Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Jack Benny spoofs The Killers.

Jack Benny and guest star Dan Duryea poked fun at Ernest Hemingway's "The Killers" in "Death across the Lunch Counter," part of the 4 December 1960 episode of The Jack Benny Program.

    Monday, October 16, 2017

    Mabel Seeley's "What's in a Mystery?" (1940).

    Mabel [Hodnefield]
    Seeley. From the 1926
    Univ of Minnesota
    Gopher
    Minnesota-born author Mabel Seeley (1903–91; The Listening House, The Chuckling Fingers, The Beckoning Door, The Whistling Shadow, etc.) gave the talk "What's in a Mystery?" at the Minnesota Library Association annual conference in October 1940. A transcript of the meeting's proceedings, including Seeley's often wry presentation that featured excerpts from The Whispering Cup, is in the Minnesota Reflections digital archive (another speaker was Jan Struther, the author of Mrs. Miniver). Seeley noted:
    The other night I met a very nice man who had just finished [The] Listening House. He looked me over rather cautiously, first from a distance and then a little closer and finally said, "Well, I wish I had seen you before I read that book—I wouldn't have been half so scared" (5).
    She summed up the theme of her talk as "a Mystery Story—what is in it, what you demand of it, and what you may get thrown in on the side as a type of appetizer" (5). She placed mysteries firmly in the category of "escape fiction":

    Tuesday, October 10, 2017

    To Tell the Truth: John Creasey.

    Only one of the three guests on this 16 Sept. 1963 episode of To Tell the Truth is the real John Creasey, prolific British mystery author.

    Monday, October 09, 2017

    Clues 35.2 published: Bentley, Charteris, Christie, Hammett, Melville, et al.

    Clues 35.2 (2017) has been published; abstracts follow below. In addition to the print version (which can be ordered from McFarland), the issue is available on Kindle and Google Play.

    Introduction: In Conversation
    Janice M. Allan (University of Salford)
    The executive editor of Clues discusses the contents of the issue, including analyses of works by E. C. Bentley, Benjamin Black, Andrea Camilleri, Leslie Charteris, Agatha Christie, Tana French, Dashiell Hammett, and Herman Melville, and the TV series True Detective.

    “The Impotence of Human Reason”:
    E. C. Bentley’s Trent's Last Case and the Antidetective Text 

    Nathan Ashman (University of Surrey)
    This article considers the subversion of the analytical detective format in E. C. Bentley’s Trent's Last Case (1913). Exploring the text’s problematization of concepts such as logic and reason as well as its disruption of the detective’s ocularcentric interpretative framework, the author highlights the ways in which Trent’s Last Case unsettles delineations between the classic analytic detective story and the metaphysical or antidetective text.

    Watchful Eyes and Smiling Masks in The Maltese Falcon 
    Nils Clausson
    This article calls attention to the more than 250 references to eyes and their pervasive role in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, arguing that the novel portrays a world in which trying to see past duplicity, dissimulation, and role playing of others, while seeking to hide one’s own, is pervasive.

    Labyrinths of Uncertainty:
    True Detective
    and the Metaphysics of Investigation

    Paul Sheehan and Lauren Alice (Macquarie University)
    This article outlines some of the salient features and ad hoc history of metaphysical detective fiction (MPDF). Using True Detective season 1 as a case study, it explores how the series takes advantage of new programming freedoms to dramatize MPDF for a “broadcast literature” audience.

    “A wholly other world of things, hidden”:
    Benjamin Black’s and Tana French’s Criminal Worlds 

    Kersti Tarien Powell (Saint Joseph's University)
    This essay examines the recent success of Irish crime fiction through the works of Tana French and John Banville/Benjamin Black. Whereas the classic detective novel seeks to narrow multiple possibilities down to one determinate solution, French and Black resist this narrative pattern. In so doing, their novels both reclaim and reinvent the Irish literary tradition.

    Crime Stories and Urban Fantasy
    Stefan Ekman (University of Gothenburg)
    Among the many unexplored areas of urban fantasy is its relation to crime fiction. This article explores how features of the crime story are used to emphasize, reinforce, or introduce urban fantasy’s social commentary. It looks at the genres’ relationship, analyzing three urban fantasies and their respective crime fiction elements.

    Camilleri’s Montalbano: Aging, Nostalgia, and the Midlife Crisis
    Stephen Derek Kolsky (University of Melbourne)
    Salvo Montalbano, the protagonist of Andrea Camilleri’s detective series, goes through a midlife crisis that creates a biographical and ideological line of separation between the earlier and later novels, resulting in a new emphasis on the personal in the form of fleeting passionate engagements and less on social commitment.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2017

    The Suspect (1944).

