Nostalgia City Mysteries

Mark S. Bacon

Mitchum and Greer keep you guessing

Noir movie review

William Bendix crashes into Robert Mitchum’s steamship stateroom flashing a gun.

“Where is it Halliday?”

William Bendix gets the drop on Robert Mitchum in the first seconds of The Big Steal.

We don’t know who or what Bendix is looking for, but Mitchum slugs him, steals his ID identifying him as Army Capt. Vincent Blake and scrams down the gangplank into the bustling dockside crowd of Veracruz, Mexico.

Action in the 1949 film The Big Steal starts quickly and confusingly. Halliday maneuvers his way through the crowd berating souvenir hawkers and other locals for getting in his way.

Another debarking passenger, Joan Graham (Jane Greer), chastises him for throwing his weight around, especially when he doesn’t speak Spanish.

   “It’s men like you who make people like them contemptuous of tourists. Doesn’t it occur to you they don’t understand?”

When Halliday is blocked by an insistent peddler selling a caged parrot, he relents and buys the bird. With an insistent squawk, it swears in Spanish.  He hands the bird to Graham and ducks out when he sees Blake at the top of the gangway.

Graham gets a cab to a hotel where she surprises Jim Fiske (Patrick Knowles) in his room.  After he proposed to her in the States, he ran off with $2,000 she loaned him. Now that she’s caught up with him, she wants it back.

When he tries to sweet talk her, she slaps him in the face and demands the money. She wants the money, not him.

“Come on.  Hand it over. I was saving that money for my trousseau,” she says in mock distress.

“Oh, darling, your pride’s been hurt because I went away without a word.”

“And stayed away without several.”

“Will you try to believe there was a reason, a good one.”

“Sure, you wanted to surprise me. By not coming back.”

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Reading group / book club guide

Dark Ride Deception – Questions for discussion
  1. What motivated Lyle to tell Rey that he searched Wyrick’s condo?
  1. How does the author use the senses in his description of the theme park trade show in Florida?
  1. Many murder mysteries begin with a body in the first chapter. Why do you think the author delayed exposing the first murder?
  1. Did you figure out the identity of Sarah Needham’s boyfriend before Lyle did?
  1. How are characters in the book identified or explained by other characters?
  1. Do you recognize the songs Lyle and others listen to? What other 1970’s reminders did you pick up in scenes at the Nostalgia City theme park?

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Welcome back…..Kotter?


Do you remember Welcome Back Kotter, the late 1970s TV comedy starring Gabe Kaplan?  He portrayed a dedicated high school teacher who returned to the classroom at the same inner-city school he attended to teach seemingly the same class of students of which he was once a part.

This show and John Sebastian’s theme song is the essence of synchronicity for today’s episode of Nostalgia City Mysteries. Due to recent, somewhat lengthy absence from the blogosphere you might have forgotten you used to receive these posts in your email (or read it regularly online).  Explanations, exciting and otherwise, follow but the theme today is—wait for it—Welcome Back.

Thinking of this theme naturally reminded me of the show, but that’s simply coincidence or an obvious train of thought.  The real synchronicity is the show’s setting: the late 1970s.  It’s the same world represented at Nostalgia City, the present-day theme park that re-creates an entire small town from the 1970s—the setting for my themed mystery novels.

Let’s catch up
Every now and then you’re faced with a situation—a duty—for which you have no preparation or training. Such Continue Reading →

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