The month started on a noirish note, with the sale at auction of the Maltese Falcon for £2.5 million. So here are a few noir film reviews to get us going…
First up, Sergio at Tipping My Fedora reviewed The Lady from Shanghai (1948):
The story goes that Orson Welles, needing $50,000, rang the head of Columbia Studios and offered to make a film for them from a paperback he had just plucked at random from a book stand near the phone booth. Is this tall tale true? And is the film any good? And are you ready for Rita Hayworth as a blonde?
Meanwhile, Film Noir of the Week (which doesn’t quite live up to its name, but still has a massive collection of movie reviews) looked at Farewell My Lovely (1975)
You’d think Robert Mitchum was a bit too old for the part, but they hit the age question head on in that opening clip. Mitchum’s world-weary voice overs and attitude makes you wonder why he didn’t play Marlowe in the 40s, 50s and 60s too. Professionally Mitchum would set himself on cruise control not long after this one. But this, The Yakuza and especially the Boston neo-noir The Friends of Eddie Coyle showed Mitchum could really deliver when he wanted to.
Speaking of the Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), It Rains, You Get Wet calls it ‘Mitchum at his best’:
We find ex-convict, two-time loser and bakery truck delivery driver Eddie “Fingers” Coyle awaiting arraignment on an out of state gun charge and well under the thumb of an up and coming ATF agent, Dave Foley (Richard Jordan, at his most roughshod, “don’t give a damn” best!). Who holds Eddie’s sentencing recommendation like the Sword of Damocles over his head.
Moving on from films, I picked up a couple of sleuths I intend to track down next year. Vintage Pop Fictions brought M. P. Shiels’ Prince Zaleski to my attention.
Prince Zaleski never leaves his vast, remote and crumbling old house. Consumed by elegant despair and cultured ennui, he smokes hashish and contemplates the beautiful objects with which he has surrounded himself. He shudders at the thought of reading a newspaper. The idea of taking an interest in the world horrifies. From time to time he is visited by his friend Shiel (who narrates the stories). Shiel is interested in crime and knows that from time to time a case arises that is so bizarre that it has the power to rouse Zaleski from his strange dream-world. Zaleski then applies his immense his intellectual gifts to the solving of the puzzle. He is invariably able to solve the crime without having to suffer the ordeal of having to leave his house, or even to stir himself from his divan.
Crimesquad.com reviewed Dennis Wheatley’s The Forbidden Territory, the book in which the satanic-thriller-writer-cum-intelligence-officer introduced the Duke de Richleau (who went on to be portrayed by Christopher Lee in Hammer’s The Devil Rides Out):
What I loved is that the Duke de Richleau isn’t a young man. Already he is in his sixties but a nimble sixty-odd year old all the same. Yes, he does have three young sidekicks, Rex, Simon and Richard, but that doesn’t mean that de Richleau is pushed aside or to the back of the queue. No, he is at the front, leading. Not only is Richleau a man of action but of brains as well. The Duke is good with a gun, deadly with a blade and uses cunning, guile and psychological mind games to win the day. Although his fellow ‘musketeers’ are younger and more vital, the Duke is the one they follow. And despite his predicament, the Duke always seems to be well dressed and cuts a dashing figure for a gentleman of his age.
The Puzzle Doctor looked at Mavis Doriel Hay’s The Santa Klaus Murder:
Overall then, it requires a little sticking power to get through the opening sections, but this is a well-constructed murder mystery from a long forgotten author and well worth a look. Recommended for the classicists out there.
(I didn’t have as much sticking power, to be honest. I’ve blogged at Eurocrime about my admiration for the British Library’s publishing this year, but to be honest I lost my way with this one.)
Curt at The Passing Tramp looked at Jack Iam’s Do Mot Murder Before Christmas (1949):
What is the mystery? Why, who killed Uncle Poot, the kindly and beloved old Dutch toymaker, on the eve of his Christmas party for all the poor tots of Shady Hollow, the slum of the anonymous small city where the novel takes place. It seems old Uncle Poot kept records going back for decades on the children who patronized his store as to which were naughty and which nice, and someone may have decided that the old Dutchman knew a little too much about these matters.
Thanks to all the bloggers (and publishers) out there doing so much to keep classic crime alive. I look forward to collecting more of your thoughts in 2014. Happy New Year!
See also… (and do give me a shout if I’ve missed something)
Battered, Tattered, Yellowed and Creased
- Michael Crichton’s Odds On
Beneath the Stains of Time
- Donald McGibney’s 32 Caliber (1920)
- Herman Heijermans’ Moord in de trein (Murder on the Train, 1925)
- Lynton Blow’s The “Moth” Murder (1931)
- Gladys Edson Locke’s The Red Cavalier, Or, the Twin Turrets Mystery (1922)
- Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot: The Complete Short Stories
Clothes in Books
- Elizabeth Ferrars’ Alibi for a Witch (1952)
- John Dickson Carr’s He Who Whispers (1941)
- Gladys Mitchell’s Watson’s Choice (1955)
The Consulting Detective
Crime Fiction Lover
- Georges Simenon: Pietr the Latvian (1930)
- Dennis Wheatley’s The Forbidden Territory (1933)
Do You Write Under Your Own Name?
- Pamela Barrington’s Accessory to Murder (1968)
The Dusty Bookcase
- Martin Brett’s Exit in Green (1953)
Ela’s Book Blog
- Impersonation Stories (Mary Stewart’s The Ivy Tree and Josephine Tey’s Brat Farrar)
Film Noir of the Week
- Farewell, My Lovely (film, 1975)
The Game’s Afoot
- Reginald Hill’s A Clubbable Woman (1970)
- Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö’s The Locked Room (1972)
The Lady Killers
My Reader’s Block
- Lawrence G. Blochman’s Recipe for Homicide (1952)
The Passing Tramp
A Penguin a Week
Pretty Sinister Books
It Rains, You Get Wet
- The Friends of Eddie Coyle (film, 1973)
At the Scene of the Crime
In Search of the Classic Mystery
- P. D. James: Who killed the golden age of crime?
- Robert J. Kirkpatrick’s From The Penny Dreadful to the Ha’penny Dreadfuller (2013)
Tipping my Fedora
- The Lady from Shanghai (film, 1948)
- Callan (film, 1974)
- Ed McBain’s Hail, Hail, the Gang’s All Here (1971)
Valli’s Book Den
- Margery Allingham’s The Tiger in the Smoke (1952)
The Venetian Vase
Vintage Pop Fictions
- Graham Greene’s Stamboul Train (1932)
- W. Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden, or the British Agent (1928)
- Henry Wade’s The Hanging Captain (1932)
- Agatha Christie’s The Big Four (1927)
- A. E. W. Mason’s At the Villa Rose (1910)
- Francis Beeding’s The Four Armourers (1930)
- Anthony Gilbert’s Murder by Experts (1936)
- M. P. Shiel’s Prince Zaleski (1895)
- Erle Stanley Gardner’s The Case of the Counterfeit Eye (1935)
Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog
Past Offences by Rich Westwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.