Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Detective/Mysteries - Christy Putnam ""

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Underrated Detective/Mysteries - Christy Putnam

College instructor and TCM Film Festival writer and author Christy Putnam writes the popular "Sue Sue Applegate" columns on the TCM Message Boards, is an administrator/moderator of The Silver Screen Oasis, tweets @suesueapplegate, and writes for The Examiner
Frenzy (1972). 1972's  Frenzy was one of Hitchcock's last, and I am still young enough to remember him pitching it  on different programs on television, and I remember watching the trailer at the movies. He chose to highlight the scene on talk shows where the Detective husband(Alex McCown as Detective Inspector Oxford) had to relish the goofy gourmet dishes his wife(the hysterical Viven Merchant as Mrs. Oxford) concocted for her cooking class, and that scene always reminded me of the story Hitch would tell about inviting all these folks to his home for dinner, and everything was dyed blue. Shades of blue liquid from Aunt Perue's table in the two-mooned home Luke Skywalker shared before his adoptive parents were incinerated by storm troopers! What I think is so nice about Frenzy, is that beautiful Jon Finch was in this film, playing his "frustrated, innocent man" while pilfering " a few bob" from his ex-wife, played by the excellent Barbara Leigh-Hunt, later known as one of the most popular Lady Catherine Debourgs in film history, 1995's Pride and Prejudice, with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. To envision what happens to her at the end of the film when she has been "done in" by Barry Foster's characterization of serial killer Robert Rusk, has to be HItch's homage to Stanley Kubrick's violent societal essay, "A Clockwork Orange."  Hitch went farther than ever before with graphic violence and detailed descriptions of horrendous finales of Rusk's victims. All the while, Chief Inspector Oxford, who knows many of the lurid details of the horrors of the murder sits ladling bouillabase chock full of fish heads while his wife goes on about the laundry, all the while, she actually gives him ideas to solve the killings.

The Donovan Affair (1929). This was a presentation at the Turner Classic Film Festival in 2013 of an early Frank Capra vehicle whose soundtrack had been destroyed and lost, and it was presented in an unusual way. To revitalize and restore this early Capra film, Bruce Goldstein, director of Repertory Programming for the New York Film Forum, organized live actors and sound effects at last year's festival to accompany the now silent film, and it was a very popular, exciting event for pass holders. 

Harper(1966). Robert Wagner as a sleaze in love with addict Betty Fraley, played by Julie Harris. Lauren Bacall and Pamela Tiffin in a tiff wider than the Mississippi? Paul Newman, whose Anthony Judson Lawrence character from The Young Philadelphians is all grown up as a detective who never went to an Ivy-league school,  but learns to pull the same kind of punches with the real tough guys. Arthur Hill, Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law, is in love with the perky, spoiled Pamela Tiffin. Shelley Winters married to Robert Webber! And who can ever resist a film with Strother Martin as a bad guy, mis amigos? I feel this film has always been underrated as a classic detective story.

The Night Stalker (1972). Darren "A Christmas Story" McGavin. Hunting a vampire killer with Carol Lynley, Charles McGraw, Ralph Meeker, Claude Akins, Kent Smith, and Elisha Cook, Jr., from The Maltese Falcon. You know something bad is going to happen to somebody somewhere sometime whenever Elisha Cook, Jr. arrives on the scene. 

The List of Adrian Messenger (1963). The all-star cast wearing masks to hide their celebrity are unveiled at the finale. The haunting harpsichord music also makes this a fun romp through the English countryside for me. The hunt! To the hunt! The hunt for the killer!

The Saint in Palm Springs (1941). Screenwriter Peter Stone had to have seen this film before he wrote the script for Charade, often called the best Hitchcock film that Hitch never made. It's the stamps!

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