Friday, April 17, 2015

BBC Radio 4: "The Buchan Tradition."

In "The Buchan Tradition," BBC Radio 4 talks to two writer grandchildren of John Buchan--James and Ursula Buchan--as well as Buchan companion author Kate Macdonald to discuss works such as The Thirty-Nine Steps, Greenmantle, and Mr. Standfast; Buchan heroes Richard Hannay and Edward Leithen; and the style of storytelling established by Buchan that can be seen in works by later authors such as Geoffrey Household (Rogue Male). The program includes a clip of Buchan speaking.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Murder Is News (UK, 1937; US, 1939).

Reporter Jerry Tracy (John Gallaudet) does a story on a businessman's affairs and divorce, only to find himself in danger when the businessman is murdered. The story is by Theodore Tinsley, one of the writers who used the pseudonym Maxwell Grant in The Shadow pulp magazines. Fans of the 1950s TV series The Adventures of Superman will spot John Hamilton ("Perry White") in the cast.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Amelia B. Edwards, collector.

Amelia B. Edwards, NYPL
The Museum and Collections blog of University College London discusses the collecting habits of Amelia B. Edwards (1831–92)—author, explorer, cofounder of the Egypt Exploration Fund that supported the expeditions of William Flinders Petrie, and model for Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody Emerson. The photos include one of her study (complete with chandelier). Also mentioned is that English Heritage has placed one of its blue plaques on Edwards's former residence in Clerkenwell.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Remembering Stan Freberg (1926-2015).

Best known for "St. George and the Dragonet," comic and advertising master Stan Freberg died on April 7 in Santa Monica at age 88. Listen to his "Sam Splayed, Detective."

The National Radio Hall of Fame offers more audio goodies:
• Freberg, "Abe Snake for President" (1952)
• Freberg, Induction Speech into the National Radio Hall of Fame

Update. Pacifica Radio Archives' From the Vault pays tribute to Freberg with excerpts from The Stan Freberg Show of 1957, "Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America: The Early Years," and a 1999 interview with Freberg.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Zangwill's The Big Bow Mystery (1891),
the press, and Scotland Yard.

Israel Zangwill, NYPL
Published in the spring 2015 Victorian Periodicals Review is Clare Clarke's "Something for the 'Silly Season': Policing and the Press in Israel Zangwill's The Big Bow Mystery." In this article, Clarke (Trinity College Dublin) focuses on Zangwill's critique of crime reportage and Scotland Yard in the locked-room Big Bow Mystery, a novel that she believes has been neglected despite its wild popularity when it was first serialized and its place on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone List of essential mysteries. Zangwill (1864–1926) is best known as a poet and playwright, his works The Melting Pot and Children of the Ghetto, and his commentary on Zionist matters.

Clarke's article continues her interest in somewhat shady fictional detectives of the Victorian era, as she previously wrote for Clues on Arthur Morrison's criminal-detective Horace Dorrington. Her recent book is Late Victorian Crime Fiction in the Shadows of Sherlock.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Mystery in Swing (1940).

In this film with a somewhat stiff all-black cast and a lot of music, a philandering trumpet player is killed in Harlem, and a reporter finds a plethora of suspects. Thomas Cripps, a former professor of music at Morgan State University, is not fond of the film.

Monday, April 06, 2015

What records do you want to see?

Autobiography of John Paton
Davies Jr, U Penn P
The public can comment on the National Archives' plans for declassifying government documents before the April 10 forum of the National Declassification Center. The Master Backlog Index deals extensively with records pertaining to the armed services; the following are just a few of the files listed in the 280-page index:
  • Translations of intercepted enemy radio traffic and miscellaneous World War II documentation, Navy, 1940–46 
  • Loyalty security files relating to China expert and Medal of Freedom recipient John Paton Davies Jr., State Dept, 1942–56
  • War diaries, Naval History and Heritage Command, 1946–53
  • Individual defector case files, State Dept, 1949–63
  • Files of Salk vaccine, State Dept, 1955–59 
  • Criminal investigative records related to the seizure of the USS Pueblo and its aftermath, Navy
  • Classified material related to United States of America
    v. John D. Erlichman et al
    , Justice Dept, 1974

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (1916).

In this Sherlock Holmes parody, Douglas Fairbanks as "the world's greatest scientific detective, Coke Ennyday," seeks to uncover the mysterious source of a man's wealth. The treatment of drug addiction and Asians may raise a few contemporary eyebrows, but the resourceful heroine and the hapless police will be familiar tropes to mystery fans.

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 were valued at $30,000–60,000 and were sold for $20,453.

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.