Category Archives: San Francisco

Top 20 Amnesia Mystery Movies

Whether it’s the intrigue of Jason Bourne adventures or the farcical escapades of the Hangover films, memory loss remains a popular narrative device in fiction in general and at the cinema in particular. Here is a guide to my top 20 favourite … Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, Alfred Hitchcock, Amnesia, Billy Wilder, Boileau-Narcejac, Charlie Chan, England, Eric Ambler, France, Greece, Hammer Studios, James Hilton, Jimmy Sangster, John Frankenheimer, Len Deighton, London, Los Angeles, LP Davies, New York, Orson Welles, San Francisco, Spain, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged | 78 Comments

THE CASE OF THE LUCKY LEGS (1934) by Erle Stanley Gardner

The third in the Perry Mason series is set in the world of crooked beauty pageants and hails from back when the character was a pretty hardboiled lawyer who spent most of time racing around outside the courtroom. “I always take risks. … Continue reading

Posted in 2014 Book to Movie Challenge, 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, Erle Stanley Gardner, Friday's Forgotten Book, Los Angeles, Perry Mason, San Francisco | 43 Comments

The Lady from Shanghai (1948) – Tuesday’s Overlooked Film

The story goes that Orson Welles, needing $50,000, rang the head of Columbia Studios and offered to make a film for them from a paperback he had just plucked at random from a book stand near the phone booth. Is … Continue reading

Posted in 2013 Book to Movie Challenge, 2013 Vintage Mystery Challenge, Film Noir, New York, Orson Welles, San Francisco, Sherwood King | Tagged | 48 Comments

The Passion of Brian De Palma

Well, there is a slight change to our usual schedule today as it’s my birthday, which means I am officially in my mid forties … good grief! So I could commemorate this august moment just by joining a gym (of … Continue reading

Posted in Alfred Hitchcock, Brian de Palma, Chicago, England, Film Noir, France, Germany, Hollywood, London, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Scene of the crime, Tuesday's Overlooked Film, Washington DC | 35 Comments

A Taste of Evil (1971) – Tuesday’s Overlooked Film

This ABC TV Movie of the Week stars Barbara Stanwyck, that classiest of all Golden Age Hollywood leading ladies. After 25 years as a movie star and the eccentric highpoint that was Sam Fuller’s Forty Guns (1957), she gracefully made the … Continue reading

Posted in Hammer Studios, Jimmy Sangster, John Llewellyn Moxey, San Francisco, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | Tagged | 20 Comments

Top 12 Mystery Movie Remakes

As the movie summer starts to wind down, the sheer number of sequels, remakes and ‘reboots’ certainly can make for a dispiriting summing up. But it is worth remembering that, at least in our genre, there are a great many great … Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, 'In praise of ...', Chicago, Ernest Hemingway, Film Noir, James M. Cain, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Mexico, Miami, Michael Curtiz, New York, Noir on Tuesday, Parker, Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, Raymond Chandler, Richard Stark, San Francisco, Texas, Top 10, Washington DC | 52 Comments

Top 20 Spy movies

The release of Ben Affleck’s smart historical satire Argo, based loosely on the true extraction by the CIA and Canadian officials of six American Embassy staff members out of Tehran in 1980, made me reflect on the spy genre as … Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, Adam Hall, Alfred Hitchcock, Amnesia, Billy Wilder, Brian de Palma, Cold War, Elleston Trevor, Eric Ambler, Espionage, Film Noir, George Smiley, Ian Fleming, James Bond, John Frankenheimer, John le Carre, Len Deighton, London, Michael Powell, New York, Paris, Quiller, San Francisco, Scene of the crime, Spy movies | 76 Comments

The Blake Edwards mysteries

In a career spanning six decades, writer-director Blake Edwards (1922-2010) really mixed it up, making almost every conceivable type of film. There were westerns (Panhandle and Wild Rovers), musicals (Darling Lili and Victor Victoria), dark drama (Days of Wine and … Continue reading

Posted in Blake Edwards, Cold War, Espionage, Evelyn Anthony, Hollywood, London, Michael Crichton, Mickey Spillane, Mike Hammer, Paris, Police procedural, Private Eye, Robert Bloch, Rome, San Francisco, Scene of the crime, Screwball, Tuesday's Overlooked Film, TV Cops | 45 Comments

The Perry Mason movies (1934-37)

Before the hugely popular TV show of the 1950s and 60s starring Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale (not to mention the long running reunion TV-movies they embarked on two decades later), the cases of Erle Stanley Gardner’s ultra-sharp defence attorney … Continue reading

Posted in Courtroom, Erle Stanley Gardner, Michael Curtiz, Perry Mason, San Francisco, Scene of the crime, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 27 Comments

Vertigo (1958) – Best film ever?

