Detective and Mystery Films

Jeremy Brett

Detective/mystery films are usually considered a sub-type of crime/gangster films, of film noir, or suspense or thriller films that focus on the unsolved crime (usually the murder or disappearance of one or more of the characters, or a theft), and on the central character - the hard-boiled detective-hero, as he/she meets various adventures and challenges in the cold and methodical pursuit of the criminal or the solution to the crime. The plot often centers on the deductive ability, prowess, confidence, or diligence of the detective as he/she attempts to unravel the crime or situation by piecing together clues and circumstances, seeking evidence, interrogating witnesses, and tracking down a criminal. Detective-mystery films emphasize the detective or person(s) (an amateur, a plain-clothes policeman, or a PI - Private Investigator) solving the crime through clues and exceptional rational powers. The detective studies the intriguing reasons and events leading to the crime, and eventually determines the identity of the villain (a murderer, a master spy, an arch fiend, an unseen evil, or a malignant psychological force). The central character usually explores the unsolved crime, unmasks the perpetrator, and puts an end to the effects of the villainy.

Suspense is added as the protagonist struggles within the puzzle-like narrative to gather evidence and testimony, to investigate all motives, and to discover the one essential clue or fatal flaw/alibi that betrays the identity of the culprit. The detective (or main protagonist) often succeeds in cleverly trapping the killer or criminal where law-and-order officers and local police officials do not. Intensity, anxiety, and suspense build to an exciting climax, often with the detective (or protagonist) using his fists or gun to solve the crime.

This genre has ranged from early mystery tales, fictional or literary detective stories, to classic Hitchcockian suspense-thrillers and classic private detective films. A related film sub-genre is that of spy films. If detection and the solution to a crime are not central to a 'mystery' film, then it blends into other genre film types, such as horror or suspense-thrillers.

Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler, 1922

The successful mystery film adheres to one of two story types, known as open and closed. The closed (or whodunit) mystery conceals the identity of the perpetrator until late in the story, adding an element of suspense during the apprehension of the suspect, as the audience is never quite sure who it is. The open mystery, in contrast, reveals the identity of the perpetrator at the top of the story, showcasing the 'perfect crime' which the audience then watches the protagonist unravel, usually at the very end of the story, akin to the unveiling scenes in the closed style. Suspense is often maintained as an important plot element. This can be done through the use of the sound track, camera angles, heavy shadows, and surprising plot twists.

Mystery novels have proven to be a good medium for translation into film. The sleuth often forms a strong leading character, and the plots can include elements of drama, suspense, character development, uncertainty and surprise twists. The locales of the mystery tale are often of a mundane variety, requiring little in the way of expensive special effects. Successful mystery writers can produce a series of books based on the same sleuth character, providing rich material for sequels. Until at least the 1980s, women in mystery films have often served a dual role, providing a relationship with the detective and frequently playing the part of woman-in-peril. The women in these films are often resourceful individuals, being self-reliant, determined and as often duplicitous. They can provide the triggers for the events that follow, or serve as an element of suspense as helpless victims.


The Cat and the Canary (1927)

"If the horror genre emphasized the potential dangers of science, the detective film suggested its positive qualities. These films pivoted around the exploits of an intelligent, shrewd, calculating protagonist who uses deductive reasoning to unmask the perpetrator(s) of a crime, usually a murder or series of murders. Although not a chemist, physicist or other practitioner of the hard sciences, the detective employs the scientific method to arrive at the truth of the situation.

Like horror films, detective pictures showcased the human capacity for evil and its ability to unleash chaos on the world, but they provided a strong dose of reassurance via the detective figure, a moral redeemer who prevents the evil from triumphing. The workings of his/her logical mind frustrate and unmask the forces of greed, lust, violence and sundry other sins which threaten the well-being of civilization itself.

The efforts of the detective ultimately return the world to a state of safety, stability and equilibrium. Detective films are structured as puzzles which the audience members, as well as the characters, are invited to piece together. A crime (or series of crimes) is committed which threatens the social order, whereupon the principal questions become 'whodunit?' and 'why?' The hero ultimately puts the pieces together, answering the key questions by sorting through a confusing thicket of clues and sizing up a daunting number of suspects. In addition, while 'on the case' the detective often finds himself, and/or those to whom he has a powerful personal attachment, in danger and must respond to the threats in active, forceful fashion. The genre's stock characters generally include a sidekick, in attendance to provide comic relief and to foreground the brilliance of the detective; the authority figures - typically members of the local police - whose bumbling efforts to solve the crime are ineffectual and often interfere with the hero's more dynamic approach; one or more beautiful women who provide romantic temptation for the detective and are either suspects in the case or potential victims of the malefactor; and the villain, a clever individual of unbridled ruthlessness, whose determination and intelligence are nearly equal to the hero's."[1]

Classic period: the 1930s-1940s

"Like comedy and the western, this genre was extremely prolific. All the studios made detective films, and there were both 'A' and 'B' examples. Most were B pictures, parts of series built around a well-known detective figure. Many of the detective characters (e.g., Bulldog Drummond, Ellery Queen, Perry Mason) first appeared in popular fiction, then took on new lives in the movies and on radio.

Arsène Lupin, 1932

Several performers became linked to the genre. Basil Rathbone, a fine actor who played an assortment of parts in both 'A' and 'B' pictures, is best remembered for portraying Sherlock Holmes in a series that began at Twentieth Century-Fox in the 1930s, then moved to Universal in the 40s. Warren William was cast in important roles in such films as Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933), Imitation of Life (1934) and Cleopatra (1934), then settled into a detective persona arid never quite pulled free of it. He was Philo Vance for Warner Bros, in 1934 and Paramount in 1939, Perry Mason for Warner Bros, from 1934 to 1936 and the Lone Wolf for Columbia from 1939 to 1943. Warner Oland and Sidney Toler, two Caucasian actors, each played Charlie Chan more than 15 times in a series that originated at Fox in the early 1930s and ended up at Monogram in the post-war period. Other actors who became linked in the public's mind with their sleuthing characters were Peter Lorre with Mr. Moto (1937-39); Edna May Oliver with Hildegarde Withers (1932-34); William Powell with Nick Charles, 'The Thin Man' (1934-47); George Sanders with Simon Templar, 'The Saint' (1939-41); Tom Conway with Gay Lawrence, 'The Falcon' (1942-47); and Chester Morris with Boston Blackie (1941-49).

The structure of the detective film derived from a tradition of detective literature stretching back to Edgar Allan Poe. It began with a mysterious crime and proceeded through a series of suspenseful adventures to the surprising solution to the crime. The detective, who arrives at the solution, is always a person of superior moral and intellectual stature, but he or she may come from a variety of nationalities, backgrounds and social classes. On one end of the spectrum were the polished, gentlemanly Englishmen, such as Sherlock Holmes (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 1939), Lord Peter Wimsey (Haunted Honeymoon, 1940) and Simon Templar (The Saint Strikes Back, 1939). At the other extreme were two-fisted American tough guys, often suspected of crimes themselves and closer in character to the criminals they unmask than the debonair Britons mentioned above: Michael Shayne (Michael Shayne, Private Detective, 1940) and Boston Blackie (Meet Boston Blackie, 1941). Between these two poles, one could find the wily, aphorism-spouting Charlie Chan (Charlie Chan Carries On, 1931), the polite but purposely vague Mr. Moto (Think Fast, Mr. Moto, 1937), the shy orchid-cultivator Nero Wolfe (Meet Nero Wolfe, 1936) and the suave reformed criminals Arsène Lupin (Arsène Lupin, 1932) and the The Lone Wolf (The Lone Wolf Returns, 1935). Also worthy of mention were a trio of female detectives, for whom the solving of mysteries was a hobby rather than a vocation: schoolteacher Hildegarde Withers (The Penguin Pool Murder, 1932), schoolgirl Nancy Drew (Nancy Drew -- Detective, 1938) and newspaper reporter Torchy Blane (Torchy Blane in Chinatown, 1939).

Meet Nero Wolfe (1936)

Like most of the other genres, the detective film was a well-established commercial form when sound arrived. Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900) is believed to be the first example, and Boston Blackie, Bulldog Drummond, Charlie Chan, Nick Carter, the Lone Wolf and Philo Vance were all introduced in silent films before becoming even more recognizable figures during the sound era. Sound added considerably to the impact of the pictures; the right sound effects and musical underscoring could magnify the thriller elements, and dialogue, which the best writers of detective scripts orchestrated carefully, helped to make the detective hero seem both omniscient and a masterful manipulator of language.

The most successful private eye series of the period was launched by The Thin Man (1934). Based on a Dashiell Hammett novel, the film starred William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, a sprightly pair of married sophisticates whose screwball relationship complemented the smooth ratiocination of Nick the sleuth. MGM wisely spaced out the sequels, offering one each in 1936, 1939, 1941, 1944 and 1947. These films' marriage of murder mystery and romantic mirth resonated throughout Hollywood, provoking such baldfaced imitations as Star of Midnight (1935) and The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936), both starring William Powell, from RKO; Fast Company (1938), Fast and Loose (1939) and Fast and Furious (1939) from the Thin Man's studio, MGM; and There's Always a Woman (1938), There's That Woman Again (1939) and A Night to Remember (1942) from Columbia.

The detective genre was strongly impacted by the entry of the US into the war. Overnight, the protagonist's mission switched from fingering murderers to foiling the diabolical schemes of the nation's enemies. Whether spies, saboteurs, smugglers or war bond thieves, the minions of the Axis powers were no match for Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942), the Falcon in The Falcon's Brother (1942), Michael Shayne in Blue, White and Perfect (1941), the Lone Wolf in Counter-Espionage (1942), Ellery Queen in Enemy Agents Meet Ellery Queen (1942) and Charlie Chan in Charlie Chan in the Secret Service (1944). Growing anti-Japanese sentiment had a good deal to do with the cancellation of the 'Mr. Moto' series in 1939. By 1942, Warner Bros, would poke fun at rival Twentieth Century-Fox for producing the series in the first place. In the Warner film Air Force (1943), the bomber crew adopts a canine mascot who "hates Japs" and barks furiously whenever the name Mr. Moto is mentioned.

Robert Montgomery as Lord Peter Wimsey in Haunted Honeymoon (1940)

While formula detective films would continue to be made throughout the 1940s, a film released in 1941 heralded a new direction the genre would take in the post-war period. Based on another Dashiell Hammett novel, The Maltese Falcon had been made twice before with indifferent results by Warner Bros. This time, however, the film was a hit, boosting the status of its lead actor, Humphrey Bogart, and its first-time director, John Huston. The Maltese Falcon had the trappings of a standard murder mystery. Near the beginning, someone knocks off protagonist Sam Spade's partner, Miles Archer. Spade uses his smarts and experience to deduce the murderer and turn her over to the authorities. But Spades victory is at best equivocal, since he didn't really like his partner in the first place and has fallen in love with the culprit, Bridget O'Shaughnessy (Mary Astor). The audience's uneasy realization that Spade's accomplishments have not set the world back on an orderly course is compounded by the escapades of a group of ruthless cutthroats and psychotics determined to possess the falcon, a bejeweled statue of enormous value. In The Maltese Falcon, one is left with the feeling that greed, violence and treachery are the way of the world and little can be done to change things. Spade, himself, is not untainted. He has been having an affair with his partner's wife whom he coldly rejects after Archer's death, and he makes sure that he emerges from the 'black bird' caper unscathed and with a tidy sum of money in his pocket. Still, he is the solitary voice of professionalism and existential morality in this nest of vipers.

The evolution of the detective into a hard-boiled cynic begun in The Maltese Falcon would be abetted by a growing fascination with the film noir style of the 1940s. This style visually communicated the danger, duplicity, corruption and fatalism of the new world of the detective. Murder, My Sweet (1944) also represented a harbinger of things to come. Unlike John Huston, who presented The Maltese Falcon narrative in rather traditional stylistic terms, director Edward Dmytryk employed a variety of expressionistic camera and lighting effects to dramatize the descent of private eye Philip Marlowe (Dick Powell) into a murky netherworld of malignant humanity. The disorientation an audience feels as it watches the labyrinthine story unfold, then draw to its abrupt, uneasy conclusion, is altogether different from the previous detective pictures. The puzzle has been solved, but the pieces don't fit neatly together and the vision of life they depict is quite disturbing".[1]

Revival and revisionist era: 1960s-1970s

The Sixties and Seventies saw a neo-noir resurgence of the hardboiled detective movie (and gritty police drama), based on the classic films of the past. These fall into three basic categories: Classics made contemporary, Period piece films and The New Wave.