    In The Suspect (1944), the life of a staid tobacconist (Charles Laughton) is upended when he befriends a young, unemployed woman (Ella Raines), resulting in murder and blackmail. Robert Siodmak (The Spiral Staircase, etc.) directs the film, which was adapted from the novel This Way Out by James Ronald.

    Monday, October 02, 2017

    Priestley on "An Inspector Calls."

    Image of J. B. Priestley. NYPL.
    The British Library offers some resources on J. B. Priestley's play "An Inspector Calls," which writer Chris Power calls "a morality play disguised as a detective thriller" in an article on the BL Web site. In 1912, the mysterious Inspector Goole arrives at the home of a wealthy manufacturer, telling the complacent family members that he has questions for them about the suicide of one Eva Smith. The ensuing events alter their lives forever.

    • The BL has a "Programme Note" written by Priestley in 1972–74. He explains that he wrote the play in 1944–45; comments on its numerous productions around the world; and mentions the odd fact that no matter the location of the particular production, the audience reaction "was almost always exactly the same." He also notes that the selection of the year of the play's action is significant.

    Power's article discussing the play includes photos and reviews from the 1946 debut production with Ralph Richardson as Inspector Goole and Margaret Leighton as Sheila Birling.

    Tuesday, September 26, 2017

    The Case of the Curious Bride (1935).

    Erle Stanley Gardner,
    ca. 1935
    In The Case of the Curious Bride, Margaret Lindsay turns to lawyer Perry Mason (Warren William) after she has committed bigamy, and her first husband (Errol Flynn) ends up dead. The film, adapted from the novel by Erle Stanley Gardner, is directed by Michael Curtiz (spoiler alert for second clip).


    Monday, September 25, 2017

    More on German detective fiction.

    http://www.wm.edu/sites/facultylecture/past/2016-fall/index.php
    Bruce Campbell, German studies program director and associate professor, at the College of William & Mary, follows up his fall 2016 lecture on the heavy historical legacies of German detective fiction with a September 15 appearance on the radio program With Good Reason

     

    Tuesday, September 19, 2017

    Criss Cross (1949).

    Burt Lancaster and
    Yvonne De Carlo in
    Criss Cross (1949)
    In Criss Cross, Burt Lancaster becomes entangled with his ex-wife (Yvonne De Carlo), her gangster husband (Dan Duryea), and an armored car robbery. Other costars include Stephen McNally, Alan Napier, and Richard Long. The film is directed by Robert Siodmak (The Spiral Staircase).

    Monday, September 18, 2017

    Interview with Evan Hunter (1994).

    1963 ad for 87th Precinct
    with Robert Lansing as
    Steve Carella
    Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain) was the guest on Connecticut Voices in October 1994 to discuss his book There Was a Little Girl (featuring attorney Matthew Hope). He covers his background in art, the reaction to his novel The Blackboard Jungle and to the start of a new series with Hope, the beginning of the McBain pseudonym, the 87th Precinct novels, and the experience of working with Alfred Hitchcock on The Birds. "Paint the picture for the reader to see . . . with words," says Hunter.

    Tuesday, September 12, 2017

    Background to Danger (1943).

    In Background to Danger, U.S. agent George Raft seeks to thwart a German plot that aims to mobilize Turkey against Russia during World War II. Costars include Brenda Marshall, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre. Based on the novel by Eric Ambler, the film was directed by Raoul Walsh, with a screenplay by W. R. Burnett (Little Caesar, The Asphalt Jungle, etc.) and some screenwriting help by William Faulkner.

    Monday, September 11, 2017

    Flubs by Robinson and Bogart.

    Edward G. Robinson gets physical in
    Bullets or Ballots (1936).
    These clips from Warner Brothers blooper reels include appearances by Edward G. Robinson in Bullets or Ballots (1936, with Humphrey Bogart), by Bogart in Key Largo (1947), and by Cary Grant in Arsenic and Old Lace (1944).


    Tuesday, September 05, 2017

    Remembering Richard Anderson:
    "The Purple Room" (1960).

    Ad for The Long Hot
    Summer
    (1958)
    Most accounts of the Aug 31 death of actor Richard Anderson at age 91 focused on his role as Oscar Goldman in The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, neglecting his numerous appearances on 1950s and 1960s TV. He was Lt. Steve Drumm in Perry Mason (1965-66), Richard Kimball's brother-in-law Leonard Taft in the last episode of The Fugitive (1967), and Fenton Hardy in The Hardy Boys: The Mystery of the Chinese Junk (1967). He also appeared in "The Purple Room," an October 1960 episode of Thriller dealing with a spooky house.

