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.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

UM: Literary maps (including mystery authors).

T. S. Stribling
The Century, Oct. 1921
The Clark Library at the University of Michigan is featuring literary maps of the United States in an online exhibition, including the following:

• "Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles" (want to see where Philip Marlowe lives?)

• The Southern map includes Truman Capote, William Faulkner, Edgar Allan Poe, and T. S. Stribling

• The Michigan map includes Charlotte Armstrong, Loren Estleman, Steve Hamilton, and Elmore Leonard

• Links to interactive maps include Brooklyn, Detroit, Manhattan, and San Francisco

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ira Levin's "The Pattern" (1951).

In "The Pattern," a May 1951 episode of Lights Out, a man is haunted by an incident during World War II when he could not prevent the bombing of an army barracks. The episode, written by Ira Levin (A Kiss before Dying, The Stepford Wives, Rosemary's Baby, Deathtrap), features John Forsythe and Rita Gam.

Monday, August 18, 2014

BFI hunts for missing A Study in Scarlet (1914).

Ad for the 1914 American version of
A Study in Scarlet, starring Francis Ford
As the British Film Institute noted on August 15, it is calling on the public for assistance in locating a print of A Study in Scarlet, a 1914 silent-film adaptation directed by George Pearson that is an early screen portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Also missing is the 1914 American version (starring Francis Ford, brother of the director John Ford), as well as Pearson's version of The Valley of Fear (1916).

BFI also has reported on its successes in locating missing films, including the country-house mystery Three Steps in the Dark (1953).

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Poe mural, UK.

With a Pentel ballpoint pen, artist Wayne Mitchelson created this cool mural inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe. It is slated to go on display at UK's Loughborough Library. More on the work and the artist here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

James Hilton's "The Mallet" (Suspense, 1950).

In "The Mallet," a man hawking questionable medicines believes he has the formula to commit the perfect murder. Walter Slezak made his TV debut in this Dec. 1950 Suspense episode based on a 1929 story of the same name by Lost Horizon's James Hilton, who sometimes moonlighted in mystery.

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Forensic Chemistry in Golden-Age Detective Fiction."

In the summer 2014 issue of Chemical Heritage Magazine, Lee Sullivan Berry discusses "Forensic Chemistry in Golden-Age Detective Fiction: Dorothy L. Sayers and the CSI Effect," which touches on forensics in the works of Arthur Conan Doyle and R. Austin Freeman but concentrates on forensic aspects of Sayers's Whose Body?, Clouds of Witness, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Strong Poison, and The Documents in the Case (coauthored with Robert Eustace, aka Dr. Eustace Robert Barton).

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

British spies in World War II.

On the International Spy Museum's SpyCast, Michael Goodwin (King's College London) talks about the formation of the British Joint Intelligence Committee.

Faber has launched a new nonfiction blog called The Curious Files. Its podcasts include historian Roderick Bailey on British spies in World War II Italy and Matthew Sweet on still more World War II spies running around London's West End hotels. 

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Remembering Dorothy Salisbury Davis:
"House of Masks" (1952).

MWA Grand Master Dorothy Salisbury Davis died on August 3 at age 98. The June 1952 Suspense episode "House of Masks" (based, I think, on Davis's A Town of Masks) features Geraldine Fitzgerald resenting the interference of her sister in her life and promoting the presence of a shady gardener.

With the passing of Davis, there remains only one living writer on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone List: Helen Eustis.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Frank Drebin lives:
New Naked Gun soundtracks.

Good news for Frank Drebin fans: Film Score Monthly announced that La La Records has released a limited edition of Ira Newborn's scores for The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad, The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear, and The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Irish Humanities Alliance:
"The Success of Intl Crime Fiction."

The Irish Humanities Alliance offers a podcast on "The Success of International Crime Fiction," drawing from a June 2014 conference at Queen's University Belfast. Discussing the topic (and the flexibility of crime fiction to encompass all sorts of commentary) are Kate Quinn (University of Galway), who presented a paper on crime fiction in Chile; writer Garth Carr; and David Platten (University of Leeds).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Alias John Preston (1955).

In Alias John Preston, wealthy Christopher Lee arrives in an English village, has disturbing dreams, and may have a dark secret in his past. Psychiatrist Alexander Knox delves into the case.

Monday, July 28, 2014

UNM's Tony Hillerman Portal.

Debuting at the University of New Mexico Libraries is the Tony Hillerman Portal, which seeks to provide "an interactive guide to the life and work of Tony Hillerman." It includes the online exhibition "Tony Hillerman: From Journalist to Novelist"; maps of Southwest locations in the books The Blessing Way, The Boy Who Made Dragonfly, Dance Hall of the Dead, and Listening Woman; and audio and video interviews with the creator of tribal police officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, who died in 2008.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mystery reading group guides.

For those looking for mystery reading group guides:

• The New York Review of Books has guides for William Lindsay Gresham's Nightmare Alley, Jean-Patrick Manchette's Fatale, and Georges Simenon's The Engagement.

• Michigan Center for the Book has a Reading Guide to Robert Traver's Anatomy of a Murder.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Knight without Armor (1937).

In Knight without Armor, British secret agent Robert Donat must rescue aristocrat Marlene Dietrich from Bolshevik baddies. The film (produced by Alexander Korda) is based on Without Armor by Lost Horizon's James Hilton, with a screenplay by early Hollywood pioneer Frances Marion.

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Behind the Badge:
The US Postal Inspection Service."

Front page of the Evening World of October 25, 1921,
reflecting the largest robbery of the time
The new exhibition "Behind the Badge: The U.S. Postal Inspection Service" at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum includes famous scammers such as Charles Ponzi, a forged Robert Frost poem, counterfeit stamps, mail heists, assaults and murders of postal employees, and other cases involving the service such as that of the Unabomber.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Philip K. Dick speaks.

The Best of Philip K. Dick
(Echo Point Books, 2013)
Pacifica Radio's From the Vault archival program is featuring a 1976 conversation between sci-fi author Philip K. Dick and Pacifica Radio's Mike Hodel. Topics include Richard Congdon, Harlan Ellison, Richard Lupoff, Kurt Vonnegut, the business of writing, A Scanner Darkly, The Man in the High Castle, and the first story sold by Dick (to Anthony Boucher who was, in Dick's words, "a great writer, a great editor, a great anthologizer, and a great person").

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Religion and fictional detectives.

A recent article by Bill Phillips (University of Barcelona) is on "Religious Belief in Recent Detective Fiction." Some of the authors mentioned are Ken Bruen, James Lee Burke, G. K. Chesterton, Sara Paretsky, Robert B. Parker, and Ian Rankin.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rinehart's The Bat (film, 1926).

Ad for The Bat
Film Daily Jan-Dec 1925
The smash play "The Bat" written by Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood first appeared on screen in this silent film version of 1926. The cast included Jack Pickford (brother of Mary).