Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Bird in the Hand

Evan Lewis, an award-winning short-story writer based in Portland, Oregon, has periodically published unusual crime-fiction discoveries in his blog, Davy Crockett’s Almanack of Mystery, Adventure, and the Wild West. For instance, in 2014 he brought us a “nine-day extravaganza celebrating slick-tongued reporter Daffy Dill” of the fictional New York Chronicle.” And back in 2011, Lewis presented “A Man Couldn’t Breathe,” a forgotten yarn penned by David Goodis (under the pseudonym David Crewe) and published originally in the April 6, 1935, issue of Detective Fiction Weekly.

Now, Lewis has scheduled the posting—beginning this coming Friday, May 26—of a 1946 comic-book version of Dashiell Hammett’s only Sam Spade private-eye novel, The Maltese Falcon (1930). The full-color, 47-page magazine was illustrated by Rodlow Willard, a University of California-educated art director, editor, and “gag cartoonist” who once worked for the David McKay Comics Group, publisher of this Falcon adaptation. Although The Booklist Reader contends that the ’46 comic “didn’t leave much of an impression on those who have seen it, with artwork described as ‘wooden’ and ‘underwhelming,’” it makes clear that David McKay’s Maltese Falcon is “incredibly rare and fairly valuable.” Click here to enjoy a scan of the cover.

In the lead-up to posting pages from that comic book, Lewis’ blog has recently delivered a variety of Maltese Falcon book covers, a look back at the first Maltese Falcon movie (from 1931), and a collection of posters and memorabilia linked to the more famous, 1941 big-screen version of Hammett’s best-known novel, starring Humphrey Bogart. He had previously written a review of Satan Met a Lady, a “silly” and very loose 1936 version of The Maltese Falcon, starring Bette Davis, plus a succession of placards and still shots connected to that film.

With one more day to go before rolling out the Falcon comic, Lewis promises that tomorrow he’ll write in his blog about “the sequel to The Maltese Falcon.” I presume he’s referring to a January 10, 1948, episode of the radio drama series Suspense titled “The Khandi Tooth Caper,” in which actor Howard Duff—who starred in radio’s The Adventures of Sam Spade, Detective—again portrays Hammett’s case-hardened San Francisco gumshoe. As The Thrilling Detective Web Site explains, that 60-minute show was “a direct sequel to The Maltese Falcon, with Spade once again meeting [Casper] Gutman, [Joel] Cairo, and another ‘gunsel.’ It explains what happened to the real Falcon, alludes to Brigid O’Shaugnessy’s fate, and sets Spade and the bad guys at odds as they again contend in the search for another quest object, the fabled Khandi Tooth.” Stay tuned.

FOLLOW-UP: Sure enough, on Thursday morning Evan Lewis posted a sound file containing 1948’s “The Khandi Tooth Caper” (or “The Kandy Tooth Caper,” as he has chosen to title it). You can listen to that 60-minute program by clicking here.

READ MORE:Forgotten Books: The Adventures of Sam Spade aka A Man Called Spade aka They Can Only Hang You Once,” by Evan Lewis (Davy Crockett’s Almanack of Mystery, Adventure, and the Wild West).

1 comment:

Rick Robinson said...

I've been following the wind-up all week, and am eager to see the goods.