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Watching The Detectives (TCM Spotlight)
Remind Me
 The Maltese Falcon

Watching the Detectives Introduction

"The detective story is a kind of intellectual game," claimed American author Willard Huntington Wright, who wrote mystery stories under the pseudonym of S. S. Van Dine. "It is more - it is a sporting event. And for the writing of detective stories there are very definite laws - unwritten, perhaps, but nonetheless binding."

This collection of whodunits follows Van Dine's rules in highly suspenseful and entertaining fashion. Our Detective All-Stars include Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon (1941) and Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1946) - both given definitive readings by Humphrey Bogart in his best wry, burned-out style. We present four films each devoted to The Lone Wolf (all TCM premieres), Sherlock Holmes, Dick Tracy, Nancy Drew, The Saint and The Falcon - plus the TCM debut of no less than eight Boston Blackie mysteries! Among our Police Detectives are Lt. Vincent Hanna, played by Al Pacino in Heat (TCM premiere, 1995), which also stars Robert De Niro as his nemesis, a master thief who calls himself "double the worst trouble you've ever seen." Perhaps the most famous of all Society Sleuths are Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell and Myrna Loy) in The Thin Man (1934), which took its title not from Powell's character but from that of Edward Ellis, who plays the murder victim.

Amateur Detectives include the elderly British spinster Miss Jane Marple, played for the first time by the indomitably droll Margaret Rutherford in Murder She Said (1961). The actress has become so closely associated with the role that it is sometimes forgotten that the Miss Marple of the Agatha Christie novels is quite a different character - far less funny and eccentric than the jut-jawed Rutherford.

by Roger Fristoe

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