Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Spies of the Air (1939).

In Spies of the Air, British intelligence hunts for the thief of secret airplane plans. Based on the play Official Secret by Jeffrey Dell, the film stars Roger Livesey and Basil Radford, with an interesting name appearing as film editor: future director David Lean.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Exhibition inspired by Hitchcock films.

Beth Accomando on station KPBS discusses an art exhibition based on Hitchcock films that will be on view at San Diego's Subterranean Coffee Boutique until September 6.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Moment of Indiscretion (1958).

In Moment of Indiscretion, a woman faces a murder charge when she will not reveal where she was at the time of the crime.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Avbl for preorder: Companion on Ian Rankin.

Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction
Now available for preorder is the upcoming volume 10—on the works of John Rebus creator Ian Rankin—in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit. Author and Fanshawe College professor Erin E. MacDonald wrote the earlier, well-regarded companion on Ed McBain/Evan Hunter. Volume 10 provides a comprehensive examination of Rankin's writing career, including short stories that the Scottish author had forgotten he had written and interesting sidelights such as the Rebus play Long Shadows.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Rough Shoot (1953).

In Rough Shoot (aka Shoot First), former US colonel Joel McCrea becomes entangled with murder and a spy ring in England. The film is based on A Rough Shoot by Geoffrey Household, with a screenplay by Eric Ambler. Costars include Evelyn Keyes, Herbert Lom, and Marius Goring.

Monday, August 05, 2019

New publications on Sayers.

Some new books dealing with Dorothy L. Sayers:
    God, Hitler, and Lord Peter WimseyAnglican Women Novelists

• Tippermuir Books follows up its collection of Sayers book reviews (ed. Martin Edwards) with God, Hitler, and Lord Peter Wimsey, a collection of articles, essays, and speeches by Sayers, including a radio broadcast that has never been published before.

Anglican Woman Novelists from T&T Clark covers Sayers and P. D. James, among other female authors.

• Coming in October from InterVarsity Press: Choosing Community: Action, Faith, and Joy in the Works of Dorothy L. Sayers

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

A Man Betrayed (1941).

In A Man Betrayed, John Wayne is a small-town attorney looking into the suspicious death of a friend and uncovers skullduggery in big-city politics. Frances Dee and Ward Bond costar.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Hillerman biography in progress.

This article in the July 7 Albuquerque Journal on the University of New Mexico's Center for Southwest Research reveals that author James McGrath Morris (Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power) is working on a biography of Tony Hillerman.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

One Body Too Many (1944).

In One Body Too Many, mild-mannered insurance agent Albert Tuttle (Jack Haley) encounters scheming relatives of a recently deceased millionaire who seem intent on doing away with the millionaire's niece (Jean Parker). Bela Lugosi costars.

Monday, July 22, 2019

The nefarious state of Wisconsin.

In the Wisconsin State Journal, several mystery authors (such as Victoria Houston, who writes the Loon Lake mystery series with fly-fishing enthusiast and chief of police Lewellyn Ferris) discuss why the state is such an inviting setting for mystery.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Big Frame (aka The Lost Hours, 1952).

In The Big Frame, pilot Mark Stevens quarrels with a friend, waking up the next morning at a unfamiliar hotel as Scotland Yard's top suspect in the friend's murder.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The gifts of Celia Fremlin.

Author Lucy Lethbridge in the July 2019 issue of The Oldie lauds Celia Fremlin's Edgar-winning The Hours Before Dawn (1958) and the skills applied by Fremlin from her time in the British project Mass Observation. Says Lethbridge, "This is a novel about intelligent, frustrated women in the impoverished disappointment of 1950s London."

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Everything Is Thunder (1936).

Based on the novel by former British Army officer Jocelyn Lee Hardy, Everything Is Thunder features a prostitute (Constance Bennett) who attempts to help a prisoner of war (Douglas Montgomery) escape from Nazi Germany.

Monday, July 08, 2019

A walk with Anthony Boucher.