Classics made contemporary

Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine in Sleuth (1972)

Phillip Marlowe returns as a modern-day sleuth in 1969's Marlowe played by James Garner (based on Chandler's The Little Sister), and in Robert Altman's revisionist The Long Goodbye (1973) played by Elliott Gould. Robert Mitchum is Marlowe in the 1978 remake of The Big Sleep set in contemporary London. Paul Newman portrays a modernized Lew Archer (changed to Harper) in Harper (1966) and The Drowning Pool (1975), based on Ross Macdonald's 1949-1950 novels. Gunn, set in the mod millieu of 1967, is an update of the Peter Gunn TV series (1958–1961) starring Craig Stevens. Bulldog Drummond returned as a contemporary sleuth in Deadlier Than the Male (1967) and Some Girls Do (1969). And the 1982 remake of I, the Jury brought back Mike Hammer (revived again in the 1984-1987 television series, Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer).

The old-fashioned whodunit was given a fresh update in Sleuth (1972), The Last of Sheila (1973), and the comedy Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978). And Brian De Palma's Obsession is a 1976 remake of Hitchcock's 1958 classic Vertigo.

Period piece films

Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

The many period piece films set in the Thirties and Forties are led by Roman Polanski's classic Chinatown (1974) and Jack Nicholson's belated sequel, The Two Jakes (1990). Robert Mitchum played Marlowe once again in Farewell, My Lovely (1975), perhaps the most faithful adaptation of this often-filmed book. The obscure Chandler (1971) is set in the 1940s but has nothing to do with Raymond Chandler's writings. The television film Goodnight, My Love (1972) with Richard Boone and two short-lived TV series, Banyon (1972–73) and City of Angels (1976) were also set in the 1930s and pay tribute to the Sam Spade/Phillip Marlowe model. And the 1975 telefilm Who Is the Black Dahlia? recreates the true unsolved murder case from 1947.

Agatha Christie's elegant Murder on the Orient Express (1974) and Death on the Nile (1978) were colorful, lavish productions rich in '30s period detail. Also a series of lighthearted Miss Marple mysteries were loosely adapted from Christie's novels. Margaret Rutherford starred in Murder, She Said (1961), Murder at the Gallop (1963), Murder Most Foul (1964), Murder Ahoy! (1965), and did a cameo appearance as Marple in The Alphabet Murders (1965). And the evergreen Sherlock Holmes was given the first of many revisionist treatments in Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) and The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976).

The New Wave

Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs (In the Heat of the Night, 1967)

The New Wave of detective films may well begin with Jean-Luc Godard's offbeat Alphaville (1965) with its traditional, raincoat-and-fedora private eye placed in a modern, science fiction-based story. Frank Sinatra is a cynical, Bogart-like gumshoe in Tony Rome (1967) and the sequel Lady in Cement (1968) — and a tough police investigator in The Detective (1968). John D. MacDonald wrote 21 Travis McGee novels, but only one, Darker Than Amber (1970) was filmed. George Peppard is the laconic private eye P.J. (1968), Robert Culp and Bill Cosby are Hickey & Boggs (1972), Burt Reynolds plays a tongue-in-cheek Shamus (1973), and Burt Lancaster is a retired cop turned sleuth in The Midnight Man (1974). Two of the finest examples star Gene Hackman in The Conversation (1974) and Night Moves (1975). The blaxploitation industry adopted the standard private detective format for several action-mysteries such as Trouble Man (1972), Black Eye (1974), Sheba, Baby (1975) starring Pam Grier, and Velvet Smooth (1976).

Noteworthy police detective dramas of the period include: In the Heat of the Night (1967), Bullitt, Madigan (both 1968), Klute, Dirty Harry, and The French Connection (all from 1971). Rod Steiger as an ingenious psycho-killer in No Way to Treat a Lady (1968) and Hitchcock's disturbing Frenzy (1972) serve as prototypes for a wave of serial killer films to come in the following decades.

The 1980s to the present

The aftermath of the Civil Rights movement and second-wave feminism saw the dominance of white, middle-class, middle-aged masculinity being called into question and, by the 1980s, hegemonic masculinity found its position in society challenged. The cop action film became a central genre of the 1980s and early 1990s as a backlash to this challenging of white male dominance. The films and their cop action-heroes offered a space for the expression, working through, and often resolution of the problems of race, class, gender, and crime that seemed to overwhelm American masculinity at the time. The biracial cop film of the 1980s explored and negated the threat of African-American empowerment with the black ' buddy' being placed in a subordinate role to the white hero. He offered his black energy to the fight against crime that threatened white America, for example 48 Hrs. (1982) starring Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy.

Denzel Washington and Jennifer Beals (Devil in a Blue Dress, 1995)

However, the cop action-hero offered not only a resistance to the perceived threat of the empowered black man but also to that posed by the emerging equality of women. The male body as hypermasculine - manly, muscular, and spectacular - became the hero's most effective weapon in the fight against crime and injustice and, thus, compounded issues of sexual difference. Cop action films revelled in scenes of action and violence with the male body at the centre engaged in fistfights, kickboxing, car chases, and gunplay. The cop action-hero, like John McClane in Die Hard (1988) and Martin Riggs Lethal Weapon (1987), followed in the tradition of the vigilante cop but also the male rampage hero like Rambo, offering an idealized image of American masculinity as violent, independent, muscular, and victorious. The cop action-hero as an icon of American masculinity did not allow himself to betray his emotions - an emasculating and effeminate weakness. Instead he expressed himself through wisecracking quips and physical violence and it was his body that became the site upon which masculine crisis could be expressed and resolved.

From the early 1990s to the present, the type of masculinity that society deems admirable has changed. There has been a shift from the appreciation of physical masculinity to that of masculinity defined as intellectual and vulnerable and has prompted a similar shift in the representation of masculinity in the media. In the early 1990s a new sensitive type of masculinity emerged on-screen to replace the retributive masculinity of the 1980s as an ideal. The working-class cop as action hero came to be replaced by a new kind of police detective that was a middle-class, educated professional and employed his/her skills of observation and deduction to solve the crime rather than firepower. This shift from violent to vulnerable masculinities is evident with the new roles that former action stars began to portray. Bruce Willis abandoned guns and wisecracks in favour of more sensitive men in film like Mercury Rising (1998) and The Sixth Sense (1999), and Clint Eastwood has given up his vigilante roles to play a more mature and intellectual kind of hero in films like In the Line of Fire (1993), True Crime (1999), and Blood Work (2002).

This shift has also seen a return to a thinking detective - a criminalist - not dissimilar to the first sleuth detectives. Originating in the fiction of authors such as Thomas Harris and Patricia Cornwell, the criminalist, or forensic detective, has flourished on the big and small screens. Criminalists such as Detective Somerset of Se7en (1995) and Agent Clarice Starling of The Silence of the Lambs (1991) have thrived in film while Gil Grissom of America's C.S.I.: Criminal Scene Investigation, Sam Ryan of the Britain's Silent Witness, and Dominic DaVinci of Canada's DaVinci's Inquest are evidence to the criminalist's success on television. Criminalists employ observation, forensic science, and profiling to solve cases and often find themselves tracking serial killers. With this emphasis on intelligence over muscularity and the reliance of weapons, new kinds of detective-heroes have emerged, including women, older, and ethnic detectives. Thus, the detective and shifts in the representation of the masculinity of the hero can be seen as occurring in conjunction with broader social change. The icon of the detective has begun, and will continue, to evolve beyond the traditional white male action hero and offers audiences assuring images of masculinity, and more recently femininity, that can bring crime to halt to crime.

Movie sleuths from A to Z

Lew Archer

Paul Newman as Harper

Initially, Lew Archer was similar to (if not completely a derivative of) Philip Marlowe. However, he eventually broke from that mold, though some similarities remain. Archer's principal difference is that he is much more openly sensitive and empathetic than the tough Marlowe. The character has been adapted for visual media several times with varying degrees of success, including two feature films starring Paul Newman as Lew Harper.

  • Harper (1966) - with Paul Newman
  • The Underground Man (1974) - with Peter Graves
  • The Drowning Pool (1975) - with Paul Newman

Boston Blackie

Meet Boston Blackie: Chester Morris

In the original Boston Black story by Jack Boyle, written way back in 1919, Blackie was a hardened criminal serving time in a hellish California prison. Young, handsome, educated as he was; but he definitely wasn't a P.I. The same year, Blackie made his first screen appearance (Blackie's Redemption, 1919), kicking off a string of silent films (including for various studios, starring various actors, including Bert Lytell (who also played The Lone Wolf, a similar character with a similar convoluted history), Lionel Barrymore, David Powell, William Russell, Forrest Stanley and Raymond Glenn. In these films, Blackie was a professional thief with a heart of gold. The last silent Blackie appeared in 1927. Starting in 1941, with the release of the film Meet Boston Blackie, Chester Morris starred as a former professional thief now working as a sort of freelance adventurer/detective (although still not calling himself one) for the good guys, although he preferred to not get too involved with the police. There were fourteen films in all, and Morris brought to the role a delightful offhand manner and sense of humour that kept the films fresh even when the scripts weren't. Also along for the ride for most of the series were Richard Lane, as Boston's long-suffering police foil, Inspector Farraday; Charles Wagenheim (later George E. Stone) as Boston's talkative but dim-witted sidekick, The Runt, and Lloyd Corrigan as an irresponsible, irrepresible, adventurous millionaire pal. In 1944, Blackie made his radio debut on NBC, with Morris and Lane reprising their film roles. The next year, a syndicated version, starring Richard Kollmar, made the rounds. And in 1951, a syndicated television series premiered, starring Kent Taylor, which ran until 1953. By this point, Blackie's long, twisted journey and transformation from con to private eye was complete, with him tooling around LA in a snazzy convertible with his best gal, Mary, and his faithful canine companion, Whitey, by his side, cracking cases, always one step ahead of Inspector Farraday, doing that Thin Man vibe, southern California style.

  • Boston Blackie's Little Pal (1918)
  • The Silk-Lined Burglar (1919)
  • Blackie's Redemption (1919)
  • Missing Millions (1922)
  • The Face in the Fog (1922)
  • Boston Blackie (1923)
  • Crooked Alley (1923)
  • The Return of Boston Blackie (1927)
  • Meet Boston Blackie (1941) - with Chester Morris
  • Confessions of Boston Blackie (1941) - with Chester Morris
  • Alias Boston Blackie (1942) - with Chester Morris
  • Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood (1942) - with Chester Morris
  • After Midnight with Boston Blackie (1943) - with Chester Morris
  • The Chance of a Lifetime (1943) - with Chester Morris
  • One Mysterious Night (1944) - with Chester Morris
  • Boston Blackie Booked on Suspicion (1945) - with Chester Morris
  • Boston Blackie's Rendezvous (1945) - with Chester Morris
  • A Close Call for Boston Blackie (1946) - with Chester Morris
  • The Phantom Thief (1946) - with Chester Morris
  • Boston Blackie and the Law (1946) - with Chester Morris
  • Trapped by Boston Blackie (1948) - with Chester Morris
  • Boston Blackie's Chinese Venture (1949) - with Chester Morris
  • Boston Blackie (1951) (TV series) - with Kent Taylor

Torchy Blane

Glenda Farrell as Torchy Blane in Blondes at Work (1938)

Torchy Blane is a fictional female reporter who appeared in a series of light B films during the late 1930s, which were mixtures of mystery, action, adventure and fun. Torchy Blane is a fast-talking newspaper reporter of the 1930s. She often becomes involved in police investigations, eventually leading to the capture of criminals. As her fiance, Steve Macbride, is usually involved in these investigations, he often comes under suspicion of favoritism. During the pre-war period, the job of newspaper reporter was one of the few movie role models that portrayed intelligent, career-oriented women. Of these role models, Torchy Blane was perhaps the best known. The typical plot has the resilient, very-fast-talking Torchy solving the crime before her less-than-perceptive beau, the loud mouthed police detective Steve McBride. In all but two of the films, Torchy Blane was played by Glenda Farrell, and Steve McBride by Barton MacLane. Lola Lane played Torchy in Torchy Blane in Panama with Paul Kelly as McBride. In the final film of the series, Torchy Plays with Dynamite, Jane Wyman was Torchy, and Allen Jenkins Lt. Steve McBride.

