Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The ABA's picks, 25 greatest law novels.

The Aug 2013 ABA Journal features the "25 Greatest Law Novels Ever." These include:

An American Tragedy, Theodore Dreiser 
• Anatomy of a Murder,
Robert Traver 
• Bleak House, Charles Dickens
• The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk
• The Firm, John Grisham
• Native Son, Richard Wright
• The Ox-Bow Incident
,
Walter Van Tilburg Clark
The Paper Chase, John Jay Osborn Jr.
Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow
QB VII, Leon Uris
Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Some judges wrote essays on notable omissions such as Michelle Zierler on In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and Roz Myers on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone novel The Just and the Unjust by James Gould Cozzens. As an admirer of Cozzens's prose, I would not call his style "fusty," as Myers does. I'm also startled that not one Erle Stanley Gardner novel has been selected. (thanks to the Law and Humanities blog)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Rinehart's Hilda Adams, on screen.

Two films that star Mary Roberts Rinehart's nurse-sleuth Hilda Adams are Miss Pinkerton (1932), featuring "staggering suspense!" with Joan Blondell and George Brent, and The Nurse's Secret (1941), with Lee Patrick (the character is called "Ruth Adams" in this version).  



Monday, July 29, 2013

Prelim info, Ellroy companion (ed. Foxwell).

There is some preliminary information posted on James Ellroy: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction, written by Jim Mancall (Wheaton College, MA); it is volume 6 in the series I edit for McFarland. It most likely will be out in winter 2014, but can be preordered. The Midwest Book Review has called these companion books an "outstanding literary studies series."

Update. The Ellroy companion was published on January 2, 2014, and is now available for ordering. Writer-critic Dick Lochte calls it "a clear, comprehensive guide to the Demon Dog’s dark, complex literary world."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Watch a panel on international noir.

See below to watch a June 25 panel on international noir from New York's Mercantile Library, moderated by Sarah Weinman and featuring Philippine-born writer-professor Jessica Hagedorn, Austrian author Wolf Haas, and Australian writer Zane Lovitt.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The October Man (1947).

In The October Man, a chemist with a head injury from a bus accident is suspected of murder. Master spy novelist Eric Ambler wrote the screenplay and served as producer, and the film was directed by Roy Ward Baker (The Avengers, A Night to Remember, The Persuaders, The Saint). The clip below features star John Mills with his oldest daughter, Juliet.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The return of Michael Arlen.

Valancourt Books has reissued Michael Arlen's supernatural Hell! Said the Duchess: A Bedtime Story about a duchess suspected of killing several young men in London. It's the first time back in print since 1934. Arlen is best known for The Green Hat (1924) and for the creation of the Falcon, who was featured in films with George Sanders and his brother, Tom Conway, and a later TV series.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The singing Supreme Court justice.

Learned Hand.
LOC Prints & Photos Div
The ever-entertaining Green Bag journal offers a selection of Supreme Court Justice Learned Hand's greatest folk hits (liner notes here). It's probably just as well that he kept his day job.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

MacDonald x 2: "The Fatal Impulse" (1960).

In this November 1960 episode of Boris Karloff's Thriller TV series, someone bent on political assassination places a bomb in a woman's purse, but the police are hot on the trail. Featuring Robert Lansing, Elisha Cook Jr., and Mary Tyler Moore, it is adapted by author-screenwriter Philip MacDonald (The List of Adrian Messenger, etc.) from the novella "The Impulse" by John D. MacDonald (Cape Fear, etc.) that appeared in the June 1955 issue of Cosmopolitan.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Seldes on censorship of The Blackboard Jungle (1955).

Gilbert Seldes, by Carl Van
Vechten. Library of Congress,
Prints & Photos Div.
In this October 3, 1955, episode from the radio program The Lively Arts, critic Gilbert Seldes speaks about the censorship of the film The Blackboard Jungle (adapted from the novel by Evan Hunter). It was withdrawn from the Venice Film Festival at the time, said to be due to pressure from Ambassador Clare Boothe Luce.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Happy 84th bday, George Clayton Johnson.

Born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, 84 years ago today, George Clayton Johnson has compiled some impressive credits (among them: author, Logan's Run; screenwriter for Honey West, Kung Fu, Mr. Novak, Ocean's Eleven, Route 66, Star Trek, and The Twilight Zone). He appears below in a Jan. 2013 talk at the Karl Hess Club in Los Angeles, discussing his career and stating, "I wanted to be Ray Bradbury."

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Cozzens's "Clerical Error" (1983).

In this April 1983 episode of Tales of the Unexpected, some shady booksellers attempt to extort a dead man's family—with unexpected results. Poirot's Hugh Fraser appears in this adaptation of James Gould Cozzens's "Foot in It" (Redbook Aug. 1935; repr. as "Clerical Error" in venues such as the June 1950 EQMM, Ellery Queen's The Literature of Crime, and Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini's Chapter and Hearse). Cozzens (1903–78), author of the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone novel The Just and the Unjust and the Pulitzer Prize winner Guard of Honor (admired by Raymond Chandler), was dubbed "the Garbo of U.S. letters" by Time magazine in 1957.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Rex Stout on the FBI and his career.

In the WNYC Radio archive is this 15-minute talk by Rex Stout (then-president of the Authors League of America, now known as the Authors Guild) from the Feb. 1966 program Books and Authors Luncheon. His remarks occurred a few months after the publication of his Nero Wolfe novel The Doorbell Rang that deals with the FBI and attracted quite a bit of attention because, says Stout, "I had the nerve to poke J. Edgar Hoover in the nose."

On his career, Stout says:
I realized that if I went on trying to make serious comments about human character and human problems, I would never turn out to be a Dostoevsky or a Balzac. So to hell with it, I quit. And I decided just to write stories and to try to make them as good stories as I could.
He also reports receiving a fan letter from Bertrand Russell and asserts that he is the only mystery author to have been translated into Ceylonese (the language of Ceylon, now known as Sri Lanka), besting Agatha Christie and Erle Stanley Gardner in this regard.

Stout is introduced by New York Herald Tribune book editor Maurice Dolbier. The program also features Helen Hayes and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. For Wolfe Pack commentary on The Doorbell Rang, go here.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Christopher Fowler on Hammer Chillers.

Scheduled for release today as part of the Hammer Chillers audio series is "The Devil in Darkness" by Christopher Fowler (author of the Bryant and Mays mysteries), in which a stuck elevator has sinister results.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Anthony's The Tamarind Seed (1974).

Saluting tomorrow's 85th birthday of British spy author Evelyn Anthony (aka Evelyn Ward-Thomas), this week's film selection is The Tamarind Seed--adapted by Blake Edwards from Anthony's book about a Russian agent romancing a British woman for possibly ulterior motives. Edwards also directed the film, which stars his wife, Julie Andrews. The rest of the cast includes Omar Sharif, Anthony Quayle, and Oskar Homolka.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Trent's Last Case on Why I Really Like This Bk.

E. C. Bentley, from
The Bookman (1913)
The latest episode of Kate Macdonald's podcast Why I Really Like This Book is on E.C. Bentley's Trent's Last Case (1913), which Macdonald calls "a cracking good mystery." Macdonald is the author of the John Buchan companion in the series I edit for McFarland.