    Monday, September 04, 2017

    Alafair Burke on the legal system in fiction.

    In Why Fiction? in the New England Law Review, Alafair Burke—a law professor at Hofstra University as well as fiction writer—explains why she writes about the law through fiction. As Burke notes:
    the work of a novelist depicting our criminal justice system in fiction is not wholly separate from the work of studying the criminal justice system in actuality. Whether an author realizes it or not, it is impossible to create an interesting, albeit fictional, depiction of the criminal justice system, without having something interesting to say about its real-world counterpart. (2)
    (thanks to the Law & Humanities blog)

    Tuesday, August 29, 2017

    Hidden Fear (1957).

    In Hidden Fear, U.S. cop John Payne works in Denmark to clear his sister, who has been charged with murder.

    Monday, August 28, 2017

    "Iniquity is catching": Frank R. Stockton's The Stories of the Three Burglars (1889).

    Frank R. Stockton
    Writer Frank R. Stockton (1834–1902) is probably best known for "The Lady, or the Tiger?" (1882). In his The Stories of the Three Burglars (1889) that can be read online at University of Florida's Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature, a lawyer's trap ensnares burglars who tell tales about their lives of crime in the hope that they will be released before the police arrive. One has a proposition for the homeowner:
    I wish you to understand the faults of your fastenings, and any information I can give you which will better enable you to protect your house, I shall be glad to give. . . . I have made window fastenings an especial study, and, if you employ me for the purpose, I'll guarantee that I will put your house into a condition which will be absolutely burglar proof. (59–60)
    Another seems to be an earlier incarnation of George Plimpton:
    "I am frequently called upon to write accounts of burglars and burglaries, and in order thoroughly to understand these people and their methods of action, I determined, as soon as the opportunity should offer itself, to accompany a burglarious expedition. . . ."
    Said Aunt Martha,  . . . "I do not think that there is the slightest necessity for people to  know anything about burglars. If people keep talking and reading about diseases they will get them, and if they keep talking and reading about crimes they will find that iniquity is catching, the same as some other things." (108–09)



    There is an interesting twist regarding the fates of the three burglars.

    Tuesday, August 22, 2017

    Shoot to Kill (1947).

    In Shoot to Kill, the charge of murder against a gangster (Douglas Blackley) involves an assistant district attorney (Edmund MacDonald), his wife/secretary (Susan Walters), and a reporter (Russell Wade).

    Monday, August 21, 2017

    Dragnet, according to Spike Jones.

    Spike Jones and His City Slickers perform their own special version of Dragnet in 1953.

    Tuesday, August 15, 2017

    The Second Woman (1950).

    In The Second Woman, a visiting Betsy Drake begins to suspect that more lies behind the strange accidents happening to architect Robert Young, but others believe he is unbalanced.

    Monday, August 14, 2017

    Leslie Charteris, Hindenburg passenger.

    Mystery authors can show up in remarkable places, and Saint creator Leslie Charteris is no exception. He was a passenger on the Hindenburg for its maiden voyage in 1936. He talks about the trip in this brief clip (and yes, he did wear a monocle in his youth).

    Monday, August 07, 2017

    Chesterton declines an invitation in verse.

    G. K. Chesterton, 1915.
    Library of Congress,
    Prints and Photos Div.
    The Georgetown Library online exhibition "Written Relics: Autographs from the Talbot Collection" provides a March 1921 humorous turn-down in verse handwritten by G. K. Chesterton to what is thought to be students at Saint Louis University: "That I must miss your wheels of fire / Is not my fault at all." Chesterton was on a 3-month U.S. tour at the time (see his book What I Saw in America, 1922).


    Tuesday, August 01, 2017

    "Security Risk" (1963).

    In this episode for the GE True TV series directed by William Conrad, which also has Jack Webb as narrator and executive producer, an American diplomat in Poland (Charles Aickman) becomes embroiled in espionage.

    Monday, July 31, 2017

    Exhibition "Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs."

    Pier after the Black Tom Munitions Depot explosion, 
    Jersey City, July 1916
    Open through Oct 22 at the Chicago History Museum is the exhibition "Spies, Traitors, and Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America" that explores events where Americans felt threatened by U.S.-based individuals. The events include the burning of the White House (1814), the blowing up of a Jersey City munitions depot by German agents (30 July 1916), the Oklahoma City bombing (1995), and 9/11.

    Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    The Big Steal (1949).

    Robert Mitchum, ca. 1948
    In The Big Steal, army lieutenant Robert Mitchum pursues Patric Knowles, who has stolen a $300,000 payroll that is Mitchum's responsibility. Jane Greer and William Bendix costar. One of the screenwriters is Daniel Mainwaring (aka Geoffrey Homes, author of Build My Gallows High), who adapted with Gerald Drayson Adams "The Road to Carmichael's" (Saturday Evening Post, Sept. 1942) by western, sci fi, and pulp writer Richard Wormser (1907–77). Wormser offers wry comments about his career (such as the observation that he once wrote 17 novels in 10 months) in How to Become a Complete Nonentity: A Memoir.

    Monday, July 24, 2017

    "Iconic detectives" exhibition at Ohio State.

    On view until September 17 is "Hot on the Trail of Iconic Detectives," an exhibition at Ohio State University's Thompson Library Gallery that features detectives from dime novels, young adult books, comic books, films, and manga. They include Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, Dick Tracy, Coffin Ed Johnson, and Grave Digger Jones.

    Detective fiction resources related to the exhibition

    "Hot on the Trail of Iconic Detectives." Curated by Jennifer
    Schnabel, English Librarian, University Libraries, OSU.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2017

    Remembering Martin Landau:
    Johnny Staccato (1959).

    The long career of Oscar winner Martin Landau, who died July 15 at age 89, included extensive TV work such as "Murder for Credit," a Sept 1959 episode of Johnny Staccato in which jazz pianist and private detective John Cassavetes (who also directs) looks into the murder of a recording artist (Charles McGraw) who believed he was being poisoned. Landau plays a music arranger who is one of the suspects. Music is provided by noted composer Elmer Bernstein (The Great Escape, The Magnificent Seven, True Grit, etc.).

    Monday, July 17, 2017

    Harry Stephen Keeler's "Magic Coin" (1917).

    Illustration from Keeler's "Magic Coin"
    The Villanova Digital Library has posted the 1917 Grit publication of Harry Stephen Keeler's "Quilligan and the Magic Coin." Keeler is immortal in mysterydom for creating the flying strangler baby.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2017

    The President's Mystery (1936).

    Betty Furness, ca. 1936
    FDR, an honorary member of the Baker Street Irregulars, proposed an idea for a mystery novel in a conversation with editor Fulton Oursler: "How can a man disappear with $5 million of his own money in negotiable form and not be traced?" As B. V. Lawson discusses, authors teamed up to write the tale for Liberty magazine: S. S. Van Dine, John Erskine, Rupert Hughes, Samuel Hopkins Adams, Rita Weiman, and Anthony Abbot (the mystery alter ego of Oursler). It was subsequently turned into a book and this 1936 film, with proceeds going to the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation. Henry Wilcoxen and Betty Furness costar.

    Tuesday, July 04, 2017

    Scene of the Crime (1949).

    In Scene of the Crime, police detective Van Johnson looks into the killing of a colleague, encountering an informer (Norman Lloyd) and an entertainer (Gloria DeHaven) along the way.

    Tuesday, June 27, 2017

    Remembering James Yaffe:
    "Dragon in the Den" (1963).

    James Yaffe, right, with
    Frederic Dannay, 1943.
    Library of Congress, Prints
    and Photographs Div.
    James Yaffe, who sold his first story to EQMM at age 15 and was a longtime English professor at Colorado College, died on June 4 at age 90. One of his characters was Mom, who solves cases for her policeman son over dinner (she appears in A Nice Murder for Mom, Mom Meets Her Maker, and Mom Doth Murder Sleep, as well as in the Crippen and Landru collection My Mother, the Detective). Yaffe's other works include plays ("The Deadly Game"; "Cliffhanger"; "Dear Me, the Sky Is Falling") and screenplays for such TV series as Studio One, the U.S. Steel Hour, and the Alfred Hitchcock Hour. Another of his episodes was "Dragon in the Den" (1963) for the TV series Channing, which features William Shatner as a candidate for state attorney general who discovers there's no such thing as a clean campaign. Costarring are Henry Jones as Channing dean Fred Baker, Jason Evers as a Channing professor, and Denver Pyle as Shatner's campaign manager.



    Monday, June 26, 2017

    Pulp cover art exhibition in Florida.

