Monday, August 09, 2010

Vintage crime, vintage cars

Yesterday I wrote about Dashiell Hammett. Today some cars from Hammett's time showed up at the DooWop Car Show & Street Festival in my neighborhood, though I heard no doo-wop, just three guys playing Credence Clearwater Revival and Stealers Wheel on acoustic guitar, drum machine and electric keyboard.

Nick and Nora Charles could have waved out of that first car's window to well-wishers in mid-town Manhattan. The Continental Op would have felt at home leaning out the same window firing shots, and Sam Spade might have rifled the interior for registration papers.

(John Huston's 1941 film of The Maltese Falcon has made such a strong impression that some people may forget Hammett wrote almost all his fiction in the 1920s and early '30s. The Ford Model A that I saw today and that you see at the top of this post rolled off the assembly line in 1929, the same year The Maltese Falcon began appearing in serial form in Black Mask.)

This little number at left takes us into late Raymond Chandler territory, and which fictional detective would have driven the humongous licorice-and-strawberry ice cream sundae on wheels that brings this post to a close? Travis McGee? James Garner's Philip Marlowe, perhaps?

Which cars (or other modes of transport) do you associate most closely with a favorite fictional detective, story or movie?

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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18 Comments:

Blogger Bill Crider said...

Probably everybody who comments will mention the Mustang in BULLIT.

I'm also fond of the Mercury convertible in the old Batman serial. Bruce Wayne drove it with the top up. Batman drove it with the top down. Perfect disguise.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Maybe Bouchercon could offer "Bullit" car-chase tours of San Francisco.

Which Batman serial was that? I"m a child of '66 when it comes to Batman.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

But wait! I'll find the answer at BatmobileHistory.com/!!!

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Bill, Blogger is destroying comments again (it had been working fine for about a month, so this is right on schedule). What I've posted three times now is that I have found just the place to answer my own question: this Web site about The History of the Batmobile.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Bill Crider said...

That would be the late '40s serial.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. Right after I posted my question, I found a Web site devoted to the history of the Batmobile. I tried three times to tell you about it, but Blogger posted then destroyed my comment each time, to I'll try again. The site is here.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

OK, let's try a fifth time. The site is The History of the Batmobile at http://www.batmobilehistory.com/

August 09, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

I believe Travis McGee was more of a boat than a car man. He lived and sometimes travelled on The Busted Flush.

How about the Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger. According to this article the car used in the movie was 'stolen' in Florida in the 90s, perhaps as part of an insurance scam.

Now, there's a crime story for you.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I knew he was a boat guy, but I had the idea that if he drove, the third car pictured here would be his choice.

I wonder if that Aston Martin was the one of which I had a metal model when I was a child.

Yep, I can picture some old guy sitting at a bar in Fort Lauderdale bragging to his buddies that he once stole James Bond's car.

August 09, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

Instead of getting annoyed at Blogger, Peter, think of the intellectual, existentialist opportunities offered by the problem of the response appearing before the original comment. Many French intellectuals have based their career on less.

But levity aside, the article suggested the car was at the bottom of the Atlantic. Which it probably is.

I don't know if this comment will get through, Peter. Blogger demands that I type the characters seen in the picture above only there are no characters pictured above. Has Blogger hired Ionesco or Kafka as its gatekeepers all of a sudden?

I've clicked Preview Comment and all seems OK now.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The comments do get through, but Blogger wipes them out when I try to call them up a second time. Some of the comments it has killed were my own.

As for the missing characters, all you need to do is refresh your screen.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Bill, let me try a sixth time to post this link to
the History of the Batmobile and hope that Blogger does not destroy the comment the way it did the first five times I posted it.

August 09, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

Peter, this is the comment I made earlier and to which you responded but the comment itself didn't appear. Perhaps, Ionesco decided it wasn't worth printing:

I believe Travis McGee was more of a boat than a car man. He lived and sometimes travelled on The Busted Flush.

How about the Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger. According to this article the car used in the movie was 'stolen' in Florida in the 90s, perhaps as part of an insurance scam.

Now, there's a crime story for you.

Given that you've alread responded to the comment, you decide if it's worth printing now, assuming, that is, that it actually gets through to you.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

I see no one mentioning it; the comment may have been eaten.

McGee drove a chopped Rolls which had been converted into a pickup truck and painted electric blue.

Archie Goodwin drove fictitious makes of cars, usually Herons.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Wow, I like the idea of a Rolls converted into a pickup. And my instincts may have been good. Electric blue would be nice match for the strawberry-milshake-pink of the car shown here.

I've read a bit of Rex Stout, but I don't remember references to Archie's cars. Stout must have had fun with those fictitious car makes.

August 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Bill, let me try a seventh time to post this link to The History of the Batmobile
and hope that Blogger does not destroy the comment the way it did the first six times I posted it

August 09, 2010  
Anonymous Guy Savage said...

For me, it's trains. Noir and trains.

August 14, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Your comment will tie in nicely with a post I plan in the next day or two.

I'd probably associate trains more with hard-boiled melodrama than with what I think of noir, but then many 1940s American movies retroactively called "noir" were called melodramas when first released. So, this minor difference in terminology aside, we agree.

I think first of "Strangers on a Train," "The Lady Vanishes" and "Murder on the Orient Express" first when I think of trains. What titles do you have in mind?

Trains occupy a niche in Japanese crime fiction, too, at least in one author’s work.

August 14, 2010  

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