Tuesday, May 23, 2017

99 River Street (1953).

From an ad for 99 River Street.
In 99 River Street, a former boxer (John Payne) is the chief suspect when his unfaithful wife (Peggie Castle) is murdered and must take steps to prove his innocence. Evelyn Keyes and future director Gene Reynolds (M*A*S*H) costar. The screenwriters are Robert Smith (I Walk Alone; Sea Hunt) and George Zuckerman (Under the Gun; Written on the Wind).


Monday, May 22, 2017

Upcoming book on historical murder cases.

McFarland's imprint Exposit Books provides a sneak peek at its upcoming book The Trunk That Dripped Blood: Five Sensational Murder Cases of the Early 20th Century by Mark Grossman. Some of the cases involve Emma LeDoux (1906), priest Hans Schmidt (1913), and dentist Arthur Warren Waite (1916).

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

George V. Higgins speaks (1985).

In this 1985 event from the British Institute of Contemporary Arts, George V. Higgins (1939–99) discusses with Alexander Patrick Greysteil Ruthven, 2nd Earl of Gowrie, his background as a journalist, prosecutor, and defense attorney; his novel Penance for Jerry Kennedy; his view of the Watergate hearings (in light of his book, The Friends of Richard Nixon [1975]); and his few reservations about the film of his most well-known novel, The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1971). Says Higgins, "In the newspaper business I learned fairly soon that the quotes made the story."

Monday, May 15, 2017

Raskin on the polygraph, 1975.

Mackenzie-Lewis polygraph,
1919–26.
Wellcome Images, London.
In March 1975, psychologist and professor David C. Raskin delivered the Vancouver Institute lecture "Lie Detection and the Judicial System." Raskin, key in the development of the computerized polygraph test, discusses the theories behind lie detection, tracing its historical development (including the 1920s Frye case) and describing the procedure then in use for polygraph tests.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

House by the River (dir. Fritz Lang, 1950).

Jane Wyatt and Louis
Hayward in The Luckiest
Girl in the World
(1936)
An unbalanced writer (Louis Hayward) enlists his brother (Lee Bowman) to help him cover up the murder of a maid, but the brother finds himself accused of the crime, and the writer uses the murder to promote his book. Jane Wyatt costars. The film is directed by Fritz Lang and adapted from the novel of the same name (1921) by author and Member of Parliament A. P. Herbert.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Westlake film series, New York, May 12-14.

As the University of Chicago Press blog notes, the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY, will host the program "Crime Scenes" on May 12-14 featuring films adapted from the works of Donald Westlake (aka Richard Stark). These are the following:

Point Blank, May 12 (also includes commentary by Abby Westlake, Luc Sante, and Levi Stahl)

• The Grifters, May 13
The Stepfather, May 13
Cops and Robbers, May 14
Made in USA, May 14
• The Hot Rock, May 14
• The Outfit, May 14 (read George Pelecanos's take on the film)

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Shield for Murder (1954).

Based on the novel by William McGivern, Shield for Murder features Edmond O'Brien (who also co-directs) as a cop seeking to cover up his shooting of a bookie and theft of $25,000, but a deaf-mute has witnessed his crime. The 3 Dec. 1954 Motion Picture Daily reported that the Memphis and Shelby County Board of Censors banned the film because it "appears to be a burlesque on the city police department" (4).

Monday, May 01, 2017

The art of courtroom illustration.

Lloyd M. Bucher, captain of the USS Pueblo, testifies at the
court of naval inquiry regarding the capture of the Pueblo.
Illustration by Arnold Mesches. 1969.
A new exhibition "Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration" has opened at the Library of Congress, showcasing illustrations from court cases spanning 1964 to the present. Individuals portrayed include Sydney Biddle Barrows, Lloyd M. Bucher, Daniel Ellsberg, John Gotti, John Hinckley, Mick Jagger, Bernie Madoff, Charles Manson, Manuel Noriega, James Earl Ray, Eliot Richardson, Jack Ruby, and Sirhan Sirhan. (thanks to the Law & Humanities blog)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Foxwell on mystery reviewing, EQMM blog.

Today on the EQMM blog "Something Is About to Happen," I discuss "The Not-So-Simple Art of Mystery Reviewing," including a look back at some eminent reviewers (such as Walter R. Brooks, Dorothy L. Sayers, Dorothy B. Hughes, Howard Haycraft, and Anthony Boucher).

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Elmore Leonard speaks, 1984.

This interview with Elmore Leonard was part of the First Edition TV series on PBS station WNET cohosted by noted critic John Leonard (no relation) and Nancy Evans. In it, Elmore Leonard cites such diverse influences as Erich Maria Remarque, Ernest Hemingway, James M. Cain, and Mark Harris (Bang the Drum Slowly) and addresses his cross-genre works, his approach to dialogue, and the National Lampoon parody of his style.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Clues 35.1: Conan Doyle, French, Mitchell, Oates, Orczy et al.

