|Born||Cornell George Hopley Woolrich|
December 4, 1903
New York City
|Died||September 25, 1968 64) (aged|
New York City
|Pen name||William Irish, George Hopley|
|Alma mater||Columbia University|
Violet Virginia Blackton
(m. 1930;annulled 1933)
Cornell George Hopley Woolrich ( // WUUL-ritch; December 4, 1903 – September 25, 1968) was an American novelist and short story writer. He sometimes used the pseudonyms William Irish and George Hopley.
His biographer, Francis Nevins Jr., rated Woolrich the fourth best crime writer of his day, behind Dashiell Hammett, Erle Stanley Gardner and Raymond Chandler.
Woolrich was born in New York City; his parents separated when he was young. He lived for a time in Mexico with his father before returning to New York to live with his mother, Claire Attalie Woolrich.
He attended Columbia University but left in 1926 without graduating when his first novel, Cover Charge, was published. As Eddie Duggan observes, "Woolrich enrolled at New York's Columbia University in 1921 where he spent a relatively undistinguished year until he was taken ill and was laid up for some weeks. It was during this illness (a Rear-Window-like confinement involving a gangrenous foot, according to one version of the story) that Woolrich started writing, producing Cover Charge, which was published in 1926."Cover Charge was one of his Jazz Age novels inspired by the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald. A second short story, Children of the Ritz, won Woolrich the first prize of $10,000 the following year in a competition organised by College Humor and First National Pictures; this led to his working as a screenwriter in Hollywood for First National Pictures. While in Hollywood, Woolrich explored his sexuality, apparently engaging in what Frances M. Nevins Jr. describes as "promiscuous and clandestine homosexual activity" and by marrying Violet Virginia Blackton, the 21-year-old daughter of J. Stuart Blackton, one of the founders of the Vitagraph studio. Failing in both his attempt at marriage and at establishing a career as a screenwriter (the unconsummated marriage was annulled in 1933; Woolrich garnered no screen credits), Woolrich sought to resume his life as a novelist:
Although Woolrich had published six 'jazz-age' novels, concerned with the party-antics and romances of the beautiful young things on the fringes of American society, between 1926 and 1932, he was unable to establish himself as a serious writer. Perhaps because the 'jazz-age' novel was dead in the water by the 1930s when the depression had begun to take hold, Woolrich was unable to find a publisher for his seventh novel, I Love You, Paris, so he literally threw away the typescript, dumped it in a dustbin, and re-invented himself as a pulp writer.
When he turned to pulp and detective fiction, Woolrich's output was so prolific his work was often published under one of his many pseudonyms.For example, "William Irish" was the byline in Dime Detective Magazine (February 1942) on his 1942 story "It Had to Be Murder", source of the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock movie Rear Window and itself based on H.G. Wells' short story "Through a Window". François Truffaut filmed Woolrich's The Bride Wore Black and Waltz into Darkness in 1968 and 1969, respectively, the latter as Mississippi Mermaid . Ownership of the copyright in Woolrich's original story "It Had to Be Murder" and its use for Rear Window was litigated before the US Supreme Court in Stewart v. Abend , 495 U.S. 207 (1990).
He returned to New York where he and his mother moved into the Hotel Marseilles (Broadway and West 103rd Street). Eddie Duggan observes that "[a]lthough his writing made him wealthy, Woolrich and his mother lived in a series of seedy hotel rooms, including the squalid Hotel Marseilles apartment building in Harlem, among a group of thieves, prostitutes and lowlifes that would not be out of place in Woolrich's dark fictional world".Woolrich lived there until his mother's death on October 6, 1957, which prompted his move to the Hotel Franconia (20 West 72nd Street). In later years, he socialized on occasion in Manhattan bars with Mystery Writers of America colleagues and younger fans such as writer Ron Goulart, but alcoholism and an amputated leg (caused by an infection from a too-tight shoe which went untreated) left him a recluse. As Duggan writes:
[After] Woolrich's mother died in 1957, he [went] into a sharp physical and mental decline. Although he moved from Harlem's decrepit Hotel Marseilles to a more upmarket residence in the Hotel Franconia near Central Park, and later to the Sheraton-Russell on Park Avenue, Woolrich was a virtual recluse. Now in his 60s, with his eyesight failing, lonely, psychologically wracked by guilt over his homosexuality, tortured by his alcoholism, self-doubt, and a diabetic to boot, Woolrich neglected himself to such a degree that he allowed a foot infection to become gangrenous which resulted, early in 1968, in the amputation of a leg.
After the amputation, and a conversion to Catholicism, Woolrich returned to the Sheraton-Russell, confined to a wheelchair. Some of the staff there would take Woolrich down to the lobby so he could look out on the passing traffic, thus making the wizened, wheelchair-bound Woolrich into a kind of darker, self-loathing version of the character played by James Stewart in Hitchcock's Rear Window.
With the type of closure that is usually only encountered as a literary device, the Woolrich story turns full-circle around the Oedipally charged foot motif, the writing career that apparently began with a period of confinement attributed to a foot infection ends with an amputation, and the deep Freudian resonance that amputation induces.
