Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bullet Points: World Cup Final Edition

• As the blog Down These Mean Streets explains, “On July 12, 1946, Sam Spade opened his radio office for business. Dashiell Hammett’s famous private detective was a household name from The Maltese Falcon, and he came to radio in the person of Howard Duff in a series produced and directed by William Spier. The Adventures of Sam Spade became one of radio’s most popular mystery programs, thanks in no small part to Duff’s sardonic tough guy delivery as Spade.” To celebrate this 68th anniversary, for the last several days Down These Mean Streets has been posting a succession of photographs and sound clips from the show. You can check them all out here. And listen to more Adventures of Sam Spade episodes here.

• A couple of months ago we brought you the nominees for the 2013 Shirley Jackson Awards, honoring “outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.” Megan Abbott, Joyce Carol Oates, Marisha Pessl, and Michael Marshall Smith all featured on that list. Today, brings us the winners.

• National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday looks back at how ideas about crime--especially of the violent variety--have changed over the centuries, through an analysis of records kept at London’s Old Bailey criminal court. Listen to that segment here.

• Today marks the 150th anniversary of the New York Draft Riots, three days of violent disturbances in the wake of new laws drafting men to fight in the American Civil War. “The riots remain the largest civil insurrection in American history, aside from the Civil War itself,” explains Wikipedia. Cracked History has more about this confrontation--which resulted in thousands of casualties--here.

• Will Irish actor Colin Farrell become the next star of HBO-TV’s True Detective? According to Entertainment Weekly, he is “is definitely in the mix and considered the most likely lead name to join the acclaimed drama,” though “there is no deal at this time.”

• Happy fifth anniversary to Rob Kitchin’s View from the Blue House. Congratulations, too, to the blog Battered, Tattered, Yellowed & Creased, which celebrated its third birthday this month.

• Fans of James Garner and The Rockford Files will likely be interested in this forthcoming book about the actor’s association with cars and championship automobile racing.

• In Criminal Element, Jake Hinkson pays tribute to actor Raymond Burr, writing: “Burr might be famous today for playing Perry Mason on television, but I have a feeling that as time goes on, his noir work will catch up and exceed his television fame. I don’t know how many new converts the Perry Mason series will find in the future, but I know that for as long as people watch noir, they’ll be struck by Burr’s cold stare and understated delivery.”

• On the subject of Perry Mason, I just came across part of a video interview with American composer Fred Steiner, in which he talks about his work on the theme music for that 1957-1966 CBS-TV drama. I’m embedding it below. Hear more from Steiner here.


• I’m pleased to see that talented writer Leslie Gilbert Elman, who recapped last year’s opening-season episodes of the Masterpiece Mystery! series Endeavour for Criminal Element, is back on the beat, now critiquing the current, second season as well. Her thoughts on last Sunday’s installment, “Nocturne,” can be found here, while links to her previous write-ups are available here.

• The opening from Cribb, the 1979-1981 Granada Television series starring Alan Dobie as Peter Lovesey’s Victorian police detective, Sergeant Cribb, is among the latest new offerings on The Rap Sheet’s fast-growing YouTube channel.

• Uh-oh, there are problems with AMC-TV’s Better Call Saul, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s prequel to Breaking Bad.

• Back in 2009, Hard Case Crime launched a series of high-adventure thrillers built around the swashbuckling character Gabriel Hunt, beginning with Hunt at the Well of Eternity, by James Reasoner. Only half a dozen entries in that line had come off the presses, however, before publisher Dorchester Publishing ended its association with Hard Case, sending HCC to make a distribution deal instead with UK-based Titan Publishing. Only now, says its editor, Charles Ardai, is HCC “bringing the Gabriel Hunt adventure novels back--including the never-available-in-stores final volume, which will receive its first proper publication ever this August. (The first four Hunt titles are back in stores now, having been reissued one per month starting in April, and the very rare fifth volume hits stores on July 29.)” The Adventures of Gabriel Hunt Web site has also been revived.

• R.I.P., Lou Allin. The Canadian mystery writer (Twilight Is Not Good for Maidens) died last week at age 69, following a lengthy bout with pancreatic cancer. More on her life and career here.

• “Mark your calendars!” instructs Omnimystery News. “Agatha Christie’s Poirot comes to an end this summer, with the final five episodes starring David Suchet as Hercule Poirot airing on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery! (two episodes) and Acorn TV (all five episodes).” The British TV drama began its long run in 1989!

• The Classic Film and TV Café offers “Seven Things to Know About Raymond Chandler (in His Own Words).” My favorite is No. 3:
On his Philip Marlowe novel The Lady in the Lake and the 1947 film adaptation: “This is the only published fiction of mine which I have tried to adapt for films. And it would take a lot of money to make me try again, and I don’t think this kind of money would be paid me now from Hollywood. When a man has written a book and rewritten it and rewritten it, he has had enough of it.”
• Don’t count me as a fan of DC Comics’ younger, hipper reinvention of Batgirl, aka Barbara Gordon. Co-writer Brenden Fletcher says, “Our take on Batgirl mixes the best elements of Veronica Mars and Girls, with a dash of Sherlock thrown in for good measure.” I prefer a slightly more mature, more womanly Batgirl.

• Lovers of the 1944 film Laura should note that Los Angeles historian Larry Harnisch is in the midst of writing an extended series of posts about that film classic. The installments so far can be found here: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X. If you missed reading Jim Napier’s tribute to Vera Caspary’s novel, Laura, from which the film was adapted, read it here. Another, more recent review of the book can be enjoyed here.

• And Screen Rant has posted a trailer for the coming release Before I Go to Sleep, a motion-picture based on S.J. Watson’s 2011 novel of the same name. As SR explains, “[Nicole] Kidman plays Christina Lucas, a woman suffering from anterograde amnesia after being brutally attacked and receiving several blows to the head. Her condition means that every time she goes to sleep she will wake up stripped of all her memories, and must reassemble her past every day. She is reliant upon the help of her husband Ben (Colin Firth) and a specialist called Dr. Nash (Mark Strong)--but as Christine tries to gather the facts, she begins to suspect that what she has been told is not necessarily the truth.”

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