Clues vol. 35, no. 1 (2017) has been published. Contact McFarland to obtain a print copy of the issue or to subscribe to the journal.

Kindle version
Google Play version

The following are the abstracts for the issue:

Introduction: Reevaluating the Past and the Present
JANICE M. ALLAN

After Sherlock: The Age of Fallible Detectives
MAURIZIO ASCARI (University of Bologna)
In the wake of Sherlock Holmes’s success, writers and critics explored the relationship of the fallible detective to the ideological and aesthetic characteristics of the Golden Age. The author examines this phenomenon, shedding light on the transition between the infallible detectives of positivism and the vulnerable detectives of post–World War II psycho-thrillers.

Old Holmes: Sherlock, Testosterone, and "The Creeping Man" SYLVIA PAMBOUKIAN (Robert Morris University)
Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Creeping Man” captures the early–twentieth century’s interest in male menopause and hormone replacement. The now-retired Sherlock Holmes and the aged Professor Presbury embody the conflict between aging as diminishment and aging as healthy and vigorous, a conflict still affecting readers who hesitate to accept Holmes as elderly. 

"Look at This Map": Arthur Conan Doyle's Use of Diegetic Illustrations in The Return of Sherlock Holmes 
THOMAS VRANKEN (University of Melbourne)
Four stories from The Return of Sherlock Holmes in the Strand Magazine and Collier's Weekly featured hand-drawn maps and other visual material supposedly created by Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters. These peculiar diegetic phenomena serve an ambivalent, even contradictory, function, both drawing in and repulsing the reader.

Arthur Conan Doyle's Lens KATHERINE VOYLES
The author argues that relations of scale are central to the late-nineteenth-century detective fiction of Arthur Conan Doyle, in which the movement between large and small, far and near, and the distant and the intimate is condensed by making Sherlock Holmes’s own vision the locus of that movement.

True Cock-and-Bull Stories: Negotiating Narrative Authority in Emmuska Orczy’s “Man in the Corner” Tales RACHEL SMILLIE
Critical studies of Baroness Emmuska Orczy’s “Man in the Corner” narratives have been dominated by the collected edition The Old Man in the Corner; however, this edition fundamentally alters the dynamic of the original stories. Revisiting the original tales, this article interrogates the relationship among detective, narrator, and reader.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Candles at Nine (1944).

In this film, based on The Mouse Who Wouldn't Play Ball (1943) by Detection Club member Anthony Gilbert, a wealthy miser is murdered after tormenting his relatives with speculations about who will receive his money after he dies. The heir is revealed to be an aspiring actress, who must spend a month in the miser's mansion to receive her inheritance. But there are those who are disgruntled by the chosen heir and retaliate.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Conan Doyle works at UNC Chapel Hill.

Richard Doyle, from
A Journal Kept by
Richard Doyle

(1885)
The Rare Book Blog at UNC Chapel Hill highlights spiritualism-related works in its collection by Arthur Conan Doyle as well as In Fairyland by Richard Doyle (uncle of Arthur), offering a peek at Richard's illustrations for the book and showing a distinct interest in fairies by the family. Conan Doyle's relatives included several artists (such as his father, Charles Altamont Doyle).

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

"The Thirty-Two Friends of Gina Lardelli" (1959).

Rita Moreno with
Jeffrey Hunter, ca. 1956
The former teacher of model Gina Lardelli (Rita Moreno) appeals to private eye Lucius Crane (Robert Middleton) to investigate when her death is chalked up to suicide. This episode was the pilot for the TV series The Fat Man (based on the character created by Dashiell Hammett and the radio series with J. Scott Smart) that did not pan out. The writers are Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts (Ironside, Mannix, Shake Hands with the Devil, White Heat).

Monday, April 10, 2017

On early Sherlock Holmes fandom.

Publisher and MP
Sir George Newnes
In TWC: Transformative Works and Cultures, Plymouth State University English department chair Ann McClellan discusses the role of the magazine Tit-Bits in building the popularity of Sherlock Holmes (including publisher George Newnes's strategies for raising Holmes's profile with readers and the place of celebrity culture).

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Happy centenary, Robert Bloch.

Robert Bloch (Psycho; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; Alfred Hitchcock Hour; three episodes of Star Trek, etc.) was born today in Chicago in 1917. Clues 31.1 (2013) published (in the issue on Hitchcock and adaptation) "Adapting Poe, Adapting Hitchcock: Robert Bloch in the Shadow of Hitchcock's Television Empire" by Dennis R. Perry and Carl H. Sederholm.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Fourteen Hours (1951).

Scene from Fourteen Hours
In Fourteen Hours, cop Paul Douglas attempts to coax a despondent Richard Basehart off the ledge of a tall building. Directed by Henry Hathaway and based on "The Man on the Ledge" (The New Yorker 16 Apr. 1949) by crime reporter, war correspondent, and screenwriter Joel Sayre, the film also features Barbara Bel Geddes, Debra Paget, Agnes Moorehead, Robert Keith, Howard da Silva, Jeffrey Hunter, and Grace Kelly in her film debut.

