Inquiries


         A TV/Cinema Question from Lazy Georgenby:

   You all know how Dick Powell –- as Phil Marlowe –- is lounging in his office one night, sipping scotch, gazing out his window at the lights of Los Angeles. He’s got no active cases. No dough coming in.

   It’s all part of the opening sequence in Murder My Sweet. Suddenly –behind him –the ghastly face of Moose Malone (Mike Mazurki) looms over him in the darkness, reflected by the neons winking on his windowpane. Powell sits up and turns around.

   So far so good? Okay so, I’m talking to someone lately who wants to know whether there is any crime, mystery, noir, hard-boiled detective movie-or-TV-series which incarnates the archetype above: keeping everything exactly the same as the above, except that ‘the detective turns around’ because of a knock at his door. He bids the visitor to enter and the newcomer is a beautiful femme fatale in need of his help. Via voice-over, his mental patter is the usual, “…she looked like trouble right from the start…” or words to this effect.

   He swears this is the opening scene in a classic crime flick. I’ve racked my brains trying to pin this down. A lot of candidates were easily eliminated; I’m fairly sure that it’s not the opening scene in any of the really famous P.I. movies.

   Currently, I’m hunting through old episodes of Mike Hammer on TV (Darren McGavin’s run), Lloyd Nolan’s Mike Shayne movies, the early Spillane movies like Girl Hunters, and even the Bob Hope parody movies like My Favorite Brunette.

   The maddening aspect of it all, is that this ‘trope’ could literally be from anywhere: TV commercials, graphic novels, SNL skits, cartoons. It might not have ever been filmed at all. Could be found only in homages or pastiches. Might not even be from the majors era, could be something from the ’70s.

   So as a last resort, I am throwing myself on the mercy of this court. What say ye? Thx thx thx!

   From a Q&A newsletter called Quora that comes into my email inbox a few times a week, a question was asked, “What do you think are the four best noir films of all time, ones you would use to introduce the genre to, say, teenagers today?”

   The answer as given, in order:

1. Double Indemnity
2. The Maltese Falcon
3. Laura
4. Detour

   Not a bad list, but what do you think? If you were add a number 5, what would it be?

   My good friend Richard Meli has just sent me images of two pieces of art for which he’d like to know the artist. Perhaps someone seeing this can help identify her or him:

   

   

   

   
   

   There is some resemblance in style to the artist who did this cover for the British edition of the book The Bang Bang Birds, by Adam Diment:
   

From Kenneth R. Johnson:

   I am hoping to repost my on-line reference book, The Digest Index, this year; to that end I am trying to tie up some loose ends. One minor quandary concerns a short-lived digest imprint called Pennant Mystery. I have one volume, The Six Iron Spiders by Phoebe Atwood Taylor. The back cover ad lists itself and three other titles:

      Death out of Thin Air by Stuart Towne
      So Much Blood by Bruno Fischer
      The Purple Parrot by Clyde B. Clason

   I have been absolutely unable to confirm the existence of these three other titles from any secondary sources. They are not listed in the World Catalog or the National Union Catalog. There are no known cover reproductions anywhere and I have not seen any of them offered for sale in the 14 years since I first posted The Digest Index. I am beginning to suspect that these are phantoms, advertised but never actually published.

   Does anyone out there actually have one of these, or at least have seen one on the hoof?

   

   
   My brother asked me this question, and while I remembered the scene, I couldn’t tell him in what movie or TV show it appears in. (I may even have reviewed it, which would be embarrassing, but what can you do.)

   At least one of the murders in the movie, which is my recollection of where I saw it, is that a giant mirror is placed crosswise across a narrow, isolated stretch of road, so that the driver of an oncoming car would see his own headlights reflected back at him. Trying to avoid an accident, the driver of said car would swerve the only way he could, and straight down into a ravine, the bottom of which is hundreds of feet down.

   Remember that one?

