Pulp Fiction: Cornell Woolrich (William Irish/George Hopley)

Phantom Lady, 1942 in a Pocket Book 1945 edition
- 9th printing 1945 with beautiful surrealistic Dali-esque Cover art by Leo Manso (1914-1993)

The Poet of the Shadows (Mörkrets poet) - Francis M. Nevins .... The Master of Noir

Cornell Woolrich (Cornell George Hopley-Woolrich) 1903-1968 is my Favourite among the crime writers.
Often melodramatic and tormented like a shriek in the night and no one could've depicted the color Black in
his writings better than Woolrich. His beautiful dark and romantic prose gave him his epithet -
The Poet of the Shadows.
Maybe no other of the 1930's-1940's pulp fiction authors has been filmed as often as Woolrich, some of them
are The Leopard Man (Jaques Torneur 1943), Phantom Lady (Robert Siodmak 1944), Deadline at Dawn (1946),
The Black Angel och The Chase (1946), Fear in the Night och Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948), I Wouldn't be
in Your Shoes (19489, The Window (1949), Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock,1954), The Bride Wore Black (1968)
and Mississippi Mermaid (1969) by Francois Truffaut and Seven Blood Stained Orchids (Umberto Lenzi 1972)
... but there are dozens more. Film Noir masterpiece Detour is NOT a Woolrich however, but it feels like it

In swedish:
För de som läst denna min Film Noir och Pulp Fiction sida så syns det nog att min stora favorit bland 1900-talets
kriminalförfattare är Cornell George Hopley-Woolrich (1903-1968) som även skrev under namnen George Hopley och
William Irish, den plågade författaren vars dystra liv var en dans med döden och vars mörka unikt vackra romantiska
språk gav honom epitetet Mörkrets poet - av hans levnadstecknare Francis M. Nevins, Jr.
Ofta både melodramatisk och uppgiven har väl ingen bättre skildrat färgen svart - Noir i litteraturen. Deckarexperten
Jan Broberg ser honom som thrillergenrens store romantiker, endast jämförbar med Edgar Allan Poe.

Swedish editions

Phantom Lady
was released in 1942, and higher up you can see the Gorgeous Pocket Book edition. Here are the
Swedish 1946 1st edition from Centrum (Bokförlagsaktiebolaget Centrum) and a 1972 pulp fiction (kioskdeckare)
edition from B. Wahlströms. Well, the sleeve with the 2 identical hats really is a spoiler to the mystery.

The Race Against Time and Death

We, the Woolrich lovers, we're fascinated and hypnotized by his beautiful prose, his romantic style of dark poetry
and the plot elements are of lesser interest. They often are the same and may have big holes in them, like Swiss cheese.
Often, the story is about an innocent unfortunate accused of a crime and the ensuing race against time and death ....
like in Phantom Lady where a trusty secretary makes it her mission to free her boss from the death cell.

Don't miss the Great film 1944 version by Robert Siodmak with Ella Raines - and please read much
more about this Film Noir Classic in the Film Noir section of my Film Noir and Pulp Fiction page

Nightmare (Nattmara) 1956 in a Swedish 1960 edition
from Gebers (Almqvist & Wiknells). A Collection of 6 short stories written between 1938 - 1956.
I'll Take You Home, Kathleen (Jag följer dig hem, Kathleen), Screen test (Filmtest), Three O'Clock (first
published in Detective Fiction Weekly 1938), I.O.U. (Skuldsedeln, first published in Double Detective 1938),
Nightmare (Nattmara) and Bequest (Arvet)

Nightmare was filmed in 1947 in a strange but fascinating B
movie Noir by Maxwell Shane. I would love to see this again, but in better quality than in this rotten DVD

Woolrich was a master of the short story and there has been a bunch of collections released


I Married a Dead Man, 1948
in a 1983 Ballantine Books edition written under the alias William Irish.

A Masterful melodramatic Noir thriller about a young desperate
woman on the run from a brutal husband. She's in a train wreck and wakes up in a hospital surrounded by
warmth and luxury as she has been confounded/mixed-up with another woman, and she takes her chance and
play the role of the newly wed wife to a dead man, a dead man with a rich family. Will she succeed ?
This novel was filmed in 1950 as No Man of Her Own with Barbara Stanwyck as an too over-aged woman

for the role, and the film was just too desperation-free to be a great Woolrich film adaption

Rendezvous in Black (Hämndens ögonblick, 1948) is a part of The Master's Black Series and really a different
take on The Bride Wore Black (1940) and it's been filmed, this also, by Italian Umberto Lenzi in 1972 with the
fine Giallo "Seven Blood Stained Orchids". A Great, great novel about Obsession and Revenge it is

US Pocket book

The Bride Wore Black, 1940, in a US Ballantine 1984 pocket book edition, and a Swedish pocket book
edition from 1964 by Gebers (the novel was released in Sweden for the 1st time in 1948 by Gebers).
An Absolute Classic of obsession, despair and female revenge about a murderer with the abilities of a Chameleon
to blend in in her surroundings and to pick off her victims with ice cold determination. What's the motive and can
the tracks and clues backwards in time be sleuthed by the police ?
Woolrich turned this plot device around, from a woman avenger to a male such in Rendezvous in Black (1948).
With The Bride Wore Black Woolrich started his famous Black Series (later published in France in the Série Noire.

Even though this novel has become the most popular and re-printed title of all Woolrich writing, it was never filmed
in the US. Strange, as it's perfectly suitable to a film or TV adaption, but at the end of the 1960's it happened ...
La Mariée était en noir is a good film version from 1968 by Francois Truffaut, who loved Woolrich writing and
also filmed his Waltz into Darkness in 1969 as La Sirène du Mississippi

US DVD's

Read more about these Film Noir Classics in the Film Noir section of my Film Noir and Pulp Fiction page
(OK, at the moment these texts are written in swedish)

Other film adaptions mentioned on my Film Noir and Pulp Fiction page


 

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