  • Smart Blonde (1937) - with Glenda Farrell
  • Fly Away Baby (1937) - with Glenda Farrell
  • The Adventurous Blonde (1937) - with Glenda Farrell
  • Blondes at Work (1938) - with Glenda Farrell
  • Torchy Blane in Panama (1938) - with Lola Lane
  • Torchy Gets Her Man (1938) - with Glenda Farrell
  • Torchy Blane in Chinatown (1939) - with Glenda Farrell
  • Torchy Runs for Mayor (1939) - with Glenda Farrell
  • Torchy Blane.. Playing with Dynamite (1939) - with Jane Wyman

Charlie Chan

Sidney Toler

The first Charlie Chan film was The House without a Key (1926), a 10-chapter serial produced by Pathé Studios, starring George Kuwa, a Japanese actor, as Chan. A year later Universal Pictures followed the film with The Chinese Parrot, starring another Japanese actor, Kamiyama Sojin, in the starring role. In both productions, Charlie Chan's role was minimized. Because Chan, despite his minimized role, was played by Asian actors, contemporary reviews were unfavorable. In the words of one reviewer, speaking of The Chinese Parrot, Sojin plays "the Chink sleuth as a Lon Chaney cook-waiter ... because Chaney can't stoop that low."

In 1929, the Fox Film Corporation acquired the rights to Charlie Chan and produced Behind That Curtain, starring Korean actor E.L. Park Again, Chan's role was minimized, with Chan appearing only in the last 10 minutes of the film. Not until a white actor was cast in the title role did a Chan film meet with success beginning with 1931's Charlie Chan Carries On, starring Swedish actor Warner Oland as Chan. Oland played the character as much more gentle and self-effacing than he had been in the books, perhaps in a deliberate attempt by the studio to downplay such an uppity attitude in a Chinese detective. Oland starred in 15 more Chan films for Fox, often with Keye Luke, who played Chan's Number One Son, Lee Chan. Oland's warmth and gentle humor helped make the character and films quite popular; the Oland Chan films were among Fox's most successful of the period, attracting major audiences and box-office grosses on a par with A's. Warner Oland died in 1938, and the Chan film he had been working on, Charlie Chan at the Ringside, was transformed at the last minute into Mr. Moto's Gamble, an entry in the Mr. Moto series, another contemporary series featuring an Asian protagonist. Fox hired another white actor, Sidney Toler, to play Charlie Chan, and produced 11 more Chan films through 1942. Toler's Chan was less mild-mannered than Oland's, a switch in attitude that did much to add some of the vigor of the original books to the films. He is frequently accompanied, and irritated, by his Number Two Son, Jimmy Chan, played by Sen Yung. When Fox decided not to produce any further Chan films, Sidney Toler purchased the film rights. Producers Philip N. Krasne and James S. Burkett of Monogram Pictures decided to release further Chan films, starring Toler. The budget for each film was reduced from Fox's average of $200,000 to $75,000. For the first time, Chan was portrayed on occasion as openly contemptuous of his suspects and superiors. African-American actor Mantan Moreland was hired as regular character Birmingham Brown, a fact which led to criticism of the Monogram films in the forties and since; some call these performances 'brilliant comic turns', while others describe Moreland's roles as an offensive and embarrassing stereotype. Toler died in 1947 and was succeeded by Roland Winters for a final six films. Keye Luke, missing from the series after 1938's Mr.Moto rework, returned as Charlie's son in the last two entries.

  • The House Without a Key (1926) - Lost Film
  • The Chinese Parrot (1927) - Lost Film
  • Behind That Curtain (1929)
  • Charlie Chan Carries On (1931) - Lost Film - with Warner Oland
  • Eran trece (1931)
  • The Black Camel (1931) - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan's Chance (1932) - Lost Film - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan's Greatest Case (1933) - Lost Film
  • Charlie Chan's Courage (1934) - Lost Film - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan in London (1934) - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan in Paris (1935) - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan in Egypt (1935) - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan in Shanghai (1935) - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan's Secret (1936) - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan at the Circus (1936) - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan at the Race Track (1936) - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan at the Opera (1936) - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan at the Olympics (1937) - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan on Broadway (1937) - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo (1937) - with Warner Oland
  • Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938) - with Sidney Toler
  • Charlie Chan in Reno (1939) - with Sidney Toler
  • Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (1939) - with Sidney Toler
  • Charlie Chan in City in Darkness (1939) - with Sidney Toler
  • Charlie Chan in Panama (1940) - with Sidney Toler
  • Charlie Chan's Murder Cruise (1940) - with Sidney Toler
  • Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum (1940) - with Sidney Toler
  • Murder Over New York (1940) - with Sidney Toler
  • Dead Men Tell (1941) - with Sidney Toler
  • Charlie Chan in Rio (1941) - with Sidney Toler
  • Castle in the Desert (1942) - with Sidney Toler
  • Charlie Chan in the Secret Service (1944) - with Sidney Toler
  • Charlie Chan in The Chinese Cat (1944) - with Sidney Toler
  • Black Magic (1944) - with Sidney Toler
  • The Jade Mask (1945) - with Sidney Toler
  • The Scarlet Clue (1945) - with Sidney Toler
  • The Shanghai Cobra (1945) - with Sidney Toler
  • The Red Dragon (1945) - with Sidney Toler
  • Dark Alibi (1946) - with Sidney Toler
  • Shadows Over Chinatown (1946) - with Sidney Toler
  • Dangerous Money (1946) - with Sidney Toler
  • The Trap (1946) - with Sidney Toler
  • The Chinese Ring (1947) - with Sidney Toler
  • Docks of New Orleans (1948) - with Roland Winters
  • The Shanghai Chest (1948) - with Roland Winters
  • The Golden Eye (1948) - with Roland Winters
  • The Feathered Serpent (1948) - with Roland Winters
  • The Sky Dragon (1949) - with Roland Winters
  • The New Adventures of Charlie Chan (1957) (TV series)
  • The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan (1972) (TV series)
  • The Return of Charlie Chan (1973)
  • Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen (1981) - with Peter Ustinov
  • Nati con la camicia (1983)
  • Charlie Chan in Transylvania (2011)

Inspector Clouseau

Peter Sellers

Jacques Clouseau makes his first appearance as the Inspector in the 1963 film The Pink Panther, which was released in the United States in 1964. Clouseau is a bumbling and incompetent police inspector of the French Sûreté, whose investigations are marked with chaos and destruction that he himself largely causes. His clumsy attempts at solving the case frequently lead to misfortune for himself and others. Regardless of his rather limited ability, he successfully solves his cases and finds the correct culprits, even if this success is achieved entirely by accident. In most of the films, he was played by Peter Sellers, with one film in which he was played by Alan Arkin and one in which he was played by an uncredited Roger Moore. Sellers is widely regarded as the definitive Chief Inspector Clouseau of pop culture by fans and critics alike.

  • The Pink Panther (1963) - with Peter Sellers
  • A Shot in the Dark (1964) - with Peter Sellers
  • Inspector Clouseau (1968) - with Alan Arkin
  • The Return of the Pink Panther (1975) - with Peter Sellers
  • The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) - with Peter Sellers
  • Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978) - with Peter Sellers
  • Trail of the Pink Panther (1982) - with Peter Sellers
  • Curse of the Pink Panther (1983) - with Roger Moore
  • The Pink Panther (2006) - with Steve Martin
  • The Pink Panther 2 (2009) - with Steve Martin

Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man)

Nick and Nora

The adventures of Dashiell Hammett's retired private eye Nick Charles and his rich, beautiful wife, Nora, proved to be just what people wanted. They established a formula that film, television and fiction are still trying to duplicate. Originally, Nick served as an ace operative for the Trans-American Detective Agency, but upon marriage to Nora, he retired to a life of leisure, content to manage Nora's rather sizable dowry. His favorite hobby seems to be drinking. Even in retirement sleuthing seems to constantly follow him as numerous times he is reluctantly drawn into a murder case either by circumstance, or by Nora's desire to watch him work. The film adaptation of The Thin Man was a resounding success, and although Hammett never wrote another novel with Nick and Nora Charles, five movie sequels were produced. In the novel, Nick Charles is overweight and out of shape; the 'thin man' is in fact a murder suspect. However, Nick Charles was portrayed in the films by the slim actor William Powell. This, naturally, confused the audience into thinking Nick was the title character. The movie producers capitalized on this confusion, and inserted 'Thin Man' in the titles of the sequels to indicate Nick and Nora stories. Nora is portrayed by Myrna Loy in the films.

  • The Thin Man (1934)
  • After the Thin Man (1936)
  • Another Thin Man (1939)
  • Shadow of the Thin Man (1941)
  • The Thin Man Goes Home (1945)
  • Song of the Thin Man (1947)

Dirty Harry

Clint Eastwood

Dirty Harry is the name of a series of films and novels starring fictional San Francisco Police Department Homicide Division Inspector 'Dirty' Harry Callahan, portrayed by Clint Eastwood. In the early 70s and for almost two decades, Clint Eastwood starred as the magnum-packing Dirty Harry. The original film in the series about the fascist, vigilante-hero cop was the action film Dirty Harry (1971), directed by Eastwood's directorial mentor Don Siegel. It unleashed a flurry of similar, quasi-Mickey Spillane thrillers. In the first of many sequels, Eastwood starred as the intolerant Harry Callahan on the trail of the elusive 'Scorpio killer'.

  • Dirty Harry (1971)
  • Magnum Force (1973)
  • The Enforcer (1976)
  • Sudden Impact (1983)
  • The Dead Pool (1988)

Nancy Drew

Bonita Granville

Nancy Drew is a fictional young amateur detective in various mystery series for children and teens. Former child actress Bonita Granville portrayed Nancy Drew in four Warner Bros. films directed by William Clemens in the late 1930s. A fifth movie may have been planned or even produced, but it was never released.

Critical reaction to these films is mixed. Some find that the movies did not depict the true Nancy Drew, in part because Granville's Nancy blatantly used her feminine wiles (and enticing bribes) to accomplish her goals. The films also portray Nancy as childish and easily flustered, a significant change from her portrayal in the books.

  • Nancy Drew -- Detective (1938) - with Bonita Granville
  • Nancy Drew... Reporter (1939) - with Bonita Granville
  • Nancy Drew... Trouble Shooter (1939) - with Bonita Granville
  • Nancy Drew and the Hidden Staircase (1939) - with Bonita Granville
  • The Texas Kid (1943) - with Shirley Patterson
  • Nancy Drew (2007)

Bulldog Drummond

Ronald Colman

Given the popularity of the American Hardboiled Detectives that began appearing in literature of the 1920s, it was inevitable that British readers would find their own two-fisted adventurer. Created by H. C. McNeile under the pseudonym 'Sapper', Bulldog Drummond had been a wealthy officer serving his Majesty during WWI. After his experiences in the trenches, he found civilian life in London more than a little boring. His answer is to take up a life of crime fighting.

Drummond came along after Sherlock Holmes and Nyland-Smith of the Fu Manchu stories, but retains many of the aspects of the British upper-crust. Drummond has the appearance of an English gentleman: a man who fights hard, plays hard and lives clean. Some of this attitude is seen in the modern incarnation of Ian Fleming's James Bond; in fact Fleming acknowledged the influence of Bulldog Drummond in creating his spy. On film he was played by, among others, Ronald Colman, Walter Pidgeon, Ray Milland, Tom Conway and Rod La Roque.

