Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hammett's Woman in the Dark (1934).

Based on the novella "Woman in the Dark" (1933) by Dashiell Hammett, this film features Fay Wray on the run from villain Melvyn Douglas, entangling ex-con Ralph Bellamy along the way.

Monday, July 16, 2018

The game is afoot.

Mention of the Parker Brothers game Sherlock Holmes
in Life 3 Dec. 1904: 586

The Law & Humanities blog features the article by Ross E. Davies (George Mason University) "A Grand Game Introduction, or the Rise and Demise of 'Sherlock Holmes,'" which traces the short-lived history of the Parker Brothers game Sherlock Holmes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Decoy: "Stranglehold" (1957).

1958 ad for Decoy
This pilot episode of the TV series Decoy features Beverly Garland as undercover policewoman Casey Jones, whose assignment is to get close to a murder suspect's girlfriend (Joanne Linville, who is known for her role as a Romulan commander on Star Trek) in an effort to find the suspect.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Abstract portal opens,
2019 Popular Culture Assn conference.

The next Popular Culture Association conference will take place on April 17–20, 2019, at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC. The portal for abstract submissions is now open through October 1, 2018 (must register for an account to access the portal). The PCA's Mystery and Detective Fiction Area has always been very active; first-time presenters are eligible for the Earl Bargainnier Award (named for a distinguished mystery scholar). Please encourage undergraduate and graduate students to submit paper proposals; members of the Mystery/Detective Fiction Area always have been interested in nurturing the next generation of mystery scholars.

Can't make it to DC? Check out the regional Popular Culture Association conferences.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Spy in Black (1939).

In The Spy in Black, British agents attempt to thwart a German plan to sink British ships in 1917. Stars include Conrad Veidt, Valerie Hobson, Marius Goring, and June Duprez. Based on the book by J. Storer Clouston, the film is directed by Michael Powell, the screenplay is by Powell's Archers partner Emeric Pressburger, and the scenario is by Roland Pertwee (the father of Dr. Who's Jon Pertwee).

Monday, June 25, 2018

Martin Edwards on locked room mysteries.

On The Men Who Explain Miracles podcast, Detection Club President Martin Edwards talks about locked-room mysteries such as Murder of a Lady (1931) by Anthony Wynne and other titles in the British Library Crime Classics series for which he serves as a consultant.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Forbidden Cargo (1954).

In Forbidden Cargo, a customs officer (Nigel Patrick) is on the trail of drug smugglers, assisted by an aristocratic birdwatcher (Joyce Grenfell). Jack Warner, Elizabeth Sellars, Greta Gynt, Theodore Bikel, and Michael Hordern costar.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The career of Edward Stratemeyer.

Edward Stratemeyer.
The New Antiquarian blog of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America looks at the career of Edward Stratemeyer (1862–1930), who launched the Stratemeyer Syndicate that published the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and countless other children's series.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Murder on the Campus (1933).

Charles Starrett, ca. 1931
In Murder on the Campus, a reporter (Charles Starrett) seeks to exonerate his coed girlfriend (Shirley Grey), who is accused of murder. The film is based on The Campanile Murders (1933) by author-screenwriter Whitman Chambers (thanks to Mystery*File for link to serial version of The Campanile Murders).

Monday, June 11, 2018

Clues CFP: "Interwar Mysteries"
(deadline Oct 12, 2018).

The Bat (1926), adapted
from the play by
Mary Roberts Rinehart
and Avery Hopwood
A new Call for Papers has been posted for a theme issue of Clues: A Journal of Detection on "Interwar Mysteries: The Golden Age and Beyond." It will be guest edited by University of Leicester's Victoria Stewart (author, Crime Writing in Interwar Britain: Fact and Fiction in the Golden Age, and a previous contributor to Clues). Although the period between the World Wars is known as the Golden Age of traditional mystery fiction, other literary forms such as the hard-boiled subgenre, true crime, and noir emerged that often reflected a grimmer reality. Articles of between 3300 and 6000 words are sought that examine this important crossroads in mystery, detective, and crime fiction, with a deadline of Oct 12, 2018.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

The Hand (1960).

In The Hand, an inspector learns that the murder of a one-handed man has roots in a POW camp in Burma.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Simenon exhibition opens in China.

Georges Simenon,
10 May 1965.
Anefo, Dutch Nat Archives
The exhibition "Simenon, auteur belge a multi-facettes” (Simenon, multifaceted Belgian author) opened in Guangzhou Library's Multiculture Library on May 13 and will be displayed until June 8. It features details on Georges Simenon's life and work, as well as posters of film adaptations of Simenon's books. Cosponsors are the library, the Consulate General of Belgium, and Wallonie-Bruxelles Internationale. Guangzhou Library holds both French editions and Chinese translations of Simenon's works.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Agatha Christie exhibition coming to Derby, UK.

