Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Cry Wolf (1947).

Errol Flynn and Barbara
Stanwyck in Cry Wolf (1947)
In Cry Wolf, Barbara Stanwyck arrives at an estate expecting to attend the funeral of her husband but encounters a household controlled by a sinister Errol Flynn. Based on Cry Wolf (aka The Demarest Inheritance) by future Edgar nominee Marjorie Carleton, the film costars Geraldine Brooks, Richard Basehart, and Jerome Cowan.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Dorothy B. Hughes's classic mystery library.


Claude Rains and Edward Norris in They Won't Forget (1937),
adaptation of Ward Greene's Death in the Deep South
In the 13 Nov 1977 Los Angeles Times, author-critic Dorothy B. Hughes made 23 selections for a classic mystery library. Hughes defined a classic as "a book to which you return over and again ... primarily because for you it satisfies a hunger for the felicity of beauty and craft..."(N3). For Hughes, "style is the most important element in any mystery, let alone a classic" (N3).

Hughes did not include any works by Arthur Conan Doyle and Erle Stanley Gardner (although Hughes would publish a biography of Gardner), explaining that in the case of these and some other authors (such as Ellery Queen), their body of work constitutes the classic rather than a single book. Hughes's choices for her classic mystery library are the following:
  • Eric Ambler, A Coffin for Dimitrios. "a hunt-and-search story with a background of the Near East leading to Paris"
  • Edgar Box [Gore Vidal], Death in the Fifth Position. " . . . the world of the ballet, presented with perception and verisimilitude"
  • Vera Caspary, Laura. "an enviable creator of plots which twist and turn and startle."
  • Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely. "his making of poetry out of the tawdry was indeed something unforgettable"
  • Agatha Christie, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and And Then There Were None. "two classic books"
  • Len Deighton, The Ipcress File. "Deighton . . . devised a new style."
  • Helen Eustis, The Horizontal Man. "a true academic background against which the tragicomedy is played."
  • William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust. "a mystery sensation"
  • Michael Gilbert, Close Quarters. "he has built a cathedral and its close, and has peopled it with verisimilitude."
  • Graham Greene, Brighton Rock. "two sad insignificant persons revealed in their small moment of significance."
  • Ward Greene, Death in the Deep South. "a classic of the regional and one of the first dealing with ethnic problems"
  • Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon. "a classic romantic-adventure"
  • H. F. [Gerald] Heard, A Taste for Honey. "Another of the instant classics"
  • Francis Iles [Anthony Berkeley Cox], Before the Fact."a book whose plot must remain secret"
  • Charlotte Jay [Geraldine Halls], Beat Not the Bones. "the primitive culture of Africa in collision with the 20th century"
  • John le Carre [David Cornwell], The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. "tragic power"
  • Meyer Levin, Compulsion. "a classic of major proportion"
  • Marie Belloc Lowndes, The Lodger. " . . . a true crime story, in fiction form"
  • Ngaio Marsh, Death of a Fool. "breath-taking"
  • E. Phillips Oppenheim, The Great Impersonation. "a landmark"
  • Dorothy L. Sayers, The Nine Tailors. "background became not just background, but important"
  • Josephine Tey [Elizabeth MacKintosh], The Daughter of Time. "Simply written but brilliant in premise and performance."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Bon Voyage (dir. Hitchcock, 1944).

In Bon Voyage, a short film directed by Alfred Hitchcock for the British Ministry of Information, a French intelligence officer questions an RAF sergeant about his escape from France, as the involvement of a German agent is suspected. The film is in French (with English subtitles), with John Blythe as the sergeant and members of the Molière Players in the other roles.

Monday, April 16, 2018

CFP for essay collection on the cozy.

La Salle University's Phyllis Betz (Katherine V. Forrest: A Critical Appreciation; Lesbian Detective Fiction: Woman as Author, Subject and Reader) plans to compile a collection of essays on the cozy mystery. Prospective topics/approaches of interest include the following:
  • Discussion of authors, including precursors such as Mary Roberts Rinehart, Anna Katharine Green, and Agatha Christie
  • Settings
  • Main characters, including their careers
  • Other characters
  • Themes
  • Subgenres such as the gothic cozy and cozy noir
  • Problems, including the definition of the cozy and those authors who can be defined as cozy writers
  • Narrative strategies
Have questions or seek further information? Contact Betz.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Spider and the Fly (1949).

In The Spider and the Fly, a French intelligence official (Eric Portman) is forced to turn to a gentleman thief (Guy Rolfe) during World War I to crack a safe that holds a list of German agents. A woman (Nadia Gray) loved by both men provides additional complications. Maurice Denham and Sebastian Cabot costar.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Laura Thompson on Agatha Christie.

From the Bookshelf's Gary Shapiro discusses Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life with author Laura Thompson. Thompson calls Christie's six novels under the pseudonym Mary Westamacott "gold," singling out Absent in the Spring (1944); calls Christie's Five Little Pigs (1943) her best novel; and addresses Christie's 11-day disappearance in 1926.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Five Angles on Murder
(aka The Woman in Question, 1950).

After a fortuneteller is murdered in Five Angles on Murder, a police superintendent (Duncan Macrae) finds that those in her circle have different views of her, such as her housekeeper (Hermione Baddeley), her sister (Susan Shaw), her sister's boyfriend (Dirk Bogarde), a pet store owner (Charles Victor), and a sailor (John McCallum). The film is directed by Anthony Asquith.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Real locations of LA noir.

Inside Hook discusses with Jim Heimann his new book Dark City: The Real Los Angeles Noir, which features photographs of the real-life locations that inspired writers (such as that pertaining to the Black Dahlia case and those used by Raymond Chandler).