Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Judith Flanders's The Invention of Murder on BBC Radio 4.

BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week is offering readings of Judith Flanders's The Invention of Murder: How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime. I reviewed the book here for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

Of related interest: Readings are starting of Kate Summerscale's The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher (on the Constance Kent case).

Monday, July 27, 2015

The legacy of Joseph Hansen.

The WOW Report pays tribute to Joseph Hansen (1923–2004), creator of groundbreaking gay investigator Dave Brandstetter. His work includes Fadeout (edited by legendary mystery editor Joan Kahn),  The Little Dog Laughed, Shamus nominee Gravedigger, and Lambda winner A Country of Old Men.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sax Rohmer speaks.

Among the goodies just uploaded to YouTube by British Movietone is footage from 1932 of Fu Manchu creator Sax Rohmer (aka Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward) talking about the levels of U.S. versus British crime.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Unseen (1945).

Publicity photo for
The Unseen
Ethel Lina White's Her Heart in Her Throat (1942) was adapted as The Unseen, with July 23rd birthday boy Raymond Chandler as a  screenwriter. In The Unseen, governess Gail Russell suspects that nefarious activities are going on in the neighborhood and wonders about the role of her employer, shipbuilder Joel McCrea, in his wife's death. Herbert Marshall and Norman Lloyd costar. The film, an attempt by director Lewis Allen to follow up The Uninvited (1944, also with Russell), has some echoes of Henry James's "The Turn of the Screw."

Monday, July 20, 2015

Honey West cover art.

Anne Francis as Honey West
In their "Whodunit Wednesday" tumblr features, University of North Carolina Greensboro's Special Collections have been highlighting artists who designed Honey West covers that are part of their Robbie Emily Dunn Collection of American Detective Fiction. The latest is R.A. Maguire, who created three Honey West covers: Kiss for a Killer, Dig a Dead Doll, and Blood and Honey. There are previous posts on artist Harry Schaare and Honey West author G. G. Fickling (pseudonym of Gloria and Forest Fickling).

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"Equal Partners" (1952).

This 12-minute episode of Playhouse 15 (aka Short Short Dramas) features familiar character actor Henry Jones as a realtor pressured by his wife to kill his business partner for the life insurance payout.

Monday, July 13, 2015

New light on codebreaking couple.

Maj. William F. Friedman explains
ciphering machine to Louise Newkirk
16 Aug 1930. Library of Congress
Prints & Photographs Div.
The NSA has declassified 7000 records of William F. Friedman (1891–1969), a U.S. cryptology pioneer inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, and his wife Elizebeth (1892–1980), also a noted codebreaker. This initiative coincides with exhibitions on the Friedmans by the Marshall Foundation and the National Cryptological Museum.

Listen to Friedman's lecture on the Shakespeare ciphers and his 1960 talk about historical efforts in codebreaking  (part 1, part 2, part 3).

Thursday, July 09, 2015

This day in 1951:
Hammett defies U.S. District Court.

Dashiell Hammett
Yank, 30 Nov 1945

Excerpt, Brooklyn
Daily Eagle
10 Jul 1951, p. 1
Today in 1951, Dashiell Hammett, chair of the Civil Rights Congress' bail committee, refused in New York's US district court to provide the names of those who had posted $80,000 bail for four communists; the latter subsequently failed to appear in court. Convicted of contempt of court, Hammett went to prison in Kentucky and was released in December 1951.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

O.S.S. (1946).

Ad for O.S.S. (1946)
In O.S.S., Alan Ladd and Geraldine Fitzgerald are two spies engaged in sabotage against the enemy in World War II France. The screenwriter-producer is Richard Maibaum, who wrote many of the screenplays for the James Bond films. The film's publicity materials ballyhoo the cooperation of the real Office of Strategic Services (precursor to the CIA) in the making of the film.

Monday, July 06, 2015

"The Criminal Neglect of Detective Fiction."

Marjorie Hope Nicolson.
From Smith College's
yearbook Class of 1930
In the 4 June 2015 Times Higher Education, University of Ulster English professor Richard Bradford wonders why academe treats crime fiction as "worthy of inspection but little respect." Some of the writers mentioned are W. H. Auden, Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, Patricia Highsmith, Edgar Allan Poe, and Edmund Wilson. He states that Smith College English professor Marjorie Hope Nicolson was the first to explore the relationship of academics to detective fiction in "The Professor and the Detective" (Atlantic Monthly, Apr 1929, 483–93), but notes that she was fairly dismissive in her piece.