Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Conflict (1945).

Alexis Smith, Sydney Greenstreet, and Humphrey Bogart
in Conflict
In Conflict Humphrey Bogart plots the perfect murder of his wife (Rose Hobart) and courts her sister (Alexis Smith), but psychiatrist Sydney Greenstreet is skeptical of Bogart's version of his wife's death.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Clues 34.2:
Webb, Woollcott, and actuarial detection.

The vol. 34, no. 2 issue of Clues (2016) has just been published and can be ordered from McFarland. The issue is also on Kindle, Nook, and Google Play.

The following are abstracts for the issue.

Probability and Capital Crime: 

The Rise and Fall of Actuarial Detection in Victorian Crime Fiction
CHERYL B. PRICE (University of North Alabama)
The author examines the influence of life assurance on early detective fiction. Actuarial detectives in Charles Dickens’s “Hunted Down” (1859) and life assurance influenced both the language and methodology of later fictional detectives, and the life assurance profession impeded detection in Charles Warren Adams’s The Notting Hill Mystery (1865).

Making Crime Pay: 
Alexander Woollcott, the Algonquin Round Table, and the Aesthetics of Crime Fiction
MARY LOUISE REKER (Library of Congress)
Between the two world wars New York theater critic Alexander Woollcott was deeply enamored of crime writing. He corresponded with both U.S. and British crime writers and promoted their work through his columns and broadcasts. Woollcott also wrote a regular column for the New Yorker, whose founding editor, Harold Ross, encouraged the writer Edmund Wilson to challenge Woollcott’s crime fiction aesthetic.

Policing the Crime Drama:
Radio Noir, Dragnet, and Jack Webb’s Maladjusted Text
JEFF OUSBORNE (Suffolk University)
The links between film noir and “radio noir” crime drama remain largely unexamined. The author explores the relationship between Jack Webb’s early radio-noir mystery program Pat Novak, for Hire and his work on the semi-documentary police procedural Dragnet. The programs suggest the porous borders of film, radio, and television, which together shed light on aesthetic, thematic, generic, and cultural shifts in the development of noir and procedural drama across different media.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"Deception" (with Linda Darnell and Trevor Howard, 1956).

Linda Darnell, ca. 1940
Based on the Alec Waugh Esquire story "A Small Back Room in St. Marylebone," this episode of the 20th Century-Fox Hour features a British plot to misdirect the Nazis through the capture of an Allied agent and the agent divulging information under torture. It is agent Linda Darnell's job to choose the person for the mission. Of course, the agent selected (Trevor Howard) cannot be informed about the real mission and the falsity of his information, so he ultimately believes that he is a traitor. John Williams and Alan Napier costar.

A later incarnation of the Waugh story is Circle of Deception (1960) with Bradford Dillman and Suzy Parker (later real-life spouses).

Monday, August 22, 2016

The female heist film.

In the spring 2016 issue of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, Aya de Leon provides an interesting discussion of the female heist film, stating "women's heist narratives are comparatively rare" and outlining characteristics of male-centered heist films versus ones with female characters. She mentions How to Beat the High Cost of Living (1980), Set It Off (1996), Bound (1996), Sugar & Spice (2001), Demi Moore in Flawless (2007), Mad Money (2008), and the TV series Leverage (2008–12). However, some might point out omissions that have important female characters such as The Big Caper (1957) and Modesty Blaise (1966). (Thanks to the latest issue of Feminist Periodicals for bringing this article to my attention.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Shed No Tears (1948).

June Vincent in
Shed No Tears
In Shed No Tears, a couple (Wallace Ford and June Vincent) collude to fake the husband's death for the life insurance payout, but little does the husband know of his wife's plans for the money. The film is based on the novel of the same name by screenwriter Don Martin (1948), with a screenplay by Brown Holmes (The Maltese Falcon, 1931) and Virginia Cook (Lassie).

Monday, August 15, 2016

"Twelve Angry Men" by LA Theatre Works.

LA Theatre Works, which nabbed the 2015 Audie Award for Audio Drama with its production of The Hound of the Baskervilles, has a past program of interest to mystery fans on its SoundCloud channel: a production of Reginald Rose's juror drama Twelve Angry Men (1954) featuring actors such as Hector Elizondo, Robert Foxworth, and Joe Spano. It was directed by John de Lancie (Star Trek: The Next Generation, etc.), and he can be heard on the program as the judge in the case.



Tuesday, August 09, 2016

"Blind Spot" (w/Charles Bronson, 1958).

Charles Bronson, the
man with a camera
The TV series Man with a Camera (1958–60) starred Charles Bronson as a former combat photographer freelancing in New York and getting involved in crime-related cases. In "Blind Spot" (1958) he looks into the murder of a friend and fellow photographer in Lisbon. The screenwriter is Donn Mullally (Mr. and Mrs. North; 87th Precinct; Richard Diamond, Private Detective); F Troop's Frank DeKova appears in a supporting role.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Edgar Wallace's PC Lee on BBC's Radio 4 Extra.

Edgar Wallace, from
Wallace's My Hollywood
Diary (1932)
"England," said Police Constable Lee presently, "is the home of the free, an' the half-way house to liberty." (Wallace, "Pear-Drops" 1909)
This week, BBC Radio 4 Extra is airing stories featuring Edgar Wallace's London police constable P. C. Lee (1909). Actor Toby Jones stars, and the production company is Greenlit, which is responsible for Foyle's War.

The P. C. Lee stories can be found at this Web site; the ones noted below with an asterisk are the BBC Radio 4 Extra episodes:

• "Mr. Simmons' Profession"*
• "Change"
• "A Man of Note"*
• "A Case for Angel, Esquire"* (aka "The Inspector Gets a Brainwave" and "The Impossible Theft")
• "For Jewey's Laggin"
• "Pear-Drops"
• "How He Lost His Moustache"*
• "Sergeant Run-a-Mile"*
• "The Sentimental Burglar"
• "Contempt"
ยช "Confidence"
• "Fireless Telegraphy"
• "The General Practitioner"
• "The Snatchers"*
• "The Gold Mine"
• "Mouldy the Scrivener"
• "Mrs. Flindin's Lodger"
• "The Derby Favourite"
• "The Story of a Great Cross-Examination"
• "Tanks"
• "The Silence of P.-C. Hirley"
• "The Power of the Eye"
• "The Convict's Daughter"
• "The Last Adventure"

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Fat Man, 1951.

J. Scott Smart
Based on a radio character created by Dashiell Hammett that has been described as a cross between the Thin Man and the Continental Op, The Fat Man features J. Scott Smart as private detective Brad Runyon, who looks into the murder of a dentist. The film is directed by William Castle, and its costars include Rock Hudson, Julie London, Jayne Meadows, Emmett Kelly, and Jerome Cowan.

Monday, August 01, 2016

The Armed Services editions and mysteries.

Cover of Armed Services edition
of Rex Stout's Not Quite Dead
Enough
(1945)
I just finished Molly Guptill Manning's When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II, which provides a lively and often poignant discussion of the importance to service members of the Armed Services editions in World War II. They were produced to be sturdy, lightweight, and sized for a pocket, and the Council on Books in Wartime, in charge of the effort, tried to supply a book "to fit the tastes of every man" (79). (One of the council's members was Farrar & Rinehart's Stanley Rinehart, son of Mary Roberts Rinehart). The council printed more than 123 million copies of Armed Services editions.

To mention a few mystery-related elements in the book:
  • One of the authors listed as banned in Germany:
    G. K. Chesterton
     
  • "The most popular genre was contemporary fiction . . . followed by historical novels, mysteries, books of humor, and westerns" (79–80).
Related: