Friday, November 25, 2011

25 November: This Day in Mystery

25 November 1899
W.R. Burnett is born in Springfield, Ohio.

Burnett is the author of Little Caesar (1929), High Sierra (1940), and The Asphalt Jungle (1949).

25 November 1947

Out of the Past, the "definitive existential noir film" starring Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas is released.

25 November 1952
Agatha Christie's play The Mousetrap opens at the Ambassador Theatre in London, with Richard Attenborough and Shela Sim. The Mousetrap is still running today!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

24 November: This Day in Mystery

24 November 1908
Harry Kemelman, whose detective hero Rabbi David Small is acclaimed the best clerical sleuth since Father Brown, is born in Boston. Small assists police chief Hugh Lanagan in solving crimes that happen on a daily basis: Friday the Rabbi Slept Late (1964), Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red (1974).

24 November 1925
William F. Buckley Jr is born in New York City. Famed conservative commentator and editor of The National Review, Buckley also writes best-selling thrillers featuring Blackford Oakes, a Yale-educated CIA agent (Saving the Queen, 1976).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

23 November: This Day in Mystery

23 November 1887
Boris Karloff, christened William Henry Pratt, is born in Dulwich, England. Karloff, an ex-truckdriver, receives his first good reviews for his roles as crimonals in such early talkie crime melodramas as The Criminal Code (1931) before going on to become one of Hollywood's best-known actors after his performance as Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein, 1931.

23 November 1910
Wife murderer Dr. H. H. Crippen is executed at Pentonville prison in England.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

22 November: This Day in Mystery

22 November 1917
John Cleary is born in Sydney, Australia. He becomes a writer of suspense novels, and will win the 1974 Edgar for best novel for Peter's Pence, "an exciting heist yarn set in the Vatican." In it the Pope is kidnapped by a group of IRA extremists and ransomed for 15 million Deutsche marks.

Monday, November 21, 2011

21 November: This Day in Mystery

According to The Mystery Book of Days - Mysterious Press,, 1990, nothing mysterious at all happened on this day.

Will get back to posting Wednesday

Had some family issues to take care of...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

20 November: This Day in Mystery

20 November 1900
Chester Gould is born in Pawnee, Oklahoma. He will grow up to create Dick Tracy, in 1931. Gould figures that if real-life policemen couldn't put a stop to gangsters and bootleggers, he would create one that could. Gould's villains include Pruneface, BB Eyes, Flattop and Mumbles.

20 November 1926
British espionage novelist John Gardner (who writes James Bond novels after the death of Ian Fleming, as for example License Renewed in 1981), is born in Seaton Delaval, Northumberland, England. His The Garden of Weapons (1980) represents a more serious side of the author.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

19 November: This Day in Mystery

According to the Mystery Book of Days, The Mysterious Press, 1990, nothing at all mysterious happened on this day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

18 November: This Day in Mystery

According to the Mystery Book of Days, The Mysterious Press, 1990, nothing at all mysterious happened on this day.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

13 November: This Day in Mystery

13 November 1850
Robert Louis Stevenson is born in Edinburgh. He is the author of Treasure Island (1883) Kidnapped (1886), as well as crime books The Wrong Box (1889) and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886).

13 November 1877
Harvey J. O'Higgins is born on this date in London, Ontario. The first serious use of psychoanalytical deduction occurs in the works of Harvey J. O'Higgins, who is the author of Detective Duff Unravels It (1929).

13 November 1904
Vera Caspary, the author of Laura (1943), her first novel, is born in Chicago. (Otto Preminger's 1944 film classic stars Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney, Clifton Webb, Vincent Price and Judith Anderson)
Vera Caspary (November 13, 1899 – June 13, 1987) was an American writer of novels, plays, screenplays, and short stories. Her best-known novel Laura was made into a highly successful movie. Though she claimed she was not a "real" mystery writer, her novels effectively merged women's quest for identity and love with murder plots. Independence is the key to her protagonists, with her novels revolving around women who are menaced, but who turn out to be neither victimized nor rescued damsels.

Following her father's death, the income from Caspary's writing was at times only just sufficient to support both herself and her mother, and during the Great Depression she became interested in Socialist causes. Caspary joined the Communist party under an alias, but not being totally committed and at odds with its code of secrecy, she claimed to have confined her activities to fund-raising and hosting meetings.

Caspary visited Russia in an attempt to confirm her beliefs, but nonetheless became disillusioned and wished to resign from the Party, although she continued to contribute money and support similar causes. She eventually married her lover and writing collaborator of six years, Isidor "Igee" Goldsmith; but despite this being a successful partnership, her Communist connections would later lead to her being "graylisted", temporarily yet significantly affecting their offers of work and income.

The couple split their time between Hollywood and Europe until Igee's death in 1964, after which Caspary remained in New York where she would write a further eight books.

* A Manual of Classic Dancing. (as Sergei Marinoff) Chicago: Sergei Marinoff School, 1922
* Ladies and Gents. NY: Grosset and Dunlap, 1929
* The White Girl. NY: Sears & Company, 1929
* Music in the street. NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1930
* Thicker than Water. NY: Liveright, 1932
* Laura. Boston Houghton Mifflin Company, 1943
* Bedelia. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1945
* Stranger Than Truth. NY: Random House, 1946
* The Murder in the Stork Club. NY: AC. Black, 1946
* The Weeping And The Laughter. Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1950
* Thelma. Boston: Little Brown, 1952
* False Face. London: W.H Allen, 1954
* Evvie. NY: Harper, 1960
* Bachelor in Paradise. NY: Dell, 1961
* A Chosen Sparrow. NY: Putnam, 1964
* The Man Who Loved His Wife. NY: Putnam, 1966
* The Husband. NY: Harpers, 1967
* The Rosecrest Cell. NY: Putnam, 1967
* Final Portrait. London: W.H. Allen, 1971
* Ruth. NY: Pocket, 1972
* Dreamers. NY: Simon and Schuster, 1975
* Elizabeth X. London: WH Allen, 1978
* The Secrets of Grown-Ups. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1979
* The Murder in the Stork Club and Other Mysteries. Norfolk, VA: Crippen & Landru, 2009. Collection of novelettes.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

12 November: This Day in Mystery

12 November 1939
Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, dramatized by The Mercury Players (founded by Orson Welles), is broadcast on CBS' radio's Campbell Playhouse.

12 November 1947
Emmuska, Baroness Orczy - creator of the Scarlet Pimpernel, the Old Man in the Corner and Lady Molly of Scotland Yard, dies at the age o82.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11 November: This Day in Mystery

11 November 1846
Anna Katherine Green, often erroneously considered to be the first female mystery author, is born in Brooklym. Her The Leavenworth Case (1878) appears eleven years after the lesser known Dead Letter by Seeley Register.

11 November 1914
Howard Fast is born in New York City. A mainstream novelist, Fast uses the pseudonym E.V. Cunningham for his mysteries after being blacklisted during the McCArthy era. He is best known for his novels featuring Masao Masuto, a Japanese Buddhist and martial arts expert who moves among California's rich and powerful investigating various crimes (The Case of the Russian Diplomat (1978)).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

10 November: This Day in Mystery

10 November 1893
John P. Marquand, creator of secret agent Mr. I. O. Moto, is born in Wilmington, Delaware. The character is popular in a series of eight movies starring Peter Lorre, but fades away after Pearl Harbor.

10 November 1932
Mervyn LeRoy's I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang starring Paul Muni as a man forced by the Depression to take up a life of crime, is released.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

9 November: This Day in Mystery

9 November 1955
I Died A Thousand Times, the second film version of W.R. Burnett's High Sierra - this time starring Jack Palance as Mad Dog Earle - is released.

9 November 1965
The great New York electrical blackout strikes. This occurrence becomes the basis for Stanton Forbes' thriller Dead By the Light of the Moon (1967).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

8 November: This Day in Mystery

8 November 1943
Jon L. Breen is born in Montgomery, Alabama. He is an Edgar-winning critic and novelist, who satirizes the work of Christie, Queen, Van Dine, Carr and others in a collection of parodies of the great detectives, Hair of the Sleuthhound (1982). His novels showcase his affection for old books and classic mystery plotting (Touch of the Past, 1988).

Monday, November 7, 2011

7 November: This Day in Mystery

7 November, 1942
Johnny Rivers, composer and singer of Secret Agent Man - which will be used as the theme for the British TV series Danger Man (in the US) is born on this day.

7 November 1980
Steve McQueen, star in a variety of movie genres, but also in The Thomas Crown Affair and Bullitt, dies on this day from a heart attack following surgery for mesothelioma. He was only 50 years old, having been born on 25 March 1930.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

6 November: This Day in Mystery

6 November 1951
The film version of Detective Story, directed by William Wyler from the hit Broadway play by Sidney Kingsley, premieres. Kirk Douglas plays the amoral and sadistic cop, Jim McLeod. Dashiell Hammett is originally hired to write the screenplay, but later drops out of the project.

Detective Story (1951) is a film noir which tells the story of one day in the lives of the various people who populate a police detective squad. It features Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, William Bendix, Cathy O'Donnell, Lee Grant, among others. The movie was adapted by Robert Wyler and Philip Yordan from the 1949 play of the same name by Sidney Kingsley. It was directed by William Wyler.

An embittered cop, Det. Jim McLeod (Douglas), leads a precinct of characters in their grim daily battle with the city's lowlife. Little does he realize that his obsessive pursuit of an abortionist (Macready) is leading him to discover his wife had an abortion. The characters who pass through the precinct over the course of the day include a young petty embezzler, a pair of burglars, and a naive shoplifter.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

5 November: This Day in Mystery

5 November 1925
Sidney Reilly - the British espionage agent known as the Ace of Spies - is executed by the Soviets on this day.

Lieutenant Sidney George Reilly, MC (c. March 24, 1873/1874 – November 5, 1925), famously known as the Ace of Spies, was a Jewish Russian-born adventurer and secret agent employed by Scotland Yard, the British Secret Service Bureau and later the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). He is alleged to have spied for at least four nations. His notoriety during the 1920s was created in part by his friend, British diplomat and journalist Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart, who sensationalised their thwarted operation to overthrow the Bolshevik government in 1918.

After Reilly's death, the London Evening Standard published in May, 1931, a Master Spy serial glorifying his exploits. Later, Ian Fleming would use Reilly as a model for James Bond. Today, many historians consider Reilly to be the first 20th century super-spy. Much of what is thought to be known about him could be false, as Reilly was a master of deception, and most of his life is shrouded in legend

In September 1925, undercover agents of the OGPU, the intelligence successor of the Cheka, lured Reilly to Bolshevik Russia, ostensibly to meet the supposed anti-Communist organization The Trust—in reality, an OGPU deception existing under the code name Operation Trust. At the Russian border, Reilly was introduced to undercover OGPU agents posing as senior Trust representatives from Moscow. One of these undercover Soviet agents, Alexander Yakushev, later recalled the meeting:
“The first impression of [Sidney Reilly] is unpleasant. His dark eyes expressed something biting and cruel; his lower lip drooped deeply and was too slick—the neat black hair, the demonstratively elegant suit. [...] Everything in his manner expressed something haughtily indifferent to his surroundings.”

After Reilly crossed the Finnish border, the Soviets captured, transported, and interrogated him at Lubyanka Prison. On arrival, Reilly was taken to the office of Roman Pilar, a Soviet official who the previous year had arrested and ordered the execution of Boris Savinkov, a close friend of Reilly. Pilar reminded Reilly that he had been sentenced to death by a 1918 Soviet tribunal for his participation in a counter-revolutionary plot against the Bolshevik government. While Reilly was being interrogated, the Soviets publicly claimed that he had been shot trying to cross the Finnish border.

Historians debate whether Reilly was tortured while in OGPU custody. Cook contends that Reilly was not tortured other than psychologically by mock execution scenarios designed to shake the resolve of prisoners. During OGPU interrogation, Reilly maintained his charade of being a British subject born in Clonmel, Ireland, and would not reveal any intelligence matters.[6] While facing such daily interrogation, Reilly kept a diary in his cell of tiny handwritten notes on cigarette papers which he hid in the plasterwork of a cell wall. While his Soviet captors were interrogating Reilly, Reilly in turn was analysing and documenting their techniques. The diary was a detailed record of OGPU interrogation techniques, and Reilly was understandably confident that such unique documentation would, if he escaped, be of interest to the British SIS. After Reilly's death, Soviet guards discovered the diary in Reilly's cell, and photographic enhancements were made by OGPU technicians.

Reilly was executed in a forest near Moscow on November 5, 1925; British intelligence documents released in 2000 confirm this. According to eyewitness Boris Gudz, the execution of Sidney Reilly was supervised by an OGPU officer, Grigory Feduleev; another OGPU officer, George Syroezhkin, fired the final shot into Reilly's chest.

After the death of Reilly, there were various rumors about his survival. Some, for example, speculated that Reilly had defected and became an adviser to Soviet intelligence.

Friday, November 4, 2011

4 November: This day in Mystery

4 November, 1862
Eden Phillpotts, whose encouragement of the young Agatha Christie helped her development, is born in Mount Aboo, India.

He will write over 100 novels, among them several mysteries.

4 November 1949
Noir master Nicholas Rey's first film, They Live By Night, is released. It is the first film version of Edward Anderson's Thieves Like Us, which will later be remade by detective Robert Altman.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

3 November: This Day in Mystery

3 November 1890
Harry Stephen Keeler, inventor of the self-described "webwork" novel, is born in Chicago. To write his monumentally convoluted crime epics, Keeler refers to his boxes of randomly clipped newspaper articles and works there disparate events into his bizarre plots - ultimately resolving every ridiculous complication to make perfect sense (The Face of the Man From Saturn (1933), The Man with the Magic Eardrums (1939).

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2 November: This Day in Mystery

2 November 1942
Stefanie Powers, co-star of Hart to Hart, with Robert Wagner, about a husband and wife private detective team, was born o this day.

2 November 1971
Martha Vickers, who co-starred in The Falcon in Mexico (as Barbara MacVicar), and was the second woman in The Big Sleep (along with Lauren Bacall), dies on this day of cancer. She was born on 28 May, 1925

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

1 November: This Day in Mystery

1 November 1863
Arthur Morrison is born in London. A dramatist and short story writer most interested in social reform, he creates Martin Hewitt. Like Sherlock Holmes, Martin Hewitt first appears in the Strand magazine. His stories are collected together in Martin Hewitt, Investigator (1894).

1 November 1899
The real-life inspiration for Bulldog Drummond, Gerald Fairlie, is born in London. Upon the death of Sapper, Drummond's creator, in 1937, Fairlie continues to write the Bulldog Drummond stories (Calling Bulldog Drummond (951)).