Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Black Friday (1940).

Complications ensue when a criminal's brain is transplanted into a professor. Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi star, and Curt Siodmak (brother of The Spiral Staircase's Robert Siodmak) is one of the screenwriters.

Monday, November 23, 2015

NMU commemorates Anatomy of a Murder.

Via various items posted online, the Northern Michigan University archives are commemorating Anatomy of a Murder by attorney, writer, fisherman, and Michigan Supreme Court justice John D. Voelker (1903–91). Voelker successfully defended Army lieutenant Coleman Peterson, who was accused of killing tavern owner Mike Chenoweth in 1952. Voelker then turned the case into fiction; the book was published by St. Martin's Press in January 1958 under Voelker's pseudonym, Robert Traver. It became a well-regarded film in 1959 with Jimmy Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, and George C. Scott. In 2013 ABA Journal selected Anatomy of a Murder as one of 25 greatest law novels.

NMU online materials:
• Read transcripts from the Peterson trial
• See photos of principals such as Voelker and Peterson
Listen to interview with juror Max Muelle

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Cat and the Canary (1939).

Paulette Goddard encounters
something unexpected in
The Cat and the Canary
In The Cat and the Canary, Paulette Goddard will inherit a sizable fortune if she does not go mad within a month, and relatives are intent on helping that along. Bob Hope and Gale Sondergaard also star. Based on a play by John Willard, it previously was adapted as a 1927 silent film and subsequently as a 1978 film with Honor Blackman, Edward Fox, and Wendy Hiller.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Ernest A. Young, detective dime novelist.

Ad including books by
Harry Rockwood, pseudonym
of Ernest A. Young
Brandeis Special Collections highlights its newly acquired papers of Massachusetts resident Ernest A. Young (1858–1936), who was known for his detective dime novels under pseudonyms such as Harry Rockwood. His works include Harry Pinkurten, the King of Detectives (1882) and Clarice Dyke, the Female Detective (1883). 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Kid Glove Killer (1942).

In Kid Glove Killer, police lab chief Van Heflin analyzes crime scene evidence from the murder of the city mayor, abetted by a lively Marsha Hunt. Fred Zinnemann (High Noon, From Here to Eternity) directed the film.

Monday, November 09, 2015

The return of pioneering PI Race Williams.

Altus Press has issued Them That Lives by Their Guns: The Collected Hard-Boiled Stories of Race Williams, vol. 1, with an introduction by Clues contributor Brooks Hefner. The creator of Williams, Carroll John Daly, launched the hard-boiled style with such stories as "The False Burton Combs" (1922) and "It's All in the Game" (1923). "Burton Combs" predates Dashiell Hammett's first story for Black Mask by several months.

Perhaps this collection of 16 stories can help refute the jaw-dropping assertion in the BBC Radio 4 program A Coat, a Hat, and a Gun (hosted by Harriett Gilbert, daughter of British mystery author Michael Gilbert) that the hard-boiled "genre was really invented by ... Hemingway with a short story in 1928 called 'The Killers.'" In fact, "The Killers" is a March 1927 Scribner's magazine short story, which appeared several years after Daly's groundbreaking work.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Ten Years of The Bunburyist.

Elizabeth Foxwell in an investigative mode.
It's hard to believe that 10 years ago today, I clicked the "Publish" button, and this blog began. I thought a blog could provide visitors with a way to learn about the contents of Clues: A Journal of Detection; read about neglected mystery works; and find links to interesting aspects involving the history of mystery, detective, and crime fiction—especially vintage audio and video. Although I tend not to receive a lot of comments, people seem to like what they see. Statistics indicate that the blog receives more than 5000 hits a month and has 59 loyal followers.

Sadly I have needed to reduce the number of posts per month because of my publishing and job commitments, as well as the work entailed for my new blog on American women in World War I.

The following are the top 10 posts of The Bunburyist based on views. Do you have other favorites?

The Top 10 Posts on The Bunburyist, 2005–15:

10. "Fri Forgotten Books: Charlotte Armstrong's The Chocolate Cobweb (1948)"

9. "Clues 31.2: Collins, Harvey, Highsmith, Parker, South African and Spanish crime fiction"

8. "Cornerstone: The Horizontal Man, by Helen Eustis"

7. "Fri Forgotten Books: The Mystery of Central Park, by Nellie Bly (1889)." After I posted about this rare book and mentioned it on a women's studies listserve, the Library of Congress digitized its copy and made it available via the Internet Archive.