Jeffrey Marks's Anthony Boucher:
A Biobibliography
Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association has scheduled a July 21 walk of South Berkeley (CA) locations associated with mystery/sci fi author-editor-critic Anthony Boucher (aka William Anthony Parker White). The walk will be guided by Randal Brandt, a librarian who curates the California Detective Fiction Collection at UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

The Deadly Affair (1967).

In this adaptation of John le Carré's Call for the Dead (1961) that is directed by Sidney Lumet, a British agent (James Mason) is suspicious of the suicide of a man he had investigated (Robert Flemyng).

Monday, June 24, 2019

J. S. Fletcher celebrates a centenary.

New HarperCollins edition of Fletcher's
The Middle Temple Murder
In the Oxford Times, Christopher Gray celebrates the centenary of the publication of The Middle Temple Murder (1919) by Yorkshire-born Joseph Smith Fletcher, better known as J. S. Fletcher (1863–1935). Says Gray, "The novel put me very much in mind of John Buchan’s The Thirty-Nine Steps." In the novel (read by presidential mystery fan Woodrow Wilson), a journalist and a Scotland Yard inspector see something more in a violent death than a robbery gone wrong.

More on Fletcher (who apparently also was a friend of T. S. Stribling)

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

"The Last of the Sommervilles" (1961).

In this episode of Thriller directed by Ida Lupino and cowritten by Lupino and her cousin Richard Lupino, a scheming heir plots to eliminate the competition for an inheritance. Phyllis Thaxter and Martita Hunt costar.

Monday, June 17, 2019

German films of Edgar Wallace works.

Edgar Wallace, Der Frosch mit der Maske
(Fellowship of the Frog)
On the Galactic Journey blog, Cora Buhlert discusses the popularity in Germany of film adaptations of the works of Edgar Wallace, including Der Zinker (The Squeaker) with Klaus Kinski.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

They Can't Hang Me (1955).

Adapted and directed by Val Guest from a story by journalist Leonard Mosley, They Can't Hang Me features a convicted civil servant attempting to avoid the hangman's noose by claiming he can identify a spy notorious for disclosing top-secret nuclear information. Andre Morell stars.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Ellery Queen, Rex Stout, and WQXR.

Ad for WQXR, 1963
New York Public Radio archivist Andy Lanset spotlights mentions of WQXR (a well-known classical music station in New York) in books, including those by Ellery Queen and Rex Stout (the latter mentioning the station in four works). Go here for a history of WQXR, including its ownership for nearly 30 years by the New York Times.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

The Man Who Finally Died (1963).

Stanley Baker gets physical in
The Man Who Finally Died
In The Man Who Finally Died, Stanley Baker sets out on the trail of his father, who supposedly died in World War II. Costars include Peter Cushing and Eric Portman.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Upcoming Ngaio Marsh companion.

This is the upcoming volume 9 in the McFarland Companions to Mystery Fiction series that I edit. It focuses on Ngaio Marsh, creator of well-born Inspector Roderick Alleyn. Marsh joins other subjects John Buchan, E. X. Ferrars, Ed McBain/Evan Hunter, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Andrea Camilleri, James Ellroy, Sara Paretsky, and P. D. James.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Arthur Conan Doyle, pre-Sherlock.

Arthur Conan Doyle. NYPL
Edinburgh Live discussed an 1882 letter by Arthur Conan Doyle to Blackwood's Magazine trying to sell his short story "The Actor's Duel" (later published as "The Tragedians").

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Miss Robin Hood (1952).

In Miss Robin Hood, a pulp writer is embroiled in a plot to recover a recipe for spirits stolen from a family a long time ago.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Your mission, should you decide to accept it...

Peter Graves with his
brother, James Arness
A recent episode of Wyoming Public Media's Archives on the Air focuses on the TV program Mission: Impossible, featuring (from the collections of the American Heritage Center) a page from the script "The Carrier" by Ronald Austin and a page from Morris Abrams's production notes for the episode "The Amateur."

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Desperate Moment (1953).

Based on the novel by Martha Albrand, Desperate Moment features a wrongly convicted Dirk Bogarde seeking the actual murderer in his case in postwar Germany.

Monday, May 13, 2019

"The Art of Sherlock Holmes" exhibition.

