Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Detective/Mysteries - Kristen Lopez ""

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Underrated Detective/Mysteries - Kristen Lopez

Kristen Lopez is the Owner and Editor of Journeys in Classic Film, Women in Cinema/Historical Circuit writer for Awards Circuit, Writer for The Playlist.
@Journeys_Film on twitter.
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There are various definitions of what constitutes a detective and a mystery.  Not everyone has to be a private dick in order to close a caper and the five films I assembled were a mix of the classic Sherlock Holmes-esque detective and then some.  All five have compelling mysteries to engage you and inspire you to become your own Agatha Christie or Hercule Poirot.  

1.  Call Northside 777 (1948) - Our leading man, played by Jimmy Stewart, isn't a detective per se.  Instead, he's a reporter, a profession oft-considered the true detectives of America if 1940s movies have anything to say about it.  Stewart's character investigates an ad wherein the mother of a murderer wants to save her son from a crime he didn't commit.  Jimmy Stewart's P.J. McNeal is a cynical film noir male whose heard "I'm innocent" so often that phrase is meaningless, and yet he's drawn in to seeing this case through to the end.  This is often overshadowed by grander court procedurals starring Stewart like Anatomy of a Murder, but the script is brisk with enough social commentary to rattle you more than Otto Preminger's film.

2.  The Great Mouse Detective (1986) - It pains me that Disney decided to stop at just one adventure with Basil of Baker Street.  The titular mouse that lived beneath the famed Sherlock Holmes is spunky, snooty, and darling.  On top of that you have a fantastic villain, appropriately voiced by Vincent Price!  Many remember the Disney Renaissance which started after this, but I maintain without The Great Mouse Detective we might not have the fantastic Disney movies of the 1990s.

3.  Crossfire (1947) - Robert Young plays a detective tasked with solving the murder of a Jewish man, and his suspects include Robert Mitchum and Robert Ryan.  Do you need more to entice you to watch this?  Crossfire is a blistering detective story where the ending only emphasizes America's continued history of racism.  This is the second movie of Ryan's where he played a racist (I desperately wanted to include Bad Day at Black Rock), and he excelled at charming you while simultaneously terrifying you.  The original movie focused on homosexuals, but for obvious reasons this was changed to a character of Jewish persuasion.  It's a taste preachy in the end, but spectacular.

4.  The Singing Detective (2003) - This is the only post-2000s movie I included because I can't recall anyone seeing it when it hit theaters.  Based on a BBC movie of the same name, Robert Downey Jr. proved adept at playing a character on par with the hard-boiled Mike Hammer.  Add in a group of thugs, various dames, and a healthy dose of song and you have a murder mystery where you'll be tapping your toes as you sift through evidence.  

5.  The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936) - Coming hot on the heels of The Thin Man, and starring that film's leading man William Powell, many would consider The Ex-Mrs. Bradford a discount version of that iconic mystery.  You're right to a point, but The EX-Mrs. Bradford is akin to Agatha Christie working on a mystery and bugging Nick Charles throughout.  The story of a divorced couple bonding over murder conjures up images of The Awful Truth, with a dose of murder.  Elegant, engaging, and hilarious, there's more to this movie than just another version of The Thin Man.


Biography: Im a college student finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel leading to my Masters in English.  In my free time I write so much my fingers bleed.  Im the owner/editor of Journeys in Classic Film, a blog devoted to classic movies.  I also write the Historical Circuit posts for AwardsCircuit.com and occasionally I watch contemporary movies.  

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