian Mark McShane, which Anthony Boucher considered one of the best debut mysteries of 1962.

Monday, August 25, 2014

A look at a Victorian murder case.

In this podcast from the UK National Archives, Kate Colquhoun (author of Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing) discusses the case of the American Florence Maybrick, convicted of murdering her British husband in 1889. Colquhoun has written a book on the case: Did She Kill Him? A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery, and Arsenic (due out in the United States in October). Marie Belloc Lowndes's The Story of Ivy is a fictional take on the case.