  • Bulldog Drummond (1922)
  • Bulldog Drummond's Third Round (1925)
  • Captain Swagger (1928)
  • Bulldog Drummond (1929) - with Ronald Colman
  • Temple Tower (1930) - Lost film
  • Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back (1934) - with Ronald Colman
  • The Return of Bulldog Drummond (1934) - with Ralph Richardson
  • Bulldog Jack (1935) - with Atholl Fleming
  • Bulldog Drummond Escapes (1937) - with Ray Milland
  • Bulldog Drummond at Bay (1937) - with John Lodge
  • Bulldog Drummond Comes Back (1937) - with John Howard
  • Bulldog Drummond's Revenge (1937) - with John Howard
  • Bulldog Drummond's Peril (1938) - with John Howard
  • Bulldog Drummond in Africa (1938) - with John Howard
  • Bulldog Drummond's Secret Police (1939) - with John Howard
  • Bulldog Drummond's Bride (1939) - with John Howard
  • Arrest Bulldog Drummond (1939) - with John Howard
  • Bulldog Drummond at Bay (1947) - with Ron Randell
  • Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back (1947) - with Ron Randell
  • 13 Lead Soldiers (1948) - with Tom Conway
  • The Challenge (1948) - with Tom Conway
  • Calling Bulldog Drummond (1951) - with Walter Pidgeon
  • Bulldog Drummond (1952) - with Robert Beatty
  • Deadlier Than the Male (1967)
  • Some Girls Do (1969)

Mike Hammer

Michael 'Mike' Hammer is a fictional detective created by the American author Mickey Spillane in the 1947 book I, the Jury. In 1953 Hammer made it to the big screen in the Harry Essex-directed I, the Jury. Biff Elliot tarred as Hammer, and managed to capture some of the brooding brutality of the character. Hammer was re-introduced to a whole new generation of fans when Warner Brothers released a new film version of I, the Jury (1982), starring a smouldering, slightly psychotic Armand Assante as Hammer.

Stacy Keach
  • I, the Jury (1953)
  • Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
  • My Gun Is Quick (1957)
  • The Girl Hunters (1963)
  • Margin for Murder (1981)
  • I, the Jury (1982)
  • Murder Me, Murder You (1983)
  • More Than Murder (1984)
  • The Return of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer (1986)
  • Mike Hammer: Murder Takes All (1989)
  • Come Die with Me: A Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Mystery (1994)

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes — and by extension his constant companion Dr. Watson — are the second most frequently filmed fictional characters with almost 200 film appearances to date. Only Count Dracula (239 movies) has beaten this record. The first known film featuring Holmes is Sherlock Holmes Baffled, a one-reel film running less than a minute, made by the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company in 1900. Many similar films were made in the early years of the twentieth century, most notably the 13 one- and two-reel films produced by the Danish Nordisk Film Company between 1908 and 1911. The only non-lost film is Sherlock Holmes i Bondefangerkløer, produced in 1910. Holmes was originally played by Viggo Larsen. Other actors who played Holmes in those films were Otto Lagoni, Einar Zangenberg, Lauritz Olsen and Alwin Neuss. In 1911 the American Biograph company produced a series of 11 short comedies based on the Holmes character with Mack Sennett (later of Keystone Cops fame) in the title role. The next significant cycle of Holmes films were produced by the Stoll Films company in Britain. Between 1921 and 1923 they produced a total of 47 two-reelers, all featuring noted West End actor Eille Norwood in the lead with Hubert Willis as Watson. A later British series produced between 1933 and 1936 starred Arthur Wontner as Holmes. John Barrymore played the role in a 1922 movie entitled Sherlock Holmes, with Roland Young as Watson and William Powell in his first screen appearance. In 1931 Raymond Massey played Sherlock Holmes in his screen debut, The Speckled Band.

Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and his constant companion Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce)

Basil Rathbone starred as Sherlock Holmes in fourteen movies between 1939 and 1946, all of which co-starred Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson. The first two films, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and The Hound of the Baskervilles (both 1939) were set in the late-Victorian times of the original stories. Both of these were made by 20th Century Fox. Later installments, made at Universal Studios, beginning with Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942), were set in contemporary times, and some had World War II-related plots. Rathbone and Bruce also reprised their film roles in a radio series, The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939–1946). Many other films have been comedies and parodies which poke fun at Holmes, Watson, their relationship and other characters. These have included Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970) with Robert Stephens and Colin Blakely as Holmes and Watson, and Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) with Nicholas Rowe as Holmes and Alan Cox as Watson playing the duo as schoolboys (in this film one of Holmes' early mentors becomes an enemy who, in the final credits, hides out in the Swiss Alps and signs his name as Moriarty) which Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did not write. More serious, non-canonical films were A Study in Terror (1965) (with John Neville and Donald Houston) and Murder by Decree (1979) (with Christopher Plummer and James Mason) both of which involved Holmes and Watson investigating the murders by the Whitechapel serial killer Jack the Ripper. The 1974 novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, a 'lost manuscript' of a Holmes adventure, was also made into a film in 1976 starring Nicol Williamson as Holmes and Robert Duvall as Watson.

  • Sherlock Holmes Baffled (1900)
  • Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1905)
  • Sherlock Holmes (1908)
  • Arsène Lupin contra Sherlock Holmes (1910)
  • The $500 Reward (1911)
  • A Study in Scarlet (1914)
  • Der Hund von Baskerville (1914)
  • Sherlock Holmes (1916)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1921) with Eille Norwood
  • The Man with the Twisted Lip (1921) with Eille Norwood
  • Sherlock Holmes (1922)
  • Sherlock Jr. (1924)
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1929) with Clive Brook
  • Sherlock Holmes' Fatal Hour (1931) with Arthur Wontner
  • The Speckled Band (1931) with Raymond Massey
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Missing Rembrandt (1932) with Arthur Wontner
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1932)
  • Sherlock Holmes (1932) with Clive Brook
  • The Sign of Four: Sherlock Holmes' Greatest Case (1932) with Arthur Wontner
  • A Study in Scarlet (1933) with Reginald Owen
  • The Triumph of Sherlock Holmes (1935) with Arthur Wontner
  • Murder at the Baskervilles (1937) with Arthur Wontner
  • Two Merry Adventurers (1937)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1939) with Basil Rathbone
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1939) with Basil Rathbone
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror (1942) with Basil Rathbone
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon (1943) with Basil Rathbone
  • Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943) with Basil Rathbone
  • Sherlock Holmes Faces Death (1943) with Basil Rathbone
  • The Spider Woman (1944) with Basil Rathbone
  • The Scarlet Claw (1944) with Basil Rathbone
  • The Pearl of Death (1944) with Basil Rathbone
  • The House of Fear (1945) with Basil Rathbone
  • The Woman in Green (1945) with Basil Rathbone
  • Pursuit to Algiers (1945) with Basil Rathbone
  • Terror by Night (1946) with Basil Rathbone
  • Dressed to Kill (1946) with Basil Rathbone
  • The Adventure of the Speckled Band (1949) with Alan Napier
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) with Peter Cushing
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace with Christopher Lee
  • 'Sherlock Holmes' (TV series 1965-1968) with Peter Cushing
  • The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)
  • They Might Be Giants (1971)
  • The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother (1975)
  • Sherlock Holmes in New York (1976) with Roger Moore
  • The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (1976)
  • Silver Blaze (1977) (TV) with Christopher Plummer
  • The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It (1977)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978)
  • Sherlok Kholms i doktor Vatson: Znakomstvo (1979)
  • Sherlok Kholms i doktor Vatson: Krovavaya nadpis (1979)
  • Murder by Decree (1979)
  • Priklyucheniya Sherloka Kholmsa i doktora Vatsona: Smertelnaya skhvatka (1980)
  • Priklyucheniya Sherloka Kholmsa i doktora Vatsona: Okhota na tigra (1980)
  • Priklyucheniya Sherloka Kholmsa i doktora Vatsona: Korol shantazha (1980)
  • Priklyucheniya Sherloka Kholmsa i doktora Vatsona: Sobaka Baskerviley (1981)
  • Priklyucheniya Sherloka Kholmsa i doktora Vatsona: Sokrovishcha Agry (1983)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Sign of Four (1983)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Masks of Death (1984) with Peter Cushing
  • 'The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' (1984) (TV series) with Jeremy Brett
  • Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
  • Priklyucheniya Sherloka Kholmsa i doktora Vatsona: Dvadtsatyy vek nachinaetsya (1986)
  • The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
  • The Sign of Four (1987) with Jeremy Brett
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1987)
  • Without a Clue (1988)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (1988) (TV)
  • 'The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes' (1991) (TV series) with Jeremy Brett
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (1991) with Christopher Lee
  • The Crucifer of Blood (1991)
  • Incident at Victoria Falls (1992) with Christopher Lee
  • The Xango from Baker Street (2001)
  • Sherlock (2002)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (2002)
  • Sherlock Holmes Returns (1993)
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking (2004)
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009)
  • Sherlock (2010) (TV Series)

Michael Lanyard (The Lone Wolf)

The Lone Wolf (Warren William) and his faithfull Jamison (Eric Blore)

The origin of The Lone Wolf has a long history. Created by Louis Joseph Vance in 1914, its success lead to a series of novels before being introduced to the screen with Bert Lytell as The Lone Wolf (1917). Before the character was converted to detective, Lanyard's humble beginnings was that as a gentleman jewel thief usually helping ladies in distress, a cross between Boston Blackie and Raffles. Other actors enacted the role in follow-up films during the silent era before Lanyard returned to the screen again as The Lone Wolf (1924) featuring Jack Holt. This was followed by subsequent features for Columbia starring its originator, Bert Lytell, continuing through the sound era of 1930. Fox Films produced one Lone Wolf adventure in 1932 (Cheaters at Play)before Columbia revised the character again in The Lone Wolf Returns (1935) with Melvyn Douglas. Francis Lederer assumed the role in The Lone Wolf in Paris (1938) before developing into a whole new series format of mystery-comedies starring Warren William from 1939 to 1943. In The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady (1940), he acquired a valet, Jamison, played by actor Eric Blore whose chief job, it seemed, was to provide comic relief, and to become hopelessly entangled in the plots. Columbia brought back the series again starting in 1946 for a few more theatrical releases, with contract players Gerald Mohr and Ron Rondell assuming the role before the series came to an end in 1949. Before shifting to television, The Lone Wolf adventures were presented on the radio.

As with many television adaptations taken on previous motion pictures (Perry Mason, The Saint), many changes and updates were made. 'The Lone Wolf' starring Louis Hayward eliminated Lanyard's origins as a thief. It overlooked the fact that he had a daughter (as depicted in 1929s The Lone Wolf's Daughter with Lytell, and 1939s The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt with William). It also did away with Lanyard's manservant, Jamison, as portrayed for laughs and good will assistance in the 1940s series by Eric Blore, and Alan Mowbray in the final theatrical installment. Unlike his predecessors, Hayward's Lanyard is low-keyed, soft-spoken tough guy. Breaking away from his earlier baby-faced image from the 1930s, Hayward, now older with face slightly fuller, fits well into his role, caricatured somewhat to the liking of other movie tough guy heroes as Humphrey Bogart, Dick Powell or Alan Ladd. The episodes scripted are done in typical 1940s film noir, style, with off-screen narration, occasional flashback sequences and surprise end twists. Of course there's enough cigarette smoking done from various characters as well as occasional fist fights and gun play between Lanyard and villains for some added excitement.

  • The Lone Wolf (1917) with Bert Lytell
  • The False Faces (1919) with Henry B. Walthall and Lon Chaney
  • The Lone Wolf's Daughter (1919)
  • The Lone Wolf (1924)
  • The Lone Wolf Returns (1926) with Bert Lytell
  • Alias the Lone Wolf (1927) with Bert Lytell
  • The Lone Wolf's Daughter (1929) with Bert Lytell
  • The Last of the Lone Wolf (1930) with Bert Lytell
  • Cheaters at Play (1932)
  • The Lone Wolf Returns (1935) with Melvyn Douglas
  • The Lone Wolf in Paris (1938) with Francis Lederer
  • The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt (1939) with Warren William
  • The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady (1940) with Warren William
  • The Lone Wolf Strikes (1940) with Warren William
  • The Lone Wolf Keeps a Date (1940) with Warren William
  • The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance (1941) with Warren William
  • Secrets of the Lone Wolf (1941) with Warren William
  • Counter-Espionage (1942) with Warren William
  • One Dangerous Night (1943) with Warren William
  • Passport to Suez (1943) with Warren William
  • The Notorious Lone Wolf (1946) with Gerald Mohr
  • The Lone Wolf in Mexico (1947) with Gerald Mohr
  • The Lone Wolf in London (1947) with Gerald Mohr
  • The Lone Wolf and His Lady (1949) with Ron Randell
  • 'The Lone Wolf' (1954) (TV series) with Louis Hayward
  • Lone Wolf (1998)
  • Lone Wolf 2: Break Time (2003)

Philip Marlowe

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep (1946)

Philip Marlowe is a fictional character created by Raymond Chandler in a series of novels including The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye. Marlowe first appeared under that name, in The Big Sleep published in 1939. Marlowe has been adapted for film, television, radio, comics and audiotapes by all kinds of writers, sometimes quite successfully, particularly in film and radio, and sometimes rather disappointingly (television). Dick Powell was turned down for the lead in Double Indemnity (1944) because director, Billy Wilder thought the public would never buy Powell as anything but a lightweight song-and-dance man. But Powell nabbed the role of Marlowe in 1944's Murder, My Sweet and never looked back. In fact, Powell's previous image actually may have helped since nobody had great expectations.

