Thursday, September 30, 2010

Rod Serling: "The screenplay ... is written for a continuous performance."

Letters of Note features a January 1966 letter from Rod Serling protesting the insertion of commercials in films shown on TV.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Operation Pastorius: Nazis on US soil.

Spiegel discusses Operation Pastorius, the thwarted 1942 Nazi attempt to carry out sabotage operations on American soil.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hammett Black Mask story on Selected Shorts.

Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op story "The Creeping Siamese" (1926) is featured on Selected Shorts, read by actor John Shea.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Show: Shirley Jackson.

Julie Harris and Russ
Tamblyn in The Haunting
(dir. Robert Wise, 1963)
Australia's Book Show discusses the work of Shirley Jackson ("The Lottery," The Haunting of Hill House, etc.).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lincoln: Kidnapping target?

John Wilkes Booth,
ca. 1865. Library of
Congress, Prints and
Photographs Div.
Before that fateful Good Friday at Ford's Theater in 1865, John Wilkes Booth had planned to kidnap Abraham Lincoln, as history professor Terry Alford explains in this broadcast of the radio program With Good Reason.

In addition, short videos are posted on the History Channel Web site that highlight Library of Congress collections; they include Lincoln life masks and the items in his pockets on the day of the assassination. (Hat tip to the AHA blog)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Calling TJ Hooker: How to jump from a speeding car and other manly arts.

Page from a Walt Whitman
notebook, ca. 1860s. NYPL.
The Art of Manliness blog features such posts as "How to Jump from a Speeding Car" and "How to Fire a Handgun Safely and Correctly"; as well as one on the manly pocket notebook, carried by Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and others.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Yale's "Superheroes in Court" exhibition.

Archie Andrews in court.
Will Betty and Veronica
stand by him? Life with 
Archie 18 (Jan. 1963).
Cover Browser
The Rare Books blog of Yale Law Library offers a few highlights of the exhibition "Superheroes in Court! Lawyers, Law, and Comic Books," including this May/June 1949 issue of Crime Detective Comics and this July 1960 issue of Detective Comics. The exhibition runs until December 16 in the Rare Book Exhibition Gallery at Yale's Lillian Goldman Law Library. (Hat tip to PhiloBiblos)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

NLM: Early true crime pamphlets.

Rev. Herbert Hayden,
tried for the 1879 murder
of Mary Stannard. From
The Rev H. H. Hayden:
An Autobiography
The latest online exhibition from NLM's History of Medicine Division is "Most Horrible and Shocking Murders: True Crime and Murder Pamphlets in the Collection of the National Library of Medicine." It includes pamphlets from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Monday, September 20, 2010

R. D. Wingfield this week on BBC Radio 7.

David Jason in
A Touch of Frost
This week on BBC Radio 7 R. D. Wingfield's Sergeant Fowler looks into a death in a fishing village in Outbreak of Fear. Wingfield (1928–2007) is best known for creating Inspector Jack Frost (played by David Jason in Touch of Frost). Go here for the schedule or to listen; episodes can usually be heard for a week after broadcast.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Eric Portman on BFI Screenonline.

Eric Portman in The
Spider and the Fly

(dir. Robert Hamer)
BFI Screenonline highlights the career of British actor Eric Portman (1903–69), including the Powell and Pressburger film The 49th Parallel (1941), the noir film Daybreak (1948), and his role as a police inspector in The Spider and the Fly (1949).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

U-DE bookplates: Houdini et al.

Calimedico Library
, UC-Berkeley
William Augustus Brewer
Bookplate Collection
Among the approximately 3,000 items in the online William Augustus Brewer Bookplate Collection from University of Delaware Library (which will eventually number 13,000 items), bookplates from the following individuals are represented:
Calvin Coolidge
Harry Houdini
• Illustrator Howard Pyle (teacher of N. C. Wyeth)
Eleanor Roosevelt and FDR
Theodore Roosevelt
(Hat tip to PhiloBiblos)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Academy Chicago reissues Leo Bruce's
Case with 4 Clowns (1939)

Just out from Academy Chicago Publishers is Leo Bruce's Case with 4 Clowns, which features his determined investigator Sergeant Beef. This is the first time this novel has been published in the United States in 70 years; it joins other Sergeant Beef reissues such as Case for Three Detectives.

