Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"House for Sale" (1953).

Originally broadcast today 60 years ago, "House for Sale" (an episode of Four Star Playhouse) features Ida Lupino as a woman who confronts a real estate agent in a lonely house—or someone far more unstable.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Somerset Maugham's "The Criminal" (1904).

Somerset Maugham, NYPL
In English Literature in Transition 57.1 (2014), Daniel Blackburn and Alexander Arsov discuss "The Criminal," an early short story by Somerset Maugham that has not been reprinted—until now, in the journal. The style may seem a bit stilted to modern readers, but those interested in Maugham's crime-related work (such as "The Letter") may find intriguing elements in this ironic tale (based on a true incident) of a woman accused of theft and the barrister who represented her (or so she believes).

The issue also includes Jeremy Larance's discussion of E. W. Hornung's Raffles as an "ungentlemanly gentleman" refuting the English code of conduct, yet enjoying tremendous popularity.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hammett's Secret Agent X-9 (1945).

Lloyd Bridges teams up with other secret agents to thwart Nazi plans for a synthetic fuel in this film adaptation of the comic strip by Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond.

Monday, December 23, 2013

T'is the season.

Some past season's greetings in the literary world:

Detail from Xmas card
• The first Christmas card, 1846.

Holiday cards sent by Robert Frost illustrating his poems.

1952 Christmas card from the New York Public Library.

Christmas card sent by Langston Hughes, with a painting by Rockwell Kent. 

• Rebecca West with her husband, Henry Andrews, for their 1957 Christmas card.

Christmas greeting from Mark Twain to J. M. Barrie

And don't miss:

This essay by James Thurber on the phenomenon of sending holiday cards and his Hemingwayesque spoof of "The Night before Christmas."

• Journalist C. J. Ciaramella's Chandleresque spoof of "The Night before Christmas."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Foxwell on supporting players, Femmes Fatales.

Miss Clack (Cynthia Etherington, left)
wields her tracts before a skeptical
Rachel Verinder (Vivien Heilbron)
in The Moonstone (1972)
Today on the Femmes Fatales blog I'm talking about five of my favorite supporting characters in mysteries: Grandmama (Anne Perry), Miss Drusilla Clack (Wilkie Collins), Wilson Budd Hotchkiss (Mary Roberts Rinehart), Cordelia Thorn (Ellen Hart), and Ramses Emerson (Elizabeth Peters).

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Remembering Peter O'Toole: Rogue Male (1976).

Although most of the tributes to the late Peter O'Toole seem focused on Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion in Winter, and Becket, he also was the lead in the second film adaptation of Geoffrey Household's thriller Rogue Male (dir. Clive Donner, 1976). O'Toole plays Sir Robert Hunter, who takes a potshot at Hitler and is pursued by the Gestapo.

Monday, December 16, 2013

New database, crime fiction by women authors from Spain.

Nuria Minguez's
Benvingut, Mister Holmes

(Welcome, Mister Holmes)
MUNCE (Mujeres y Novela Criminal en EspaƱa 1975-2010, or Women and Crime Fiction in Spain 1975-2010) is a new database in Spanish that includes information on female mystery writers in Spain and crime novels written in Basque, Catalan, Galician, and Spanish. Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the database is a team effort by scholars from universities in Spain, Australia, and the United Kingdom (one is Stewart King, who is working on a project on Spanish crime fiction).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Unlikely duos: Dolores Hart and Gilligan.

Dolores Hart, NYPL
A fascinating sidelight to the short acting career of Dolores Hart (e.g., King Creole and Where the Boys Are; she is now Mother Hart, O.S.B.) is this series of photos from a 1956 production of Joan of Lorraine at Loyola Marymount University. Hart played the Maid of Orleans, and—believe it or not—Bob Denver played the Dauphin.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Blackwell's Island (1939).

In Blackwell's Island, a reporter (John Garfield) goes undercover in a prison to expose the activities of a mobster. This film was co-directed by Michael Curtiz, with a screenplay and story by Crane Wilbur (a cousin of Tyrone Power).

Monday, December 09, 2013

First modern female PI in US mysteries.

Read my letter in the December 7 Washington Post regarding the first modern female private investigator in American mystery fiction (sorting out the debuts of Delilah West, Sharon McCone, V.I. Warshawski, and Kinsey Millhone).

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Kenneth Fearing the poet.

The Neglected Books blog features "Cracked Record Blues" by Kenneth Fearing—probably better known during his lifetime for his poetry, but he's also the author of The Big Clock (film w/Ray Milland, 1948; remade as Police Python 357, 1976, and No Way Out, 1987).

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The Narrow Margin (1952).

Before Peter Hyams remade it in 1990 with Gene Hackman and Anne Archer, The Narrow Margin appeared in 1952—a tale of a woman who intends to testify against criminals and is pursued on a train, directed by Richard Fleischer (Soylent Green, Mr. Majestyk).

Monday, December 02, 2013

Le Carre exhibition from Oxford.

Now online are some items from the Bodleian Library exhibition "Tinker, Tailor, Writer, Spy" on the work of John le Carre (aka David Cornwell). The library presented the exhibition in 2011 to mark the move of le Carre's papers to the Bodleian. Exhibits include:

typewritten drafts of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
manuscript page from The Russia House
photo of Alec Guinness and le Carre during the filming of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Of related interest: this 1996 program with le Carre and George Plimpton at New York's 92nd Street Y at the time of the release of The Tailor of Panama.