Jaon Hickson’s Miss Marple coming to Blu-ray

BBC-Miss-Marple-bluray2Joan Hickson was hardly the first actress to play Agatha Christie’s owlish sleuth Jane Marple, but on British television she may still be the most generally liked. Produced by the BBC between 1984 and 1992, this genteel and well-appointed show was a bit languid perhaps but beautifully shot on film (which was slightly unusual for British TV at the time) and conveyed that un-hurried vision of ‘Mayhem Parva’ with great dexterity. It was not perfect – stories were often altered and settings relocated to a generic late 40s, early 1950s, not always to its complete benefit – but it now belongs to a bygone era of British TV, almost as remote as Christie’s own. And now it’s been remastered for High Def!

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Posted in Agatha Christie, England, Miss Marple | Tagged | 12 Comments

THE RETURN OF THE THIN MAN by Dashiell Hammett

Hammett_Return-of-the-Thin-Man_hbAbsurd as it may seem, there are those who don’t think the delightful screwball mysteries featuring Nick and Nora Charles really belong in the oeuvre of hardboiled master, Dashiell Hammett. This has been exacerbated by the perceived devaluation of his work as the series of movie adaptations went on and on. But as this fascinating collection by Richard Layman and Julie M. Rivett shows, Hammett was heavily involved in writing the first 2 sequels.

I submit this review for Bev’s Golden Age Vintage Mystery Challenge; Katie’s Book to Movie Challenge at the Doing Dewey blog (for links, click here); and Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme over at Todd Mason’s Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in 2014 Book to Movie Challenge, 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, Dashiell Hammett, New York, San Francisco, Screwball, The Thin Man | Tagged , | 42 Comments

GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn

Flynn_Gone-Girl_pbFirst published in 2012, this “he said, she said” novel of marital suspense by Gillian Flynn – about a man accused of killing his wife when she goes missing – quickly became a bestseller in the US. Flynn has now turned it into a movie in collaboration with tyro director David Fincher and a cast headed by Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris and Tyler Perry. So I thought it might be a good time to have a look at how they compare and see what makes them tick. The book begins on Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth anniversary, but all is not well with their marriage …

The following review is offered for Katie’s Book to Movie Challenge at Doing Dewey (for review links, click here).

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Posted in 2014 Book to Movie Challenge, Film Noir | Tagged , , | 34 Comments

THE BLACK SPECTACLES (1939) by John Dickson Carr

Carr_Problem-of-the-Green-Capsule_IPLI was always predisposed to love this book: first off, it’s an impossible crime mystery, second it’s by John Dickson Carr and third it involves movie-making equipment – perfect! It sees the titanic powers of lexicographer detective Gideon Fell at their peak (Carr, in the dramatis personae, bills him as: ‘The expert – there are no words to describe him.’) This novel takes the Holmesian maxim that people ‘see but do not observe’ to pull off a seemingly impossible poisoning despite a camera filming every moment of the murder. We begin in Pompeii …

I submit this review for Bev’s Golden Age Vintage Mystery Challenge; and Patti Abbott’s Friday’s Forgotten Books meme over at her fab Pattinase blog.

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Posted in 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, England, Gideon Fell, Italy, John Dickson Carr, Locked Room Mystery | 75 Comments

Callan is back!

Callan[-UncoveredMore great news from Mike Ripley and those great people at Ostara Publishing. Almost half a century after he first electrified British television screens in the “one-off” drama  A Magnum for Schneider, the enigmatic, ruthless and tragic hero David Callan (so memorably portrayed by Edward Woodward) is back in a new anthology, Callan Uncovered, published as an Ostara Original simultaneously as a hardback, trade paperback and eBook.

The 24 stories, written by Callan creator James Mitchell (1926-2002), appeared in the Sunday Express newspaper between 1973 and 1976 and have never been published in book form before. Along with the first Callan story written for the TV Times in 1967, they form the basis of Callan Uncovered, along with an original treatment for an episode of the TV series,  a previously unseen complete script that was never filmed, and an introduction by James Mitchell’s son Peter.

Ostara editor Mike Ripley spent the best part of a year tracking down the stories for the collection, with the help of the British Library and a network of die-hard Callan fans. The story of “uncovering Callan” has been posted on the Ostara website along with details of James Mitchell books now back in print as Top Notch Thrillers, at www.ostarapublishing.co.uk/

A review of this book will be appearing here at Fedora very, very shortly.

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Posted in David Callan, James Mitchell, Mike Ripley, Ostara Publishing | 30 Comments

THE DRAGON MURDER CASE (1933) by SS Van Dine

Dragon-Murder-Case_poster A man dives into an open air swimming pool and vanishes, never to be seen alive again. When the pool is drained, the only clue to be found is what looks like the footprints of a dragon on the muddy sediment … It’s time for super sleuth Philo Vance to investigate what many now think was perhaps his last major case, both in print and (the following year) onscreen.

I submit this review for Bev’s Golden Age Vintage Mystery Challenge; Katie’s Book to Movie Challenge at Doing Dewey (for review links, click here); and Tuesday’s Overlooked Film meme at Todd Mason’s Sweet Freedom blog.

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Posted in 2014 Book to Movie Challenge, 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, New York, Philo Vance, SS Van Dine, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 38 Comments

Lone Star (1996)

Lone-Star-PenaThis is one of my favourite films and I am always slightly appalled that more people haven’t heard of it. I was reminded of it again when it was announced a few days ago that the versatile American actress Elizabeth Peña had died at the age of 55. She was always busy, appearing in films as different as The Incredibles (she voiced the character of Mirage) and La Bamba, though it is for her two collaborations with John Sayles that I will always remember her best: the short-lived legal drama Shannon’ Deal (currently AWOL on video), and Lone Star (1996), the ground-breaking historical mystery he wrote, edited and directed.

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Posted in Film Noir, John Sayles, Noir on Tuesday, Scene of the crime, Texas, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 38 Comments