6. "A Jury of Her Peers" (on the first U.S. female jurors)

5. "Dr. Barbara Mertz, Trailblazer"

4. "The Dude Abides: The Big Lebowski and The Big Sleep"

3.  "Cornerstone: Re-Enter Sir John (1932)"

2. "'The Grave Grass Quivers,' by MacKinlay Kantor (1931)"

1. "Dozen Best Detective Stories Ever Written"

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947).

A film for Election Day: The Senator Was Indiscreet, in which politician William Powell eyes the presidency, promises health legislation guaranteeing that everyone will have a normal temperature, and causes consternation for his party when his imprudent diary goes missing. The film was directed by George S. Kaufman (The Man Who Came to Dinner), with The Front Page's Charles MacArthur as screenwriter.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Europe's public libraries and refugees.

Poster from the Austrian Library
Association "Welcome" campaign
The Public Libraries Section of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions presents a roundup of ways in which public libraries in Europe are reaching out to refugees. For example, the Cologne Public Library has an intercultural library forum that offers, among other services, readings in multiple languages for refugee children.

The Cologne Public Library also has the "Krimiautomat" in the metro system, where commuting library patrons can borrow crime fiction titles.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Soundtrack, An Inspector Calls.

Silva Screen Records has released the soundtrack by Dominik Scherrer to the recent BBC adaptation of J. B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls, in which a mysterious inspector appears after a girl's suicide to question the Birling family.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Chalk Garden (1964).

For today's 126th birthday of Enid Bagnold, author of works such as National Velvet and A Diary Without Dates, a WWI memoir that embroiled her in trouble, here is the adaptation of her play The Chalk Garden. Deborah Kerr plays a mysterious governess who seeks to help troubled Hayley Mills.

Bagnold's great-granddaughter is Samantha Cameron, wife of British prime minister David Cameron.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Clues vol. 33 now in Kindle format.

For those with e-readers: Clues 33.1 and Clues 33.2 (Patricia Highsmith issue) are now available in Kindle format.

Clues 33.1 (2015)
Kindle version

Clues 33.2 (2015; theme issue on Patricia Highsmith, with new revelations about Per Wahlöö)

Kindle version

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Three Stooges: Detectives?

Disorder in the Court (1936) features Larry, Moe, and Curly as witnesses in a court case who uncover the perpetrator of a murder.

Monday, October 19, 2015

New Crime Uncovered series.

Intellect Books in the UK will launch a new nonfiction series, Crime Uncovered, in November, which seeks to "explor[e the] genre in an intelligent, critical and accessible manner." Its first two volumes will be on the antihero (ed. Bath Spa University's Fiona Peters and Rebecca Stewart) and the detective (ed. Crime Time's Barry Forshaw). In March will be a volume on the private investigator (ed. University of Newcastle's Alistair Rolls and Rachel Franks).

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Murder by Invitation (1941).

Wealthy woman, scheming relatives, occasional corpses. And you know you want to "jump with jitters!"

Monday, October 12, 2015

The art of the steal.

"Confidence Man: I seen him first, Joe.
His Pal: Let's toss for him."
12 Aug. 1915. NYPL
Jean Brauscher and Barack Orbach provide a fascinating discussion of the confidence man in "Scamming: The Misunderstood Confidence Man" (Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, 27, 2015), including the shady nineteenth-century activities of Samuel Thompson, the man who gave rise to the term. (Thanks to Law & Humanities blog)

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Foxwell on WAMU's Metro Connection, Oct 9.

I'm appearing on WAMU's Metro Connection at 1 pm on Fri, Oct. 9, to talk about the local women who appear in my new collection In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I. Here I am with Metro Connection host Rebecca Sheir (right) at the DC World War I Memorial.

Update. Link to the interview and my reading of an excerpt from the collection by Walter Reed librarian Gertrude Thiebaud.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Foxwell talk/signing, Oct 13.

One More Page Books in Arlington, VA, will be hosting me for a talk/signing of In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I on Tuesday, Oct 13, from 7–8 pm. My friend Daniel Stashower (The Hour of Peril, Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle, The Beautiful Cigar Girl, etc.) will be introducing me.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Pacific Blackout (1941).

Ad for Pacific Blackout (1941)
Framed by a nightclub singer for the murder of a coworker, Robert Preston also must thwart attempted sabotage by enemy agents in Pacific Blackout. One of the writers is Curt Siodmak (brother of Spiral Staircase director Robert Siodmak).

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fast and Loose (1939).

In Fast and Loose, Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell are husband-and-wife booksellers on the trail of rare book thieves. Other films in this series are Fast Company (with Melvyn Douglas, 1938) and Fast and Furious (with Franchot Tone and Ann Sothern, 1939).

