Monday, February 29, 2016

Artist Paul Corio and spy/detective fiction.

New York's McKenzie Fine Art Gallery notes in information on Ghostzapper, its new exhibition of Paul Corio works, that the artist titles some of his paintings after spy and detective fiction. Could Moscow Rules be inspired by Daniel Silva's novel? The exhibition is on view until March 13.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

New Haven Register on tombstone effort for AEF pianist Helen Hagan.

Helen Hagan in
YMCA uniform,
ca. 1919
I'm quoted in today's New Haven Register piece on the campaign to fund a tombstone for pioneering black pianist-composer Helen Hagan, who played for more than 100,000 black troops of the AEF in France.

Update, 3/27/16. See also Yale Daily News piece of March 11 on the Hagan and the grave marker effort.

The grave marker campaign has surpassed its fund-raising goal, taking in a total of $1605. Thanks to all who so generously contributed.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Fund a tombstone for black composer-pianist Helen Hagan, "the darling of the doughboys."

Hagan in YMCA
uniform, ca. 1919
After posting on my American Women in World War I blog about pioneering black composer-pianist Helen Hagan (1891–1964; Yale 1912; only black performing artist sent to WWI France), I was stunned to learn that she lies in an unmarked grave in New Haven's Evergreen Cemetery. Please join me in the effort to obtain a grave marker that recognizes her achievements, and spread the word.

Listen to Hagan's sole surviving composition, Concerto in C Minor

Learn more about Hagan and read her letter to W. E. B. Du Bois

Update, 3/27/16. The grave marker campaign has surpassed its fund-raising goal, taking in a total of $1605. Thanks to all who so generously contributed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Mr. Arkadin (aka Confidential Report, 1955).

Orson Welles in Amsterdam,
1952. Photo by Harry Pot.
Anefo, Dutch Nat Archives
Starring, written, and directed by Orson Welles, Mr. Arkadin features a confidence man looking into the shrouded past of a millionaire, as key witnesses are bumped off. The film costars Michael Redgrave, Patricia Medina, and Mischa Auer. It has a somewhat torturous history, with incarnations that include radio plays, deleted scenes, and a European version called Confidential Report.

Monday, February 22, 2016

British Library event on Eric Ambler, May 6.


Ad for film of Ambler's Mask of Dimitrios (1944)
To mark the British Library Publishing reissues of Eric Ambler titles such as A Kind of Anger, A Passage of Arms, and The Light of Day, "Eric Ambler: Father of the Modern British Spy Thriller" has been scheduled for May 6 at the British Library. Ambler's life and work will be discussed.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Lee Marvin Show (1963-64).

1963 ad for The Lee Marvin Show
In 1963–64, actor Lee Marvin had a syndicated TV program (also known as The Lawbreakers and Lee Marvin Presents Lawbreaker) in which principals (witnesses, investigators, family members, suspects, etc.) participated in reconstructed crimes, and Marvin provided narration. Star Trek's Gene Roddenberry is listed as screenwriter on the Seattle episodes "The Michael Olds Story" and "Queen Anne Killer Unidentified." Produced by Vernon E. Clark, the program is available on DVD. The episodes below feature Hartford police officers in a case about a boardinghouse killer with a violent temper and Dallas police officers dealing with a hostage situation.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Review: Tipping the Valet, by K. K. Beck.

Valet Tyler Benson faces more than just cranky customers in Tipping the Valet: A Workplace Mystery, K. K. Beck's first mystery in more than 15 years. Tyler's father has saddled him with a huge debt after pursuing a losing culinary scheme, placing the family in danger of losing their home; his fellow valets seem embroiled in something shady; and the attractive hostess of Ristorante Alba where he works does not seem to realize he exists. Further complications ensue when an attempt is made on the life of dot.com entrepreneur and restaurant patron Scott Duckworth, his father's former boss, and a body is found in a trunk that just so happens to have Tyler's fingerprints on it. Hapless but scary Eastern European gangsters pressuring the restaurant owners also add to Tyler's problems.

Beck's trademark sense of humor and sure plotting provide an enjoyable read for mystery fans. It's great to have her back.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Murder in the Private Car (1934).

After a switchboard operator learns that she is an heiress, she becomes the target of kidnapping on a train. The film, which features Charles Ruggles, Una Merkel, Walter Brennan, Sterling Holloway, and an actor in a gorilla suit, is based on the play "The Rear Car" by Edward E. Rose.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Tom Williams on Chandler's life and work.

In part 1 of a two-part episode of the podcast The Soul of California, author Tom Williams (A Mysterious Something in the Light) discusses influences on Raymond Chandler's life and work with podcast host Richard Dion.

Update: Part 2 of the podcast (which discusses Chandler's classic essay "The Simple Art of Murder" and the portrayal of Philip Marlowe) is now posted.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The Ninth Guest (1934).

Before Christie's And Then There Were None, penthouse partygoers in The Ninth Guest are informed by radio broadcast that they will be murdered one by one. The film is based on a play by Owen Davis and the novel The Invisible Host by Bruce Manning and Gwen Bristow. According to the 15 Feb. 1934 New York Sun, "Manning was on the [New Orleans Times] Picayune and Miss Bristow was on the Item. They both were assigned to cover a hanging in St. Mary's parish. There they were married—in the courthouse basement by a blind justice of the peace." (The Sun has swapped the papers—Bristow wrote for the Picayune and Manning for the Item.) Manning also was a screenwriter and director who worked on some film projects with Vera Caspary and Deanna Durbin, and Bristow is known for her Plantation trilogy.