Friday, September 26, 2014

Seven Sinners

With female sidekick in tow, a wisecracking private detective follows a trail of corpses around Europe shaking up a sinister criminal network which will stop at nothing -- even causing major train wrecks -- to cover their crimes. Edmund Lowe, Constance Cummings.

Seven Sinners (later titled Doomed Cargo) is based on a story by Arnold Ridley and Bernard Merivale (which I’ve looked for but not been able to find)

This delectable little British trifle is from 1936, so obviously audio and visual are not pristine, but still this is a very engaging crime flick.

It opens when two men dressed in costumes meet at the Hotel Gallico at Carnival at Nice. It's your normal Carnival: fireworks, champagne -- in fact, one of the two men is quite the worse for drink -- and general merriment smacking dames in scanty outfits. The gentlemen part ways and it turns out the fellow in the devil's costume is actually our hero, the "European representative" of an American insurance company, and he's hoping to hook up with an associate from the New York office. But "Fenton" has not registered yet. Harwood heads back to his room only to find the man he'd met earlier dead inside. 

It takes him a while to notice, given that he's so plastered. In fact, it's actually a pretty effective moment when the body slips out of its chair and crumples to the floor. Harwood goes downstairs to report the death and meets an attractive, smart-alecky female in the elevator who turns out to be Fenton.

When they return upstairs with hotel management...the body has vanished!

Fenton insists there is no time to investigate because they have to get to Scotland posthaste because Lady Beckinsale (okay, but not Beckinsale, but Lady Something-That-Starts-With-a-B) is expecting them momentarily because...I forget. Probably something to do with her jewels. They manage to catch their train and Harwood collapses in a drunken stupor dreaming about the murdered man. 

BOOM! Catastrophic train-wreck. And the story is off and running.

This is a fast-paced and witty -- if convoluted -- effort in the vein of  Hitchcock's The Thirty-Nine Steps or The Lady Vanishes. The chemistry between Lowe and Cummings is great and their back and forth is very amusing. There are some genuinely funny bits of dialog.

Friday, September 19, 2014

John Atkinson Grimshaw

I can't think of a single painter who better captures that mix of melancholy, mystery and romance that I'm always hoping to find in vintage mystery than John Atkinson Grimshaw. It's very much the mood I wanted for the Poetic Death stories.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Crime and Cocktails - Pink Lady

4 parts Gin
2 parts Apple Brandy
2 parts Lemon Juice
1 part Grenadine
1 Egg white for each two drinks

Shake all ingredients except liquors with cracked ice, until foamy. Add half of liquors and shake. Add balance of liquors and shake. Strain into cocktail glass.

From 1953's The ABC of Cocktails