A crime of passion, or crime passionnel, in popular usage, refers to a violent crime, especially murder, in which the perpetrator commits the act against someone because of sudden strong impulse such as sudden rage or heartbreak rather than as a premeditated crime. The act, as is suggested by the name (crime passionnel – from French language) is often associated with the history of France. However, such crimes have existed and continue to exist in most cultures.
A crime of passion refers to a criminal act in which the perpetrator commits a crime, especially murder or assault, against someone because of sudden strong impulse such as sudden rage or heartbreak rather than as a premeditated crime. A typical crime of passion might involve an aggressive pub-goer who assaults another guest following an argument or a husband who discovers his wife has made him a cuckold and proceeds to brutally batter or even kill his wife and the man with whom she was involved.
In the United States civil courts, a crime of passion is referred to as “temporary insanity”. This defense was first used by U.S. Congressman Daniel Sickles of New York in 1859 after he had killed his wife’s lover, Philip Barton Key, but was most used during the 1940s and 1950s.
In some countries, notably France, crime passionnel (or crime of passion) was a valid defense during murder cases; during the 19th century, some cases could be a custodial sentence for two years for the murderer, while the spouse was dead; this ended in France as the Napoleonic code was updated in the 1970s so that a specific father’s authority upon his whole family was over.
Alfred Hitchcock’s first thriller was his third silent film The Lodger (1926), a suspenseful Jack the Ripper story. His next thriller was Blackmail (1929), his and Britain’s first sound film. Of Hitchcock’s fifteen major features made between 1925 and 1935, only six were suspense films, the two mentioned above plus Murder!, Number Seventeen, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and The 39 Steps. From 1935 on, however, most of his output was thrillers.
One of the earliest spy films was Fritz Lang’s Spies (1928), the director’s first independent production, with an anarchist international conspirator and criminal spy character named Haghi (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), who was pursued by good-guy Agent No. 326 (Willy Fritsch) (aka Det. Donald Tremaine, English version) — this film anticipated the James Bond films of the future. Another was Greta Garbo’s portrayal of the real-life, notorious, seductive German double agent code-named Mata Hari (Gertrud Zelle) in World War I in Mata Hari (1932), who performed a pearl-draped dance to entice French officers to divulge their secrets.
The chilling German film M (1931) directed by Fritz Lang, starred Peter Lorre (in his first film role) as a criminal deviant who preys on children. The film’s story was based on the life of serial killer Peter Kurten (known as the ‘Vampire of Düsseldorf’). Edward Sutherland’s crime thriller Murders in the Zoo (1933) from Paramount starred Lionel Atwill as a murderous and jealous zoologist.
Other British directors, such as Walter Forde, Victor Saville, George A. Cooper, and even the young Michael Powell made more thrillers in the same period; Forde made nine, Vorhaus seven between 1932 and 1935, Cooper six in the same period, and Powell the same. Hitchcock was following a strong British trend in his choice of genre.
Notable examples of Hitchcock’s early British suspense-thriller films include The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), his first spy-chase/romantic thriller, The 39 Steps (1935) with Robert Donat handcuffed to Madeleine Carroll and The Lady Vanishes (1938).
Premiering on August 31, 1941, The Great Gildersleeve moved the title character from the McGees’ Wistful Vista to Summerfield, where Gildersleeve now oversaw his late brother-in-law’s estate and took on the rearing of his orphaned niece and nephew, Marjorie (originally played by Lurene Tuttle and followed by Louise Erickson and Mary Lee Robb) and Leroy Forester (Walter Tetley). The household also included a cook named Birdie. Curiously, while Gildersleeve had occasionally spoken of his (never-present) wife in some Fibber episodes, in his own series the character was a confirmed bachelor.
In a striking forerunner to such later television hits as Bachelor Father and Family Affair, both of which are centered on well-to-do uncles taking in their deceased siblings’ children, Gildersleeve was a bachelor raising two children while, at first, administering a girdle manufacturing company (“If you want a better corset, of course, it’s a Gildersleeve”) and then for the bulk of the show’s run, serving as Summerfield’s water commissioner, between time with the ladies and nights with the boys. The Great Gildersleeve may have been the first broadcast show to be centered on a single parent balancing child-rearing, work, and a social life, done with taste and genuine wit, often at the expense of Gildersleeve’s now slightly understated pomposity.