Monday, September 28, 2015

Early Hitchcock.

Ad for Three Live Ghosts (1922)
Henry K. Miller in the BFI's Sight & Sound magazine discusses recently discovered Hitchcock silent film work—The Man from Home (1922) and Three Live Ghosts (1922)—but the versions found bear evidence of hands other than Hitchcock's.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"Age of Peril" (1952).

In this February 1952 episode of Tales of Tomorrow adapted from "Crisis 1999" (EQMM, Aug 1949) by mystery-sci fi author Fredric Brown, an agent (character actor Dennis Patrick) sets out to discover who is leaking classified defense secrets. Phyllis Kirk co-stars.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Results from Sept 10 Bloomsbury auction.

Graham Greene
Some results of interest from the Sept 10 bibliophile auction at Bloomsbury:

Black Plumes (1940) by Margery Allingham, 1st ed., £260 (approx US$404).

From Russia with Love (1957) by Ian Fleming, 1st ed., £200 (approx US$311).

The Fallen Idol, Our Man in Havana, Stamboul Train, The Third Man, and 12 other 1st eds. by Graham Greene, £420 (approx US$652).

Brighton Rock (1938) by Graham Greene,  1st ed., £300 (approx US$466).

Unnatural Causes (1967) by P. D. James, 1st ed., £220 (approx US$342).

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and The Looking-Glass War by John le Carre, 1st eds., £280 (approx $435).

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Clues 33.2: Patricia Highsmith, Per Wahlöö.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of Patricia Highsmith's death and the 40th anniversary of Per Wahlöö's death, Clues 33.2 (2015) has been published. It is a theme issue on the work of Highsmith, plus reveals Wahlöö's plans for another Martin Beck novel near the end of his life. Abstracts follow below. Contact McFarland to order the issue or to subscribe to the journal.

Update. Issue is now available on Nook and Kindle 

Introduction: Re-Evaluating Patricia Highsmith
FIONA PETERS (Bath Spa Univ, UK)

Conformity and Singularity in Patricia Highsmith’s Early Novels
This essay explores Highsmith’s critique of the American suburbs in the novels of the 1950s and early 1960s. It focuses on This Sweet Sickness, highlighting not only Highsmith’s critique of conformity but also her recognition of the threat of psychic breakdown for those who resisted cultural norms.

“Sooner or later most of us get hooked”:
The Question of Insanity in Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley

This article considers constructions of insanity in Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley in the context of historical understandings of psychopathy and sociopathic personality disturbance. It examines Patricia Highsmith’s psychological influences and assesses how her novels have been read in relation to changing notions of criminal insanity in psychiatry, law, and culture.

Under an Atomic Sky: Patricia Highsmith, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Apocalyptic Imagination
ILSE SCHRYNEMAKERS (Queensboro Community College, NY)
This essay contextualizes Patricia Highsmith’s crime fiction within the ethos of a world with the atomic bomb, examining how her characters fit the prototype of Americans striving for and achieving a comfortable life. It also explores the significance of characters in such a world committing seemingly irrational actions.

Living “As If”: Ripley’s Imaginary and the Problem of Other People in The Talented Mr. Ripley
BRUCE WYSE (Wilfrid Laurier Univ, Canada)
In Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, Tom Ripley finds reading people a challenge but copes through a form of everyday detection. The author argues that Ripley is an “as-if” character who passes for “normal” until his fantasized rapport with Dickie collapses. Through Dickie’s murder, he recaptures this imaginary bond.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Foxwell on Femmes Fatales blog.

I'm the guest today on the Femmes Fatales blog, talking about my anthology In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I, which will be published September 25. The post includes a photo of the "fingerprint girls" of the war.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Evil Mind (aka The Clairvoyant, 1934).

Claude Rains plays a con artist who finds that his mind-reading act is resulting in real predictions of the future. Fay Wray co-stars. Screenplay contributors include Charles Bennett (Blackmail, Foreign Correspondent) and Bryan Edgar Wallace (son of Edgar Wallace).

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

An early ghostly turn by Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie, 1964.
Dutch National Archives
A child ghost is featured in Agatha Christie's "The Lamp" (1933) that is part of the BBC Radio 4 Extra series Haunted.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

The Suspect (dir. Robert Siodmak, 1944).

Directed by Robert Siodmak (The Spiral Staircase), The Suspect is based on James Ronald's novel This Way Out (which fictionalized the Dr. Crippen case). It features Charles Laughton, Ella Raines, and Henry Daniell.