Is Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo the greatest film of all time? The 2012 Sight & Sound critics poll thinks so. And even if this is not true (some don’t even think it’s the best of the director’s thrillers), how well do people … Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, Alfred Hitchcock, Brian de Palma, Five Star review, San Francisco, Scene of the crime, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 37 Comments

The Case of the Curious Bride (1935) – Tuesday’s Forgotten Film

This stylish and fast-paced thriller, adapted from the eponymous Perry Mason novel by Erle Stanley Gardner, was just one of the fifty movies made in the 1930s by Warner Bros. auteur Michael Curtiz, a director still under-appreciated despite regular periods … Continue reading

Posted in Courtroom, Erle Stanley Gardner, Michael Curtiz, Perry Mason, San Francisco, Scene of the crime, Tuesday's Overlooked Film | 40 Comments

THE SISTERS BROTHERS by Patrick deWitt

Sometimes it can be really hard to feel like you have actually ‘discovered’ a newly published novel for yourself these days. That is to say, without being preconditioned by advance publicity and PR, prompts from Amazon or even ‘trailers’ on … Continue reading

Posted in Man Booker Prize, Patrick deWitt, San Francisco, Scene of the crime | 10 Comments

Top 101 Film & TV Mysteries

This is a minor milestones for Tipping My Fedora as the blog has now reached its 101st post. So, seeing as it is also my birthday today, what better way to celebrate than with a small indulgence in the company of … Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, Charlie Chan, Columbo, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy L. Sayers, Film Noir, Giallo, Inspector Morse, Jonathan Latimer, London, Lord Peter Wimsey, Los Angeles, Nero Wolfe, New York, Oxford, Paris, Parker, Philip MacDonald, Philip Marlowe, Philo Vance, Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, Richard Stark, Robert Culp, Ross Macdonald, San Francisco, Scene of the crime, Scott Turow, Sherlock Holmes, SS Van Dine, The Thin Man, TV Cops, William Goldman | 31 Comments

Z is for … Fred Zackel’s COCAINE AND BLUE EYES (1978)

The 2011 Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog has reached the end of the line with the letter Z – and my second and last nominations this week, comes following a communication from the … Continue reading

Posted in Private Eye, Ross Macdonald, San Francisco, Scene of the crime | 3 Comments

SPADEWORK (1996) by Bill Pronzini

The Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog has reached the letter S. My second recommendation this week is …

SPADEWORK by Bill Pronzini

“Hardboiled shockers, offbeat whodunits, exercises in ratiocination, impossible crime puzzles, attempts at social commentary, light-and-wry near-cozies, pure slapstick farce …” - Bill Pronzini

Next month will see the return of Bill Pronzini’s ‘Nameless’ private eye in Camouflage, some 40 years since the publication of his first case. This will be the 38th volume in the series, one that, if publishers Macmillan are to be believed, will end when it reaches its 40th. Fans will doubtless hope that this is not so, but if it is then this is a character that has already had an enviably long run – and a remarkably varied one at that. One shouldn’t need much of an excuse to celebrate the work of a master like Pronzini, but here, courtesy of the letter S, is a brief look at Spadework, his second collection on ‘Nameless’ short stories . It was originally published by Crippen & Landru in 1996, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the characters (where has the time gone?) but sadly now appears to be out of print. It contains fifteen short stories together with a delightfully biased introduction from fellow crime writer Marcia Muller, who is also Mr Pronzini’s wife. Continue reading

Gallery | 11 Comments

Top 10: San Francisco Mysteries

With the closure at the end of this month of The San Francisco Mystery Bookstore (as reported here) I thought I would dedicate a post this week to that fine city in Northern California where, once upon a time, I used to visit a very good friend of mine. I did a lot of growing up there in the 80s and 90s and also bought a lot of great mystery books.

I haven’t been there in over a decade now but along with its undoubtedly beautiful setting on the Bay, the vibrancy of its culture (and counter-culture) and of course the wonderful food, fascinating people and amazing architecture, the potential for squalor and seediness seemed often remarkably ever-present to me as a European tourist, requiring little more than a short step in the ‘wrong’ direction – especially before the regeneration of SOMA. This mixture of high and low culture, of beauty and darkness, have made it the perfect setting for all kinds of mysteries, from the misanthropic romance of Hitckcock’s Vertigo to the hard- and soft-boiled worlds of Hammett found in the gritty adventures of Sam Spade and upper class sleuths Nick and Nora Charles. In some ways the most valuable works here for me are those by Bill Pronzini and the late Joe Gores, who use the city and its environs as the backdrop for so much of their work. They offer a particularly fascinating and diverse look at a city and how it has changed over the decades.

Limiting this list to just 10 inevitably meant plumping for some personal favourites and some unavoidable but great, even classic, books that somehow you just can’t do without. So, for today, these are my top mystery books set in and about San Francisco, still beautiful and mysterious - just like my old friend. I present these in strict chronological order. I hope to blog on each separately, as time goes by … Continue reading

Gallery | 19 Comments