    Cover of 15 May 1937 Argosy included
    in the "In the Shadows" exhibition. Note
    contributors include Cornell Woolrich,
    Lawrence G. Blochman, and Judson
    Philips (aka Hugh Pentecost)
    At Florida International University's Wolfsonian until July 9 is the student-curated exhibition "In the Shadows; American Pulp Cover Art." Included are covers from Argosy, Detective Fiction, Detective Novels Magazine, G-Men Detective, and Popular Detective. Wolfsonian chief librarian Frank Luca discusses the exhibition and the students' research aims here.

    Tuesday, June 20, 2017

    Remembering Adam West: The Detectives.

    Adam West, ca. 1961
    Although Adam West, who died June 9 at age 88, is best known for his portrayal of the Caped Crusader, he had a long series of other television appearances. One was his role as Detective Sergeant Steve Nelson in The Detectives, the series starring Robert Taylor as head of a squad of city detectives and featuring writers such as Anthony Boucher and Gene Roddenberry. In "Strangers in the House" (1962), Nelson and his colleagues look into the case of a night watchman run down by a gang of young car thieves. Sharp-eyed viewers will spot Tige Andrews (The Mod Squad), John Karlen (Cagney & Lacey), and Chris Robinson (General Hospital) in the cast.

    Monday, June 19, 2017

    The first hundred years of detective fiction.

    Illustration from Lawrence L.
    Lynch, Dangerous Ground (1885)
    A valuable resource is the Lilly Library of Indiana University's online version of its 1973 exhibition "The First Hundred Years of Detective Fiction, 1841–1941," which provides a useful history of the genre through the works selected. Besides the expected items by Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle, there are works by lesser known authors such as William Russell (the rare Recollections of a Detective Police Officer, 1856–59) and Lawrence L. Lynch (pseudonym of Emma Murdock Van Deventer, 1885). Other goodies include G. K. Chesterton's sketch of Holmes and Moriarty for a never published version of Conan Doyle's "The Final Problem," a manuscript page from S. S. Van Dine's The Scarab Murder Case (1930), and Georges Simenon's first two novels. Note that the statement "It was not until eleven years later, in 1878, that the first native detective novel appeared in America, Anna Katherine [sic] Green's The Leavenworth Case" is not true, as Metta Fuller Victor is now given this distinction for her novel The Dead Letter (1866).

    Tuesday, June 13, 2017

    Out of the Fog (1941).

    Ida Lupino and John Garfield in
    Out of the Fog
    When racketeer John Garfield leans on fishing boat owner Thomas Mitchell and his friend for protection money and romances Mitchell's daughter (Ida Lupino), the men begin to think of murder. The film is based on the play "The Gentle People" by Irwin Shaw (The Young Lions; Rich Man, Poor Man).

    Monday, June 12, 2017

    Joan Hess on The Painted Queen and
    Elizabeth Peters.

    I talk to Joan Hess in Publishers Weekly about The Painted Queen, the last novel of Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Mertz, 1927–2013) completed by Hess after the death of Peters.

    Tuesday, June 06, 2017

    Woman in the Window (1944).

    Ad for Woman in the Window (1944)
    In Woman in the Window, a married professor (Edward G. Robinson) finds himself entangled with a woman (Joan Bennett), blackmail, and murder. Raymond Massey and Dan Duryea costar. Directed by Fritz Lang, the film is adapted by noted journalist-screenwriter Nunnally Johnson from the novel Once Off Guard by J. H. Wallis.

    Monday, June 05, 2017

    P. D. James companion published.

    Just published is P. D. James: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Laurel A. Young, vol. 8 in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit. Young, who wrote part of her dissertation for Vanderbilt University on P. D. James (1920–2014), teaches English at a high school in Raleigh. The book provides a comprehensive treatment of Baroness James's Adam Dalgleish and Cordelia Gray works, her essays and book reviews, and other aspects of her life such as her admiration for author Anthony Trollope.

    Wednesday, May 31, 2017

    A mystery fragment from Mark Twain.

    Part of Twain's "A Skeleton Novelette" ms.
    Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley
    Among the items of the "Mark Twain at Play" exhibition of UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library is "A Skeleton Novelette," a tantalizing 1893 outline in which (according to the Complete Letters of Mark Twain) Twain and editor William Dean Howells proposed that 12 authors write a mystery with the same plot and characters but without knowledge of the other participants' approaches. "There ought to be a murder," Twain wrote. "It ought to be a mysterious murder and the criminal be found out through circumstantial evidence." I am uncertain who wrote the faint inscription "Same old idea" on the paper, but Twain biographer and letter commentator Albert Bigelow Paine seemed equally unimpressed with the idea, writing, "perhaps it was just as well for literature that it was never carried out."