After the wild success of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in Howard Hawks' To Have and Have Not, Warner Bros. was hot for another hit featuring the dynamic duo. Warners bought a story that will be another smash, something tough yet romantic enough to capitalize on the obvious chemistry between the two stars. That story was Chandler's The Big Sleep. A dozen actors have impersonated Marlowe on film, radio and TV, but Chandler, whose ideal exponent would have been Cary Grant, thought Bogart the best. In a 1946 letter to his British publisher, he said: "Bogart is so much better than any other tough-guy actor. As we say here, Bogart can be tough without a gun. Also he has a sense of humour that contains that grating undertone of contempt."

  • Murder, My Sweet (1944)
  • The Big Sleep (1946)
  • Lady in the Lake (1947)
  • The Brasher Doubloon (1947)
  • Philip Marlowe (1959-1960) (TV series)
  • Marlowe (1969)
  • The Long Goodbye (1973)
  • Farewell, My Lovely (1975)
  • The Big Sleep (1978)
  • 'Philip Marlowe, Private Eye' (1984-1986) (TV series)
  • Poodle Springs (1998)

Miss Marple

Margaret Rutherford

Jane Marple, usually referred to as Miss Marple, is a fictional character appearing in twelve of Agatha Christie's crime novels. Miss Marple is an elderly spinster who acts as an amateur detective, and lives in the village of St. Mary Mead. She is one of the most famous of Christie's characters and has been portrayed numerous times on screen. Although popular from her first appearance in 1930, Jane Marple had to wait thirty-two years for her first big-screen appearance. Murder, She Said (1961, directed by George Pollock) was the first of four British MGM productions starring Dame Margaret Rutherford who was 70 years old when the first film was made. Of all the dramatizations of Agatha Christie's novels, it would be no surprise to discover that the four Margaret Rutherford portrayals of Miss Marple were her least favorite. While Christie was fond of Margaret Rutherford as a person and dedicated the 1963 novel 'The Mirror Crack'd From Side To Side' to her, Christie made no secret of the fact that she hated the movies, and after the third one, she disavowed all knowledge of them and refused to take any further part in their production. Perhaps that is why the popular series came to a sputtering halt.

Christie can hardly be blamed for her aversion, since the Rutherford portrayal had nothing in common with the Miss Jane Marple of fiction except for the name. Christie's frail, quiet, unassuming heroine was played by the burly Rutherford as a robust, boisterous, hyper-active buffoon. What little part of Christie's stories that made it to the script, was rewritten to make Jane Marple into an action hero, with activities more suited to Nancy Drew than a doddery old spinster. Rutherford's Marple is always at center stage actively pursuing and confronting the villains. In one movie she fights a pirate in a duel with sabers. In another, she gallops around on a stallion, and commits burglary. She even spends a night in jail. "Oh no," as Christie's Marple would have said, "That will never do."

Joan Hickson

In 1980, audiences were ready for Miss Marple's return to the big screen. The latest actress to take on the role was Angela Lansbury. She starred in one film by EMI: The Mirror Crack'd, obviously based on the Marple story The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side. It featured an all-star cast including Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Rock Hudson, and Tony Curtis. The story takes place in 1953 and stays on track plot-wise like that of the novel. The American stage actress Helen Hayes also played Miss Marple in two made-for-television movies, first A Caribbean Mystery (1983) and then Murder with Mirrors (1985). She appeared in the first movie at the age of 83 years, older than her counterpart of the novels. The two-time Oscar winner starred with a well-known cast in Murder with Mirrors: Bette Davis, Leo McKern, John Mills, Frances de la Tour, and Tim Roth. The next Marple came in the form of Joan Hickson, an actress who first performed on stage at the age of 20 and later appeared in films. Her stage work included the role of Miss Pryce in the play Appointment with Death. That performance impressed Agatha Christie so much that it occasioned her to write Miss Hickson: "I hope you will play my dear Miss Marple." Obviously, Miss Hickson did, the BBC television series Miss Marple ran from 1984 to 1992. Many felt that finally there was a Miss Marple done correctly for audiences, not just Joan Hickson's portrayal of Marple, but the stories closely resembled the novels.

  • Murder She Said (1961) with Margaret Rutherford
  • Murder at the Gallop (1963) with Margaret Rutherford
  • Murder Most Foul (1964) with Margaret Rutherford
  • Murder Ahoy (1964) with Margaret Rutherford
  • The Alphabet Murders (1965) with Margaret Rutherford
  • Mord im Pfarrhaus (1970)
  • The Mirror Crack'd (1980) with Angela Lansbury
  • Tayna chyornykh drozdov (1983)
  • A Caribbean Mystery (1983) with Joan Hickson
  • The Body in the Library (1984) with Joan Hickson
  • Murder, She Wrote (1984-1996) (TV series) with Angela Lansbury
  • Murder with Mirrors (1985) with Joan Hickson
  • The Moving Finger (1985) with Joan Hickson
  • A Murder Is Announced (1985) with Joan Hickson
  • A Pocket Full of Rye (1985) with Joan Hickson
  • The Murder at the Vicarage (1986) with Joan Hickson
  • Sleeping Murder (1987) with Joan Hickson
  • At Bertram's Hotel (1987) with Joan Hickson
  • Miss Marple: Nemesis (1987) with Joan Hickson
  • 4.50 from Paddington (1987) with Joan Hickson
  • A Caribbean Mystery (1989) with Joan Hickson
  • They Do It with Mirrors (1991) with Joan Hickson
  • The Mirror Crack'd (1992) with Joan Hickson
  • Marple: The Body in the Library (2004) (TV) with Geraldine McEwan
  • Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage (2004) (TV) with Geraldine McEwan
  • Marple: What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw (2004) (TV) with Geraldine McEwan
  • Marple: A Murder Is Announced (2005) (TV) with Geraldine McEwan
  • Marple: Sleeping Murder (2006) (TV) with Geraldine McEwan
  • Marple: The Moving Finger (2006) (TV) with Geraldine McEwan
  • Marple: By the Pricking of My Thumbs (2006) (TV) with Geraldine McEwan
  • Agatha Christie Marple: The Sittaford Mystery (2006) (TV) with Geraldine McEwan
  • Marple: Towards Zero (2007) (TV) with Geraldine McEwan
  • Miss Marple: Nemesis (2007) (TV) with Geraldine McEwan
  • Miss Marple: At Bertram's Hotel (2007) (TV) with Geraldine McEwan
  • Marple: Ordeal by Innocence (2007) (TV) with Geraldine McEwan
  • Marple: A Pocket Full of Rye (2008) (TV) with Julia McKenzie
  • Marple: Murder Is Easy (2008) (TV) with Julia McKenzie
  • Marple: Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (2009) (TV) with Julia McKenzie
  • Marple: They Do It with Mirrors (2009) (TV) with Julia McKenzie
  • Marple: The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side (2010) (TV) with Julia McKenzie
  • Marple: The Secret of Chimneys (2010) (TV) with Julia McKenzie
  • Marple: The Blue Geranium (2010) (TV) with Julia McKenzie
  • Marple: The Pale Horse (2010) (TV) with Julia McKenzie

Perry Mason

Raymond Burr as Mason and Barbara Hale as his secretary Della Street

Perry Mason is a fictional character, a defense attorney who originally was the main character in numerous pieces of detective fiction authored by Erle Stanley Gardner. Perry Mason was featured in more than 80 novels and short stories, most of which had a story line which involved his client being put on trial for murder. Typically, Mason was able to establish his client's innocence by demonstrating the guilt of another character. The character of Perry Mason was portrayed each weekday on a long running radio series, followed by the well-known depictions on film and television. Before Perry Mason debuted on the 'small screen' in the long running television series, Erle Stanley Gardner's crafty defense lawyer had appeared in some mostly ignored Hollywood films. In 1934, Warner Brothers, who had bought the rights to the Mason books, released The Case of the Howling Dog starring Warren William in the role of Perry Mason. Warner Brothers later recast the role of Perry with actor Ricardo Cortez in 1936's The Case of the Black Cat. Despite Cortez' Latin lover good looks, the film was a complete failure. One year later a third Mason film, The Case of the Stuttering Bishop, premiered starring a forgettable Donald Woods.

A radio series was also developed and made its debut in 1943 following the adventures of detective/lawyer Perry Mason. Several radio actors portrayed Perry with the most notable being John Larkin. A comic book series was also produced and ran from 1950 until 1952. The fabulously popular Perry Mason television series debuted in September of 1957 and ran until 1966. For a generation of American television audiences, Raymond Burr's portrayal of Perry Mason defined the role of defense attorneys. Born in British Columbia, Canada, Burr made his film debut in 1946's San Quentin after being wounded in World War II. He would go on to perform in about 100 movies - averaging almost 10 per year - before appearing as the lead in the first 'Perry Mason' television episode, The Case of the Restless Redhead. After nine years of courtroom acting, Burr filmed his last show for the original series. Beginning in 1985, however, he reprised the role that made him famous for a series of Perry Mason television movies. Two attempts have been made to use the Perry Mason name without casting Raymond Burr in the title role; neither was successful. The television shows featured large casts and were quite expensive to produce in comparison to other television shows of the era. Nearly 2,000 actors made appearances on Perry Mason over the years. Many well known stars made guest appearances on the tv series including Bette Davis, James Coburn, Ellen Burstyn, Angie Dickenson, Burt Reynolds, Zazu Pitts and Robert Redford. Burr's last appearance as Perry Mason, in The Case of the Killer Kiss, aired on Nov. 7, 1993, about two months after Burr lost his fight with cancer. In large part because of Burr's talent and charisma, Perry Mason stands today as an American icon on par with Superman and the Lone Ranger.

