Monday, January 22, 2018

Raymond Burr talks about Perry Mason (1959).

Raymond Burr as Perry Mason
with Barbara Hale as Della Street
In this 1959 interview with CBC Radio, Raymond Burr talks about the busy schedule of the Perry Mason TV series and his feelings about his character. "I think [Perry Mason] is a many-faceted individual," says Burr.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Praise for Cozzens's The Just and the Unjust (1942).

James Gould Cozzens
In "Children into Men: Lawyers and the Law in Three Novels" (The Catholic Lawyer, Oct 2017), New Jersey attorney Gregory J. Sullivan admires the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone novel The Just and the Unjust by Pulitzer Prize recipient James Gould Cozzens (1903–78): "Cozzens' affirmation of the judicial process depicted with a keen eye as to its flaws is compelling because the novel is not measuring the criminal trial—and by extension the law in general—against an impossible utopian ideal" (35).

Further reading: my positive take on The Just and the Unjust.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Saint's Girl Friday (1953).

In The Saint's Girl Friday, Louis Hayward steps into the shoes of Leslie Charteris's Simon Templar (aka The Saint) as he takes on a gambling ring that caused the death of a socialite who had requested his help. Diana Dors costars.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Essays wanted for Longmire collection.

Clues editorial board member Rachel Schaffer seeks a few more essays for her edited collection on Walt Longmire (both the TV series and books by Craig Johnson) to be published by McFarland. Visit the MSU Billings English department Web site for Schaffer's email address.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Three Steps in the Dark (1953).

Greta Gynt, left, with the Duchess of Kent, ca. 1944
In Three Steps in the Dark, an elderly man announces to his relatives that he intends to change his will, but he is murdered before he can do so. His mystery-writer niece (Greta Gynt) investigates.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Exhibition on pulp illustrator Gloria Stoll Karn.

July 1945 Detective Tales.
Cover by Gloria Stoll Karn
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, is featuring the exhibition "Gloria Stoll Karn: Pulp Romance" from February 10 to June 10, 2018. Karn, now 94, was one of the few female illustrators for pulp magazines in the 1940s.

    Tuesday, January 02, 2018

    Remembering Sue Grafton: Sparkling Cyanide (1983).

    Before Sue Grafton, who died December 28 at age 77, turned to writing mysteries, she was a screenwriter. One of her credits was a 1983 TV movie of Agatha Christie's Sparkling Cyanide, starring Anthony Andrews and Deborah Raffin.

    Monday, January 01, 2018

    Upcoming Newberry seminar on Christie.

    Agatha Christie, Sept 1964.
    Dutch National Archives
    The seminar "Agatha Christie and the Golden Age of Detective Fiction" will be held at Chicago's Newberry Library on April 14, 2018. Taught by Northwestern University's Elzbieta Foeller-Pituch, it will "discuss representative works of the 1920s and '30s featuring [Christie's] major sleuths, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple" and ways that Christie handles the conventions of the mystery genre. The works listed for discussion are Murder on the Orient Express, Philomel Cottage, and The Thirteen Problems.

    Tuesday, December 26, 2017

    Woman on the Run (1950).

    A man witnesses a murder and goes on the run, pursued by his wife (Ann Sheridan), the police (Robert Keith), the media (Dennis O'Keefe), and the murderer. The film is based on the short story "Man on the Run" (1948) by Sylvia Tate. One of the screenwriters is Alan Campbell, husband of Dorothy Parker; the other is Norman Foster, who also directed the film.

    Tuesday, December 19, 2017

    Murder with Pictures (1936).

    Lew Ayres and Gail Patrick
    in Murder with Pictures
    In Murder with Pictures, newspaper photographer Lew Ayres looks into the murder of a lawyer and encounters complications when he falls for the suspected perpetrator (Gail Patrick). The film is based on the book of the same name (1935) by MWA Grand Master George Harmon Coxe.

    Monday, December 18, 2017

    In praise of Oppenheim.