    Tuesday, May 30, 2017

    Witness to Murder (1954).

    L to R: Gary Merrill, Barbara Stanwyck, George Sanders,
    and Harry Shannon in Witness to Murder
    In Witness to Murder, Barbara Stanwyck has difficulty convincing police lieutenant Gary Merrill and others that she saw the murder of a neighbor. The screenwriter is Chester Erskine (All My Sons; Angel Face).

    Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    99 River Street (1953).

    From an ad for 99 River Street.
    In 99 River Street, a former boxer (John Payne) is the chief suspect when his unfaithful wife (Peggie Castle) is murdered and must take steps to prove his innocence. Evelyn Keyes and future director Gene Reynolds (M*A*S*H) costar. The screenwriters are Robert Smith (I Walk Alone; Sea Hunt) and George Zuckerman (Under the Gun; Written on the Wind).


    Monday, May 22, 2017

    Upcoming book on historical murder cases.

    McFarland's imprint Exposit Books provides a sneak peek at its upcoming book The Trunk That Dripped Blood: Five Sensational Murder Cases of the Early 20th Century by Mark Grossman. Some of the cases involve Emma LeDoux (1906), priest Hans Schmidt (1913), and dentist Arthur Warren Waite (1916).

    Tuesday, May 16, 2017

    George V. Higgins speaks (1985).

    In this 1985 event from the British Institute of Contemporary Arts, George V. Higgins (1939–99) discusses with Alexander Patrick Greysteil Ruthven, 2nd Earl of Gowrie, his background as a journalist, prosecutor, and defense attorney; his novel Penance for Jerry Kennedy; his view of the Watergate hearings (in light of his book, The Friends of Richard Nixon [1975]); and his few reservations about the film of his most well-known novel, The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1971). Says Higgins, "In the newspaper business I learned fairly soon that the quotes made the story."

    Monday, May 15, 2017

    Raskin on the polygraph, 1975.

    Mackenzie-Lewis polygraph,
    1919–26.
    Wellcome Images, London.
    In March 1975, psychologist and professor David C. Raskin delivered the Vancouver Institute lecture "Lie Detection and the Judicial System." Raskin, key in the development of the computerized polygraph test, discusses the theories behind lie detection, tracing its historical development (including the 1920s Frye case) and describing the procedure then in use for polygraph tests.

    Tuesday, May 09, 2017

    House by the River (dir. Fritz Lang, 1950).

    Jane Wyatt and Louis
    Hayward in The Luckiest
    Girl in the World
    (1936)
    An unbalanced writer (Louis Hayward) enlists his brother (Lee Bowman) to help him cover up the murder of a maid, but the brother finds himself accused of the crime, and the writer uses the murder to promote his book. Jane Wyatt costars. The film is directed by Fritz Lang and adapted from the novel of the same name (1921) by author and Member of Parliament A. P. Herbert.

    Monday, May 08, 2017

    Westlake film series, New York, May 12-14.

    As the University of Chicago Press blog notes, the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, NY, will host the program "Crime Scenes" on May 12-14 featuring films adapted from the works of Donald Westlake (aka Richard Stark). These are the following:

    Point Blank, May 12 (also includes commentary by Abby Westlake, Luc Sante, and Levi Stahl)

    • The Grifters, May 13
    The Stepfather, May 13
    Cops and Robbers, May 14
    Made in USA, May 14
    • The Hot Rock, May 14
    • The Outfit, May 14 (read George Pelecanos's take on the film)

    Tuesday, May 02, 2017

    Shield for Murder (1954).

    Based on the novel by William McGivern, Shield for Murder features Edmond O'Brien (who also co-directs) as a cop seeking to cover up his shooting of a bookie and theft of $25,000, but a deaf-mute has witnessed his crime. The 3 Dec. 1954 Motion Picture Daily reported that the Memphis and Shelby County Board of Censors banned the film because it "appears to be a burlesque on the city police department" (4).

    Monday, May 01, 2017

    The art of courtroom illustration.

    Lloyd M. Bucher, captain of the USS Pueblo, testifies at the
    court of naval inquiry regarding the capture of the Pueblo.
    Illustration by Arnold Mesches. 1969.
    A new exhibition "Drawing Justice: The Art of Courtroom Illustration" has opened at the Library of Congress, showcasing illustrations from court cases spanning 1964 to the present. Individuals portrayed include Sydney Biddle Barrows, Lloyd M. Bucher, Daniel Ellsberg, John Gotti, John Hinckley, Mick Jagger, Bernie Madoff, Charles Manson, Manuel Noriega, James Earl Ray, Eliot Richardson, Jack Ruby, and Sirhan Sirhan. (thanks to the Law & Humanities blog)

    Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    Foxwell on mystery reviewing, EQMM blog.