Agatha Christie, 17 Dec 1964.
Anefo, Dutch Natl Archives
Pickford's House in Derby, United Kingdom, is hosting the exhibition "Agatha Christie: Mysteries, Murder, and More" from June 2 to November 3, 2018. The exhibition will feature books and objects related to Christie's life and work.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Stolen Jools (1931).

This short comedy film involving the theft of Norma Shearer's jewelry was produced to benefit the National Variety Artists tuberculosis sanitarium, with stars such as Wallace Beery, Joe E. Brown, Maurice Chevalier, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Irene Dunne, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Hedda Hopper, Buster Keaton, Laurel and Hardy, Victor McLaglen, Edward G. Robinson, Barbara Stanwyck, Fay Wray, Loretta Young, and Petey the Dog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Brandy for the Parson (1952)

In Brandy for the Parson, a couple become entangled with smugglers. Based on the novel of the same name by Geoffrey Household (best known for Rogue Male), the film stars Kenneth More, James Donald, and Charles Hawtrey.

Monday, May 21, 2018

New edition, Blood on Their Hands
(with Foxwell short story).

The MWA Classics edition of Blood on Their Hands has been published and is now available in paperback and ebook from amazon. Edited by Lawrence Block, the collection focuses on characters who take the law into their own hands. "No Man's Land," my Agatha-winning and Macavity-nominated short story set in World War I, is included in the collection, along with stories by Rhys Bowen, Marcia Talley, Elaine Viets, and the late Jeremiah Healy and Henry Slesar.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Green Scarf (1936).

In The Green Scarf, Michael Redgrave defends a deaf, dumb, and blind man accused of murder.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys exhibition.

On view until June 8 at the Lawrence Library in Pepperell, MA, is "Mysteries Revealed Book Illustration: Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys," an exhibition of original cover art and first editions of both children's series.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

"Murderers' Meeting" (1951).

In this episode of Suspense directed by Robert Stephens and aired on 24 April 1951, a killer (Jackie Cooper) tries to escape from a building after a botched robbery, only to encounter the eccentric members of the "International Association of Assassins" (possibly suggesting the Mystery Writers of America. Blacklisted writer Alvin Sapinsley, who wrote the screenplay, later received an Edgar Award for "Sting of Death," the TV adaptation of H.F. Heard's A Taste for Honey). Mildred Natwick (clutching a cat) and Wally Cox costar.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Boucher picks the best mysteries of 1951.

In the 2 Dec 1951 New York Times, author-critic Anthony Boucher (aka William Anthony Parker White) listed "Boucher's Choices"—his selections for the best mysteries of 1951. They were:
  • John Dickson Carr, The Devil in Velvet. "swashbuckling romance . . . strict detection." 
  • Agatha Christie, They Came to Baghdad, . "adept . . . spy thriller."
  • Dorothy Salisbury Davis, A Gentle Murderer. "distinguished."
  • Cyril Hare [Alfred Alexander Gordon Clark], An English Murder . "adroit . . . social satire."
  • Geoffrey Household, A Rough Shoot and A Time to Kill. "realistic political melodrama."
  • Michael Innes, The Paper Thunderbolt. "funny and chilling."
  • Eric Linklater, Mr. Byculla. "Deft."
  • John Ross Macdonald [Ross Macdonald, Kenneth Millar], The Way Some People Die. "a worthy successor to Dashiell Hammett."
  • William McGivern, Shield for Murder. "Complex and memorable study of a rogue cop."
  • Ngaio Marsh, Night at the Vulcan. "Marsh's best to date."
  • Elliott Paul, Murder on the Left Bank. "Fun."
  • Ellery Queen, The Origin of Evil.  "intricate ingenuity."
  • John Sherwood, Mr. Blessington's Imperialist Plot. "Ruritanian spy-melodrama."
  • Bart Spicer, Black Sheep, Run and The Golden Door.  "appealing variants on the hardboiled story."
  • Julian Symons, The 31st of February. "Striking satire."
  • Lawrence Treat, Big Shot. "A notable novel about detectives."

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Woolrich's Street of Chance (1942).

Claire Trevor, Sheldon Leonard, and
Burgess Meredith in Street of Chance (1942)
In Street of Chance, Burgess Meredith is accused of murder, but he has no memory of the crime or of his past. The film is based on The Black Curtain by Cornell Woolrich. Costars include Claire Trevor, Sheldon Leonard, and Jerome Cowan.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Music from Shetland available.

For those who enjoy Ann Cleeves's mysteries and their adaptation as the television program Shetland, Silva Screen has just released a CD of John Lunn's music from the TV series (individual tracks also available).

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Cry Wolf (1947).

