Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Huxley's "The Gioconda Smile" (radio, 1945).

Charles Boyer and Ann Blyth in
A Woman's Vengeance (1948)
There have been several film, TV, play, and radio versions of "The Gioconda Smile" (1921) by Aldous Huxley, who was born today in Surrey in 1894. "The Gioconda Smile," listed as one of the best mystery short stories of all time, was adapted as the film A Woman's Vengeance (1948) with Charles Boyer and a 1950 play with Basil Rathbone. The story involves a man who faces questions after the death of his wife and his marriage to a much younger woman. This 1945 radio version is from the Molle Mystery Theater.

Monday, July 25, 2016

UCLA celebrates the films of Kirk Douglas.

Kirk Douglas and Eleanor Parker
in Detective Story (1951)
The UCLA Film & Television Archive is marking Kirk Douglas's upcoming 100th birthday in December with showings of Douglas films through Sept. 30. They include Posse and Tough Guys (Aug 14), Lonely Are the Brave and Strangers When We Meet (Aug 20; the latter written by Evan Hunter), and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers and Out of the Past (Sept. 18).

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Web of Evidence
(aka Beyond This Place, 1959).

In Web of Evidence Van Johnson returns to the United Kingdom after a long absence to find his father imprisoned for murder and becomes convinced of his father's innocence. Based on the novel Beyond This Place (1950) by A.J. Cronin (The Citadel, The Keys of the Kingdom, etc.), the film costars Vera Miles, Bernard Lee, Emlyn Williams, and Leo McKern.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Happy birthday, Donald Westlake:
Bank Shot (1974).

Versatile mystery author Donald Westlake (aka Richard Stark) was born today in Brooklyn in 1933. This adaptation of Westlake's 1972 Dortmunder novel Bank Shot by screenwriter-producer Wendell Mayes (Anatomy of a Murder, Death Wish, Von Ryan's Express) features criminal mastermind Walter Ballantine (played by George C. Scott), who decides to pull a bank heist by removing an entire bank from its location. Dancer-choreographer Gower Champion directed the film; co-stars include Bob Balaban, Sorrell Brooke, and Joanna Cassidy.

Of related interest: clips from the soundtrack for Bank Shot.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Found! The grave of Australia's Mary Fortune.

Wildside Press edition of
stories by Mary Fortune
Lucy Sussex, who has recently published a book on Fergus Hume (author of The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, 1886) and was instrumental in recovering the work of early Australian mystery writer Mary Fortune, has discovered Fortune's grave. Although Fortune wrote more than 500 detective stories in her lifetime, she is not the first female detective-story writer; New England's Harriet Prescott Spofford predates her with works such as "In a Cellar" and "Mr. Furbush."

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

The life and times of Clarence Darrow.

Clarence Darrow, c. 1922
Library of Congress,
Prints & Photographs Div
On the radio program University of the Air, lawyer-professor Dean A. Strang (author of Worse Than the Devil: Anarchists, Clarence Darrow, and Justice in a Time of Terror) discusses the career of Clarence Darrow (1857–1938), who was defense counsel for Leopold and Loeb in 1924.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

"The Petrified Forest" (w/Bogart/Fonda/Bacall, 1955).

Humphrey Bogart as
Duke Mantee,
"The Petrified Forest" (1955)
This 30 May 1955 episode of Producers' Showcase features Humphrey Bogart reprising his 1936 role as gangster Duke Mantee, who takes as hostages Henry Fonda (in the Leslie Howard part) and Lauren Bacall (in the Bette Davis role). Jack Warden, Richard Jaeckel, and Jack Klugman appear in supporting parts. Directed by Delbert Mann, the episode is based on a play by Robert E. Sherwood.

See other related clips:
• Delbert Mann discusses Producers' Showcase, including "The Petrified Forest"

• Jack Klugman talks about working with Bogart and Bacall in "The Petrified Forest"