by Kathleen Kaska
Did you ever stop and think where we’d be today without Agatha Christie, Alfred Hitchcock, and Arthur Conan Doyle? We would never have had the pleasure of Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes or even Norman Bates’ company. Take a look at these stats: more than four billion Dame Christie books have sold since her debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1921. Since Holmes and Watson paired up as crime solving partners in A Study in Scarlet in 1887, there have been more than 500 Sherlock Holmes societies founded, thousands of Holmes books, short stories, and pastiches written by other writers, not to mention dozens of radio shows, plays, movies, and TV series adapted from Conan Doyle’s original stories. We never would have had the pleasure of seeing Jeremy Brett, Robert Downey, Jr., and Benedict Cumberbatch wear the deerstalker’s cap.
And what about Sir Alfred and his influence on the film industry? Hitchcock made fifty-three films in his six-decade career. He redefined the horror, suspense, spy thriller, and even comedy movie genres. Film students across the globe study his style and technique. He is also considered a technical genus and would go to great lengths to get the shots he wanted. In the movie, Frenzy, Hitchcock used a camera suspended from a helicopter to shoot a wide-angle view of the Thames River. The audience was given a bird’s-eye shot of the smoggy city as the camera settled on a political rally where the candidate urged the cleanup of the city’s polluted environment. Did you know that Hitchcock was one of the first director/producers to use music to instill fear in his movie audiences? Think of Psycho. The shrieking violins as Marion (Janet Leigh) is murdered in the shower by Norman Bates.
Filmmaker Francois Truffaut had this to say about the Master of Suspense soon after his death. “The man was dead, but not the film-maker. For his pictures, made with loving care, an exclusive passion, and deep emotions concealed by exceptional technical mastery, are destined to circulate throughout the world, competing with newer productions, defying the test of time and confirming Jean Cocteau’s image of Marcel Proust: ‘His work kept on living, like the watches on the wrists of dead soldiers.’”
How well do you know these three mystery and suspense icons?
Can you name these two Agatha Christie mysteries?
1. In this mystery, the master detective doubted his own abilities. A serial killer was one step ahead of Hercule Poirot in spite of the fact that the killer provided Poirot with important clues leading to the next victim.
2. Anonymous letters accusing residents and visitors in the town of Lymstock of immoral sexual liaisons led to murder. Miss Marple arrived on the scene, and you know the rest.
Can you answer these Sherlock Holmes trivia questions?
1. What are Holmes’ first words to Dr. Watson?
2. Of which beverage does Holmes drink large quantities?
How about these Alfred Hitchcock films; know ‘em?
1. Hitchcock often experimented with innovative movie techniques. This feature film was shot in 3-D.
2. The homicide in this thriller was viewed indirectly through the glasses of the woman being strangled. To give this effect, Hitchcock used a large distorting lens and photographed the two actors’ reflections in the glasses.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.