Leo Bruce was the pseudonym of British poet, playwright, writer, and critic Rupert Croft-Cooke (1903–79), who was prosecuted for homosexuality in the 1950s; he recounts his experiences in The Verdict of You All (1955). His short story and play "Banquo's Chair" were adapted for the film The Fatal Witness (1945) and an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1959).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Watch episodes of Kraft Mystery Theatre.

I've been trawling the online archives of the Museum of Broadcast Communications (available with a free registration) for episodes of the Kraft Mystery Theatre (a series that began as the Kraft Television Theatre and had a name change under producer David Susskind). The Mystery Theatre had two incarnations: one in the 1950s and one in 1961–63.

Robert Lansing in
"Death for Sale,"
Kraft Mystery Theatre
The episodes available for viewing online have an impressive roster of actors and include:

•"Catch Fear by the Throat" (with Bradford Dillman and Steve Forrest; a state government official cannot remember the events of the previous night)

 • "Death for Sale" (with Robert Lansing, based on the book by Henry Kane; a cuckolded husband hires a hitman with unexpected results)

• "Death of a Dream" (with Robert Vaughn, dir. Robert Altman; a wife has an unexpected visitor: her on-the-lam husband)

• "The Fugitive Eye" (with Charlton Heston; a man witnesses a murder)

• "The Man Who Didn't Fly" (with William Shatner; three men take a plane, but only two emerge)

• "Presumption of Innocence" (with Colleen Dewhurst; a lawyer defends a man accused of killing his mentor)

Sadly, "The 87th Precinct" and "Killer's Choice," which are based on the work of Ed McBain/Evan Hunter, are not available for viewing.

And of course, there are all the Kraft recipes during the commercial breaks (e.g., frosted honeydew melon with jellied fruit filling. The "frosting" is cream cheese).

Update (9-6-11): Have been advised by the museum that the online archive is down for probably the next few months. Will update this post when I know more.

Update (11-23-11): Looks like the online archive is back up.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Clues 28.2: Cornell Woolrich, Vera Caspary, Arthur Conan Doyle, James Lee Burke, et al.

Volume 28, no. 2 of Clues: A Journal of Detection has been published, which offers among its highlights:

• Hilary A. Goldsmith on Darwinian echoes in Conan Doyle

• Clare Clarke on Arthur Morrison's Horace Dorrington, criminal-detective

• Christine Photinos on whether Cornell Woolrich can be considered a member of the US hard-boiled school

• Laura Vorachek on Vera Caspary's rewriting of Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret (1862) in Bedelia (1945)

• Patricia Gaitely on the supernatural in James Lee Burke

A particularly interesting article is Lisanne Sauerwald's analysis of Russian absurdist writer Daniil Kharms (1905–42), who was so enamored of Sherlock Holmes that he dressed like an English gentleman and encoded Holmes's Russian name, Kholms, into his pseudonym, Kharms. Sauerwald also notes that Conan Doyle's name appeared on 1920s lists of censored authors in Russia. Some of the passages included in this article have been translated into English for the first time.

For the table of contents with article abstracts, go here. For online access and subscription information, go here. For indices from Clues vols 1 to 28, go here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Chicago claims first policewoman, 1890s.