On view until June 3 at Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in West Palm Beach, FL, is the exhibition "The Art of Sherlock Holmes," which features 15 artistic works inspired by the Great Detective.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Three Weird Sisters (1947).

In this adaptation of the novel by Charlotte Armstrong, in which one of the screenwriters was poet Dylan Thomas, a secretary thinks her employer's life is in danger at the hands of his three sisters.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Lawsuit re Elmore Leonard's papers settled.

The Detroit News reported that a lawsuit regarding the sale of Elmore Leonard's papers to the University of South Carolina had been settled. Christine Leonard, Leonard's ex-wife, had sued alleging that Leonard's company, trust, and son had sold the archive in secret (stating that a stipulation in the divorce decree entitled her to a share of the proceeds).

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Clues 37.1: Canadian Detective Fiction, Nancy Drew, Shelley, Trauma, Dementia, and More.

Volume 37, no. 1 of Clues: A Journal of Detection has been published, which can be purchased from McFarland & Co. (Cree-French Canadian author Wayne Arthurson is on the cover). The abstracts for the issue follow below. I will update this post once the ebook versions of the issue are available.

Introduction / JANICE M. ALLAN (Univ of Salford) The executive editor of Clues discusses the contents of Clues vol. 37, no. 1, including articles on dementia in detective fiction, a Percy Bysshe Shelley poem viewed as a detective story, Wayne Arthurson, Giles Blunt, Gail Bowen, Arthur Conan Doyle, Laurie R. King, Nancy Drew, Ron Rash, Rene Saldana Jr., and Peter Temple.

The Sign of the Four and the Detective as a Disrupter of Order / NATHANAEL T. BOOTH (Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China). Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of the Four (1890) often is read in the context of British imperialism and bourgeois rationality, which stresses the problematic nature of Sherlock Holmes’s activity as a detective. Separated from its imperialist context, the novel shows a Holmes who unsettles (rather than restores) social order.

“I ain’t going to the jailhouse if I can help it”: The Thriller Impulse in Ron Rash’s One Foot in Eden / JIM COBY (University of Alabama in Huntsville). This essay examines how the contemporary Appalachian writer Ron Rash employs the tropes of mystery thrillers—tropes largely ignored in southern fiction—in his novel One Foot in Eden (2002), as he grapples with an increasingly urbanized Appalachia.

René Saldaña Jr.’s Innovations of Children’s Detective Fiction in the Mickey Rangel Series / AMY CUMMINS (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley). René Saldaña Jr.’s Mickey Rangel series (Arte Público, 2009–18) both fulfills and rewrites the conventions of children’s detective fiction. On the south Texas border of the United States, fifth-grade detective Mickey solves cases while facing social problems and unanswered questions, aided by a mysterious Angel as his secret sidekick.

Trauma and Contemporary Crime Fiction / MARY ANN GILLIES (Simon Fraser University, Canada). This article explores the role of trauma in contemporary crime novels by Laurie R. King and Peter Temple. It argues that, as understandings of what constitutes trauma have shifted over the last century, crime fiction has adapted as well, representing trauma in sophisticated and complex ways and, in so doing, mirroring the contemporary preoccupation with it.

The Case of the Missing Memory: Dementia and the Fictional Detective / MARLA HARRIS. This essay explores the challenges of creating a detective with dementia in Mitch Cullin’s A Slight Trick of the Mind (2005), Adele LaPlante’s Turn of Mind (2011) and Emma Healey’s Elizabeth Is Missing (2014). As these metaphysical narratives feature paradoxes of identity, they can help destigmatize this devastating condition.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Peer reception of Anna Katharine Green.

Anna Katharine Green. NYPL
Amid the very busy Popular Culture Association conference of last week (see my Twitter feed), I had a chat with Clues contributor Claire Meldrum (Sheridan College, Canada). Meldrum is working on a biography of Anna Katharine Green (listen to her talk about Green on Vermont Public Radio). She is interested in hearing from anyone who has come across mentions of Green and her work by fellow writers (Green did meet Arthur Conan Doyle during one of his lecture tours). Contact Meldrum here.

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.).

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.