At Crime Reads: Virginia Kellogg

T-Men 1947

I still haven’t worked my way through all of the Crime Reads articles I’ve saved, and they just keep flinging more at me. FYI, if you get the itch to scroll backwards through Crime Reads’ site, you’d best allocate a lot of time. You’ll get lost there, albeit happily so.

Case in point: Last week’s article by Chris McGinley, “Virginia Kellogg: The Forgotten Screenwriter Behind A String Of Classic Noirs”. It’s tagged “She wrote some of the greatest crime movies in Hollywood’s Golden Age. Today we know almost nothing about her”.

Crime Reads

Native Californian Virginia Kellogg (1907 – 1981) originally worked as a Los Angeles Times reporter, then a secretary and script girl, penning a couple early screenplays as far back as the pre-code era. But her important work would come later in the postwar era, with projects like T-Men (1947), White Heat (1949) and Caged (1950), those last two earning her Oscar nominations. Now White Heat and Caged are surely familiar faves for anyone popping in here, but Anthony Mann’s faux-documentary styled T-Men is a real treat, with a complex story by Kellogg (screenplay by John Higgins) and visuals that could be used as a how-to textbook on the classic film noir style.

T-Men 1947 2

Head to Crime Reads (link below) for Chris McGinley’s article, and then I challenge you to not start scrolling online or rooting through your disk shelves for one of these three films. Me? I’ll go with T-Men, a movie with more shades of ‘dark’ than you’d think is possible to capture on film.

The Girl Without A Stoplight In Her Life

ruth roman

Ruth Roman (1922 – 1999) planned to be a Broadway star, and when that didn’t pan out, worked as a cigarette girl in various Manhattan nightclubs till she earned enough money for the train fare west to Hollywood. There she finally landed her first film roles in 1943, toiling away in bit parts and serials while writing short stories about her experiences and the colorful life in a Los Angeles theatrical boarding house. It all came together in 1951, though, with multiple starring roles, some prestigious – Strangers On A Train — and some not so much – Lightning Strikes Twice — and she worked steadily in film and television clear through the 1960’s, still taking occasional roles all the way into the early 1980’s. Not one of Hollywood’s biggest names perhaps, but someone who worked hard and really lived, and you can see that in her stance and expression in the studio portrait above. I adore this photo…I’ve been sitting on a copy of this image file long before I knew who she was.

Ruth Roman Lightning Strikes Twice (1951)

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