advertisement 1
advertisement
SEARCH:
Friday, April 29th, 2016                                                 SUBSCRIBE TO OUR RSS FEEDrss feed

Remembering American Mercury Writer James M. Cain

Published by on October 27, 2010

Remembering American Mercury Writer James M. Cain thumbnail

JAMES MALLAHAN CAIN died 33 years ago today. Cain (July 1, 1892 – October 27, 1977) was a celebrated American author and journalist. Although Cain himself vehemently opposed labeling, he is usually associated with the hardboiled school of American crime fiction and seen as one of the creators of the roman noir. Several of his crime novels inspired highly successful movies.

Early life

Cain was born into an Irish Catholic family in Annapolis, Maryland. The son of a prominent educator and an opera singer, he had inherited his love for music from his mother, but his high hopes of starting a career as a singer himself were thwarted when she told him that his voice was not good enough. After graduating from Washington College where his father, James W. Cain served as president, in 1910, Cain began working as a journalist for the Baltimore Sun.

Cain was drafted into the United States Army and spent the final year of World War I in France writing for an Army magazine.

Career

Back in the States, he continued working as a journalist writing editorials for the New York World and articles for The American Mercury. He briefly served as the managing editor of the New Yorker, but later turned to screenplays and finally to fiction.

Although Cain spent many years in Hollywood working on screenplays, his name only appears on the credits of three films: Algiers, Stand Up and Fight, and Gypsy Wildcat.

Cain’s first novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice, was published in 1934. Two years later the serialized Double Indemnity [which was also made into a classic film, with screenplay collaboration by the great Raymond Chandler — Ed.] was published.

Cain made use of his love of music and of the opera in particular in at least three of his novels: Serenade (about an American opera singer who loses his voice and who, after spending part of his life south of the border, re-enters the States illegally with a Mexican prostitute in tow); Mildred Pierce (in which, as part of the subplot, the only daughter of a successful businesswoman trains as an opera singer); and Career in C Major, a short semi-comic novel about the unhappy husband of an aspiring opera singer who unexpectedly discovers that he has a better voice than she does (Cain’s fourth wife, Florence Macbeth, was a retired opera singer).

American Authors’ Authority

In July 1946, Cain wrote an article for Screen Writer magazine in which he proposed the creation of an American Authors’ Authority to hold writers’ copyrights and represent the writers in contract negotiations and court disputes. This idea was dubbed the “Cain plan” in the media. The plan was denounced as Communist by some writers, who formed the American Writers Association to oppose it. Although Cain worked vigorously to promoted the Authority, it did not gain widespread support and the idea died.

Personal life

Cain was married to Mary Clough in 1919. The marriage ended in divorce and he promptly married Elina Sjösted Tyszecka. Although Cain never had any children of his own, he was close to Elina’s two children from a prior marriage. In 1944 Cain married film actress Aileen Pringle, but the marriage was a tempestuous union and dissolved in a bitter divorce two years later. Cain married for the fourth time to Florence Macbeth, an opera singer. Their marriage lasted until her death in 1966.

Cain continued writing up to his death at the age of 85. However, the many novels he published from the late 1940s onward never rivaled his earlier successes.

Quotation

“I make no conscious effort to be tough, or hard-boiled, or grim, or any of the things I am usually called. I merely try to write as the character would write, and I never forget that the average man, from the fields, the streets, the bars, the offices, and even the gutters of his country, has acquired a vividness of speech that goes beyond anything I could invent, and that if I stick to this heritage, this logos of the American countryside, I shall attain a maximum of effectiveness with very little effort.”

(from the preface to Double Indemnity)

Read the full article on Poe Forward

SHARE THIS VIA EMAIL OR SOCIAL MEDIA:
Email this to someoneShare on FacebookShare on VKTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on TumblrShare on RedditPrint this page

Related Articles:

Readers' Comments





  • Forgotten Hero
  • US News »

    By Way of Deception, Thou Shalt Do Boston

    April 26, 2013

    By Way of Deception, Thou Shalt Do Boston thumbnail

    by Keith Johnson WAS SLAIN Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamarlin Tsarnaev (pictured) coerced, blackmailed or manipulated by Mossad agents posing as FBI agents? Mark Glenn and the crew over at The Ugly Truth have produced a series of radio broadcasts making a compelling argument that he was: TUT Broadcast April 20, 2013 The Victory Hour […]

    Africa, History »

    ‘The Choice of Achilles’: John Alan Coey Against the New World Order

    January 3, 2013

    ‘The Choice of Achilles’: John Alan Coey Against the New World Order thumbnail

    by T.R. Bennington AS EVER, BUT ESPECIALLY in our present state of civilizational malaise, there is a need for figures with the power to inspire — men who in less confused and cynical times would have been unabashedly described as heroic. One such figure is Corporal John Alan Coey, a young soldier who has perhaps […]

    Science »

    Quarter of Americans Convinced Sun Revolves Around Earth

    March 2, 2015

    Quarter of Americans Convinced Sun Revolves Around Earth thumbnail

    “DOES the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?” If you answered the latter, you’re among a quarter of Americans who also got it wrong, according to a new report by the National Science Foundation. A survey of 2,200 people that was released Friday revealed some alarming truths about […]

  • Reader’s Comments

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Pages

  • Login / Register / RSS

  • Classic Essays »

    Concerning Inflation

    July 23, 2015

    Concerning Inflation thumbnail

    by Garet Garrett NO ONE WOULD be so absurd as to propose that you might restore a nation’s prosperity by changing its weights and measures. Suppose the Government should say, on behalf of the wheat farmer, to increase his income, “Hereafter the half bushel shall be the legal full bushel”; and on behalf of the […]

