The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

July 1, 2016

July 1, 1892

James M. Cain (July 1, 1892 to October 27, 1977) was born and died in Maryland but he made his reputation in Hollywood. Among the movies we call classics he is responsbile for:

The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934)
Double Indemnity (first published in 1936)
Mildred Pierce (1941).

These are just a few of the movies made from his books and explain his reputation as a father of the noir genre. He was not uncritical of LA though; he wrote in a 1933 article titled "Paradise," about Los Angeles, in Mencken's American Mercury magazine,

the sunlight gives everything the unmoving quality of things seen in a desert. And of course this is greatly aggravated by the similarity of the seasons, in itself. Nothing changes. Summer follows Winter without a Spring, Winter follows Summer without a Fall. The citrus trees flower and bear all at the same time: you never get a riot of blossoms as you do in Western Maryland when the apple-trees are in bloom, or a catharsis of stinking, primitive accomplishment, as you do in Delaware when the tomatoes go to the cannery. Here the oil wells flow right along, so do the orange trees, so does everything. It is terrifying.

Cain's first book was The Postman Always Rings Twice  and I have not read a critique that points to the utterly critical role a cat plays in it. Even the blog Cinema Cats seems not to have noticed. The first plot to kill the husband fails when a cat draws a deputy's attention to a ladder by climbing up on it. The book has the sheriff's deputy say --"I love a cat. They're always up to something." That line is not in the movie, but you could say the whole story depends on the cat.

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