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.