    Opinion, Reports »

    What’s Wrong with the Real Right? – part 1

    October 19, 2014

    What’s Wrong with the Real Right? – part 1 thumbnail

    by T.R. Bennington FOR ANY political movement that seeks eventual ascendancy, it is incumbent to engage in regular bouts of self-analysis. As a casual but sympathetic observer of the so-called far-right, I have compiled a list of what I believe to be some of the tactical errors and misconceptions made and held respectively by many […]

    Arts, Film, Literature »

    Pauline Kael: One Against the Herd

    May 6, 2012

    Pauline Kael: One Against the Herd thumbnail

    Selected Writings of Pauline Kael; Library of America, 2011 Pauline Kael: Alone in the Dark; Brian Kellow, Viking Adult, 2011 by Ron Capshaw FOR CONSERVATIVES, PAULINE KAEL IS notorious for her much-quoted comment about her astonishment that Nixon won the 1972 election since “everyone I know voted for McGovern.” Despite this prime example of the liberal […]

  • Names and Topics



  • FEATURED ARTICLES

    History »

    Tom Watson: The Celebrated Case of The State of Georgia vs. Leo Frank

    March 19, 2014

    Tom Watson: The Celebrated Case of The State of Georgia vs. Leo Frank thumbnail

    by Thomas E. Watson (pictured), Watson’s Magazine, Volume 21 Number 4, August 1915 THE LAWS OF Georgia are extraordinarily favorable to a person accused of crime. He is not only protected in all of his rights under the Constitution of the United States, but he enjoys privileges far beyond those limits. No indictment against him […]

    History »

    Tom Watson: A Full Review of the Leo Frank Case

    March 19, 2014

    Tom Watson: A Full Review of the Leo Frank Case thumbnail

    by Thomas E. Watson, Watson’s Magazine, Volume 20 Number 5, March 1915 ON THE 23rd page of Puck, for the week ending January 16, 1915, there is, in the smallest possible type, in the smallest possible space, at the bottom of the page, the notice of ownership, required by law. Mankind are informed that Puck […]

    History »

    Tom Watson: The Leo Frank Case

    March 19, 2014

    Tom Watson: The Leo Frank Case thumbnail

    by Thomas E. Watson (pictured), Watson’s Magazine, Volume 20 Number 3, January 1915 AN AGED MILLIONAIRE of New York had a lawyer named Patrick, and this lawyer poisoned his old client, forged a will in his own favor; was tried, convicted and sentenced—and is now at liberty, a pardoned man. Through the falling out among Wall […]

    History »

    The Leo Frank Trial: Closing Arguments, Solicitor Dorsey

    December 5, 2013

    The Leo Frank Trial: Closing Arguments, Solicitor Dorsey thumbnail

    by Bradford L. Huie THE AMERICAN MERCURY now presents the final closing arguments by Solicitor Hugh Dorsey (pictured) in the trial of Leo Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan — a powerful summary of the case and a persuasive argument that played a large part in the decision of the jury to find Frank […]

    History »

    ADL: 100 Years of Hate

    October 20, 2013

    ADL: 100 Years of Hate thumbnail

    by Valdis Bell TODAY MARKS THE 100th anniversary of the largest and most-well funded hate and defamation group in the history of mankind: the Anti-Defamation League, or “ADL.” The organization was originally called the “Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith” after its parent group, the Jewish fraternal order B’nai B’rith (meaning “Sons of the Covenant,” or, […]

    History »

    The Leo Frank Trial: Closing Arguments of Hooper, Arnold, and Rosser

    October 18, 2013

    The Leo Frank Trial: Closing Arguments of Hooper, Arnold, and Rosser thumbnail

    The American Mercury continues its centenary coverage of the trial of Leo Frank for the slaying of Mary Phagan with the closing arguments presented by the prosecution and defense. by Bradford L. Huie IT’S A LONG READ — but an essential one for everyone who wants to consider himself well-informed on the Leo Frank case: […]

    History »

    The Leo Frank Trial: Week Four

    September 14, 2013

    The Leo Frank Trial: Week Four thumbnail

    Join The American Mercury as we recount the events of the final week of the trial of Leo Frank (pictured) for the slaying of Mary Phagan. by Bradford L. Huie ON THE HEELS of Leo Frank’s astounding unsworn statement to the court, the defense called a number of women who stated that they had never […]

    History »

    The Leo Frank Trial: Week Three

    August 26, 2013

    The Leo Frank Trial: Week Three thumbnail

    The trial of Leo Frank (pictured) for the murder of Mary Phagan ended its third week 100 years ago today. Join us as we break through the myths surrounding the case and investigate what really happened. by Bradford L. Huie AS THE THIRD WEEK of the trial dawned, the prosecution had just made its case […]

    History »

    100 Years Ago Today: Leo Frank Takes the Stand

    August 18, 2013

    100 Years Ago Today: Leo Frank Takes the Stand thumbnail

    In a few days the Mercury will present Week Three of the trial of Leo Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan. Today, on the 100th anniversary of Leo Frank taking the stand in his own defense, we present a digest of opinion and contemporary sources on his statement. AT THE CLIMAX of the Leo […]

    History »

    The Leo Frank Trial: Week Two

    August 16, 2013

    The Leo Frank Trial: Week Two thumbnail

    The trial of Leo Frank for the murder of Mary Phagan ended its second week 100 years ago today. Join us as we delve into the original documents of the time and learn what the jurors learned. by Bradford L. Huie THE EVIDENCE that National Pencil Company Superintendent Leo Frank had murdered 13-year-old child laborer […]