    Today on the EQMM blog "Something Is About to Happen," I discuss "The Not-So-Simple Art of Mystery Reviewing," including a look back at some eminent reviewers (such as Walter R. Brooks, Dorothy L. Sayers, Dorothy B. Hughes, Howard Haycraft, and Anthony Boucher).

    Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    Elmore Leonard speaks, 1984.

    This interview with Elmore Leonard was part of the First Edition TV series on PBS station WNET cohosted by noted critic John Leonard (no relation) and Nancy Evans. In it, Elmore Leonard cites such diverse influences as Erich Maria Remarque, Ernest Hemingway, James M. Cain, and Mark Harris (Bang the Drum Slowly) and addresses his cross-genre works, his approach to dialogue, and the National Lampoon parody of his style.

    Monday, April 24, 2017

    Clues 35.1: Conan Doyle, French, Mitchell, Oates, Orczy et al.

    Clues vol. 35, no. 1 (2017) has been published. Contact McFarland to obtain a print copy of the issue or to subscribe to the journal.

    Kindle version
    Google Play version

    The following are the abstracts for the issue:

    Introduction: Reevaluating the Past and the Present
    JANICE M. ALLAN

    After Sherlock: The Age of Fallible Detectives
    MAURIZIO ASCARI (University of Bologna)
    In the wake of Sherlock Holmes’s success, writers and critics explored the relationship of the fallible detective to the ideological and aesthetic characteristics of the Golden Age. The author examines this phenomenon, shedding light on the transition between the infallible detectives of positivism and the vulnerable detectives of post–World War II psycho-thrillers.

    Old Holmes: Sherlock, Testosterone, and "The Creeping Man" SYLVIA PAMBOUKIAN (Robert Morris University)
    Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Creeping Man” captures the early–twentieth century’s interest in male menopause and hormone replacement. The now-retired Sherlock Holmes and the aged Professor Presbury embody the conflict between aging as diminishment and aging as healthy and vigorous, a conflict still affecting readers who hesitate to accept Holmes as elderly. 

    "Look at This Map": Arthur Conan Doyle's Use of Diegetic Illustrations in The Return of Sherlock Holmes 
    THOMAS VRANKEN (University of Melbourne)
    Four stories from The Return of Sherlock Holmes in the Strand Magazine and Collier's Weekly featured hand-drawn maps and other visual material supposedly created by Arthur Conan Doyle’s characters. These peculiar diegetic phenomena serve an ambivalent, even contradictory, function, both drawing in and repulsing the reader.

    Arthur Conan Doyle's Lens KATHERINE VOYLES
    The author argues that relations of scale are central to the late-nineteenth-century detective fiction of Arthur Conan Doyle, in which the movement between large and small, far and near, and the distant and the intimate is condensed by making Sherlock Holmes’s own vision the locus of that movement.

    True Cock-and-Bull Stories: Negotiating Narrative Authority in Emmuska Orczy’s “Man in the Corner” Tales RACHEL SMILLIE
    Critical studies of Baroness Emmuska Orczy’s “Man in the Corner” narratives have been dominated by the collected edition The Old Man in the Corner; however, this edition fundamentally alters the dynamic of the original stories. Revisiting the original tales, this article interrogates the relationship among detective, narrator, and reader.

    Tuesday, April 18, 2017

    Candles at Nine (1944).

    In this film, based on The Mouse Who Wouldn't Play Ball (1943) by Detection Club member Anthony Gilbert, a wealthy miser is murdered after tormenting his relatives with speculations about who will receive his money after he dies. The heir is revealed to be an aspiring actress, who must spend a month in the miser's mansion to receive her inheritance. But there are those who are disgruntled by the chosen heir and retaliate.

    Monday, April 17, 2017

    Conan Doyle works at UNC Chapel Hill.

    Richard Doyle, from
    A Journal Kept by
    Richard Doyle

    (1885)
    The Rare Book Blog at UNC Chapel Hill highlights spiritualism-related works in its collection by Arthur Conan Doyle as well as In Fairyland by Richard Doyle (uncle of Arthur), offering a peek at Richard's illustrations for the book and showing a distinct interest in fairies by the family. Conan Doyle's relatives included several artists (such as his father, Charles Altamont Doyle).

