Monday, June 26, 2017

6/26/1904 Peter Lorre slithers into the world

June 26, 1904.  Think how much poorer our genre would be without Peter Lorre, who was born on this date in Austria-Hungary (now Slovakia).  His first big success was starring as a serial killer in the Fritz Lang masterpiece M.  When the Nazis took over Germany in 1933 he got the hell out (as did Lang).  His first English Language was Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (the first version). 

Among the American movies in which he played criminals are Crime and Punishment,Mad Love, The Maltese Falcon, and Casablanca.  The last two also featured Sidney Greenstreet, and those two went on to make seven more movies. 

He also starred in a series of movies about John P. Marquand's Japanese spy/detective Mr. Moto.  One of my favorite performances was as the hilarious plastic suregon Dr. Einstein in Arsenic and Old Lace.

John Huston, who directed him in The Maltese Falcon, said  "He's always doing two things at the same time, thinking one thing and saying something else."  A great skill for an actor.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

6/25/1971 Talking about Shaft

June 25, 1971. This date saw the release of the movie Shaft, based on the novel by Ernest Tidyman.  Directed by Gordon Parks and starring Richard Roundtree, it is considered the first major film of the "blaxploitation" genre.  It led to a dozens of rip-offs, and a few sequels, and saved MGM from bankruptcy.  Oh, it won an Oscar for that memorable Theme.  And in 20oo it made the National Film Registry.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

6/24/2014 Murder on the Mediterranean

June 24, 2014.  This date saw the publication of Murder on the Mediterranean, the fifth novel in Alexander Campion's series about detective Capucine Le Tellier and her husband, Alexandre, a reataurant critic.  There's murder on a sailboat and Publishers' Weekly called it a "zesty stew of a mystery."

Friday, June 23, 2017

6/23/1964 A Shot in the Dark is fired

June 23, 1964.  This date saw the release of A Shot in the Dark.  It is the second Inspector Clouseau movie, and the only one without Pink Panther in the title.  It was based on a French play which is why it involves murder instead of theft and has an actual mystery in it.  But most important it has Peter Sellers.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

6/22/1958 Steve Carella becomes a daddy

June 22, 1958.  On the day of his sister's wedding 87th Precinct detective Steve Carella becomes the father of twins.  Oh, and tries to prevent his new brother-in-law from getting murdered.  That's the plot of Ed McBain's Til Death.  Literary Review called it “zestful, inventive, and utterly compulsive.”

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

6/21/2002 Minority Report is released

June 21, 2002.  On this date Hollywood made a big step forward in its effort to film everything Phillip K. Dick ever wrote when they released Minority Report.  Tom Cruise played a cop in a future in which computer-wired people can predict who will commit a crime.  HIs job is to arrest them in advance.  Scary stuff. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

6/20/1925 Hugh Pentecost enters Room Number 23

June 20, 1925.  The issue of Flynn's Magazine with this cover date featured "Room Number 23," the first published story by a Columbia University student named Judson Philips.  He went on to write more than one hundred crime novels, mostly under the name Hugh Pentecost. The Mystery Writers of America gave him the Grand Masters Award in 1973.