Monday, April 03, 2017

The unique world of Harry Stephen Keeler.

Ramble House edition of
Keeler's Thieves' Nights
On the Center for Fiction blog The Book Drop, Mercantile Library librarian Jon Michaud discusses the offbeat work (including the never-to-be-forgotten flying strangler baby) of Harry Stephen Keeler (1890–1967) with Keeler experts Ed Park and Richard Polt: "It's also interesting to compare him to Agatha Christie, his exact contemporary."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Guilty Bystander (1950).

Zachary Scott, ca. 1946
In Guilty Bystander, alcoholic former cop turned hotel detective Max Thursday (Zachary Scott) searches for his kidnapped son, finding murder and smuggling along the way. The film is based on the book by Wade Miller (aka H. William Miller and Robert Allison Wade).

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Foxwell library event, March 26.

In honor of Women's History Month and the April 6 centenary of the US entry into World War I, I'll be speaking at 2 pm on March 26 at Jarrettsville Library (Jarrettsville, MD) about my anthology In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I. I'm looking forward to it, as I'm told one of the library's book groups includes female veterans.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Postmark for Danger (1955).

Terry Moore, ca. 1956
In Postmark for Danger (based on Portrait of Alison by Francis Durbridge), an artist (Robert Beatty) learns that a car crash in Italy has killed his journalist brother and an actress (Terry Moore). A Scotland Yard inspector (Geoffrey Keen) is interested in a mysterious postcard sent by the journalist before his death; complications ensue with further deaths, including that of the artist's model (Josephine Griffin).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Brown's "Leaves of an Hour" exhibition.

Richard Kiley in "The Holy
Ground—The Killing, Pt 1," Judd
for the Defense
(dir. Leo Penn,
writ. William Kelley, 1969)
Brown University Library's "Leaves of an Hour" online exhibition includes the following items of mystery-related interest: 
  • Title page from Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon (1930)
  • Mention of author, screenwriter, and Brown alum William P. Kelley (Judd for the Defense; Oscar winner for Witness. Clip from Kelley's acceptance speech at the 1986 Oscars; he's the white-haired fellow.)
  • Mention of the library's collection of spy fiction by Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt
  • Discussion of the library's H. P. Lovecraft collections

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Argyle Secrets (1948).

Marjorie Lord, left, with her
daughter, Anne Archer, ca. 1958
In The Argyle Secrets, a political columnist tells reporter William Gargan about a compromising list of businessmen who made deals with Nazi Germany. Gargan is then accused of the columnist's murder, while he and an unscrupulous gang search for the list. Ralph Byrd, Marjorie Lord, John Banner, and Barbara Billingsley costar.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Northern Public Radio on NIU's dime novel collection.

Northern Public Radio highlights the digitization of the Johannsen Collection of dime novels and story papers at the Northern Illinois University libraries. The NIU libraries, in partnership with Villanova University, will digitize 5400 dime novels through a grant of nearly $450,000 from the Digitizing Hidden Collections initiative of the Council on Library and Information Resources. More than 2000 works compose the library's current online offerings, including dime novels by early mystery writer-editor Metta Victoria Fuller Victor and the extensive Nick Carter series.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Orczy's Lady Molly on BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Baroness Orczy, from the
Aug. 1913 The Bookman
Now airing on BBC Radio 4 Extra are stories featuring Lady Molly of the "Female Department" of Scotland Yard, penned by Baroness Orczy in 1910. The 10 episodes narrated by Sophie Thompson include "The Ninescore Mystery" (featuring a village murder), "The Irish-Tweed Coat" (featuring a man accused of murder), and "A Day's Folly" (featuring a case of blackmail).

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

"The Blue Landscape" (1955).

Illustration of Peter Lorre,
ca. 1935
In this episode of The Star and the Story, inspector Peter Lorre of the Sûreté takes on a case involving murder and the theft of a painting. Hillary Brooke costars as an insurance investigator. The script is a product of screenwriters DeWitt Bodeen (Cat People), Frank Burt (Dragnet), and Lou Rusoff (Terry and the Pirates).

Monday, March 06, 2017

BFI's lists on "perfect crime" and noir films.

From an ad for The Killing (1956)
One of the latest lists on the British Film Institute blog is on "10 Great Films on Committing the Perfect Crime." These include The Asphalt Jungle (1950), Les Diaboliques (1954), Lift to the Scaffold (1958), The Killing (1956), and Thief (1981).

Another is a list of "10 Great American Film Noirs." Among expected entries (The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, Laura) are The Lady from Shanghai (1947) and The Reckless Moment (based on Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's The Blank Wall, 1949).

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Place of One's Own (1945).

Margaret Lockwood,
ca. 1946
An Edwardian retired couple (James Mason, Barbara Mullen) move into their new residence, only to find that it is haunted and has a strange effect on the wife's companion (Margaret Lockwood). The film is based on the short story of the same name by Osbert Sitwell.