Friday, September 12, 2008

The Continental Op in THE DAIN CURSE

Lately I've been getting into the hardboiled detective genre which is something I've never tried before. I was on a Arsene Lupin kick for a while which in a round about way led to an interest in Nick Carter. I mean the real Nick Carter, the detective, not the so called "Killmaster". The thing is, it's really hard to find any original Nick Carter. There's like two stories on the net and the rest are expensive buys from collectors. I'm surprized those original stories haven't ever been reprinted.

Anyway that search left me wondering about other pulpy detective types. I'd never read any Chandler or Hammett and decided to pick up some short stories of each. I started with Hammett and read several Continental Op stories. This is the detective that Hammett created before Sam Spade. These are gritty and nihlistic, sometimes hitting the psychotic tone of Norvel Page's THE SPIDER yarns. I was impressed.

Then I read some of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe shorts and found it quite entertaining but maybe not as edgy as Hammett. I'll keep reading some of both authors for a while. The short stories go down easy.

I decided to put a longer Hammett piece up to listen to during the commute. THE DAIN CURSE which is comprised of 4 short stories published in BLACK MASK Magazine from 1928 - 1929. Since this blog tends to deal with the outre I felt this was a pretty good example of the detective genre crossing into the weird tale. As it may sound from the title, this deals with magic, curses, drugs and human sacrifice amongst the normal twists and turns you might find in the hardboiled detective genre.

While Philip Marlowe has had quite a movie presence, the Continental Op has only had a few excursions to Hollywood. The first was a TV miniseries in 1978 that very faithfully adapted THE DAIN CURSE. In 1995 the HBO series FALLEN ANGELS adapted "Fly Paper" and in 2002 "The House In Turk Street" (AKA THE GOOD DEED) was made into a movie with Samuel L. Jackson.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Lupin vs. Holmes in THE BLONDE LADY

A while back I mentioned Maurice LeBlanc's series of books about the Gentleman Burglar Arsene Lupin. In a few of the Lupin stories he came up against Sherlock Holmes, though his name was originally altered to prevent legal action by Holmes' creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. The first major work featuring the two together was a book called THE HOLLOW NEEDLE which is a very good story but actually doesn't have that much of Holmes in the tale at all.

But a follow up story known variously as THE BLONDE PHANTOM, THE BLONDE LADY or THE CASE OF THE GOLDEN BLONDE, has Holmes more steadfastly entrenched in the goings ons. This version, THE BLONDE LADY is translated from French to English by ALEXANDER TEIXEIRA DE MATTOS in 1910. This book is actually made up of a novelette and a short story, combined to make this whole narrative. The main body of the book is the main titled THE BLONDE LADY with a short story at the end called THE JEWISH LAMP.

A further report on this novel can be found in this review of the BlackCoat Press book ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES: THE BLONDE PHANTOM, from this pdf issue of the Holmsian magazine DISTRICT MESSENGER.

"Arsène Lupin vs Sherlock Holmes: The Blonde Phantom by Maurice Leblanc, adapted into English by Jean-Marc & Randy Lofficier completes the account begun in Arsène Lupin vs Sherlock Holmes: The Hollow Needle. Here we have the two novellas, 'The Blonde Phantom' and 'The Jewish Lamp' (originally published together in English as The Arrest of Arsène Lupin,The Blonde Lady or The Fair-haired Lady, depending on the publisher) along with two short stories by the translators, which neatly fill gaps in the saga. The Lupin-Holmes tales appeal to me for several reasons. The protagonists are remarkably evenly matched; unlike Chief Inspector Ganimard, Holmes really gives Lupin a run for his money, though of course Lupin comes out on top. The narrator (named as Leblanc himself) admires the detective but is firmly on the burglar’s side, and the portrayal of Holmes and Watson is refreshingly different from that given in the Canon, as Anthony Boucher pointed out long ago. Moreover, the plotting is ingenious, and there’s that touch of the outrageous that British writers didn’t seem to master fully until the television age (when it flowered gorgeously in The Avengers). There’s nothing actually impossible in the exploits of Arsène Lupin, but there’s a great deal that’s improbable, and the better for it. Maurice Leblanc was not allowed to use the name of Sherlock Holmes in the original publications; he resorted to Herlock Sholmès, which a British publisher cleverly transformed into Holmlock Shears. But how nice to encounter Holmes under his real name in this extraordinary continuing duel."

So whether you listen to this audio or not, if you are a fan of Lupin and Holmes I'd suggest tracking down the book talked about in the above review as it adds a couple of stories to fill in LeBlanc spots.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

The Curse of Capistrano

Ah ha! I bet you thought I was dead! Well I'm not. Just very horribly busy. I mean I'm usually pretty busy, but this spring and summer I'm super mega busy.

Anyway, at the yahoo forum for Dr. Syn, The Scarecrow we've been rejoicing in the fact that the Disney TV miniseries The Scarecrow is finally coming out on DVD. The subject of Disney's Zorro came up and I thought the original serialized story of Zorro written by Johnston McCulley for the magazine All-Story Weekly would be interesting to listen to.

There's lots of information on this story and its history at ZorroLegend.

So here we go! Click on the Archive logo to get the whole series (39 chapters!).

Or Stream episodes through Media player M3U.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Lovecraft, Davros and DIY Audio Dramas

In the past couple of weeks I've been listening to several different things that have made me very happy.

First, it was "The Scarifyers" which is a horror comedy starring Nicholas Courtney (Brigadier General Lethbridge- Stewart of Doctor Who) as Holmesian/Challengerian special agent and Detective Lionheart of "MI-13", and Terry Molloy (Dalek creator Davros in the 1980s Doctor Who) as Professor Edward Dunning who writes what seems to be very purple horror pulp. Together they are the Scarifyers, who solve occult mysteries and fight Lovecraftian demons. The two tales in the series so far have played on BBC7 but are also available on CD at the Cosmic Hobo website.

Next up I discovered that long time radio play organization the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company has started a podcast which highlights some of their more recent works. A highlight for me was their live performance at DragonCon of The Shadow Over Innsmouth which included Harlan Ellison in a couple of roles. This adaptation was so straight across from the original story that it was almost more like an audiobook with each character read dramatically by different actors.

Last year I talked about the group known simply as "Doctor Who Audio Drama" or DWAD for short, and the squadron of grouplets that make up Darker Projects. These are folks who take it upon themselves to write and produce audio dramas on their own. Well there really seems to be a lot of this type of creativity going on and a lot of it is really well written and well produced. Like any artistic endeavor some are more uneven than others in quality or acting or sound effects/musical skills, but at least they are putting stuff out there and MOST of it is good and ALL of it will be entertaining to someone, depending on their personal preferences. For there is a vast range of subject matter and interests that get reflected in these homegrown audio dramas.

This brings me to AUDIO DRAMA TALK which is a new forum that looks to be a nice central nexus for these diverse groups to come together to talk about resources and production issues or advertise their own works. If anything, you should stop by just to check out the links, I've already found a ton of really interesting things on there to dive in to.