    E. Phillips Oppenheim
    Melody of the Redeeming Qualities blog pens an appreciation of the E. Phillips Oppenheim works The Long Arm of Mannister (1909; "he likes to take his victims to dinner and toy with them") as well as Mr. Billingham, the Marquis and Madelon (1927; "[e]veryone drinks lots of champagne cocktails"). She especially likes private inquiry agent and baroness Clara Linz of Advice Limited (1936; "most of her work has the potential to cause scandals and international financial crises"). Although she is no fan of The Deliberate Detective (1914; "this book is Bad"), she declares, "you can pry The Great Impersonation from my cold, dead hands."

    Tuesday, December 12, 2017

    Murder by Contract (1958).

    Proficient hit-man Claude (Vince Edwards) experiences difficulties when he learns about his next assignment: killing a female witness about to testify in a trial.

    Monday, December 11, 2017

    McFarland's holiday sale.

    In a holiday sale, McFarland is offering a 30 percent discount on two or more books ordered from its new true crime and mystery catalog. These include the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit.

    Tuesday, December 05, 2017

    The 39 Steps (1959).

    Taina Elg and Kenneth More in The 39 Steps (1959)

    In the second film version of The 39 Steps, Kenneth More takes on the role of John Buchan's game-hunter hero who becomes embroiled in espionage.

    Monday, December 04, 2017

    "As Far as They Had Got"
    (round-robin mystery, 1911).

    "There, in the middle of the upper panel, was the print of a human hand—in blood!"
    Arthur Morrison, "As Far as They Had Got" 1911
    Long before the Detection Club's round-robin mystery The Floating Admiral (1931), there was "As Far as They Had Got," which appeared in the September 1911 issue of The Strand magazine and included Richard Marsh (The Beetle), Arthur Morrison (Martin Hewitt, Investigator), and spy novel pioneer E. Phillips Oppenheim among its authors. The Strand dubbed it a "Follow-My-Leader Story." Most of the authors provided a footnote that outlined an ending to the story, but they did not have access to these proposed endings as they wrote their particular section.

    The story centers on two men out for sail on a river who become ensnared in the aftermath of the Moorgate Street robbery. The story takes a number of twists and turns.

    Tuesday, November 28, 2017

    Jennifer (1953).

    In Jennifer, estate caretaker Ida Lupino begins to suspect that something nefarious has happened to the previous resident and that local grocer Howard Duff may be involved.

    Monday, November 27, 2017

    Marie Belloc Lowndes, diarist.

    A plot mind, is curiously rare, and does secure for its owner a kind of immortality. By that I mean that long after the writer is dead, the books go on being reprinted.
    —Marie Belloc Lowndes
    Marie Belloc Lowndes,
    ca. 1935
    The Diary Review looks at some diary entries of author Marie Belloc Lowndes (1868–1947), including her explanation of the genesis of and reaction to The Lodger (serialized in 1911, published in book form in 1913). Said Lowndes, "When The Lodger was published, I did not receive a single favourable review."

    Tuesday, November 21, 2017

    I Wake Up Screaming (1941).

    Victor Mature and Betty Grable in I Wake Up Screaming
    In I Wake Up Screaming, is Victor Mature guilty of the murder of Carole Landis? Costars include Betty Grable, Laird Cregar, William Gargan, and Alan Mowbray. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Steve Fisher.

    Monday, November 20, 2017

    Mata Hari exhibition.

    Mata Hari. NYPL
    The Fries Museum in the Netherlands features its notorious native daughter Margaretha Zelle (aka Mata Hari, 1876–1917) in the exhibition "Mata Hari: The Myth and the Maiden," on view until April 2, 2018.

    Tuesday, November 14, 2017

    Sky Murder (1940).

    Murders on an airline flight involve fifth-column conspiracies for passenger and detective Nick Carter (Walter Pidgeon). The supporting cast includes Donald Meek, Tom Conway, and Chill Wills.

    Monday, November 13, 2017

    "Rogues Gallery—Faces of Crime 1870–1917."

    The exhibition "Rogues Gallery: Faces of Crime 1870–1917" is on view until December 1 at Edinburgh's General Register House. It provides a look at early Scottish mugshots and related crime documentation, including items pertaining to the real-life counterpart of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll.

