On this day: writer Jack Trevor Story.

On this day:  writer Jack Trevor Story.

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On March 31, 1917, the writer Jack Trevor Story was born.  His best-known work is the black comedy The Trouble with Harry, which Alfred Hitchcock made into a popular movie with Shirley MacLaine.  Hitchcock paid $500 for the movie rights yet, despite the movie’s success, refused to augment the original sum.  Story continued to write short stories, screenplays, and novels with mixed success.  He passed away in 1991 of a heart attack.

On this day: Some Like It Hot

On this day:  Some Like It Hot

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On March 29, 1959, the Mirisch Company released one of the all-time great movies, Some Like It Hot.  It starred Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe, and George Raft.  In the hands of anyone else it might have been just another romcom—albeit one set against the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.  With Billy Wilder at the helm, however, it crackles with the sly worldliness and vaguely misanthropic humor of Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin.  Among its most remarkable features are an extended Cary Grant impersonation, innuendo far ahead of its time, and a dress that is barely there.  A truly remarkable film on many levels.

The Dastardly Past — E. T. A. Hoffmann

On this day:  March 28, 1818–E. T. A. Hoffmann.

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On March 28, 1818, author E .T. A. Hoffmann writes a Berlin librarian asking for works that will help him with a new story, proving once again that all great works begin at the library.  In this case, Hoffmann’s work becomes Mademoiselle de Scuderi, an early example of romantic intrigue that some say is a pre-cursor of the detective genre.

The book is readily available on Amazon.

 

Farewell, Colin Dexter

A Mystery Writer’s Almanac–Farewell, Colin Dexter.

Colin Dexter

Today we lost one of the greats in the genre of mystery fiction.  Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse, passed away at the age of 86.  The details of his life can be found here in the Daily Telegraph.

In addition to his writing, Dexter is best remembered from taking a page from Alfred Hitchcock’s book–for over thirty years he appeared as an extra in the television series based on his characters.  Spotting Dexter became a favorite armchair pass time of the shows’ fans.

 

Leo McKern

A Mystery Writer’s Almanac–Leo McKern

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On March 16, 1920, Leo McKern entered the world by way of Sydney, New South Wales.  After serving as a sapper in the second World War, he moved to England and became a critically acclaimed actor on stage and in films.  It is his work between 1978 and 1992 for which he is best remember, however.  In that time he gave life and voice to John Mortimer’s barrister Rumpole of the Bailey in forty-four episodes for ITV, which aired in the United States on PBS Mystery!  McKern grew to resent the idea that Rumpole eclipsed the rest of his notable career, but there are worse things than being remembered as Horace Rumpole, Defender of the Underdog, Baiter of Judges, Mocker of the Establishment, and Preserver of the Presumption of Innocence.  So poor a glass of your favorite cheap red (Chateau Thames Embankment) and drink a toast to Leo McKern and the shabby Quixote he portrayed.

The FBI’s Ten Most-Wanted List

A Mystery Writer’s Almanac–the FBI’s Ten Most-Wanted List

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On this day, March 14, in 1950 an article was published listing the ten fugitives whom the FBI considered most dangerous and, therefore, most eager to capture.  The list emerged from a conversation between J. Edgar Hoover and a member of the press about ways to promote public awareness of the nation’s worst offenders and thereby lead to their arrest.  The list has continued for over 75 years.  Once on the list, fugitives can only be removed from it through capture, the charges being dropped, or death.

Edward Gorey

A Mystery Writer’s Almanac–Edward Gorey.

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On this day in 1925 Edward Gorey, illustrator of the macabre and mysterious, is born.  He is the author and illustrator of dozens of highly-prized  and darkly humorous books and may be best known for creating the opening sequence for the PBS program Mystery!

A bibliography of Gorey’s work includes

  • Three Books From The Fantod Press (3), Fantod Press, 1971
    • The Deranged Cousins
    • The Eleventh Episode
    • The Untitled Book
  • The Awdrey-Gore Legacy, 1972
  • Leaves From A Mislaid Album, Gotham Book Mart, 1972
  • The Abandoned Sock, Fantod Press, 1972
  • A Limerick, Salt-Works Press, 1973
  • The Lost Lions, Fantod Press, 1973
  • The Green Beads, Albondocani Press, 1978
  • The Glorious Nosebleed: Fifth Alphabet, Mead, 1975
  • The Grand Passion: A Novel, Fantod Press, 1976
  • The Broken Spoke, Mead, 1976
  • The Loathsome Couple, Mead, 1977
  • Dancing Cats And Neglected Murderesses, Workman, 1980
  • The Water Flowers, Congdon & Weed, 1982
  • The Dwindling Party, Random House, 1982
  • The Prune People, Albondocani Press, 1983
  • Gorey Stories, 1983
  • The Tunnel Calamity, Putnam’s Sons, 1984
  • The Eclectic Abecedarium, Adama Books, 1985
  • The Prune People II, Albondocani Press, 1985
  • The Improvable Landscape, Albondocani Press, 1986
  • The Raging Tide: Or, The Black Doll’s Imbroglio, Beaufort Books, 1987
  • Q. R. V. (later retitled The Universal Solvent), Anne & David Bromer, 1989
  • The Stupid Joke, Fantod Press, 1990
  • The Fraught Settee, Fantod Press, 1990
  • The Doleful Domesticity; Another Novel, Fantod Press, 1991
  • The Retrieved Locket, Fantod Press, 1994
  • The Unknown Vegetable, Fantod Press, 1995
  • The Just Dessert: Thoughtful Alphabet XI, Fantod Press, 1997
  • Deadly Blotter: Thoughtful Alphabet XVII, Fantod Press, 1997
  • The Haunted Tea-Cosy: A Dispirited and Distasteful Diversion for Christmas, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1998
  • The Headless Bust: A Melancholy Meditation on the False Millennium, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1999