Sunday 24 January 2010

Criminal Connections

Before Christmas, I wrote about Robert Thomas’s famous play Trap for a Lonely Man and suggested that one of the four films based upon it was Chase a Crooked Shadow. It was pointed out to me by Jamie Sturgeon (not only a very good bookseller, but a mine of info on matters criminous) that Chase a Crooked Shadow dated back to 1958, while the original version of the Thomas play seems to have been first performed in 1960.

Intrigued, I have now bought the DVD of Chase a Crooked Shadow and watched (and enjoyed) it – more about this shortly. Jamie is absolutely right – and the screenplay of Chase a Crooked Shadow was written by David D. Osborn and Charles Sinclair, about whom I know nothing else. One or two reviewers comment that the film, with limited sets, gives the impression of being based upon a stage play, but it appears Osborn and Sinclair wrote it directly for the cinema.

There is a strong similarity between the twisty plot of Chase a Crooked Shadow and the Thomas play – I can only assume this is a coincidence, but it does explain why some sources list the film as being a version of the Thomas play.

But the story doesn’t end there. In the 1980s, the screenplay was belatedly adapted for the stage, and given the title Double Cut. The writer this time was Alfred Shaughnessy, now deceased, but famous as script editor and chief editor for ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’. He wrote a good deal for television and stage, plus a couple of novels. It seems that to this day, Double Cut is still regularly performed in regional theatres – as is Trap for a Lonely Man.

Finally, Bob Cornwell has sent me an extract from a fascinating and evidently voluminous French encyclopaedia compiled by Claude Mespiede about crime fiction, which adds more detail to my knowledge of Thomas. I shall share this info (the particular entry is written by a French bibliographer, Jean-Marie David, on this blog on a future occasion.

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