Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"Sorry, Wrong Number" added to LOC registry.

Lucille Fletcher's radio play "Sorry, Wrong Number" has been added to the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry. This 1943 episode of Suspense stars Agnes Moorehead as an invalid who overhears something she shouldn't on the telephone line.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Crossroads (1942).

There's more amnesia in store in Crossroads, as diplomat William Powell is blackmailed for crimes that occurred before he lost his memory. Hedy Lamarr, Claire Trevor, and Basil Rathbone co-star.

Monday, March 23, 2015

F. L. Green's Odd Man Out (1945) returns.

Valancourt Books has reprinted F.L. Green's noir novel Odd Man Out (1945). The 1947 film adaptation was directed by Carol Reed, featuring a screenplay by R.C. Sherriff (Journey's End) and James Mason as a wounded IRA gunman on the run.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Wisconsin legal pioneer.

Juvenile bio of
Lavinia Goodell,
U of Wisconsin P
The radio program University of the Air discusses the case of Rhoda Lavinia Goodell, the first female lawyer in Wisconsin, and the new play based on her struggles to practice law that is on stage in Madison this month, Janesville on March 29, Wausau on April 11, and Superior on May 17.

"We know of no woman who has done so much to make woman respected as a legal practitioner"
—"A Female Lawyer's Career" [obit. for Lavinia Goodell], Woman's Journal, repr. The [Huntington, NY] Long-Islander, 15 Apr 1880: 3

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Conan Doyle, Hammett items go at auction.

Yesterday's fine books and manuscripts auction at Bonham's offered the following mystery-related  items:

30 letters from Arthur Conan Doyle that pertain to the George Edalji case; related materials have revealed the fabrication of evidence and an attempt to blacken the author's reputation. The letters are valued at $30,000–60,000. I don't see an indication on the Bonham's Web site that they have been sold.

Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894), along with an inscribed Conan Doyle visiting card and a letter from publisher George Newnes to the winner of a Sherlock Holmes competition, $1648

The Works, Crowborough ed. (1930), signed by Conan Doyle, $8790

Set of first-edition Dashiell Hammett novels, $6592

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Somewhere in the Night (1946).

In Somewhere in the Night (with a screenplay cowritten by Joseph Mankiewicz) amnesiac WWII veteran John Hodiak fears that he may have committed murder.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Conference "Lippincott's Legacy" (May 2015).

(Photos: Arthur Conan Doyle, left, and Oscar Wilde, NYPL)
The Omaha conference "Lippincott's Legacy" on May 29–30 will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the publication of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four and Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Scheduled papers include:

• "Irene Adler, the Atypical Criminal" (Kelly Wieczorek and Tanushree Ghosh, U Nebraska)
• "Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and the Quest to Cure Tuberculosis" (Thomas Goetz)
• "Doyle's The Sign of Four and Victorian Sensation Fiction" (Valerie Kolbinger, U South Dakota)
• "Sherlock Holmes, Entrepreneur" (Robert Bernier, U Nebraska)
• "The Sherlock Holmes Stories in American Newspapers" (Charles Johanningsmeier, U Nebraska)
• "Playing the Game and the Great Game" (Thomas E. Gouttierre, U Nebraska)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Routine Job (1946).

This film from Merlin Films shows investigators from New Scotland Yard on the trail of some stolen tea.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Further light on Midnight Express.

Brad Davis, NYPL
Just added to Harvard's Houghton Library collections are memorabilia and letters from Billy Hayes, coauthor of Midnight Express. Alan Parker's 1978 film earned Oscars for Oliver Stone (for screenplay) and Giorgio Moroder (for score). The late Brad Davis played Hayes, a convicted drug smuggler who escaped from a Turkish prison. Some Hayes letters appear in The Midnight Express Letters: From a Turkish Prison 1970–1975.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Remembering Leonard Nimoy: "The Project Strigass Affair" (with William Shatner, 1964).

Leonard Nimoy passed away at age 83 on February 27. Prior to Star Trek, Nimoy and William Shatner appeared together in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode "The Project Strigass Affair."

Monday, March 02, 2015

"Intl Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes," Dallas.

This blog post from the Dallas Morning News discusses the "International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes" at the Dallas Perot Museum of Nature and Science, including footage that shows items from the exhibition. The post mentions that Arthur Conan Doyle biographer Daniel Stashower wrote the plot for the case solved by visitors. The exhibition is on view until May 10, 2015.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

CFP for Craig Johnson/Longmire collection.

Clues Editorial Board members Rachel Schaffer (MSU Billings) and John Scaggs (Southwestern College [KS] and author, Crime Fiction) are coediting the McFarland essay collection Wanted, Read or Alive on Craig Johnson's novels with Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire and the Longmire TV series. Submission deadline is June 1, 2015. Read further details about the Call for Papers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Master Key (1945).

Nazis, G-Men, and "laboratories of diabolic science." Hot diggity.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ursula Le Guin on Lovecraft.

I really enjoy the Times Literary Supplement's "Then and Now" feature. One of the recent ones is Ursula Le Guin's 1976 review of Lyon Sprague de Camp's Lovecraft: "Lovecraft dangles like a rabbit from the jaws of his unconscious."

Of related interest: Brown Daily Herald on the real-life setting for Lovecraft's The Shunned House.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"The Machine Calls It Murder" (May 1960).

Long before sophisticated number crunching, this Sunday Mystery Hour episode produced by Himan Brown (CBS Radio Mystery Theatre), directed by Marc Daniels (Star Trek), and hosted by Walter Slezak featured a mild-mannered insurance analyst who sees a disturbing pattern in computer-generated data on the deaths of women. Starring are Everett Sloane, Larry Blyden, David White, Lee Patrick, actor-screenwriter-director Paul Mazursky, and a Univac computer.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Remembering Lizabeth Scott:
Stolen Face (1952).

Femme fatale Lizabeth Scott died on January 31 at age 92. In Stolen Face, Paul Henreid—a doctor with Pygmalion tendencies—gets more than he bargained for when he performs plastic surgery on the face of disfigured prisoner Scott.

Monday, February 09, 2015

The singing safety policeman?

Barbershop quartet competition, NY World's Fair, 1939-40. NYPL
On the blog of NYPR Archives and Preservation, Andy Lancet, director of archives for New York Public Radio, recalls the role of WNYC in New York law enforcement, including the "singing safety policeman" of The Police Safety Program (1949–50).

Listen to some police safety songs below from the program.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Mary Roberts Rinehart's poem
"The Detective Story" (1904).

Mary Roberts Rinehart, ca. 1915
Library of Congress,
Prints & Photographs Div.
A few years before Mary Roberts Rinehart published her first mystery novel The Circular Staircase (1908, sent to American servicemen during World War I), she wrote an engaging poem, "The Detective Story," which appeared in the May 1904 Munsey's Magazine. A tearsheet of this can be found in her papers at the University of Pittsburgh.

The Detective Story
by Mary Roberts Rinehart

A murder is committed, and that page is full of gore,
Of smashed and broken furniture, and blood-stains on the floor.
A livid, ghastly corpse is quite essential to the tale,
And people standing round with trembling knees and faces pale.

Now introduce the town police, and ridicule their chief;
The way they miss the plainest clues is almost past belief.
Then, when they give the mystery up and start to leave the place,
Bring in the great detective with the shrewd and kindly face.

Now arm him with a camera, tape-measure, microscope;
At once he sees a thumb-print on a nearby cake of soap.
A speck of human cuticle is found upon the towel;
And now the great detective knows who did that murder foul!

Upon the floor he spies a pile of white tobacco ash—
With microscope in hand he's on his knees there in a flash.
"Aha!" he says at length. "The villain smoked a Henry Clay!
This is no common scoundrel, and he isn't far away."

He works with ready camera and piles up evidence,
While all the local force stand by and feel like thirty cents.
He pulls out secret drawers that no one ever dreamed were there,
And probes with needles fine and long the cushions of each chair.