      Here’s a question left as a comment on a long-ago post:

   “These are pieces of the story of a movie I caught only a bit of, and missed the title and cast…. 1930s-1940s, B&W, etc. Genre like a Its a Wonderful Life, etc…

   “A gentleman in a small American town leave friends a bar, is mugged by the tracks, wakes up with no memory and wearing his assailant’s clothing. For all appearances he is a hobo, and he believes as much and moves on, leaves town for several years…. and around Christmastime, appears back in the same town, remembering nothing about it or his old self. A Ward Bond-ish cop mushes him off a snowy park bench at nighttime — in a respectable neighborhood, and as he is ready to comply and leave, he is espied by a younger man at the front door of what had been the elder gentleman’s home; then his wife — the young man’s mother — and he appeal to the old vagabond (without a good look at his face in the darkness) to join them as it is Christmas, after all (this is hugely climatic and heart-swelling). BUT, the kindly gent evidently does not want to impose on the family’s Christmas party and moves on.

   “The End and then the credits rolled… unread by me, dagnabbit!!

   “Please, it’s been 30 years that I have attempted to connect with this film. Not one person I have asked has heard of it, not a wit.”

   Here below is the current data for author R. E. HARRINGTON in the Revised Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin. Both he and fellow researcher John Herrington are trying to pin down his correct dates of birth and death.

   Of the dates below, Al says: “[He] was born NY in December 1931, but I have now found a reference that says the author was born in Oklahoma 8 May 1931. And another saying 8 March 1931 which intimates he is still about.!!

   “But to be honest, wonder if either is correct. And curiously several with those names born 1931, though the obituaries I have found for some indicate they are not the author.

   One possibility, says Al is “… a Robert Edward Harrington was born in Oklahoma on 3/6/1924 and died there on 12/8/2018.”

   John’s response:

   “Another site (probably one that you found) says the author was born in Oklahoma, educated at the University of Utah, worked as a systems engineer with IBM, and manager of corporate data processing with Chrysler, later president of a computer R&D company; then living with wife and children in Southern California.”

   If anyone has any other information, it would be welcome!

HARRINGTON, R(obert) E(dward) (1931-1996?) (chron.)
    *Aswan High (with James A. Young) (U.S. & London: Secker, 1983, hc) [Egypt; 1984]
    *Death of a Patriot (Putnam, 1979, hc) [Washington, D.C.] Secker, 1979.
    *-The Doomsday Game (Secker, 1981, hc)
    *Quintain (Putnam, 1977, hc) [Los Angeles, CA] Secker, 1977.
    *The Seven of Swords (Putnam, 1976, hc) [California] Secker, 1976.

Hello Steve. Your blog is great!

I’m on a mission, and it occurred to me that you and your blog followers might be able to assist me. I’m helping someone identify a film they watched on TV many years ago. My efforts so far have failed to find a match, despite the fact that they can recall quite a bit of detail about what they saw. Here is their description:

A sci-fi film (or possibly a TV episode), from the 1970s-1980s.

A woman reporter is recruited into a secret spy organization. The agency is accessed by an elevator where you insert a key and the control panel flips over to a second one.

At the end of the movie/episode, the lead male character bumps into the woman just as the clock strikes the hour, and she suddenly forgets everything that has happened (like ‘Men In Black’, but this was decades before that movie).

The ‘Agency’ is organized by color-coded sections, and I think the black one had the power to make anyone forget their experiences with them.

Seen on Canadian TV (Ontario). Possibly a TV pilot movie, or from a TV series (I believe it’s American), and was definitely live-action. Set in locations that were summer-weather like.

[description ends]

Steve, it sounds like something I would probably enjoy watching myself, so I’m kind of hooked! I’ve been digging pretty deep trying to unearth it, and I feel my best hope now is finding that one human out there who recognizes this – whatever ‘this’ is.

Thank you,
Harry

Hi Steve

   Can you tell me about the two Thursday short stories/novelettes?

   â€œMurder Has Girl Trouble” Mystery Book Magazine, Spring 1950

               

   “The Corpse Walked Away” Two Complete Detective Books, January 1951

               

   Are these stories different from the stories in the six novels? Or were they later expanded into two of the six novels?

           Thank you,

                   Joe

   A friend of mine named Jim recently asked me the following question:

   â€œI’m interested in police procedurals taking place in New York City in the 1980s. Are there any you can tell me about?”

   I don’t read a lot of police procedurals and the only immediate suggestion I could come up with was Ed McBain’s series of 87th Precinct novels, assuming that Isola, his fictional setting for the books might just as well be New York City. (And did you know that Isola has its own Wikipedia page? It does: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isola_(fictional_city).)

   Jim said he’d look into them, but that maybe I could ask the fine people who read this blog if they had any other suggestions, so he could put together a good reading list. Any help would be appreciated!

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