  • The Case of the Howling Dog (1934) with Warren William
  • The Case of the Curious Bride (1935) with Warren William
  • The Case of the Lucky Legs (1935) with Warren William
  • The Case of the Velvet Claws (1936) with Warren William
  • The Case of the Black Cat (1936) with Ricardo Cortez
  • The Case of the Stuttering Bishop (1937) with Donald Woods
  • Perry Mason (TV series 1957-1966) with Raymond Burr
  • The New Perry Mason (TV series 1973-1974) with Monte Markham
  • Perry Mason Returns (1985) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Notorious Nun (1986) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Shooting Star (1986) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Lost Love (1987) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Sinister Spirit (1987) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Murdered Madam (1987) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Scandalous Scoundrel (1987) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Avenging Ace (1988) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Lady in the Lake (1988) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Lethal Lesson (1989) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Musical Murder (1989) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the All-Star Assassin (1989) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Poisoned Pen (1990) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Desperate Deception (1990) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Silenced Singer (1990) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Defiant Daughter (1990) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Ruthless Reporter (1991) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Maligned Mobster (1991) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Glass Coffin (1991) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Fatal Fashion (1991) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Fatal Framing (1992) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Reckless Romeo (1992) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Heartbroken Bride (1992) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Skin-Deep Scandal (1993) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Telltale Talk Show Host (1993) with Raymond Burr
  • The Case of the Killer Kiss (1993) with Raymond Burr

Mr. Moto

Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938)

Mr. Moto is a fictional Japanese secret agent created by the American author John P. Marquand. Marquand initially created the character for the Saturday Evening Post, which was seeking stories with an Asian hero after the death of Charlie Chan's creator Earl Derr Biggers. In various other media, Mr. Moto has been portrayed as an international law enforcement agent. Between 1937 and 1939 eight motion pictures were produced by 20th Century Fox starring Peter Lorre as Mr. Kentaro Moto. Unlike the novels, Moto is the central character, wears glasses, and no longer has gold teeth. He is still impeccably dressed in primarily Western suits, only wearing a yukata when he is relaxing at home. The stories are action-oriented due to Moto’s liberal use of judo (only hinted at in the novels) and due to his tendency to wear disguises. The Mr. Moto series is unusual because it is largely the work of one filmmaker, Norman Foster, who directed six of the eight films in the series and contributed to the screenplays of several. Foster was a world traveler turned Broadway actor who came to Hollywood with his wife, Claudette Colbert, and worked as an actor for several years. Mr. Moto was resurrected 26 years later, to compete with the popular James Bond action series, with Caucasian actor Henry Silva as the quizzical Moto, in The Return of Mr. Moto (1965)

  • Think Fast, Mr. Moto (1937) with Peter Lorre
  • Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937) with Peter Lorre
  • Mr. Moto's Gamble (1938) with Peter Lorre
  • Mr. Moto Takes a Chance (1938) with Peter Lorre
  • Mysterious Mr. Moto (1938) with Peter Lorre
  • Mr. Moto's Last Warning (1939) with Peter Lorre
  • Mr. Moto in Danger Island (1939) with Peter Lorre
  • Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (1939) with Peter Lorre
  • The Return of Mr. Moto (1965) with Henry Silva

Hercule Poirot

Alibi (1931)

Hercule Poirot made his debut on film in the 1931 movie Alibi, based on the stage play of the same name. The play was adapted by Michael Morton from the novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Poirot was played by Austin Trevor as a tall handsome detective (no mustache!) - the most complete opposite in appearance from Agatha Christie's creation. Interestingly enough, Trevor played Poirot two more times, in Black Coffee - again in 1931 - and Lord Edgware Dies in 1934. Black Coffee was originally a play Agatha Christie wrote herself after Morton had done Alibi. In 1960, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced they had signed a contract for a sum of a million pounds to the rights to all of Christie's unadapted mystery stories for TV. The US magazine TV Guide stated that actor Jose Ferrer would star as Hercule Poirot in a TV series planned for the 1961-62 season. Later in October 1961, MGM announced it was reworking the Hercule Poirot series and that Ferrer would not be playing the title role. Sadly, nothing became of that Poirot series. However, MGM started producing Miss Marple films with Margaret Rutherford in 1961.

So, the next time Poirot appears on television was in 1962 on CBS. Actor Martin Gabel starred as Poirot in a General Electric Theater production entitled Hercule Poirot (what else?). The program was an adaptation of The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim. The show was to be a pilot episode for a weekly series, but the series never took off. The next time we see Poirot is in the cinema with The Alphabet Murders (based on The ABC Murders) in 1966, starring Tony Randall (made-up with a bald cap and everything) as Poirot. Hastings was played by the corpulent actor Robert Morley as a clumsy bungler. The movie was more comical than anything else. The role of Poirot was to be for Zero Mostel, but Agatha Christie objected to his casting and the script, which even called for a bedroom scene for the dapper detective! On a better note, Austin Trevor visited the set during filming and Margaret Rutherford (actress who portrayed Miss Marple in 4 films) made a cameo appearance in the film.

Peter Ustinov as Poirot in Death on the Nile (1978)

The next project with Poirot was the excellent EMI movie adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express in 1974. An all-star cast included Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael York, Anthony Perkins, Lauren Bacall, and the Oscar-winning performance by Ingrid Bergman. Let's not forget Albert Finney portraying Poirot. The acting was superb and the costumes just excellent. It was at the time the most successful British film ever made and got the stamp of approval from Agatha Christie herself. EMI returned to Poirot in a theatrical release of Death on the Nile in 1978, based on the novel of the same name and starring this time Peter Ustinov as Poirot. The movie was actually filmed in Egypt under horrendous temperatures. The cast was an all-star one also, with: Bette Davis, David Niven, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, and Jack Warden. The movie poster featured an Egyptian King holding a knife in one hand and a revolver in the other. Peter Ustinov returned as Poirot in another production, this time by Universal of Evil Under the Sun, premiering in 1982. The movie also starred Diana Rigg, James Mason, and Roddy McDowall. The director of the movie was Guy Hamilton, also director of Bond movies like Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, and Live and Let Die. Another theatrical release of a Poirot movie came in 1988, starring Ustinov again as Poirot. This was Appointment With Death, also starring Carrie Fisher and Lauren Bacall. Ustinov wasn't done, however, with portraying the Belgian detective. He appeared as Poirot in three made-for-television movies: Thirteen at Dinner (1985), Dead Man's Folly (1986), and Murder in Three Acts (1986). The first of these was based on Lord Edgware Dies and was made by Warner Brothers. It also starred Faye Dunaway and David Suchet as Inspector Japp, just before he himself played the famous detective. The next TV movie of Ustinov's was Dead Man's Folly, again by Warner Bros. and shown in 1986. The role of Ariadne Oliver the novelist was portrayed by Jean Stapleton; Tim Piggot-Smith also starred. The last of the Ustinov movies was Murder in Three Acts in 1986 (based on Three-Act Tragedy). It starred Jonathan Cecil and Tony Curtis. Instead of the setting being in England, it was changed to Acapulco.

David Suchet

The current actor portraying Hercule Poirot is the English actor David Suchet, with many agreeing his portrayal of the Belgian detective as the definitive one. Suchet began filming in 1988 the program Agatha Christie's Poirot for London Weekend Television. This long-running series also starred Hugh Fraser as an excellent Captain Hastings. In preparation for his portrayal of Poirot, Suchet read every short story and everything Christie wrote about the detective. He has done an exceptional job in being faithful to Poirot's character. When interviewed for The Strand, Suchet said this about Poirot's mannerisms: "I had to make his mannerisms and eccentricities not as though they had been put on to be laughed at, but as if they had come absolutely from within that person. I had to make it look real for the audience, yet in a way so that they could find themselves smiling at this strange little man. His mannerisms and eccentricities have to be real and not jokey, so he must never be aware of them or comment on them - even things like putting a handkerchief down on the floor before he kneels. They mustn't be commented on. This is just what he does."

  • Alibi (1931) with Austin Trevor
  • Black Coffee (1931) with Austin Trevor
  • Lord Edgware Dies (1934) with Austin Trevor
  • The Alphabet Murders (1965) with Tony Randall
  • Murder on the Orient Express (1974) with Albert Finney
  • The Strange Case of the End of Civilization as We Know It (1977) with Dudley Jones
  • Death on the Nile (1978) with Peter Ustinov
  • Evil Under the Sun (1982) with Peter Ustinov
  • Thirteen at Dinner (1985) with Peter Ustinov
  • Murder by the Book (1986) with Ian Holm
  • Dead Man's Folly (1986) with Peter Ustinov
  • Murder in Three Acts (1986) with Peter Ustinov
  • Appointment with Death (1988) with Peter Ustinov
  • Agatha Christie: Poirot (TV series 1989- ) with David Suchet

Ellery Queen

1970's version of Ellery Queen

Ellery Queen is a unique fictional detective, who appeared for the first time in The Roman Hat Mystery (1929). Created by cousins Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee as an entry in a writing contest, he is regarded by many as the definitive American whodunit celebrity, rivaling Nero Wolfe as the logical successor to the Master, Sherlock Holmes. In a successful series of novels that covered 42 years, Ellery Queen served as both author's name and that of the detective-hero. During the 1930s and much of the 1940s, that detective-hero was possibly the best known American fictional detective. Movies, radio shows, and television shows have been based on their works. Ellery Queen first came to television in the medium's earliest years. Like other programs of the time, it was an attempt to capitalize on a well-known radio series, but the shows were mostly unremarkable. It was Jim Hutton's 1975 NBC series that set the standard: his was the definitive filmed portrayal of Ellery Queen. Fred Dannay said Hutton reminded him not so much of the character Ellery Queen, but rather of himself at Hutton's age.

  • The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935) with Donald Cook
  • The Mandarin Mystery (1936) with Eddie Quillan
  • Ellery Queen, Master Detective (1940) with Ralph Bellamy
  • Ellery Queen's Penthouse Mystery (1941) with Ralph Bellamy
  • Ellery Queen and the Perfect Crime (1941) with Ralph Bellamy
  • Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941) with Ralph Bellamy
  • A Close Call for Ellery Queen (1942) with William Gargan
  • A Desperate Chance for Ellery Queen (1942) with William Gargan
  • Enemy Agents Meet Ellery Queen (1942) with William Gargan
  • The Adventures of Ellery Queen (1950-1952) (TV series)
  • The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen (1958-1959) (TV series)
  • Ellery Queen: Don't Look Behind You (1971)
  • La Décade prodigieuse (1971)
  • Ellery Queen (1975-1976) (TV series)

The Shadow

The Shadow is a crime-fighting vigilante with psychic powers. One of the most famous pulp heroes of the 20th century, The Shadow, along with his lovely companion Margo Lane, fought against lawbreakers, mad scientists and the supernatural. With The Shadow gaining popularity in both pulps and radio, it was only a matter of time that he would appear on the silver screen. In the early days, he was a narrator for a series of six short films adapted from the Street & Smith magazines. In 1937, as Orson Welles was doing the role on radio, Grand National Pictures released the cinematic version of one of The Shadow's pulp adventures. The Shadow Strikes was based on The Ghost of the Manor by Walter B. Gibson. Rod La Rocque assumed the title role. Unfortunately, the movie was missing The Shadow's agents, and The Shadow himself (in costume) got very little screen time. The following year came International Crime. This time, the agents were featured, but The Shadow didn't show up. A serial based on The Shadow starred Victory Jory as the title character in 1940. Like all serials, the hero is left in a cliffhanger situation at the end of each episode, only to escape at the beginning of the next one. Six years later, a trio of Shadow movies starring Kane Richmond was released by Monogram Pictures: The Shadow Returns, Behind the Mask, The Missing Lady. In 1958, The Invisible Avenger was released by Republic Pictures. It starred Richard Derr and focused more on The Shadow's mind-clouding power. It was supposed to be one of a 3-episode pilot to be shown on television. It was never aired. Recently, in 1994, a flashy $40-million production from Universal Pictures, introduced The Shadow to a whole new generation. Starring Alec Baldwin in the title role, the movie combined both the mind-clouding power of the radio shows and the agents and villain from the pulps

Orson Welles was the voice of The Shadow from September 1937 to October 1938.
  • The Shadow Strikes (1937) with Rod La Roque
  • International Crime (1938) with Rod La Roque
  • The Shadow (1940) with Victor Jory
  • The Shadow Returns (1946) with Kane Richmond
  • Behind the Mask (1946) with Kane Richmond
  • The Missing Lady (1946) with Kane Richmond
  • The Shadow (1954) (TV) with Tom Helmore
  • The Invisible Avenger (1958) with Richard Derr
  • The Shadow (1994) with Alec Baldwin

Michael Shayne

Lloyd Nolan

One of the most popular private detectives ever, red-haired Miami P.I. Michael Shayne has had a long, successful, multi-media career. Shayne was created and first appeared in the 1939 novel, Dividend on Death, by Davis Dresser, published under the pseudonym Brett Halliday. Hollywood was in the throes of churning out some fast-paced B movies of the popular pulp detective genre in the 1940's and the Michael Shayne stories of Brett Halliday were a perfect fit. The series started with Michael Shayne, Private Detective (based on Dividend on Death) and Fox produced these in the same mode as the Chan or Moto films. Lloyd Nolan is well cast as the flippant Irish-American private eye Michael Shayne. Uniquely different from the typical Bogie-style protagonist - a-little-less-hard-boiled - Shayne movies blend some minor screwball comedy in enjoyable detective yarns. While the character and first feature are based on the original stories of Brett Halliday, many of the films were written by some of the best pulp writers of the era.