    Tuesday, November 07, 2017

    An Act of Murder (1948).

    Frederic Marsh and Florence Eldridge in An Act of Murder
    When the wife (Florence Eldridge) of a judge (Eldridge's real-life husband Frederic Marsh) is diagnosed with an incurable illness, the judge makes a difficult decision. Costars include Edmond O'Brien and Geraldine Brooks. The film is based on Ernst Lothar's The Mills of God (1935).

    Monday, November 06, 2017

    Edgar Allan Poe, book reviewer.

    In Humanities Magazine, journalist Mark Athitakis examines Edgar Allan Poe's role as harsh book reviewer, although Poe managed to nab a gig reviewing his own works (which, perhaps unsurprisingly, he rated as those of "high genius").

    Tuesday, October 31, 2017

    Greene's Across the Bridge (1957).

    Based on the short story (1938) by Graham Greene, Across the Bridge features Rod Steiger as an embezzling businessman who seeks to cover his tracks by assuming another man's identity. But as the other man is wanted himself, the businessman's situation becomes much more complicated.

    Monday, October 30, 2017

    Haycraft on Chesterton.

    Howard Haycraft.
    From the 1927
    Univ of Minnesota
    In April 1945, H. W. Wilson executive and mystery scholar Howard Haycraft reviewed The Father Brown Omnibus, a new collection of G. K. Chesterton's stories with the mild-mannered clerical sleuth. The review, which appeared in the 31 Aug. 1945 Palestine Post as "Chesterton Tales," discussed the genesis of Father Brown and addressed the question of whether these stories could be classified as detective stories because Father Brown's deductions are often intuitive rather than based on hard evidence. Haycraft's opinion was unequivocal: ". . .[A]t his best Chesterton is indisputably one of that small company of writers most responsible for the curious vitality and appeal of the detective story to modern readers, and Father Brown has been called the best loved of fictional sleuths after the immortal Holmes" (7).

    Tuesday, October 24, 2017

    Tread Softly, Stranger (1958).

    Diana Dors, ca. 1957
    In Tread Softly, Stranger, two brothers (George Baker, Terence Morgan) vie for the affections of a gold digger (Diana Dors) and become involved in robbery and murder. The film is based on the play "Blind Alley" by British playwright Jack Popplewell.

    Monday, October 23, 2017

    Carolyn Wells's "A Reader's Lament" (1899).

    Carolyn Wells,
    ca. 1923
    Carolyn Wells's The Clue (1909) appears on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list of essential mysteries, and she's also known for her Sherlock Holmes pastiches. In addition, she wrote poetry, such as the following "Reader's Lament" (The Bookman, Mar. 1899, p. 22):

    I cannot read the old books
    I read long years ago;
    Eliot, Dickens, Thackeray,
    Bulwer and Scott and Poe.
    Marryat's yarns of sailor life,
    And Hugo's tales of crime; —
    I cannot read the old books,
    Because I haven't time.

    I love the dear old stories,
    My thoughts to them will stray;
    But still one must keep posted on
    The writers of to-day.
    My desk is piled with latest books
    I'm striving to despatch;
    But ere I've finished all of them,
    There'll be another batch.

    Hope's new one isn't opened yet,
    I've not read James's last;
    And Howells is so prolific now,
    And Crawford writes so fast.
    Evelyn Innes I must skim,
    O'er Helbeck I must pore;
    The Day's Work I'll enjoy, although
    I've read the tales before.

    And then there is The King's Jackal,
    The Gadfly, Caleb West,
    Silence, The Forest Lovers, and—
    I can't name all the rest.
    I'll try to keep up with the times,
    But, oh, I hope that I
    May read my David Copperfield
    Once more before I die.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2017

    Jack Benny spoofs The Killers.

    Jack Benny and guest star Dan Duryea poked fun at Ernest Hemingway's "The Killers" in "Death across the Lunch Counter," part of the 4 December 1960 episode of The Jack Benny Program.