Mystery Classics on Film

The Adaptation of 65 Novels and Stories

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About the Book

Watching the screen version of a classic mystery novel can be disappointing. By necessity or artistic license (or possibly just ego) changes are often made by the filmmakers—many of them ineffective or even detrimental. This book focuses on the screen adaptations of 65 famous mysteries and examines how the filmmakers either succeeded or failed in the telling of the story. Interviews with several famous mystery writers are included, with their comments on how filmmakers treated their work.

About the Author(s)

Ron Miller is the former nationally syndicated television columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, and Knight-Ridder, newspapers, a former national president of the Television Critics Association and a National Headliner award winner for his columns. He lives in Blaine, Washington.

Bibliographic Details

Ron Miller
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: 76 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6685-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2671-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


(Titles in parentheses are of the film versions)

Acknowledgments x

Preface 1

Introduction: Why Can’t the Movie Be Just Like the Book? 3

Charlotte Armstrong: The Case of the Weird Sisters 11

The Unsuspected 13

Mischief (Don’t Bother to Knock) 15

John Ball: In the Heat of the Night 18

Earl Derr Biggers: The Black Camel 21

John Buchan: The ­Thirty-Nine Steps 23

W.R. Burnett: The Asphalt Jungle 27

James M. Cain: Love’s Lovely Counterfeit (Slightly Scarlet) 29

Vera Caspary: Laura 32

Raymond Chandler: The Big Sleep 34

The Lady in the Lake (Lady in the Lake) 40

Lee Child: One Shot (Jack Reacher) 42

Agatha Christie: 4:50 from Paddington (Murder, She Said; What Mrs.

McGillicuddy Saw) 44

Mary Higgins Clark: The Cradle Will Fall 48

Wilkie Collins: The Woman in White 50

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: A Study in Scarlet 54

The Hound of the Baskervilles 56

Michael Connelly: Blood Work 61

Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca 63

Dick Francis: Dead Cert 68

Blood Sport 70

Erle Stanley Gardner: The Case of the Velvet Claws 72

David Goodis: Down There (Shoot the Piano Player; Tirez sur le Pianiste) 74

Graham Greene: A Gun for Sale (This Gun for Hire; Short Cut to Hell) 77

Patrick Hamilton: Hangover Square 80

Dashiell Hammett: The Maltese Falcon (Satan Met a Lady) 84

The Thin Man 89

A.P. Herbert: The House by the River 93

Patricia Highsmith: Strangers on a Train (Once You Kiss [Meet] a Stranger…) 96

The Talented Mr. Ripley (Purple Noon; Plain Soleil) 103

Tony Hillerman: The Dark Wind 106

A Thief of Time 108

Dorothy B. Hughes: In a Lonely Place 111

Francis Iles: Before the Fact (Suspicion) 113

Carolyn Keene: The Hidden Staircase (Nancy Drew and the Hidden

Staircase) 116

Gypsy Rose Lee: The ­G-String Murders (Lady of Burlesque) 118

Jeff Lindsay: Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Dexter) 120

John D. MacDonald: The Executioners (Cape Fear) 123

Ross Macdonald: The Moving Target (Harper) 128

John P. Marquand: Think Fast, Mr. Moto 132

Ed McBain: Cop Hater 135

Fuzz 138

King’s Ransom (High and Low; Tengoku to jigoku) 140

Walter Mosley: Devil in a Blue Dress 142

Stuart Palmer: The Penguin Pool Murder 145

Robert B. Parker: Ceremony 149

Edgar Allan Poe: “Murders in the Rue Morgue” (Phantom of the Rue Morgue) 153

“The Mystery of Marie Roget” 160

Ellery Queen: The Chinese Orange Mystery (The Mandarin Mystery) 163

Patrick Quentin: Black Widow 165

Ruth Rendell: A Judgment in Stone (La Cérémonie) 169

Craig Rice: Home Sweet Homicide 171

Dorothy L. Sayers: Busman’s Honeymoon (Haunted Honeymoon) 173

Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö: The Laughing Policeman 176

Mickey Spillane: My Gun Is Quick 179

Josephine Tey: A Shilling for Candles (Young and Innocent) 181

Jim Thompson: Pop. 1280 (Coup de Torchon) 184

After Dark, My Sweet 187

S.S. Van Dine: The Kennel Murder Case 189

The Gracie Allen Murder Case 192

Ethel Lina White: Some Must Watch (The Spiral Staircase) 194

Cornell Woolrich: Black Alibi (The Leopard Man) 198

Rear Window 200

The Black Path of Fear (The Chase) 203

I Married a Dead Man (No Man of Her Own; I Married a Shadow; Mrs. Winterbourne) 206

Bibliography 211

Index 213

Book Reviews & Awards

“informative…entertaining…perfect for the mystery fan who likes both classic mysteries and their film adaptations…wonderful”—Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine; “mystery movie buffs will have a great time with this book…excellent”—Mystery Scene; “thorough”—Flick Attack; “this well-reasearched book examines the way sixty-five novels and short stories have been adapted for the screen”—Leonard Maltin’s Movie Crazy.