  • Michael Shayne: Private Detective (1940) - with Lloyd Nolan
  • Sleepers West (1941) - with Lloyd Nolan
  • Dressed to Kill (1941) - with Lloyd Nolan
  • Blue, White and Perfect (1942) - with Lloyd Nolan
  • The Man Who Wouldn't Die (1942) - with Lloyd Nolan
  • Just Off Broadway (1942) - with Lloyd Nolan
  • Time to Kill (1942) - with Lloyd Nolan
  • Murder Is My Business (1946) - with Hugh Beaumont
  • Larceny in Her Heart (1946) - with Hugh Beaumont
  • Blonde for a Day (1946) - with Hugh Beaumont
  • Three on a Ticket (1947) - with Hugh Beaumont
  • Too Many Winners (1947) - with Hugh Beaumont
  • Michael Shayne (1960-1961) (TV series)

Sam Spade

Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor and Sydney Greenstreet

Sam Spade is a fictional character who is the protagonist of Dashiell Hammett's novel The Maltese Falcon (1930) and the various films and adaptations based on it. The novel, first published as a serial in the pulp magazine Black Mask, is the only one that Spade appears in, yet the character is widely cited as the crystallizing figure in the development of the hard-boiled private detective genre. It also became one of the most popular and important films in history. The first attempt in 1931, starring Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade was a solid, if unspectacular film. The second version, Satan Met a Lady (1936), seemed incapable of deciding whether to be a screwball comedy or a murder mystery . The third Maltese Falcon, released in 1941 by Warner Brothers, written and directed by John Huston, and starring Humphrey Bogart as Spade was an amazing, powerful piece of work. The film proved to be such a success that Sam Spade started showing up all over. Three short stories written by Hammett and published back in the early thirties were collected and published in book form. There was even a plan to do a sequel with Bogart and the rest, but it nevercame to fruition. A comic sequel, The Black Bird, with George Segal as Sam Spade's son, spoofed the original in the early '70s.

  • The Maltese Falcon (1931) - with Ricardo Cortez
  • Satan Met a Lady (1936) - with Warren William
  • The Maltese Falcon (1941) - with Humphrey Bogart

Simon Templar (The Saint)

Roger Moore

Simon Templar is a British fictional character known as the Saint, featured in a long-running series of books by Leslie Charteris published between 1928 and 1963. Simon Templar is a thief known as the Saint because of his initials (ST), and because his heroic exploits fly in the face of an otherwise nefarious reputation. Templar has aliases, often using the initials S.T. such as 'Sebastian Tombs' or 'Sugarman Treacle'. Blessed with boyish humor, he makes humorous and off-putting remarks, and leaves a 'calling card' at his 'crimes,' a stick-figure of a man with a halo, the logo of both the books and the 1960s TV series. Not long after creating the Saint, Charteris began a long association with Hollywood as a screenwriter. He was successful in getting a major studio — RKO Radio Pictures — interested in a film based on one of his works. The first, The Saint in New York in 1938, based on the 1935 novel of the same name, starred Louis Hayward as Templar and Jonathan Hale as Inspector Henry Farnack. The film was a success, and eight more films followed over 15 years. The character of Farnack returned in the first five, but George Sanders replaced Hayward in the second film, The Saint Strikes Back, and starred in several more Saint productions of varying quality. Hugh Sinclair was the final RKO leading man to play the Saint, and Hayward returned for the independently produced The Saint's Girl Friday in the early 1950s. Two French films were also produced, but have never been shown in any English speaking country. In the 1960s Roger Moore revived the role in a long-running television series The Saint. The series ran from 1962 to 1969 and Moore remains the actor most closely identified with the character.

Since Moore, other actors played him in later series, notably Return of the Saint (1978–1979) starring Ian Ogilvy; the series ran for one season although it was picked up by the CBS Network. In the mid-1980s, the National Enquirer and other newspapers reported that Moore was planning to produce a movie based on The Saint with Pierce Brosnan as Templar, but it was never made. A pilot for a The Saint in Manhattan series starring Australian actor Andrew Clarke was shown on CBS in 1987 as part of the CBS Summer Playhouse; the pilot was produced by Don Taffner, but it never progressed beyond the pilot stage. Inspector John Fernack of the NYPD made his first film appearance since the 1940s in that production, while Templar got about in a black Lamborghini, bearing the ST1 licence plate. In 1989, six movies were made by Taffner, starring Simon Dutton. These were syndicated in the United States as part of a series of films entitled Mystery Wheel of Adventure, while in the UK they were shown as a series on ITV.

  • The Saint in New York (1938) - with Louis Hayward
  • The Saint Strikes Back (1939) - with George Sanders
  • The Saint in London (1939) - with George Sanders
  • The Saint's Double Trouble (1940) - with George Sanders
  • The Saint Takes Over (1940) - with George Sanders
  • The Saint in Palm Springs (1941) - with George Sanders
  • The Saint's Vacation (1941) - with Hugh Sinclair
  • The Saint Meets the Tiger (1943) - with Hugh Sinclair
  • The Saint's Girl Friday (1953) - with Louis Hayward
  • Le Saint mène la danse (1960) [The Dance of Death] - with Félix Marten
  • Le Saint prend l'affut (1966) [The Saint Lies in Wait] - with Jean Marais
  • The Saint (1962-1969) (TV series) - with Roger Moore
  • The Saint (1969) - edited from episodes of The Saint - with Roger Moore
  • Return of the Saint (1978-1979) (TV series) - with Ian Ogilvy
  • The Saint and the Brave Goose (1979) - with Ian Ogilvy
  • The Saint: The Brazilian Connection (1989) - with Simon Dutton
  • The Saint: The Software Murders (1989) - with Simon Dutton
  • The Saint: The Blue Dulac (1989) - with Simon Dutton
  • The Saint: Fear in Fun Park (1989) - with Simon Dutton
  • The Saint: The Big Bang (1989) - with Simon Dutton
  • The Saint: Wrong Number (1989) - with Simon Dutton
  • The Saint (1997) with Val Kilmer

Dick Tracy

Dick Tracy is a long-running comic strip featuring a popular and familiar character in American pop culture. Dick Tracy is a hard-hitting, fast-shooting, and intelligent police detective. Dick Tracy made his live-action debut in Dick Tracy (1937), a Republic Pictures movie serial starring Ralph Byrd. The character proved very popular, and a second serial, Dick Tracy Returns, appeared in 1938 (reissued in 1948). Dick Tracy's G-Men was released in 1939 (reissued in 1955). The last was Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc. in 1941 (reissued as Dick Tracy vs. the Phantom Empire in 1952). Six years after the release of the final Republic serial, Dick Tracy headlined four feature films, produced by RKO Radio Pictures. Dick Tracy (aka Dick Tracy, Detective) (1945) was followed by Dick Tracy vs. Cueball in 1946, both with Morgan Conway as Tracy. Ralph Byrd returned for the last two features, both released in 1947: Dick Tracy's Dilemma and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome. Gruesome is probably the best known of the four, with the villain portrayed by Boris Karloff. All four movies had many of the visual features associated with film noir: dramatic, shadowy photographic compositions, with many exterior scenes filmed at night.

Dick Tracy, 1990-style: Warren Beatty and Madonna
  • Dick Tracy (1937) - with Ralph Byrd
  • Dick Tracy Returns (1938) - with Ralph Byrd
  • Dick Tracy's G-Men (1939) - with Ralph Byrd
  • Dick Tracy vs. Crime Inc. (1941) - with Ralph Byrd
  • Dick Tracy (1945) - with Morgan Conway
  • Dick Tracy vs. Cueball (1946) - with Morgan Conway
  • Dick Tracy's Dilemma (1947) - with Ralph Byrd
  • Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947) - with Ralph Byrd
  • Dick Tracy (1950-1951) (TV series) - with Ralph Byrd
  • Dick Tracy (1967) - with Ray MacDonnell
  • Dick Tracy (1990) with Warren Beatty

Philo Vance

Louise Brooks and William Powell in The Canary Murder Case (1929)

Philo Vance featured in 12 crime novels written by S. S. Van Dine (the pen name of Willard Huntington Wright), published in the 1920s and 1930s. During that time, Vance was immensely popular in books, movies, and on the radio. He was portrayed as a stylish, even foppish dandy, a New York bon vivant possessing a highly intellectual bent. Films about Vance were made from the late 1920s to the late 1940s, with some more faithful to the literary character than others. Vance’s enormous popularity can be gauged by how quickly Hollywood beckoned. Out of all the classic sleuths created by American writers, only Charlie Chan has appeared in more films than Philo Vance. Dapper, mustachioed William Powell was the first and best portrayer of Vance, offering a pleasing characterization that was high on charm but low on the superciliousness of the print detective. He would play the role four times, from the first Vance film, 1929’s The Canary Murder Case, to the best one, 1934’s The Kennel Murder Case. Other Hollywood Vances would include the manor-born Basil Rathbone, the incongruously Slavic Paul Lukas, and the proletarian Alan Curtis. The Canary Murder Case movie is famous for a contract dispute that eventually helped sink the career of star Louise Brooks. The Philo Vance novels were particularly well suited for the movies, where the more unpleasantly affected aspects of the main character could be toned down and the complex plots given more prominence

  • The Canary Murder Case (1929) - with William Powell
  • The Greene Murder Case (1929) - with William Powell
  • The Bishop Murder Case (1930) - with Basil Rathbone
  • The Benson Murder Case (1930) - with William Powell
  • The Kennel Murder Case (1933) - with William Powell
  • The Dragon Murder Case (1934) - with Warren William
  • The Casino Murder Case (1935) - with Paul Lukas
  • The Scarab Murder Case (1936) - with Wilfrid Hyde-White
  • The Garden Murder Case (1936) - with Edmund Lowe
  • Night of Mystery (1937) - with Grant Richards
  • The Gracie Allen Murder Case (1939) - with Warren William
  • Calling Philo Vance (1940) - with James Stephenson
  • Philo Vance Returns (1947) - with William Wright
  • Philo Vance's Gamble (1947) - with Alan Curtis
  • Philo Vance's Secret Mission (1947) - with Alan Curtis

Hildegarde Withers

Hildegarde Withers is a fictional character who appeared in several films and novels. She was created by Stuart Palmer. Miss Withers is a fiftyish schoolteacher who is an amateur sleuth on the side. Her adventures are usually comic but are nevertheless straightforward mysteries. She is a sort of variation on Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. "A lean, angular spinster lady, her unusual hats and the black cotton umbrella she carries are her trademark. ... Hildegarde collects tropical fish, abhors alcohol and tobacco, and appears to have an irritable disposition. However, she is a romantic at heart and will extend herself to help young lovers." Edna May Oliver starred in the first three screen adaptations, produced by RKO Radio Pictures, and is considered the definitive Miss Withers. When Oliver left RKO in 1935 to sign with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, RKO attempted to continue the series with Helen Broderick and then ZaSu Pitts, but Oliver's presence was sorely missed and the films were poorly received. Oliver’s portrayal was so vivid that it influenced Palmer’s own conception of Hildegarde. Edna May Oliver went on to earn an Oscar nomination for her supporting role in Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), but died just two years later on her 59th birthday.

