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Detective films of the ’30s and ’40s was Kipp’s  topic at Temple Gates breakfast program

By ROBERT MICHAELS
“Detective Series Films of the 1930s and ’40s” was Dennis Kipp’s topic at the Congregation Gates of Heaven (CGOH) Brotherhood’ recent breakfast-and-aspeaker program

Kipp, who teaches courses on the history of the movie industry at Empire College’s Institute for Lifelong Learning, was making his fifth presentation about movies for the CGOH Brotherhood.

Kipp told those attending that detective series are distinct from detective serials, in that the latter are sequential. That is, understanding each requires familiarity with its forerunners. In contrast, in detective series, each novel or film stands on its own.

“The existence of detective films,” according to Kipp, “depended upon the earlier existence of detective novels” (some as early as the 19th Century).  The earliest were by British authors. Well-known examples included Wilkie Collins (The Moonstone), Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes), Dorothy Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey), and Agatha Christie (whose books included such characters as Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple).”

In America, so-called pulp magazines carried various fiction genres, such as sci-fi, and eventually detective stories. Famous pulp authors included Edgar Rice Burroughs, Edgar Alan Poe, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. “The pulps,” according to Kipp, “attracted these well-known authors because they paid them well.” Pulp detective stories gave rise to American detective series films, such as “Charlie Chan” (which lacked Chinese actors), “Mr. Moto” (eight films), “The Saint” (seven films), and “Boston Blackie” (14 films).

As is usual for Kipp programs, attendance and audience participation were high. Unfortunately, a scheduled sample (short) detective film could not be shown due to a video equipment failure. Attendees therefore had to go home reporting that they did not get to see Chester Morris playing the reformed crook Boston Blackie in the 1944 film “One Mysterious Night.”  

Robert Michaels is chairperson of the breakfast-and-a-speaker program.

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