    Tuesday, April 11, 2017

    "The Thirty-Two Friends of Gina Lardelli" (1959).

    Rita Moreno with
    Jeffrey Hunter, ca. 1956
    The former teacher of model Gina Lardelli (Rita Moreno) appeals to private eye Lucius Crane (Robert Middleton) to investigate when her death is chalked up to suicide. This episode was the pilot for the TV series The Fat Man (based on the character created by Dashiell Hammett and the radio series with J. Scott Smart) that did not pan out. The writers are Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts (Ironside, Mannix, Shake Hands with the Devil, White Heat).

    Monday, April 10, 2017

    On early Sherlock Holmes fandom.

    Publisher and MP
    Sir George Newnes
    In TWC: Transformative Works and Cultures, Plymouth State University English department chair Ann McClellan discusses the role of the magazine Tit-Bits in building the popularity of Sherlock Holmes (including publisher George Newnes's strategies for raising Holmes's profile with readers and the place of celebrity culture).

    Wednesday, April 05, 2017

    Happy centenary, Robert Bloch.

    Robert Bloch (Psycho; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; Alfred Hitchcock Hour; three episodes of Star Trek, etc.) was born today in Chicago in 1917. Clues 31.1 (2013) published (in the issue on Hitchcock and adaptation) "Adapting Poe, Adapting Hitchcock: Robert Bloch in the Shadow of Hitchcock's Television Empire" by Dennis R. Perry and Carl H. Sederholm.

    Tuesday, April 04, 2017

    Fourteen Hours (1951).

    Scene from Fourteen Hours
    In Fourteen Hours, cop Paul Douglas attempts to coax a despondent Richard Basehart off the ledge of a tall building. Directed by Henry Hathaway and based on "The Man on the Ledge" (The New Yorker 16 Apr. 1949) by crime reporter, war correspondent, and screenwriter Joel Sayre, the film also features Barbara Bel Geddes, Debra Paget, Agnes Moorehead, Robert Keith, Howard da Silva, Jeffrey Hunter, and Grace Kelly in her film debut.

    Monday, April 03, 2017

    The unique world of Harry Stephen Keeler.

    Ramble House edition of
    Keeler's Thieves' Nights
    On the Center for Fiction blog The Book Drop, Mercantile Library librarian Jon Michaud discusses the offbeat work (including the never-to-be-forgotten flying strangler baby) of Harry Stephen Keeler (1890–1967) with Keeler experts Ed Park and Richard Polt: "It's also interesting to compare him to Agatha Christie, his exact contemporary."

    Tuesday, March 28, 2017

    Guilty Bystander (1950).

    Zachary Scott, ca. 1946
    In Guilty Bystander, alcoholic former cop turned hotel detective Max Thursday (Zachary Scott) searches for his kidnapped son, finding murder and smuggling along the way. The film is based on the book by Wade Miller (aka H. William Miller and Robert Allison Wade).

    Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Foxwell library event, March 26.

    In honor of Women's History Month and the April 6 centenary of the US entry into World War I, I'll be speaking at 2 pm on March 26 at Jarrettsville Library (Jarrettsville, MD) about my anthology In Their Own Words: American Women in World War I. I'm looking forward to it, as I'm told one of the library's book groups includes female veterans.


    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

    Postmark for Danger (1955).

    Terry Moore, ca. 1956
    In Postmark for Danger (based on Portrait of Alison by Francis Durbridge), an artist (Robert Beatty) learns that a car crash in Italy has killed his journalist brother and an actress (Terry Moore). A Scotland Yard inspector (Geoffrey Keen) is interested in a mysterious postcard sent by the journalist before his death; complications ensue with further deaths, including that of the artist's model (Josephine Griffin).

    Monday, March 20, 2017

    Brown's "Leaves of an Hour" exhibition.

    Richard Kiley in "The Holy
    Ground—The Killing, Pt 1," Judd
    for the Defense
    (dir. Leo Penn,
    writ. William Kelley, 1969)
    Brown University Library's "Leaves of an Hour" online exhibition includes the following items of mystery-related interest: 
    • Title page from Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon (1930)
    • Mention of author, screenwriter, and Brown alum William P. Kelley (Judd for the Defense; Oscar winner for Witness. Clip from Kelley's acceptance speech at the 1986 Oscars; he's the white-haired fellow.)
    • Mention of the library's collection of spy fiction by Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt
    • Discussion of the library's H. P. Lovecraft collections