James M. Cain
James M. Cain
James M. Cain in 1938
|Born||James Mallahan Cain|
July 1, 1892
Annapolis, Maryland, United States
|Died||October 27, 1977 (aged 85)|
University Park, Maryland, United States
|Alma mater||Washington College|
|Spouse||married four times|
James Mallahan Cain (July 1, 1892 – October 27, 1977) was an American author and journalist. Cain vehemently opposed labeling, but he is usually associated with the hardboiled school of American crime fiction and is seen as one of the creators of the roman noir. Several of his crime novels inspired successful movies.
Cain was born into an Irish Catholic family in Annapolis, Maryland. The son of an educator and a failed opera singer, he inherited a love of music from his mother, but his hopes of a career as a singer were thwarted when she told him that his voice was not good enough. The family moved to Chestertown, Maryland, in 1903. In 1910, Cain graduated from Washington College, where his father, James W. Cain, served as president. By 1914, Cain had decided to become a writer. He began working as a journalist for the Baltimore American and then the Baltimore Sun.
Upon returning to the United States, Cain continued working as a journalist, writing editorials for the New York World and a play, a short story, and satirical pieces for American Mercury. He briefly served as the managing editor of The New Yorker and later worked mainly on screenplays and novels.
Cain made use of his love of music, particularly the opera, in at least three of his novels: Serenade, about an American opera singer who loses his voice and, after spending part of his life south of the border, re-enters the United States illegally with a Mexican prostitute; Mildred Pierce, in which, as part of the subplot, the surviving 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. In his novel The Moth, music is important in the life of the main character. Cain's fourth wife, Florence Macbeth, was a retired opera singer.
Cain spent many years in Hollywood working on screenplays, but his name appears as a screenwriter in the credits of only two films: Stand Up and Fight (1939) and Gypsy Wildcat (1944), for which he is one of three credited screenwriters. For Algiers (1938) Cain received a credit for "additional dialogue", and he had story credits for other films.
American Authors' Authority
In 1946, Cain wrote four articles for Screen Writer magazine in which he proposed the creation of an "American Authors' Authority" to hold writers' copyrights and represent 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. James T. Farrell was the foremost of these opponents. The Saturday Review printed a debate between Cain and Farrell in November 1946. Farrell argued that the commercial Hollywood writers would control the market and keep out independents. "This idea is stamped in the crude conceptions of the artist which Mr. Cain holds, the notion that the artist is a kind of idiot who thinks that he is a God, but who has only the defects and none of the virtues of a God.” In his reply, Cain argued that his opponents understood the issue incorrectly as freedom versus control. It is fear of reprisals from publishers, Cain said, that is the real cause of opposition from well-to-do writers.
Cain was married to Mary Clough in 1919. That marriage ended in divorce, and he soon married Elina Sjösted Tyszecka. Cain never had any children of his own, but he was close to Elina's two children from a previous marriage. In 1944, Cain married the film actress Aileen Pringle, but the marriage was a tempestuous union and dissolved in a bitter divorce two years later. His fourth marriage, to Florence Macbeth, lasted until her death in 1966.
Cain continued writing up to his death, at the age of 85. He published many novels from the late 1940s onward, but none achieved the financial and popular success of his earlier books.
Preface to Double Indemnity
Novels and novellas
(with the dates of the first book publication)
- The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934)
- Serenade (1937)
- Mildred Pierce (1941)
- Love's Lovely Counterfeit (1942)
- Three of a Kind (1943) contained three novellas - Career in C Major; Double Indemnity (first published in Liberty magazine, 1936); The Embezzler (first published as Money and the Woman, in Liberty magazine, 1938)
- Past All Dishonor (1946)
- The Butterfly (1947)
- The Moth (1948)
- Sinful Woman (1948)
- Jealous Woman (1950)
- The Root of His Evil (1951), also published as Shameless
- Galatea (1953)
- Mignon (1962)
- The Magician's Wife (1965)
- Rainbow's End (1975)
- The Institute (1976)
- Cloud Nine (1984)
- The Enchanted Isle (1985)
- The Cocktail Waitress (edited by Charles Ardai, 2012)
The Postman Always Rings Twice was published as an Armed Services Edition during WWII, as was Three of a Kind. (The Armed Services Edition of Three of a Kind was published under the title Double Indemnity.)
