Thursday, January 31, 2013

New! Collected Foxwell short stories.

Cover by Karen Jackson
Just out from Oconee Spirit Press (which has reissued the popular Sigrid Harald novels by Margaret Maron and early rarities by Carolyn Hart) is No Man's Land & Other Stories, an ebook collection of 12 of my (mostly historical) short stories. It includes two award winners ("No Man's Land" with WWI female ambulance drivers; "Keeper of the Flame" with a 19th-century lighthouse keeper); a story set on the Titanic ("Unsinkable"); three stories with Alice Roosevelt Longworth and her snide comments about her cousin, Franklin ("Come Flit by Me," "Alice and the Agent of the Hun," "Artistic License"); two stories inspired by Oscar Wilde ("A Roman of No Importance"; "Lady Windermere's Flan"); and some previously unpublished works (such as "Death in Blue and Gray," a Civil War story set in Washington, DC; and "An Epidemic Proportion," set during the 1918 flu pandemic). I provide an introduction that explains the background of the stories.

Ebook platforms:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

French TV history: Les cinq dernieres minutes (The Five Last Minutes).

Les cinq dernières minutes (The Five Last Minutes) was a landmark police procedural series on French TV that starred Raymond Souplex as commissaire Antoine Bourrel and featured a jazzy score. It began as a game show, morphed into a drama, and ran from 1958–97.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Cain's Slightly Scarlet (1956).

Two sisters (Arlene Dahl and Rhonda Fleming) become entangled with a mobster (John Payne), political corruption, theft, and murder. The film is based on James M. Cain's Love's Lovely Counterfeit (1942) and directed by Allan Dwan, creator of the dolly shot.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Unlikely pals: Bram Stoker and Walt Whitman.

Walt Whitman, 1887.
Library of Congress,
Print and Photos Div.
In "When Bram Met Walt" (Humanities Nov/Dec 2012), Meredith Hindley discusses the friendship between Bram Stoker and Walt Whitman (with a cameo appearance by Sir Henry Irving; Stoker served as Irving's manager at the time).

Also of interest: this TLS review of Bram Stoker and the Stage

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Capote's adaptation of Caspary's Laura, 1968.

The Paley Center for Media remembers the TV adaptation of Vera Caspary's Laura, which debuted today in 1968. Scripted by Truman Capote, it starred Capote friend Lee Radziwill (as Laura Hunt), Arlene Francis (as Ann Treadwell), Farley Granger (as Shelby Carpenter), Robert Stack (as Mark McPherson), and George Sanders (as Waldo Lydecker). Reviews were not that kind (see this example from the Milwaukee Journal).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Simenon's The Man on the Eiffel Tower (1949).

In The Man on the Eiffel Tower, impoverished medical student Franchot Tone is hired to kill a man's rich aunt. Also featured are Burgess Meredith, Charles Laughton (as Maigret), and Wilfred Hyde-White, with directing duties taken by Meredith, Laughton, and Irving Allen. The film is adapted from Georges Simenon's A Battle of Nerves (aka War of Nerves).

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Cartoon in Wartime Propaganda.

The online exhibition "The Cartoon in Wartime Propaganda" at King's College London mentions Minute for Murder (1947) by Nicholas Blake (aka the Irish-born poet laureate Cecil Day-Lewis), who worked for Britain's Ministry of Information during World War II.

Friday, January 18, 2013

BL exhibition: Murder in the Library.

Ad for Sax Rohmer's
The Return of Fu Manchu
New York Sun, Mar 11, 1916
The nefarious criminal is
featured in the BL exhibition.
Opening today at the British Library's Folio Society Gallery is the exhibition "Murder in the Library: An A-Z of Crime Fiction," which looks at the history of the genre and runs to May 12. There also will be some events in conjunction with the exhibition:

Real Crime, Real Fiction, January 21. With Barry Forshaw, Laura Wilson, and others. (Listen to the podcast here)

The Story of Crime Fiction, February 8. With BBC Radio 4's Mark Lawson, P.D. James, and others.