Woolrich did not attend the premiere of Truffaut's film of his novel The Bride Wore Black in 1968, even though it was held in New York City. He died weighing 89 pounds. He is interred in the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.
Woolrich bequeathed his estate of about $850,000 to Columbia University to endow scholarships in his mother's memory for writing students.
Most of Woolrich's books are out of print, and new editions have not come out because of estate issues.[ citation needed ] However, new collections of his short stories were issued in the early 1990s. As of February 3, 2020, the Faded Page has seven titles available as ebooks in the public domain in Canada; these may be still under copyright elsewhere.
Woolrich died leaving fragments of an unfinished novel, titled The Loser; fragments have been published separately and also collected in Tonight, Somewhere in New York (2005).
|1926||Cover Charge||Cornell Woolrich|
|1927||Children of the Ritz||Cornell Woolrich|
|1929||Times Square||Cornell Woolrich|
|1930||A Young Man's Heart||Cornell Woolrich|
|1931||The Time of Her Life||Cornell Woolrich|
|1932||Manhattan Love Song||Cornell Woolrich|
|1940||The Bride Wore Black||Cornell Woolrich|
|1941||The Black Curtain||Cornell Woolrich|
|1941||Marihuana||William Irish||Published in paperback only|
|1942||Black Alibi||Cornell Woolrich|
|1942||Phantom Lady||William Irish|
|1943||The Black Angel||Cornell Woolrich|
|1944||The Black Path of Fear||Cornell Woolrich|
|1944||Deadline at Dawn||William Irish||Also published as an Armed Services Edition|
|1945||Night Has a Thousand Eyes||George Hopley|
|1947||Waltz Into Darkness||William Irish|
|1948||Rendezvous in Black||Cornell Woolrich|
|1948||I Married a Dead Man||William Irish|
|1950||Savage Bride||Cornell Woolrich||Published in paperback only|
|1951||You'll Never See Me Again||Cornell Woolrich||Published in paperback only|
|1951||Strangler's Serenade||William Irish|
|1952||Eyes That Watch You||William Irish|
|1952||Bluebeard's Seventh Wife||William Irish||Published in paperback only|
|1959||Death is My Dancing Partner||Cornell Woolrich||Published only in paperback|
|1960||The Doom Stone||Cornell Woolrich||Published only in paperback|
|1987||Into the Night||Cornell Woolrich||(Posthumous release, manuscript completed by Lawrence Block)|
|1943||I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes||William Irish||Also published as an Armed Services Edition|
|1944||After-Dinner Story||William Irish||Includes his noted 1941 novella "Marihuana" . Also published as an Armed Services Edition|
|1946||If I Should Die Before I Wake||William Irish||Published in paperback only|
|1946||Borrowed Crime||William Irish||Published in paperback only|
|1946||The Dancing Detective||William Irish|
|1948||Dead Man Blues||William Irish|
|1949||The Blue Ribbon||William Irish|
|1950||Somebody on the Phone||William Irish||A.k.a. "Deadly Night Call"|
|1950||Six Nights of Mystery||William Irish||Published in paperback only|
|1956||Nightmare||Cornell Woolrich||Includes both previously published & unpublished stories.|
|1958||Violence||Cornell Woolrich||Includes both previously published & unpublished stories.|
|1958||Hotel Room||Cornell Woolrich|
|1959||Beyond the Night||Cornell Woolrich||Published in paperback only|
|1964||The Dark Side of Love||Cornell Woolrich|
|1965||The Ten Faces of Cornell Woolrich||Cornell Woolrich|
|2010||Four Novellas of Fear||Cornell Woolrich|
Rear Window is a 1954 American mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written by John Michael Hayes based on Cornell Woolrich's 1942 short story "It Had to Be Murder". Originally released by Paramount Pictures, the film stars James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, and Raymond Burr. It was screened at the 1954 Venice Film Festival.
Stolen Kisses is a 1968 French romantic comedy-drama film directed by François Truffaut starring Jean-Pierre Léaud and Claude Jade. It continues the story of the character Antoine Doinel, whom Truffaut had previously depicted in The 400 Blows and the short film Antoine and Colette. In this film, Antoine begins his relationship with Christine Darbon, which is depicted further in the last two films in the series, Bed & Board and Love on the Run.
Hardboiled fiction is a literary genre that shares some of its characters and settings with crime fiction. The genre's typical protagonist is a detective who battles the violence of organized crime that flourished during Prohibition (1920–1933) and its aftermath, while dealing with a legal system that has become as corrupt as the organized crime itself. Rendered cynical by this cycle of violence, the detectives of hardboiled fiction are often antiheroes. Notable hardboiled detectives include Philip Marlowe, Mike Hammer, Sam Spade, Lew Archer, Slam Bradley, and The Continental Op.
Noir fiction is a subgenre of crime fiction. In this subgenre, right and wrong are not clearly defined, while the protagonists are seriously and often tragically flawed.
