After a steady diet of Edgar Wallace novels (preparing for the recent Roundtable), I found myself feeling unsatisfied. I decided to go back and re-acquaint myself with an author whose mysteries are much more rigorous and disciplined that Wallace’s: namely, John Dickson Carr.

Carr, an American by birth, lived and worked for much of his life in England. He became known as one of the most brilliant authors of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. He was so prolific that his publishers made him use pseudonyms (the most famous being “Carter Dickson”) to keep his name from growing stale.

Yet in spite of his talent and his reputation, as far as I know only three of Carr’s stories have ever been turned into feature films. I never stopped to ask myself why this might be the case… until I noticed the contrast with Edgar Wallace. Why was it that the better writer of the two had been so completely neglected by the movie industry? Here, then, are my thoughts on two of the very few movies adapted from Carr’s work:

Dangerous CrossingDangerous Crossing (1953): Based on Carr’s 1943 radio play “Cabin B-13”. A woman and her husband embark on their honeymoon cruise, but before the ship has even got underway the husband disappears. To make matters worse, the woman finds herself unable to prove that her husband ever even existed. In fact, she’s stumbled into a diabolical plot; but she may not be able to stay sane long enough to find out what really happened to her husband.

That Woman OppositeThat Woman Opposite (1958): Based on the novel “The Emperor’s Snuff-Box”. Eve’s abusive ex-husband shows up just as she’s about to get re-married. The situation is bad enough when he breaks into her bedroom at night… but it soon gets worse. There is a brutal murder, and Eve finds herself the only suspect. And that’s just the beginning of Eve’s troubles…

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