In a week or so Noir City is coming up once again in The Castro, with a double bill of the first couple of Thin Man films, Woman on the Run with terrific footage of period San Francisco streets, and lots more. Check out the schedule to see if there is anything on it you can’t miss.
I try to get to at least one of the showings during the run, and a year or maybe two years back ended up catching the 1950 flick The Sound of Fury, in large part for the local angle. I think they called the town in the movie San Marino, something like that, but the action is based on a series of crimes in the Bay Area and the lynching took place in downtown San Jose, St. James Park near the courthouse and old jail. And as a bonus it featured a show-stopping performance by Lloyd Bridges — honest, worth watching for him alone, but the other noir aspects are solid and the finale with the lynch mob is wrenching.
What sets off the mob, though, is that the two crooks committed a kidnapping — which brings us back to the topic of the day, Hammett and “Crooked Souls” a.k.a. “The Gatewood Caper.”
At what point in time did kidnapping become so commonplace that the Op’s explanation at the end of “Crooked Souls” just wouldn’t hold water any more?
The Marion Parker kidnapping at the end of 1927? The Lindbergh baby in 1932? Certainly by the Brooke Hart kidnapping in 1933 — then a plethora of other kidnappings across the country.
If you want to read more on the Hart case, with lots of details on kidnapping in the era, and a detailed account of the lynching in San Jose, hop over to CrimeLibrary and this article by Mark Gado. It’s like a little book. A fascinating little book, if you’re interested in true crime, kidnappings, and lynch mobs.