Mississippi Mermaid is a 1969 French romantic drama film directed by François Truffaut and starring Catherine Deneuve and Jean-Paul Belmondo. Adapted from the 1947 novel Waltz into Darkness by Cornell Woolrich, the film is about a tobacco planter on Réunion Island in the Indian Ocean who becomes engaged through correspondence to a woman he does not know. When she arrives it is not the same woman in the photo, but he marries her anyway. Filmed in southern France and Réunion island, Mississippi Mermaid was the 17th highest-grossing film of the year in France with a total of 1,221,027 admissions. It was remade in 2001 as Original Sin, directed by Michael Cristofer and starring Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas.
David Loeb Goodis was an American writer of crime fiction noted for his output of short stories and novels in the noir fiction genre. Born in Philadelphia, Goodis alternately resided there and in New York City and Hollywood during his professional years. According to critic Dennis Drabelle, "Despite his [university] education, a combination of ethnicity (Jewish) and temperament allowed him to empathize with outsiders: the working poor, the unjustly accused, fugitives, criminals."
The Chase is a 1946 American film noir directed by Arthur Ripley. The screenplay by Philip Yordan is based on Cornell Woolrich's 1944 novel The Black Path of Fear. It stars Robert Cummings as a veteran, Chuck Scott, suffering from hallucinations and raw nerves. When he returns a lost wallet to a violent mobster Eddie Roman, the man offers to hire him as a chauffeur. Not only is the job a stressful one, but Chuck gets mixed up in a plot to help Eddie's wife, Lorna, run off to Havana to escape her cruel husband's grasp. But when Scott is framed for murder, they must run from both Eddie and the authorities.
Night Has a Thousand Eyes is a 1948 film noir, starring Edward G. Robinson and directed by John Farrow. The screenplay was written by Barré Lyndon and Jonathan Latimer. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Cornell Woolrich, originally published under the pseudonym George Hopley.
The Guilty is a 1947 film noir based directed by John Reinhardt, based on a story by Cornell Woolrich. The film is based on Woolrich's short story "Two Men in a Furnished Room". The film was produced by oil millionaire Jack Wrather, the husband of lead actress Bonita Granville.
The Bride Wore Black is a 1968 French film directed by François Truffaut and based on the novel of the same name by William Irish, a pseudonym for Cornell Woolrich. It stars Jeanne Moreau, Charles Denner, Alexandra Stewart, Michel Bouquet, Michael Lonsdale, Claude Rich and Jean-Claude Brialy.
The Window is a 1949 American black-and-white suspense film noir, based on the short story "The Boy Cried Murder" by Cornell Woolrich about a lying boy who suspects that his neighbors are killers. The film, which was a critical success, was produced by Frederic Ullman Jr. for $210,000 but earned much more, making it a box office hit for RKO Pictures. The film was directed by Ted Tetzlaff, who worked as a cinematographer on over 100 films, including another successful suspense film, Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious (1946). For his performance in this film, Bobby Driscoll was presented with a miniature Oscar statuette as the outstanding juvenile actor of 1949 at the 1950 Academy Awards ceremony.
Jonathan Wyatt Latimer was an American crime writer known his novels and screenplays. Before becoming an author, Latimer was a journalist in Chicago.
Street of Chance is a 1942 film noir directed by Jack Hively and starring Burgess Meredith as a man who finds he's been suffering from amnesia and Claire Trevor as a woman who protects him from the police, who suspect him of murder.
Richard Franklin was an Australian film director.
Rear Window is a 1998 American made-for-television crime-drama thriller film directed by Jeff Bleckner. The teleplay by Larry Gross and Eric Overmyer is an updated adaptation of the classic 1954 film of the same name directed by Alfred Hitchcock which was based on the short story "It Had to Be Murder" by Cornell Woolrich. It was broadcast in the US by ABC on November 22, 1998. This stars Christopher Reeve, Daryl Hannah, and Robert Forster.
The Bride Wore Black is a 1940 American novel written by Cornell Woolrich. In 1967, it was adapted into a film of the same name by the French director François Truffaut.
The Black Angel is a 1943 novel by Cornell Woolrich, which was based on two of his own short stories, Murder in Wax and Face Work. Woolrich had reworked many of his short stories into full-length novels, including Black Angel.
After-Dinner Story is a 1944 short story collection by American crime writer Cornell Woolrich under the pseudonym William Irish. It comprises six stories, and includes two of Woolrich's best known works, novella Marihuana and Rear Window, which was made into a movie by Alfred Hitchcock in 1954.
I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes is a 1943 collection of five novellas by American crime writer Cornell Woolrich under the pseudonym "William Irish". It includes one of Woolrich's most noted works, Nightmare.
The Boy Cried Murder is a 1966 British thriller film directed by George P. Breakston and starring Fraser MacIntosh, Veronica Hurst, and Phil Brown. The film is based on the novelette of the same name by Cornell Woolrich. The movie is a remake of the 1949 film The Window.