Classic Mystery in January at PopD

2012 is going to be all about mystery and suspense here at PopD.  We’re going to hit a different subgenre every month and post a podcast every Monday.  We’re deep-sixing the watch-alongs, but there may be Movie-Watching Nights at some point.  2012 is all about being flexible at PopD.

So our Classics Month is:

Jan 9:  1934 THE THIN MAN  (streaming on Amazon) based on the novel of the same name by Dashiell Hammett

Jan 16:  1982 EVIL UNDER THE SUN (streaming on Amazon) based on the novel of the same name by Agatha Christie (the one with Peter Ustinov)

Jan 23: 2009 SHERLOCK HOLMES (streaming on Amazon) loosely based on the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle

Jan 30:  2010 SHERLOCK: A STUDY IN PINK (streaming on Amazon and Netflix) based on “A Study in Scarlet” by Arthur Conan Doyle

Everything is streaming so no problems getting the movies.  (Note: Lani bought me a Roku for Christmas and it seriously rocks.  Definitely look into it if you’re not crazy about streaming on your laptop or through your DVR.)

So what are we looking for in a classic mystery?  Glad you asked:

There are two classic mystery rules lists, one by Ronald Knox in 1929 and the other by S.S. Van Dyne in 1928, and although times have changed and so has the mystery, there are still some keepers on there. From those lists I came up with five basic classic mystery rules:

Rule One: The protagonist of the classic mystery is the detective.

Rule Two: The antagonist of the classic mystery is the murderer.

Rule Three: The crime in the classic mystery is murder, and the conflict in the story is created by the detective’s need to find the murderer and the murderer’s need to escape; this conflict is played out in a puzzle plot.

Rule Four: The classic mystery plays fair, giving the reader all the information she or he needs to solve the puzzle.

Rule Five: The classic mystery is solved using intellect (not luck) at the end of the story (no loose ends).

There’s an upcoming post on Argh that goes into this in more detail–we like to keep PopD lean and clean–but those five questions will be enough, we hope, to keep our eyes on the prize: how to write a good classic mystery plot.  At least they’ll be a good starting place to develop our own rules.  Let us know what you think, and what you want from PopD in 2012.  We’ll be over here watching people kill each other on the screen.





17 responses to “Classic Mystery in January at PopD”

  1. Love it! The husband will be very happy, and coincidentally, we just watched The Thin Man two days ago, so I’m Caught Up!!!

  2. Yay! People aren’t sick any more and you’re back! I’m updating my Netflix queue now!

  3. Jenny, I’ve never done the streaming on Amazon thing before…any tutorial available? I’m not techno-challenged…just a little behind. 😉


  4. If you’re going to watch on your computer, you just go to Amazon and select “Amazon Instant Video” from the search menu, then search for whatever it is you want to watch. Click on the title, and over to right will be a button that you can click to rent whatever the movie is. It shows up on your computer screen.

    If you have a Roku box, it streams directly to your TV.

    If you have a DVD player that streams, it will also stream directly to your TV, but there you’re in Lani/Alastair territory.

    I will say that now that I have a Roku, I’m dropping the satellite feed I have. Too damn expensive.

  5. The date listed is the day the podcast goes up. You can listen to the podcast before you watch the movie, but there will be spoilers because we’ll talk about the plot and conflict which will mean revealing the murderer.

    As for the chat, I’m flirting with the idea of doing one a month on the subgenre we’re covering. We’ll do the four movies and then on the last day of the month, we’ll open a chat room and talk about the whole subgenre. I’m not sure that will work, though.

    Anybody have any other ideas?

  6. I just watched Evil Under the Sun, which I had seen, a million years ago, but had forgotten what a hoot it was. Classic mystery with great classically trained actors chewing the scenery. Which means we have four terrific movies this month. VERY happy about that. (Those of you who are PopD veterans may remember some of the stinkers we got stuck with toward the end of the series.)

  7. I like the idea of having some chat. It’s good to discuss the individual works as the podcasts go up and as we watch them, but I also like the idea of having a capstone discussion before/ as we move on. I think it’ll help roll up what we’re learning and apply/ or not, as the case may be, to the next series.

  8. I like that idea, too. And we have a chat room here, so that part’s easy. If Alastair and Lani are too swamped to do it, I’ll do it by myself. Just REMIND me (g).

  9. I love the chatroom idea. I wasn’t able to work with the movie chat times, even when you changed them, but that was my own scheduling issues. Once a month though might even work out better since it _is_ just that. If it coincides with a kids concert, then hey, I won’t be here, but I really like the idea and hope to be here for some of them.

  10. Give me a little bit to figure this out. So no promises, but I think a chat-wrap-up at the end of the month is a good idea, so probably.