As we’re gearing up to start the PopD Mystery series (and we’re all sick right now, so take “gearing up” with a grain of salt), it’s a good time to talk about what we’re going to do and invite comments and suggestions, starting with our definition of “mystery.”
For the purposes of PopD, a mystery is a story where the goal of the protagonist is to solve a crime, preferably murder. The protagonist thereby becomes the detective even if he or she is not a private eye or on the police force. If it detects and solves crime, it’s a detective. This usually means that the antagonist is the criminal which makes plot analysis so much easier than in a rom com. It also makes sense because mysteries are plot-centric while romcoms are character-centric. So for once the good-guy/bad-guy description of protagonist/antagonist is going to work. Three cheers for a just society.
We’re using all American movies because we’re lazy and because we’re up to our butts in those already. It’s a shorter series than the romcom series because we were clawing the walls after 36 romantic comedies, so this list is coming in at around 25 titles (we’re still finalizing). The list is divided into six subgenres–Classic, Noir, Romantic, Supernatural, Non-Traditional, and Comic–so we can see how the different flavors affect the plot. The earliest movie is from 1934 (<em>The Thin Man</em>) and the latest is from 2010 (the BBC <em>Sherlock</em> pilot). Thirteen of the movies were based on novels or short stories.
Here’s the list. Discuss:
Classic Mysteries (5)
*1934 THE THIN MAN (streaming on Amazon) based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett
*1954 REAR WINDOW (streaming on Amazon) based on Cornell Woolrich’s short story “It Had To Be Murder.” <a href=”http://www.miettecast.com/woolrich.pdf”>http://www.miettecast.com/woolrich.pdf</a>
*1974 MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (streaming on Amazon) based on the novel of the same name by Agatha Christie
*2009 SHERLOCK HOLMES (streaming on Amazon) loosely based on the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle
*2010 SHERLOCK: A STUDY IN PINK (streaming on Amazon and Netflix) based on “A Study in Scarlet” by Arthur Conan Doyle
Noir Mysteries (5)
*1941 THE MALTESE FALCON (streaming on Amazon) based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett
1974 CHINATOWN (streaming on Amazon)
*1997 LA CONFIDENTIAL (streaming on Amazon) based on the novel of the same name by James Ellroy
* 2005 KISS KISS BANG BANG (streaming on Amazon) based in part on the novel Bodies Are Where You Find Them by Brett Halliday
2006 BRICK (streaming on Amazon and Netflix) inspired by the novels of Dashiell Hammett
Romantic Mysteries (4)
*1944 LAURA (streaming on Amazon, rental on Netflix) based on the novel of the same name by Vera Caspary
*1955 TO CATCH A THIEF (streaming on Amazon, rental on Netflix) based on the novel of the same name by David Dodge
*1963 CHARADE (streaming on Amazon Prime (free) and on Netflix) later novelized by screenwriter Peter Stone
1987 THE BIG EASY (streaming on Amazon)
Supernatural Mysteries (2)
1991 DEAD AGAIN (streaming on Amazon)
1996 THE FRIGHTENERS (streaming on Amazon) Warning: This one will scare the hell out of you.
Other possibilities: Sleepy Hollow, The Gift, Stir of Echoes
Non-Traditional Mysteries (4)
*1945 AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (streaming on Amazon) from the novel of the same name by Agatha Christie
*1958 VERTIGO (streaming on Amazon) from the novel D’entre les morts by Boileau-Narcejac.
1993 THE FUGITIVE (streaming free on Amazon Prime) based on the TV series of the same name
1998 WILD THINGS (streaming on Amazon) Warning: Lots of sex in this one.
2000 MEMENTO (streaming on Amazon) adapted from the short story “Memento Mori” by Jonathan Nolan (published in Esquire)
Comic Mysteries (3)
1977 HIGH ANXIETY (streaming on Amazon) parody of Hitchcock films
1998 THE BIG LEBOWSKI (streaming on Amazon and Netflix)
2007 HOT FUZZ (streaming on Amazon) Warning: Lots of gore in this one
[I know, I know, you want Clue, too]