Errol Flynn and Barbara
Stanwyck in Cry Wolf (1947)
In Cry Wolf, Barbara Stanwyck arrives at an estate expecting to attend the funeral of her husband but encounters a household controlled by a sinister Errol Flynn. Based on Cry Wolf (aka The Demarest Inheritance) by future Edgar nominee Marjorie Carleton, the film costars Geraldine Brooks, Richard Basehart, and Jerome Cowan.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Dorothy B. Hughes's classic mystery library.

Claude Rains and Edward Norris in They Won't Forget (1937),
adaptation of Ward Greene's Death in the Deep South
In the 13 Nov 1977 Los Angeles Times, author-critic Dorothy B. Hughes made 23 selections for a classic mystery library. Hughes defined a classic as "a book to which you return over and again ... primarily because for you it satisfies a hunger for the felicity of beauty and craft..."(N3). For Hughes, "style is the most important element in any mystery, let alone a classic" (N3).

Hughes did not include any works by Arthur Conan Doyle and Erle Stanley Gardner (although Hughes would publish a biography of Gardner), explaining that in the case of these and some other authors (such as Ellery Queen), their body of work constitutes the classic rather than a single book. Hughes's choices for her classic mystery library are the following:
  • Eric Ambler, A Coffin for Dimitrios. "a hunt-and-search story with a background of the Near East leading to Paris"
  • Edgar Box [Gore Vidal], Death in the Fifth Position. " . . . the world of the ballet, presented with perception and verisimilitude"
  • Vera Caspary, Laura. "an enviable creator of plots which twist and turn and startle."
  • Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely. "his making of poetry out of the tawdry was indeed something unforgettable"
  • Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and And Then There Were None. "two classic books"
  • Len Deighton, The Ipcress File. "Deighton . . . devised a new style."
  • Helen Eustis, The Horizontal Man. "a true academic background against which the tragicomedy is played."
  • William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust. "a mystery sensation"
  • Michael Gilbert, Close Quarters. "he has built a cathedral and its close, and has peopled it with verisimilitude."
  • Graham Greene, Brighton Rock. "two sad insignificant persons revealed in their small moment of significance."
  • Ward Greene, Death in the Deep South. "a classic of the regional and one of the first dealing with ethnic problems"
  • Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon. "a classic romantic-adventure"
  • H. F. [Gerald] Heard, A Taste for Honey. "Another of the instant classics"
  • Francis Iles [Anthony Berkeley Cox], Before the Fact."a book whose plot must remain secret"
  • Charlotte Jay [Geraldine Halls], Beat Not the Bones. "the primitive culture of Africa in collision with the 20th century"
  • John le Carre [David Cornwell], The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. "tragic power"
  • Meyer Levin, Compulsion. "a classic of major proportion"
  • Marie Belloc Lowndes, The Lodger. " . . . a true crime story, in fiction form"
  • Ngaio Marsh, Death of a Fool. "breath-taking"
  • E. Phillips Oppenheim, The Great Impersonation. "a landmark"
  • Dorothy L. Sayers, The Nine Tailors. "background became not just background, but important"
  • Josephine Tey [Elizabeth MacKintosh], The Daughter of Time. "Simply written but brilliant in premise and performance."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bon Voyage (dir. Hitchcock, 1944).

In Bon Voyage, a short film directed by Alfred Hitchcock for the British Ministry of Information, a French intelligence officer questions an RAF sergeant about his escape from France, as the involvement of a German agent is suspected. The film is in French (with English subtitles), with John Blythe as the sergeant and members of the Molière Players in the other roles.

Monday, April 16, 2018

CFP for essay collection on the cozy.

La Salle University's Phyllis Betz (Katherine V. Forrest: A Critical Appreciation; Lesbian Detective Fiction: Woman as Author, Subject and Reader) plans to compile a collection of essays on the cozy mystery. Prospective topics/approaches of interest include the following:
  • Discussion of authors, including precursors such as Mary Roberts Rinehart, Anna Katharine Green, and Agatha Christie
  • Settings
  • Main characters, including their careers
  • Other characters
  • Themes
  • Subgenres such as the gothic cozy and cozy noir
  • Problems, including the definition of the cozy and those authors who can be defined as cozy writers
  • Narrative strategies
Have questions or seek further information? Contact Betz.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Spider and the Fly (1949).

In The Spider and the Fly, a French intelligence official (Eric Portman) is forced to turn to a gentleman thief (Guy Rolfe) during World War I to crack a safe that holds a list of German agents. A woman (Nadia Gray) loved by both men provides additional complications. Maurice Denham and Sebastian Cabot costar.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Laura Thompson on Agatha Christie.

From the Bookshelf's Gary Shapiro discusses Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life with author Laura Thompson. Thompson calls Christie's six novels under the pseudonym Mary Westamacott "gold," singling out Absent in the Spring (1944); calls Christie's Five Little Pigs (1943) her best novel; and addresses Christie's 11-day disappearance in 1926.