Edna May Oliver in Murder on the Blackboard (1934)
  • Penguin Pool Murder (1932) - with Edna May Oliver
  • Murder on the Blackboard (1934) - with Edna May Oliver
  • Murder on a Honeymoon (1935) - with Edna May Oliver
  • Murder on a Bridle Path (1936) - with Helen Broderick
  • The Plot Thickens (1936) with ZaSu Pitts
  • Forty Naughty Girls (1937) with ZaSu Pitts

Dtective/Mystery films through the Years

  • The Perils of Pauline (1914)
  • Terror Island (1920)
  • The Ace of Hearts (1921)
  • Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (1922)
  • One Exciting Night (1922)
  • The Man from Beyond (1922)
  • The Cat and the Canary (1927)
  • The Man Who Laughs (1928)
  • Seven Keys to Baldpate (1929)
  • The Locked Door (1929)
  • The Thirteenth Chair (1929)
  • Le mystère de la chambre jaune (1930)
  • The Bat Whispers (1930)
  • Midnight Mystery (1930)
  • Le parfum de la dame en noir (1931)
  • Mary (1931)
  • Murder by the Clock (1931)
  • Night Nurse (1931)
  • The Phantom of Paris (1931)
  • The Spider (1931)
  • Arsène Lupin (1932)
  • By Whose Hand? (1932)
  • Fantômas (1932)
  • Guilty as Hell (1932)
  • Ladies of the Jury (1932)
  • La nuit du carrefour (1932)
  • Miss Pinkerton (1932)
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)
  • Silent Witness (1932)
  • The Night of June 13th (1932)
  • The Phantom of Crestwood (1932)
  • The Thirteenth Guest (1932)
  • Thirteen Women (1932)
  • Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)
  • From Headquarters (1933)
  • Girl Missing (1933)
  • Supernatural (1933)
  • Secret of the Blue Room (1933)
  • Before Dawn (1933)
  • Before Midnight (1933)
  • The Intruder (1933)
  • Disgraced! (1933)
  • Corruption (1933)
  • The Sphinx (1933)
  • Private Detective 62 (1933)
  • Murders in the Zoo (1933)
  • The Ghost Camera (1933)
  • The Circus Queen Murder (1933)
  • The World Gone Mad (1933)
  • The Kiss Before the Mirror (1933)
  • Murder on the Campus (1933)
  • Murder at the Vanities (1934)
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)
  • The Crime Doctor (1934)
  • The Mysterious Mr. Wong (1934)
  • Fog Over Frisco (1934)
  • Evelyn Prentice (1934)
  • The Ninth Guest (1934)
  • Mystery Liner (1934)
  • Dangerous Corner (1934)
  • Their Big Moment (1934)
  • The Firebird (1934)
  • Secret of the Chateau (1934)
  • Murder in the Private Car (1934)
  • The Mystery of Mr. X (1934)
  • The Silent Passenger (1935)
  • Grand Exit (1935)
  • Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935)
  • The 39 Steps (1935)
  • The Phantom Light (1935)
  • Atlantic Adventure (1935)
  • The Florentine Dagger (1935)
  • Murder by Television (1935)
  • Remember Last Night? (1935)
  • The Mandarin Mystery (1936)
  • Meet Nero Wolfe (1936)
  • The Preview Murder Mystery (1936)
  • Muss 'em Up (1936)
  • Juggernaut (1936)
  • The Dark Hour (1936)
  • Murder with Pictures (1936)
  • The League of Frightened Men (1937)
  • Night of Mystery (1937)
  • London by Night (1937)
  • The Squeaker (1937)
  • Dinner at the Ritz (1937)
  • Arsène Lupin Returns (1938)
  • Mr. Wong, Detective (1938)
  • The Lady Vanishes (1938)
  • There's Always a Woman (1938)
  • The Mad Miss Manton (1938)
  • Mystery House (1938)
  • Wives Under Suspicion (1938)
  • The Terror (1938)
  • The Arsenal Stadium Mystery (1939)
  • The Mystery of Mr. Wong (1939)
  • Mr. Wong in Chinatown (1939)
  • The Adventures of Jane Arden (1939)
  • Slightly Honorable (1939)
  • The Amazing Mr. Williams (1939)
  • Private Detective (1939)
  • Nick Carter, Master Detective (1939)
  • They Made Me a Criminal (1939)
  • Fast and Furious (1939)
  • Miracles for Sale (1939)
  • There's That Woman Again (1939)
  • Busman's Honeymoon (1940)
  • Rebecca (1940)
  • Foreign Correspondent (1940)
  • The Murder in Thornton Square (1940)
  • The Case of the Frightened Lady (1940)
  • The Fatal Hour (1940)
  • Sky Murder (1940)
  • Phantom Raiders (1940)
  • Doomed to Die (1940)
  • Phantom of Chinatown (1940)
  • The Man with Nine Lives (1940)
  • Whistling in the Dark (1941)
  • Suspicion (1941)
  • The Gay Falcon (1941)
  • The Smiling Ghost (1941)
  • A Man Betrayed (1941)
  • Footsteps in the Dark (1941)
  • Whistling in Dixie (1942)
  • Eyes in the Night (1942)
  • The Glass Key (1942)
  • Saboteur (1942)
  • Who Done It? (1942)
  • Fingers at the Window (1942)
  • A Date with the Falcon (1942)
  • The Falcon Takes Over (1942)
  • The Falcon's Brother (1942)
  • Mr. and Mrs. North (1942)
  • Kings Row (1942)
  • Kid Glove Killer (1942)
  • A Night to Remember (1942)
  • Crossroads (1942)
  • Whistling in Brooklyn (1943)
  • Picpus (1943)
  • Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
  • Crime Doctor (1943)
  • Crime Doctor's Strangest Case (1943)
  • Calling Dr. Death (1943)
  • The Falcon Strikes Back (1943)
  • The Falcon in Danger (1943)
  • The Falcon and the Co-eds (1943)
  • The Unknown Guest (1943)
  • Cécile est morte! (1944)
  • Gaslight (1944)
  • Laura (1944)
  • The Whistler (1944)
  • The Uninvited (1944)
  • Shadows in the Night (1944)
  • Double Indemnity (1944)
  • Dead Man's Eyes (1944)
  • Weird Woman (1944)
  • The Mark of the Whistler (1944)
  • The Falcon Out West (1944)
  • The Falcon in Mexico (1944)
  • The Falcon in Hollywood (1944)
  • The Mask of Dimitrios (1944)
  • The Missing Juror (1944)
  • And Then There Were None (1945)
  • Les caves du Majestic (1945)
  • Lady on a Train (1945)
  • Isle of the Dead (1945)
  • The Crime Doctor's Courage (1945)
  • Crime Doctor's Warning (1945)
  • Pillow of Death (1945)
  • Strange Confession (1945)
  • There Goes Kelly (1945)
  • The Frozen Ghost (1945)
  • The Power of the Whistler (1945)
  • Voice of the Whistler (1945)
  • My Name Is Julia Ross (1945)
  • The Falcon in San Francisco (1945)
  • I Love a Mystery (1945)
  • Two O'Clock Courage (1945)
  • The Lady Confesses (1945)
  • The Hidden Eye (1945)
  • Black Angel (1946)
  • Send for Paul Temple (1946)
  • The Blue Dahlia (1946)
  • Mysterious Intruder (1946)
  • Nocturne (1946)
  • The Verdict (1946)
  • Green for Danger (1946)
  • Just Before Dawn (1946)
  • Crime Doctor's Man Hunt (1946)
  • The Inner Circle (1946)
  • Blonde Alibi (1946)
  • The Secret of the Whistler (1946)
  • The Devil's Mask (1946)
  • The Unknown (1946)
  • The Falcon's Alibi (1946)
  • The Falcon's Adventure (1946)
  • Crack-Up (1946)
  • Deadline at Dawn (1946)
  • Crossfire (1947)
  • Lured (1947)
  • My Favorite Brunette (1947)
  • Hard Boiled Mahoney (1947)
  • The Big Clock (1948)
  • The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
  • Dark Delusion (1947)
  • The Millerson Case (1947)
  • Crime Doctor's Gamble (1947)
  • Cry Wolf (1947)
  • Blind Spot (1947)
  • Dear Murderer (1947)
  • Seven Keys to Baldpate (1947)
  • The Thirteenth Hour (1947)
  • The Corpse Came C.O.D. (1947)
  • Moss Rose (1947)
  • Fear in the Night (1947)
  • I Love Trouble (1948)
  • Repeat Performance (1947)
  • The October Man (1947)
  • Rope (1948)
  • The Fallen Idol (1948)
  • The Naked City (1948)
  • Bodyguard (1948)
  • Inner Sanctum (1948)
  • The Return of the Whistler (1948)
  • Devil's Cargo (1948)
  • Appointment with Murder (1948)
  • I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes (1948)
  • Mystery in Mexico (1948)
  • Smart Girls Don't Talk (1948)
  • Too Late for Tears (1949)
  • The Third Man (1949)
  • The Crime Doctor's Diary (1949)
  • Take One False Step (1949)
  • Alias Nick Beal (1949)
  • Follow Me Quietly (1949)
  • Cover Up (1949)
  • Search for Danger (1949)
  • Flaxy Martin (1949)
  • D.O.A. (1950)
  • Mystery Street (1950)
  • The Twenty Questions Murder Mystery (1950)
  • Rashômon (1950)
  • In a Lonely Place (1950)
  • The Blue Lamp (1950)
  • So Long at the Fair (1950)
  • Kill or Be Killed (1950)
  • Backfire (1950)
  • Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone (1950)
  • The Woman in Question (1950)
  • Strangers on a Train (1951)
  • Lightning Strikes Twice (1951)
  • The House on Telegraph Hill (1951)
  • The Voice of Merrill (1952)
  • My Cousin Rachel (1952)
  • The Green Glove (1952)
  • Lady Possessed (1952)
  • Venetian Bird (1952)
  • Night Without Sleep (1952)
  • The Blue Gardenia (1953)
  • A Blueprint for Murder (1953)
  • Man in the Attic (1953)
  • Dangerous Crossing (1953)
  • Jennifer (1953)
  • Rear Window (1954)
  • Dial M for Murder (1954)
  • The Stranger Came Home (1954)
  • Black Widow (1954)
  • Beautiful Stranger (1954)
  • Les diaboliques (1955)
  • The Man from Laramie (1955)
  • The Fast and the Furious (1955)
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
  • The Long Arm (1956)
  • Lost (1956)
  • 23 Paces to Baker Street (1956)
  • A Woman's Devotion (1956)
  • The Traitor (1957)
  • My Gun Is Quick (1957)
  • Fortune Is a Woman (1957)
  • 12 Angry Men (1957)
  • Witness for the Prosecution (1957)
  • Vertigo (1958)
  • Chase a Crooked Shadow (1958)
  • The Snorkel (1958)
  • North by Northwest (1959)
  • Sapphire (1959)
  • The Crimson Kimono (1959)
  • The Scapegoat (1959)
  • Blind Date (1959)
  • The House of the Seven Hawks (1959)
  • The Man in the Net (1959)
  • Psycho (1960)
  • Key Witness (1960)
  • Midnight Lace (1960)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  • The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
  • La commare secca (1962)
  • Charade (1963)
  • The List of Adrian Messenger (1963)
  • Shock Corridor (1963)
  • The Moon-Spinners (1964)
  • Das siebente Opfer (1964)
  • Ten Little Indians (1965)
  • Alphaville, une étrange aventure de Lemmy Caution (1965)
  • Mirage (1965)
  • Two on a Guillotine (1965)
  • Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965)
  • Compartiment tueurs (1965)
  • Blowup (1966)
  • Circus of Fear (1966)
  • Tony Rome (1967)
  • Gunn (1967)
  • The Honey Pot (1967)
  • Warning Shot (1967)
  • In the Heat of the Night (1967)
  • Lady In Cement (1968)
  • P.J. (1968)
  • Rogues' Gallery (1968)
  • The Boston Strangler (1968)
  • 5 Card Stud (1968)
  • La mariée était en noir (1968)
  • Z (1969)
  • Darker Than Amber (1970)
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! (1970)
  • Strategia del ragno (1970)
  • Gumshoe (1971)
  • Klute (1971)
  • The Andromeda Strain (1971)
  • The Organization (1971)
  • Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971)
  • Adventures of Nick Carter (1972)
  • Sleuth (1972)
  • The Carey Treatment (1972)
  • The Last of Sheila (1973)
  • Shamus (1973)
  • Electra Glide in Blue (1973)
  • Chinatown (1974)
  • The Conversation (1974)
  • The Midnight Man (1974)
  • Night Moves (1975)
  • The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case (1976)
  • Murder by Death (1976)
  • The Last Wave (1977)
  • The Late Show (1977)
  • The Cheap Detective (1978)
  • Indagine su un delitto perfetto (1978)
  • Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978)
  • The Lady Vanishes (1979)
  • Quintet (1979)
  • The Double McGuffin (1979)
  • The Shining (1980)
  • Dressed to Kill (1980)
  • Prince of the City (1981)
  • The Seven Dials Mystery (1981)
  • 48 Hrs. (1982)
  • Deathtrap (1982)
  • Hammett (1982)
  • A Soldier's Story (1984)
  • Tightrope (1984)
  • City Heat (1984)
  • Ordeal by Innocence (1985)
  • Lethal Weapon (1987)
  • Die Hard (1988)
  • In the Line of Fire (1993)
  • Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)
  • The Sixth Sense (1999)
  • True Crime (1999)
  • Blood Work (2002)