Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Strange Illusion (1945).

A young man is troubled by a dream that shows his father's death as murder and soon discovers a sinister stranger romancing his mother and sister.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Championing Asimov's mysteries.

Isaac Asimov. LOC,
Prints & Photos Div.
On April 18 at 11:30 am, I'm delivering the paper "'A Necessary Clue': The Mysteries of Isaac Asimov" at the Popular Culture Assn conference in Washington, DC, which attempts to refute the perception of Asimov as merely a purveyor of gimmicks in his mysteries and stumps for his neglected mainstream mystery debut, The Death Dealers (aka A Whiff of Death, 1958).  (This new piece on Sherlock Holmes and SF mentions Asimov, who was a Baker Street Irregular.)

My fellow presenters are Kim Sherwood (University of the West of England and author of Testament), Elizabeth Cuddy (Hampton University), and Christine A. Jackson (Nova Southeastern University).  Read the conference program (guest passes can be purchased onsite for $50 per day for those who would like to attend for a day or two).

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Foxwell on Helen Hagan, WWI Centennial News podcast.

Helen Hagan, 1918
On the World War I Centennial News podcast, I talk about the life and work of New Haven's black pianist-composer Helen Hagan and her performing for black troops in World War I France.

Monday, April 08, 2019

New Clues CFP: "Crime's Hybrid Forms."

"Genre Bending: Crime's Hybrid Forms" is a new call for papers for a theme issue of Clues that will be guest edited by Maurizio Ascari (University of Bologna). Submission deadline: October 1, 2019.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

"The Scott Machine" (1961).

In "The Scott Machine," part of the short-lived TV series The Asphalt Jungle, Deputy Commissioner Matt Gower (Jack Warden) finds himself and his squad in the undesirable position of protecting a neo-Nazi (Robert Vaughn).  John Astin costars.

Monday, April 01, 2019

The many comforts of mysteries.

In the Financial Times, Charlotte Mendelson enumerates the reasons why mysteries are a comfort when personal life is tough: plots, good people confronting bad things, the triumph of the detective, the many different kinds and numbers of mysteries, and the quality of writing.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Franchise Affair (1951).

In Josephine Tey's The Franchise Affair, lawyer Michael Denison investigates when his client (Dulcie Gray, Denison's wife in real life) is accused of the kidnapping of a teenager. Kenneth More costars.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Simenon and Maigret by way of Budapest.

Georges Simenon,
10 May 1965.
Anefo, Dutch Nat Archives
It is interesting to see Georges Simenon's popularity across cultures (such as the recent exhibition in China on his work). In a fun series in the Budapest Times, an anonymous writer is reading through the 75 works in Simenon's Maigret oeuvre as well as providing commentary on locations in the TV series with Michael Gambon (which was filmed in Budapest) and outlets for buying Simenon works in Budapest.

Entries to date:

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Do You Know This Voice? (1964).

In this film adapted from the novel by American-born writer, pianist, and composer Evelyn Berckman, shoes are the only clue to the identity of a kidnapper and killer. Dan Duryea stars.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Foxwell on WWI Centennial News podcast.

The audio has been posted from my appearance on the World War I Centennial News podcast, talking about some of the roles of the US women in the war. I’m on at about minute 37.15. There’s also information on an interesting documentary on the Hello Girls (the US switchboard operators who served in France) that will be part of several film festivals. As I am from New Jersey, I was happy to mention Flemington’s own Marjorie Hulsizer Copher (a decorated dietitian).

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Out of the Blue (1947).

In this comedic film based on a story by Vera Caspary (with Caspary also a screenwriter on the film), the mild-mannered and married George Brent becomes the victim of a blackmail plot when he becomes entangled with another woman (Ann Dvorak), whom he believes has died in his apartment, with his wife (Carole Landis) due back at any moment.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Dial M for Murder (1981).

In 1981, Christopher Plummer took on the Ray Milland role, and Angie Dickinson the Grace Kelly role, in a TV movie of Frederick Knott's Dial M for Murder. Inspector Hubbard is played by Anthony Quayle and the would-be killer by Ron Moody.

Monday, March 04, 2019

David Goodis's Dark Passage.

On Vienna's Vintage Hollywood there is an interesting discussion of Dark Passage (1947), the Bogart-Bacall film adapted from the David Goodis novel in which prison escapee Bogart seeks to prove he did not kill his wife. In the blog post, there also is a photo of Goodis with the stars.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Runaway Bus (1954).

Among the passengers traveling in thick fog on The Runaway Bus to an airport is someone who has masterminded a robbery of gold bullion. But which of them is the culprit? Margaret Rutherford and Petula Clark are among the costars. The director and writer is Val Guest.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Archives on the Air: Robert Bloch.

Overlook Press's 2010 edition of
Robert Bloch's Psycho (1959)
Another episode of the the Archives on the Air radio program from the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center focuses on Robert Bloch (Psycho, Star Trek's "Wolf in the Fold," etc.).

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Espionage Agent (1939)

From left: Joel McCrea, Brenda
Marshall, and Jeffrey Lynn
in Espionage Agent (1939)
In Espionage Agent, Joel McCrea and Brenda Marshall work to expose a German spy ring that threatens US industry. James Hilton (of Lost Horizon fame and also known as mystery writer Glen Trevor) wrote additional dialogue for the film.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Archives on the Air: Ernest Tidyman.

Dynamite Entertainment's 2016 edition
of Ernest Tidyman's Shaft (1970)
The Archives on the Air radio series on Wyoming Public Media provides brief highlights about the collections of the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center. One recent episode is on Edgar winner Ernest Tidyman (1928–84), the author of Shaft and a screenwriter on the film The French Connection. Among its holdings, the center has the original manuscript for Shaft and production files for films involving Tidyman.

