Solving the Mystery

NOV / DEC 2011: BY LYDIA WATSON

doctoragatha

Agatha Christie is not only considered one of the greatest mystery authors of all time, she is also the bestselling novelist of all time. With classic titles like Murder on the Orient Express and such unlikely detectives as Miss Marple, Agatha Christie still captures the imaginations, hearts, and minds of readers to this day. Continue reading

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Murder Rooms: The Story of Dr. Joseph Bell

NOV / DEC 2011: BY CHARITY BISHOP

murder

Growing up, my favorite fictional hero was Sherlock Holmes. The creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and one of the most revered literary figures in history, he set the standard for all detectives to come. Most are familiar with Holmes but some do not know of his remarkable source of inspiration: Dr. Joseph Bell, a renowned physician, professor, editor, and writer famed for his deductive reasoning and his skills as an early forensic pathologist. Conan Doyle studied medicine under him in Edinburgh and was so impressed by his ability to observe minute details about a person’s appearance and deduce information from it that he forever embodied him into the immortal character of Sherlock Holmes. Continue reading

The Thin Man

NOV / DEC 2011: BY MEGHAN M. GORECKI

thinman

The pull of mystery and solving crimes have intrigued movie audiences for decades. Even in the silent-film days of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton (comedians that they were) a bit of sleuthing was received with much applause and box office sales. Over the years, as America has progressed at warp speed, so has its films. There were foreign intrigue films peppering the theater marquises from time to time, Red Skelton sleuthing series and a few Nancy Drew films starring Bonita Granville in the 1940’s. Some of the most well received sleuthing films from Hollywood’s golden era were the six Thin Man films, based on Dashiell Hammet’s popular mystery novel, first published in 1931. Film buffs remember with wry fondness these films and their stars from the 1930’s and 1940’s. MGM proved yet again how versatile they were in creating dynamite films to divert America’s attention from their troubles during the Great Depression and WWII. Each film kept the public wanting more, and the studio provided them with a six-film series over a span of thirteen years. There is yet a mystery to be solved within these movies…what kept the audience guessing? Was it the dynamic acting, the witty dialogue or the impossibly clever mysteries? Continue reading

The Sharp Dressed Sleuthing of White Collar

NOV / DEC 2011: BY RACHEL SEXTON

whitecollar

For decades, a staple of TV programming has been the crime drama. Usually involving a form of law enforcement or lawyers (in one extremely successful case, Law and Order, both), this type of series featured a new case each week, and was like a mini-mystery. The audience followed the twists and turns as the criminal was revealed and then taken into custody. Recently, though, attempts to freshen the genre with new types of characters and premises have surfaced, and the storylines have evolved to include multi-arc plotting and subplots that touch on the personal lives of the characters. One popular example is White Collar. Its slick production values give background to the cases solved by a con man-turned-consultant and explore his relationship with the FBI. Continue reading

From the Editor: Gumshoes and Crime Stoppers

sherlock

If there’s one thing we love, it’s a crime drama. It doesn’t matter if the main characters are cops, private eyes, FBI agents, or the redheaded girl down the block; if the criminals are from this world or not; if it involves a murder, a dark doorway into the unknown, or a serial killer. We love it. And the characters that solve the crimes become etched into our memories and hearts forever. Continue reading

Love or Obsession: A Triangle of Distrust

HALLOWEEN 2011: BY RISSI C.

redridinghood

Fairy Tales are enchanting and often end on a kiss. Sometimes there is the promise of more, but nearly all of them are merely a figment of something unattainable. Watching the big-screen adaptation of Hollywood’s take on the Grimm classic tale of Red Riding Hood is a mirage of elements co-existing in one fable, all clamoring for superiority. Looking strictly at the filmmaking, visually, it is stunning, like watching an intricate, priceless painting come alive; emotionally, it is a wreck and its depiction of forever love skewed. Continue reading

Music in the Buffyverse

HALLOWEEN 2011: BY LYDIA WATSON

buffy

If there is one show on television that stands out the most for its creative use of music during its run, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is it. The seven seasons include an episode almost entirely without speaking, one without any background music and one filmed as a musical; each did something no other show had done on television before and made Buffy all the more unique. Creator Joss Whedon, who wrote and directed each of the episodes, understood how music affects the viewer and used it as an effective storyteller.  Continue reading

A Different Kind of Monster

HALLOWEEN 2011: BY CAROL STARKEY

frollo

What makes a monster? Is it a deformed visage or is it what’s on the inside in a man’s heart?

Frollo, in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, is the judge in Paris, one of the highest positions outside of the church. But instead of using that power to help others, he has allowed it to corrupt him. Continue reading

Nature vs. Nurture: The Secret Circle

HALLOWEEN 2011: BY RACHEL SEXTON

secretcircle

First and foremost, film and television aim to entertain. But they are a visual medium and from their infancy film-makers were attempting to show things that don’t actually happen in real life through the use of various tricks. These continual attempts over the years could be successful or not, but the written word offered no such constraints. The fantastic and awe-inspiring has always had a place on film but the level of special effects made creating ones that didn’t look dated in even just a short amount of time a tricky proposition. Finally, with the advent of computers and the improvement of what they could do, something like magic could be fully realized on screen. If a writer could dream it up, it could be produced. But even magic isn’t uniformly presented in movies or shows. Different stories give it different detail. Harry Potter and The Secret Circle both focus on young witches but the way the characters use their extraordinary abilities is not the same—education is the key in the first fandom, while nature holds the power in the second. Continue reading

Gorey Masterpieces

HALLOWEEN 2011: BY KATHARINE TAYLOR

gorey

Fans of PBS’s Mystery! series may know Edward Gorey as the illustrator who drew the title animations seen at the beginning of the show for many years. The animated sequence was famous enough that when PBS redesigned all the titles for the Masterpiece programs (of which Mystery! is now a part) they kept a few brief glimpses of the original Gorey drawings, the implication being that his work is so recognizable a part of the personality and atmosphere of the series it couldn’t quite be eliminated. Continue reading