With measure in hand he crawls along the hard-wood floor,
And measures all the scratches from the chimney to the door.
At last he rises, smiling. "Well, his shoes are B, size eight,
And by the length of stride he's five feet nine when standing straight.

"He wore a black and white checked suit; see, here I find a thread.
A soft slouch hat he had, crushed down upon his curly head.
How can I tell? Why, see this mark upon the dusty stand,
And on the chandelier I found this single curly strand.

"Now, then, we have a picture of the murderer complete,
His hat, his hair, his clothes, his height, and even size of feet.
Now just go to the window and look out—no need to hide—
For there's the man we're hunting walking down the other side!"

Oh, thanks to British Conan Doyle, to French Gaboriau.
And also many thanks to our own Edgar Allan Poe.
To them we owe a debt of gratitude that's hard to pay.
For teaching us to frustrate crime in such an easy way!

Monday, February 02, 2015

Barry Day speaks on Raymond Chandler.

On Gary Shapiro's radio program From the Bookshelf, Barry Day (known for his works on Noel Coward) discusses his new book The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words, in which he endeavors to show what Chandler thought of his own work. Day highlights Chandler's emphasis on language rather than plot or character, his admiration for the writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and his dislike of the work of Ernest Hemingway.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

RIP, Helen Eustis (1916–2015).

Helen Eustis, Edgar winner for The Horizontal Man (1946) and the last living author on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list of essential mysteries, died on January 11 at age 98. She was also known for The Fool Killer (1954, adapted for a 1965 film with Anthony Perkins). Eustis was a member of the Yaddo arts colony, a friend of Carson McCullers and Truman Capote, and a noted translator and short story writer. Her son, Adam Genkaku Fisher, has posted on her passing here. (Thanks to Sarah Weinman for the tip.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Court of Last Resort:
"The George Zaccho Case" (1957).

Erle Stanley Gardner
The Court of Last Resort TV series (1957–58) was inspired by a project of Perry Mason creator Erle Stanley Gardner, in which experts examined cases where the defendant appeared to have been wrongfully convicted. This episode involves a Greek immigrant accused of poisoning his wife. Gardner weighs in toward the end.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Emulating Holmes.

Ad for The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939)
The blog of Harvard's Houghton Library features the board game "Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective," part of its Julio Mario Santo Domingo Collection.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Exhibition: "Poisonous Nature."

A less than cuddly cobra.
Colored engraving, ca. 1792.
Wellcome Library, London
Mystery writers may find the "Poisonous Nature" online exhibition of the Biodiversity Heritage Library for Europe to be useful in research, with its facts and images on poisonous plants such as deadly nightshade and other lethal agents such as the Indian cobra and the black widow spider. There is a timeline of publications on poisons and materials in several languages.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Model Murder Case
(aka Girl in the Headlines, 1963).

Laurence Payne,
in the British TV series
The Sandbaggers (1978)
A model is shot, and Inspector Birkett (Ian Hendry) and Sergeant Saunders (Ronald Fraser) are on the case. Jeremy Brett and Jane Asher co-star. The film is based on The Nose on My Face (aka The First Body, 1961), the mystery debut of actor-writer Laurence Payne (whose credits include Ben-Hur, Ill Met by Moonlight, and a long-time role as detective Sexton Blake).


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Remembering Rod Taylor: 36 Hours (1964).

Among the film work of the dashing Rod Taylor, who died on January 7 at age 84, is 36 Hours, in which the Nazis try to gaslight American major James Garner into believing that World War II is over so he will reveal top-secret information. The film is based on the Roald Dahl story "Beware of the Dog."

Monday, January 12, 2015

Top ms-related auction prices for 2014.

Americana Exchange has posted the top 500 auctions for 2014, which include the following:

Ad for The Big Sleep, 1946
• Signed ms of Arthur Conan Doyle's  "The Adventure of Black Peter," Christie's, $317,000.

• Original drawing for the Strand by Sidney Paget for Conan Doyle's "The Adventure of Silver Blaze," Christie's, $112,500.

• Screenplay by William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett of The Big Sleep (dir. Howard Hawks), Bonhams, $81,250.

(Thanks to PhiloBiblos)