Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Unholy Four aka The Stranger Came Home (1954).

Stark House Press ed.
of Stranger at Home
Based on Stranger at Home ghosted for actor George Sanders by noted sci-fi writer and Big Sleep screenwriter Leigh Brackett, The Unholy Four features a man with amnesia seeking to discover which of his friends tried to kill him. Paulette Goddard stars.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Christie tapes.

Agatha Christie, 17 Sept 1964.
Photo by Joop van Bilson, Anefo.
Dutch Natl Archives
BBC Radio 4 Extra is beginning to air excerpts from tapes made by Agatha Christie as she prepared her autobiography. The first episode is "The Semi-Pro" in which she discusses the creation of Miss Marple and also states: "I was eminently a writer for entertainment."

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

They Met in the Dark (1943).

James Mason in
They Met in the Dark
Based on The Vanishing Corpse (1941) by the Detection Club's Anthony Gilbert, They Met in the Dark features James Mason, Joyce Howard, and David Farrar in a tale of a disgraced naval officer, murder, and wartime espionage.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Meyer on The Seven Per-Cent Solution.

In this thoughtful 1981 event of the Writers Guild Foundation focused on adaptation, director-writer Nicholas Meyer discusses issues encountered in adapting his novel The Seven Per-Cent Solution to the screen. There also is interesting coverage of the novel versus film of Brian Garfield's Death Wish and Meyer's film Time After Time that pitted H.G. Wells against Jack the Ripper. Says Meyer:
I feel that if you are taking the life of someone famous as being worthy of making a film about, he or she is worth making an accurate film about. It is peculiarly revolting to me to watch biographical films that have felt the irresistible need to improve the lives of their subjects in order to render them sufficiently palatable or entertaining to an audience.
Meyer also states, "I am troubled by the fact that we now place more emphasis and importance on packaging than what is being packaged
. . . . Where does dramatic license end and vandalism begin?"

Of related interest: I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere podcast interview with Meyer

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"A Study in Panic" (1954).

In this episode from Four Star Playhouse, Dick Powell is a self-satisfied newspaper columnist who writes about panic, which triggers a threat to his life. Dorothy Malone co-stars as a copyeditor with a background in psychology.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christie in Mesopotamia.

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology uncovered a photo in its archives of a "Mrs. Mallowan"; archivists realized that she was known better by another name: Agatha Christie. Christie was visiting a UChicago-Penn excavation at Nippur in Mesopotamia with her second husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan, ca. late 1940s/early 1950s.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Fugitives for a Night (1938).

Frank Albertson in
Fugitives for a Night
An actor is suspected of murdering a producer in this film scripted by famous blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (whose 110th birthday falls on December 9).

See the trailer.

Monday, December 07, 2015

70 years of Gallimard's Serie Noire.

French publisher Gallimard has published C'est l'histoire de la Série Noire (1945–2015) to mark the 70th anniversary of its crime fiction series Série Noire. Founded by Marcel Duhamel, Série Noire was instrumental in establishing the literary reputation of hardboiled authors such as Chester Himes (e.g., Coffin Ed Johnson/Grave Digger Jones series) and Charles Williams (e.g., Dead Calm). The Bibliothèque des littératures policière (Bilipo) in Paris is hosting an exhibition in conjunction with the book.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

The Wall Street Mystery (1931).

In this short film based on a short story by S. S. Van Dine, Stagecoach's Donald Meek (as the sleuthing Dr. Crabtree) and Superman's John Hamilton (as Inspector Carr) investigate when two stockbrokers are found shot to death. Modern audiences may dislike the stereotyped portrayal of a black elevator operator.