"Chicago's beautiful
policewoman, who
handcuffs her prisoners
with a winning smile
and takes them to
lockup on a streetcar."
Washington Times

magazine 22 Apr 1906
The Washington Post reprints a Chicago Tribune piece on Marie Owens, who, if the evidence is substantiated, would be the first policewoman in the United States. Owens began her work in 1891; previous documentation dates women in the police force to 1913.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Chester Himes materials in
Yale's Beinecke Library

Raymond St. Jacques,
left, and Godfrey
Cambridge in Cotton
Comes to Harlem
Yale University's Beinecke Library has various materials available online that pertain to Chester Himes:

• Ads for the films Cotton Comes to Harlem (dir. Ossie Davis, 1970) and its sequel, Come Back, Charleston Blue (dir. Mark Warren, 1972)

Photos of Himes

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The first female detectives return.

M. E. Braddon's
Eleanor's Victory
which features a female
amateur sleuth.
Under the title The First Female Detectives,  the pseudonymous Andrew Forrester Jr.'s The Female Detective (1864) and Revelations of a Lady Detective (aka Experiences of a Lady Detective, 1864, attrib. [controversially] to W. S. Hayward) have been reissued by Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints. Eastern Illinois University's Dagni Bredesen, who wrote a Clues article about these works, introduces The First Female Detectives.

Forrester's female detective is one Miss Gladden. Regarding Revelations of a Lady Detective, Bredesen notes in her Clues article:
. . .Mrs. Paschal’s “revelations” comprise[] ten stories in which she deals with a variety of crimes and misdemeanors ranging from thefts of gold, jewels, mail, and identity to political conspiracy, murder, and fraud. In solving these mysteries, Mrs. Paschal curbs the excesses of a too-merry widow, an errant spouse, and wayward sons and brothers at the behest of either government officials or family members. Despite her conservative politics and policies, Mrs. Paschal is an exception to the rules she takes it on herself to uphold. (20)
These important works in the history of the mystery genre have not been available in their entirety since the 19th century.  (Hat tip to Judith Flanders)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

This is only a test.

This podcast from LA Theatre Works partially deals with the personalities who recorded public service announcements for CONELRAD (the precursor to the Emergency Broadcast System), including Johnny Cash and Boris Karloff. More CONELRAD-related materials are here, including CONELRAD 100: Atomic Film.

About the image: Bert the Turtle from the civil defense film Duck and Cover (dir. Anthony Rizzo, 1951).

Monday, September 06, 2010

Happy 150th birthday, Jane Addams.

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Jane Addams was born today in Cedarville, Illinois, in 1860. A founder of Chicago's famed settlement house Hull-House, she was a major leader in the suffrage and peace movements, instrumental in the 1915 International Congress of Women that eventually resulted in the founding of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Delegates from the congress (including Addams) attempted to bring an early end to World War I, and the congress's platform (presented to President Wilson in August 1915) is unmistakably echoed in Wilson's later Fourteen Points. Various Chicago-area celebrations to mark Addams's birthday are planned for September 8.

About the image: Jane Addams, ca. 1907. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Friday, September 03, 2010

Would you believe ...?:
The CIA Museum's Spy-Fi Archives.

The CIA Museum's online Spy-Fi Archives feature objects from spy films and TV programs, such as Napoleon Solo's business card from Man from U.N.C.L.E., Jim West's suit (with secret pockets) from Wild Wild West, Mrs. Peel's leather pants from The Avengers, and Maxwell Smart's famous shoe phone from Get Smart.

About the image: Don Adams's Agent 86 has no problem with a dial tone in Get Smart (1965).

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Charles Darwin and H. G. Wells.

The National Library of Medicine's online exhibition on Charles Darwin discusses Darwin's influence on others, including
H. G. Wells and The Time Machine (1895).

Update: A TLS review of Michael Sherborne's new Wells bio appears here.

About the image: Rod Taylor in The Time Machine (dir. George Pal, 1960)

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Meet Howard Spiegler, art lawyer.

Voice of America profiles attorney Howard Spiegler, who works to reunite stolen artworks with their rightful owners.
(Hat tip to ARCA blog)