Friday, November 21, 2014

Forgotten Books: HOME IS THE HANGMAN by Richard Sale (1949)

Richard Sale, the "Dumas of the Pulps" and the creator of Daffy Dill, authored ten novels, but this wasn't one of them. What is it is is a collection of two long magazine stories that have absolutely nothing to do with HOME and dang near nothing to do with a HANGMAN. Still, because Sale was such a great storyteller, I enjoyed this more than many novels written by lesser humans. 
The lead story, occupying 96 of the 160 pages, appeared in the August 31, 1940 issue of The Saturday Evening Post under the title "Sailor Take Warning." Near as I can tell, it was published under that title in Great Britain (and probably Australia) in paperback in 1942. For this Popular Library edition, though, the story was retitled "Home is the Hangman," and (I suspect) was given a slight makeover to update the text. It was also given a cover by the talented Rudy Belarski, no doubt recycled from one of the many Popular Publications pulps.
The story involves an American sent to Haiti to man a weather station after his predecessor is murdered. As you'd expect in a Sale story, he's caught up with a lot of weird and mysterious characters, and as you'd expect in the Saturday Evening Post, he has a little romance along the way. Much of the intrigue revolves around a sunken Nazi submarine, apparently the means by which a war criminal known as "The Hangman of Dachau" (not the historical Hangman, Emil Mahl, but a fictional one called Veilsen Reinhardt) escaped justice. And that's where the updating comes in. The story was originally published in 1940, but now takes place several years after the war, presumably 1949. One of these days I'll have hunt down that issue of the Post and confirm (or obliterate) my suspicions.
The rest of the book is a novelette called "Beam to Brazil," first published as a serial in the February, March and April 1943 issues of Country Gentleman. This one is firmly set during wartime, and features a radio operator sent to Peurto Rico to get a transmitting station up and running in time to direct an air convoy to Brazil, and then on to Africa. It's another crackling good yarn, and marginally more fun than the first, because the hero displays a touch of Daffy Dill-type attitude.

This week's other Forgotten Books are featured at pattinase. Next week, while Patti takes a well-deserved break, I'll be hosting the links right here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Overlooked Films: THE RETURN OF DRAW EGAN (1916)

Here's a look at why William S. Hart was such a popular cowboy star. He's just so ding-danged cool. Check out the way he rolls and lights a cigarette. After escaping from a posse, masked outlaw Draw Egan, the baddest man on the border, moseys into the town of Yellow Dog. While admiring a babe in a saloon, he's annoyed by one of the local toughs, and promptly knocks him flat. The townsfolk are so impressed they hire him as their new marshal. And that's only the beginning . . .

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cap Gun Monday: Leslie-Henry GENE AUTRY .44

With most of the guns I've featured here, I thought my photos portrayed them pretty well. Not so this time. Somehow the pics just don't do this one justice. Maybe it's the effect of the cold winter sunlight, or the distracting shadows, or maybe I'm just off my game. In any case, this is one is 11 inches long, solid, heavy and a joy to behold. It's one of my favorites. Don't be surprised if I give it another photo shoot someday. 

This one takes ordinary roll caps, and the cylinder turns as each shot is fired. 

More Cap Guns HERE.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Toy Soldier Saturday: MARX SUPER CIRCUS (Part 2)

Davy Crockett's Almanack is proud to present Part 2 of our multi-part extravaganza featuring figures from the Marx Super-Circus. The first batch is HERE.

More Toy Soldiers HERE.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Forgotten Books: The Shadow in VENGEANCE BAY by Walter Gibson

Of the 325 novels published in The Shadow magazine between 1931 and 1949, well over half have been reprinted in one form or another (if someone has an approximate number, I'd be pleased to hear it!). One of those so far neglected (I think) is "Vengeance Bay," from this issue in 1942.

That means this story is one most modern-day Shadow fans have not had the opportunity to read. I had that opportunity thanks to the generosity of Mr. Frank Spremulli, who kindly took it (and others) to the post office and instructed Uncle Sam to deposit it in my mailbox. Thanks again Frank!

The Shadow nailed by spotlight - and by a good guy, too.

Most of the Shadow novels I've read are from the early '30s, when he was an awesome, mysterious and usually infallible figure of the night. So it's interesting to see the change in his character in stories like this one, eleven years into the series. The Shadow 1942 is much more human. He makes plenty of mistakes, misjudging circumstances and people, and winds up captured and helpless - twice. He battles mugs who turn out to be heroes and defends heroes who turn out to be villains. Several bad guys lay hands on him and live, and even an average citizen is able to pounce on his back and bring him to the ground. 

The Shadow pummels a couple of bad guys who really aren't.

That said, he still comes out guns blazing, his laugh striking fear into evil hearts, and manages to come out on top. Whew! "Vengeance Bay" is a tad unusual in setting, taking place in a normally quiet spot on the coast of New England. The place isn't actually called Vengeance Bay - it's Massaquoit Bay (which would have been a lousy title) - but a couple of the local features are called Pirate's Head and Pirate's Cove, so you know something dangerous is going to happen. What happens is a two-pronged scramble for gold. Some folks are after the lost treasure of Blackbeard, while others are after an even bigger treasure once in possession of the Nazis. 

Here's an odd scene. The Shadow in Cranston garb (far left) is 
rescued by someone wearing his costume (hint: his initials are H.V.).

It's a large cast, peopled with smugglers, mobsters, and yep - even Nazis, with the Shadow, Harry Vincent and Margo Lane doing their best to keep up with all the plot twists. Margo was relatively new to the pulp pages at this time, having earned her spurs on the radio show, and there was still controversy among the readers as to her presence. To her credit, she has official agent status here, rather than being the loyal companion (and implied girlfriend) of Lamont Cranston. The difference, of course, is that the radio Shadow really is Cranston, while the pulp Shadow merely uses the Cranston identity as a disguise. His true identity is known only to a couple of Xinca Indians (and they're not telling), and the thousands of readers of his magazine. Obviously, the Shadow kept Margo, Harry and the other agents too busy to read the mag. 

The guy at the top is named Gleer, so you know he's bad.

More (and less Shadowy) Forgotten Books at pattinase!