East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


The Joseph Cotten Blogathon: Journey Into Fear (1943)

It’s the Joseph Cotten Blogathon, and I am terribly late – we have been talking so much about Hope & Glory that I totally forgot about Joseph Cotten.
And isn’t that what happened to a lot of us?
Cotten was a fine actor, one of Orson Welles’ troupe in the Mercury Theater, and he had a blazing career with many great movies, and fundamental roles – but we don’t remember him anymore.


So thanks to In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood for bringing him back with this blogathon – please point your browser in that direction and check out the many fine articles about Cotten’s extraordinary career.
Then get back here.
We are terribly late, and this is likely to be the late show in the blogathon – and we are going to check out Journey into Fear. Continue reading


The Mask of Dimitrios

I was rather surprised, a few hours ago, finding out that Eric Ambler is almost forgotten in my country.
What a strange fate for one of the fathers of espionage fiction, author of novels from which popular movies were made, and he himself an Academy-nominated screenwriter.


Finding out about this strange state of affairs made me go back to the The Mask of Dimitrios, a novel I read in my first year in university, in a well-thumbed used copy I bought somewhere.
I was familiar with the 1944 movie adaptation featuring Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet, but the novel was quite a discovery. Continue reading

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Khaki or Field Grey?

cover92550-mediumAnd talking about books, and history, and weird stories, here’s a quick heads-up, waiting for the time for me to expand on the subject.
Today sees the launch of Bretherton, actually the reissue, by Casemate/Open Road Media, of a novel originally called Bretherton: Khaki or Field Grey?.
The book was written by W.F. Morris and published in 1929.

In November 1918, as the Germans are in their final retreat, a British raiding party under fire follows the sound of piano music and stumbles across an eerie scene in a ruined chateau. A German officer lies dead at the keys, next to a beautiful woman, also deceased, in full evening dress. But what makes their discovery especially strange is that the man is the spitting image of G. B. Bretherton, a British officer missing in action.

The novel was very popular in its time, and was called the finest novel about the Great War. And indeed, with its mix of trench warfare drama, espionage, divided loyalties and mystery, it is a great summer read1.
I will post my review in a few days, but to be quick and concise, I might just say Morris’ novel is as good as vintage Eric Ambler (that, incidentally, called it one of the five best spy stories ever written).

Highly recommended (by both Eric Ambler and me!)
Check it out.

  1. I was lucky enough to get an Advance Reader Copy of the new edition.