The Female Detective, March 8. Guests not yet announced.

Update: TLS review of the exhibition with images of some items from it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mystery on the Tube.

In honor of the London Underground's sesquicentennial, the British Film Institute highlights 10 films with a Tube setting; some mystery-related ones are included:

Bulldog Jack (1935). A Bulldog Drummond adventure with Ralph Richardson and Fay Wray.

Death Line (1972, aka Raw Meat). Subterranean dwellers feed on passengers (Donald Pleasence, what are you doing in this film?).

Hidden City (1987). Charles Dance on the trail of a enigmatic film and a government conspiracy.

Skyfall (2012). James Bond at Temple tube station.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Caspary's Three Husbands (1951).

In Three Husbands, a troublemaker's letters to three men claim that he has had affairs with their wives. If the plot sounds familiar, it is—A Letter to Three Wives (1949) with a gender flip and the same screenwriter: Vera Caspary, the author of Laura. With additional screenwriting assistance by songwriter Edward Eliscu, the film was produced by I. G. Goldsmith, Caspary's husband, and directed by Irving Reis (director of The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer; some of the Falcon films with George Sanders; Enchantment). Its stars include Eve Arden, Howard da Silva, Ruth Warrick, and Vanessa Brown.
(Hat tip to Caspary scholar A. B. Emrys for bringing this film to my attention)

Friday, January 11, 2013

"The Grave Grass Quivers," by MacKinlay Kantor (1931).

I had the strange notion that Doctor George Martindale, after unloading the sad story of his youth, had taken two days in going deliberately and completely insane.
—MacKinlay Kantor, "The Grave Grass Quivers" (Omnibus 184)
In "The Grave Grass Quivers," a country doctor suspects that his father and brother were murdered years ago, but thinks he can finally prove it with the assistance of a younger colleague. The story resonates today as the doctor conveys the anguish of himself and his family in not knowing what has happened to their loved ones.

Novelist MacKinlay Kantor playing the guitar: Sarasota, Florida
MacKinlay Kantor plays the guitar.
July 1950. Photo: State Library
and Archives of Florida
MacKinlay Kantor (1904–77) is probably best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning Andersonville (1955) and Glory for Me (1945; the basis for the film The Best Years of Our Lives), but he also wrote pulp stories and the story and screenplay (the latter with Dalton Trumbo) for the film Gun Crazy (1950). "The Grave Grass Quivers" was first published in the Elks Magazine in 1931 (repr. The Third Omnibus of Crime, ed. Dorothy L. Sayers, 1935; EQMM, Mar 1949; and It's About Crime, 1960).

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

On Chinatown.

Jack Nicholson's J.J. Gittes being 
a "nosy fellow" in Chinatown
Over on the British Film Institute Web site, Geoff Andrew reflects on Chinatown (1974, dir. Roman Polanski) and the talented individuals brought together for the film.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

He Walked by Night (1948).

In He Walked by Night, the police pursue a suspected cop killer and robber (Richard Basehart). Actor-screenwriter-director Crane Wilbur, a cousin of Tyrone Power, wrote the film's story and screenplay.

Monday, January 07, 2013

"You're going to jail, sir."

Michael Moriarty as exec ADA
Ben Stone, Law & Order
The Overthinking It blog compiles the results from the 20 seasons of Law & Order into a handy chart and reveals, among other findings, that a not-guilty verdict occurred in less than 10 percent of the cases.
(Hat tip to the Law & Humanities blog)

Friday, January 04, 2013

James Caan in Naked City (1961).

The Paley Center for Media remembers today's television debut of James Caan on Naked City in 1961 (also note Dick York in the clip).

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Limping Man (1953).

In The Limping Man, a World War II veteran (Lloyd Bridges) encounters spies in postwar London.