Many of the original episodes were co-written by John Whedon, father of Tom Whedon (who wrote The Golden Girls), and grandfather of Deadwood scripter Zack Whedon and Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog).
The key to the show was Peary, whose booming voice and facility with moans, groans, laughs, shudders and inflection was as close to body language and facial suggestion as a voice could get. Peary was so effective, and Gildersleeve became so familiar a character, that he was referenced and satirized periodically in other comedies and in a few cartoons.
The program’s heyday was in the early 1950s, when radio actor, producer and director Elliott Lewis took over (still during the Wilcox/Autolite run). Here the material reached new levels of sophistication. The writing was taut, and the casting, which had always been a strong point of the series (featuring such film stars as Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Henry Fonda, Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland, Ronald Colman, Marlene Dietrich, Eve McVeagh, Lena Horne, and Cary Grant), took an unexpected turn when Lewis expanded the repertory to include many of radio’s famous drama and comedy stars — often playing against type — such as Jack Benny. Jim and Marian Jordan of Fibber McGee and Molly were heard in the episode, “Backseat Driver,” which originally aired February 3, 1949.
The highest production values enhanced Suspense, and many of the shows retain their power to grip and entertain. At the time he took over Suspense, Lewis was familiar to radio fans for playing Frankie Remley, the wastrel guitar-playing sidekick to Phil Harris in The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. On the May 10, 1951 Suspense, Lewis reversed the roles with “Death on My Hands”: A bandleader (Harris) is horrified when an autograph-seeking fan accidentally shoots herself and dies in his hotel room, and a vocalist (Faye) tries to help him as the townfolk call for vigilante justice against him.
With the rise of television and the departures of Lewis and Autolite, subsequent producers (Antony Ellis, William N. Robson and others) struggled to maintain the series despite shrinking budgets, the availability of fewer name actors, and listenership decline. To save money, the program frequently used scripts first broadcast by another noteworthy CBS anthology, Escape. In addition to these tales of exotic adventure, Suspense expanded its repertoire to include more science fiction and supernatural content. By the end of its run, the series was remaking scripts from the long-canceled program The Mysterious Traveler. A time travel tale like Robert Arthur’s “The Man Who Went Back to Save Lincoln” or a thriller about a death ray-wielding mad scientist would alternate with more run-of-the-mill crime dramas.
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John P. Milton is a meditation and Qigong instructor, author, and a pioneering environmentalist. He is the founder of Sacred Passage and the Way of Nature. About the book: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385046561/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0385046561&linkCode=as2&tag=tra0c7-20&linkId=268051c278e62f5d26a866d80556fb86
He pioneered vision questing in contemporary Western culture in the 1940s. In 1945, at the time he began his sacred solo retreats in the wilderness, vision quests were unknown in the Americas outside Native American culture. He received his M.S. in ecology and conservation from the University of Michigan in 1963. Milton is also known for organizing and leading dozens of expeditions into some of the wildest areas left on Earth, starting in his late teens. A founding father of the environmental movement in the early 1960s, he was a professor of environmental studies and a Woodrow Wilson Center scholar at the Smithsonian Institution. He was one of the first ecologists on staff at the White House as a member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, and was a founding member of the environmental organization Friends of the Earth.
He is a frequent lecturer and workshop leader, and a pioneering, renowned, and sought-after meditation and Qi Gong teacher. Thousands of people have sought his instruction since he began teaching in the 1950s. He has developed unique practices for uniting inner and outer nature through training in Buddhist, Taoist, Vedantic, Tantric, and Native American spiritual traditions, and he incorporates T’ai chi and yoga in his work. The book Discovering Beautiful: On The Road To Somewhere includes several sections detailing a student’s apprenticeship with John.
John’s work in the world is also featured on the Transition United States web site.
His books and articles focus on inner development, Qi Gong and ecology. He recently published the book Sky Above, Earth Below. Devotees of Milton say his programs inspire Earth stewardship by cultivating natural wisdom and an open, loving heart in the wild.