Already lauded everywhere from the New York Times Book Review to the Irish Times, The Library of America’s new two-volume anthology Women Crime Writers of the 1940s & 50s continues its steady infiltration of twenty-first-century culture this month via a whole new medium. Film Forum, the venerable repertory cinema located in New York City’s Greenwich Village, will present a week-long retrospective of movies based on novels collected in Women Crime Writers and on other books by the same authors.
Running from December 11 through 17, the series showcases eleven movies made over a span of four decades. In their breadth and variety, the films demonstrate the impressive stylistic range possible within the suspense genre. Otto Preminger’s Laura represents classic Hollywood at its glossy black-and-white best, while Jean-Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders (based on Fools’ Gold by Dolores Hitchens) raises the tricolor for the French New Wave. Patricia Highsmith alone accounts for a trio of films made in three different languages: Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Strangers on a Train, the star-making Alain Delon vehicle Purple Noon, and The American Friend, a still-underappreciated Wim Wenders movie from 1977 that transposes Highsmith’s psychopath Tom Ripley to West Germany in the unlikely person of Dennis Hopper.
As Sarah Weinman, the editor of Women Crime Writers, notes: “The breadth of cinematic storytelling on display throughout the week—some quite faithful to the original text, others in keeping with the distinctive visions of celebrated directors like Otto Preminger, Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, and Nicholas Ray—is a testament to the quality of suspense put forward by these female crime-writing greats.”
Of special note for Library of America fans are the special events accompanying the Film Forum screenings. Crime novelist Megan Abbott introduces Laura and In a Lonely Place on December 11, Library of America Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey O’Brien introduces Don’t Bother to Knock on December 16, and Sarah Weinman will handle the honors for Band of Outsiders on December 17.
Visit filmforum.org for complete details on the series.
The Library of America’s companion website for Women Crime Writers offers detailed information on the eight novels and their authors, along with appreciations by contemporary writers and a wealth of contextual material.