And in case you want to sing along...

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Bombay Mail (1934).

Brandon Hurst, Shirley Grey, Jameson Thomas, 
and Edmund Lowe in Bombay Mail
Based on the novel of the same name by MWA president and Edgar winner Lawrence G. Blochman, Bombay Mail features inspector Edmund Lowe investigating the murder of the British governor-general aboard a train in India. Costars include Hedda Hopper.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Coming in June:
A new biography of John Buchan.

Due out in June from Bloomsbury is Beyond the Thirty-Nine Steps: A Life of John Buchan by writer Ursula Buchan (John's granddaughter), who wishes to show the many sides of the Scottish author, barrister, civil servant, diplomat, journalist, politician, and creator of thriller hero Richard Hannay and barrister Edward Leithen.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Unpublished Story (1942).

In Unpublished Story, reporters Richard Greene and Valerie Hobson uncover a Nazi plot amid the London blitz.

Monday, February 04, 2019

The return of Ruth the Betrayer.

Valancourt Books has reissued Ruth the Betrayer; or the Female Spy by Edward Ellis (aka Charles Henry Ross)—possibly the first novel with a female detective—which appeared as a serial in 1862–63 and has been out of print for 150 years. Edited by Dagni A. Bredesen, a previous contributor to Clues, the book with the enterprising Ruth Trail tips the scales at more than 1000 pages.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Brother Orchid (1940).

When gangster Edward G. Robinson goes up against aspiring mob boss Humphrey Bogart, he is wounded and is cared for by the brothers in a monastery, whose livelihood is threatened by the criminals.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Eudora Welty and mystery.

Eudora Welty, 1980.
Library of Congress,
Prints and Photographs Div.
The 2019 Eudora Welty Conference, which will be hosted by the College of Charleston on February 21–23, will include the February 22 panel "Welty and Mystery," with the following presentations:
Eudora Welty’s Career in Mystery Fiction. Harriet Pollack (College of Charleston)

Chester Himes, Harper Lee, Eudora Welty: The Civil Rights Movement on a Crime Fiction Continuum. Jacob Agner (Univ of Mississippi)

Murder, Mystery, and Motivation: Eudora Welty’s The Optimist’s Daughter and Agatha Christie’s The Body in the LibrarySarah Ford (Baylor Univ)

Wanted Dead Or Alive: Last Years’ Dead Branches. Rebecca Mark (Tulane Univ)

“The Writer as Detective Hero”:  Eudora Welty and Her Late Fiction. Suzanne Marrs (Millsaps College)
I would imagine the relationship between Welty and Kenneth Millar (aka Ross Macdonald) will be discussed, including Welty's famous review of Macdonald's The Underground Man. Further details can be found in Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence between Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald, ed. Marrs and Tom Nolan (Macdonald's biographer).

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Feb 23 event at Berkeley on Urdu spy fiction.

The House of Fear by Ibne Safi
On February 23, the Institute for South Asia Studies and the Berkeley Urdu Initiative will host UC Berkeley lecturer Gregory Maxwell Bruce, who will discuss Urdu spy fiction such as works by Ibne Safi (1928–80, pseudonym of Asrar Ahmad). Read more about the event.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Unfaithful (1947).

Zachary Scott, Ann Sheridan, and Lew Ayres
in The Unfaithful (1947)
In The Unfaithful, Ann Sheridan claims that she killed an intruder in self-defense, but evidence emerges that she was more than well acquainted with the dead man. Lew Ayres, Zachary Scott, Eve Arden, and Jerome Cowan costar. The film is based on "The Letter" by Somerset Maugham (compare with the Bette Davis version), with a screenplay by David Goodis.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

"Her Last Adventure" (1952).

Based on the 1925 story of the same name by Marie Belloc Lowndes (The Lodger, etc.), this 19 August 1952 episode of Suspense features a wealthy bride beginning to wonder about the fate of her husband's prior fiance. Costars are Arlene Francis and Lloyd Bridges. Steve Haste states in Criminal Sentences that the Patrick Mahon case is the basis for the story; the married Mahon killed his pregnant girlfriend Emily Kaye in 1924 and was hanged.

Note that there is a new collection of Lowndes's short stories, A Monstrous Regiment of Women, that is edited by past Clues contributor Elyssa Warkentin and is published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Green's The Step on the Stair enters the public domain.

House diagram from The Step on the Stair
The Tisch Library of Tufts University notes that one of the books that entered the public domain on 1 January 2019 is The Step on the Stair by Anna Katharine Green, which involves the murder of a wealthy man and a hidden will. "Admirable craftsmanship," deemed the World's News of Sydney, Australia.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

"Lullaby" (1953).

In this 3 October 1953 episode of Revlon Mirror Theatre adapted from "The Hummingbird Comes Home" by Cornell Woolrich, a blind woman (Agnes Moorehead, in her TV debut) suspects her son (Tom Drake) of involvement in robbery and manslaughter. Lee Marvin costars.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Paretsky to receive Fuller Award.

On May 9 at the Newberry Library, Sara Paretsky will receive the Fuller Award for lifetime achievement from the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame. The event is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Charlie McCarthy, Detective (1939).

Edgar Bergen, Constance Moore, and Charlie McCarthy
in Charlie McCarthy, Detective
In the comic Charlie McCarthy, Detective, Charlie McCarthy, Mortimer Snerd, and Edgar Bergen are on the case when shady magazine publisher Louis Calhern is murdered. Robert Cummings costars. Charlie sings, "I'm Charlie McCarthy, Detective . . . they call me the Slap-Happy Sleuth." Despite Charlie's assertions, it's Edgar who does most of the detecting in the film.