Short story collections
- Our Government (1930)
- Career in C Major and Other Fiction (1986)
- The Baby in the Icebox (1981)
The following films were adapted from Cain's novels, screenplays and stories.
- Hot Saturday (1932), uncredited contribution to the script
- She Made Her Bed (U.S., 1934), directed by Ralph Murphy, based on the story "The Baby in the Icebox"
- Dr. Socrates (1935), uncredited contribution to the script
- Algiers (1938), screenplay
- Stand Up and Fight (1939), screenplay
- Wife, Husband and Friend (U.S., 1939), directed by Gregory Ratoff, based on the story "Two Can Sing" (also known as "Career in C Major")
- Le Dernier tournant (France, 1939), directed by Pierre Chenal, based on the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice
- When Tomorrow Comes (The Modern Cinderella in some publicity material) (U.S., 1939), directed by John M. Stahl, based on the novel The Root of His Evil
- Money and the Woman (1940), based on his magazine serial "The Embezzler", published in Three of a Kind
- The Shanghai Gesture (1941), uncredited contribution to the script
- Ossessione (Italy, 1943), directed by Luchino Visconti, based on the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice (uncredited)
- The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1943), uncredited contribution to the script
- Double Indemnity (U.S., 1944), directed by Billy Wilder, based on the magazine serial included in Three of a Kind
- Gypsy Wildcat (U.S., 1944), an original script
- Mildred Pierce (U.S., 1945), directed by Michael Curtiz
- The Postman Always Rings Twice (U.S., 1946), directed by Tay Garnett
- Out of the Past (1947), directed by Jacques Tourneur, based on the Daniel Mainwaring (writing as Geoffrey Homes) novel "Build My Gallows High". Script by Mainwaring with uncredited revisions from Cain and Frank Fenton
- Everybody Does It (U.S., 1949), directed by Edmund Goulding, based on the story "Two Can Sing" (also known as "Career in C Major"), remake of Wife, Husband and Friend
- Slightly Scarlet (U.S., 1956), directed by Allan Dwan, based on the novel Love's Lovely Counterfeit
- Serenade (U.S, 1956), directed by Anthony Mann
- Interlude (U.S., 1957), directed by Douglas Sirk, based on the novel The Root of His Evil
- Interlude (U.S., 1968), directed by Kevin Billington
- Double Indemnity (1973), TV film based on the novel
- The Postman Always Rings Twice (U.S., 1981), directed by Bob Rafelson
- Butterfly (U.S., 1982), directed by Matt Cimber
- Girl in the Cadillac (U.S., 1995), directed by Lucas Platt, based on the novel The Enchanted Isle
- Szenvedély (Hungary, 1997), directed by Fehér György, based on the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice
- Jerichow (Germany, 2008), directed by Christian Petzold, based on the novel The Postman Always Rings Twice
- Mildred Pierce (U.S., 2011), directed by Todd Haynes
- See Cain, James M., "Tribute to a Hero," in The American Mercury, November 1933, at p. 280.
- Madden (2011), pp. xix–xx.
- Mallory, Mary; Hollywood Heritage (2011). Hollywoodland, p. 106. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-7478-3.
- Madden (2011), pp. 24–25.
- West, James L. W. (1990). American Authors and the Literary Marketplace Since 1900. University of Pennsylvania Press. pp. 14–15. ISBN 0-8122-1330-0.
- Fine, Richard (1992). James M. Cain and the American Authors' Authority. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-74024-7.
- Hoopes, Roy (1982). Cain. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. ISBN 0-03-049331-5.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
- Christian DuChateau. "Long-lost noir masterpiece finally found". CNN. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
- Madden (2011), p. 141
This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (November 2008) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- Madden, David & Mecholsky, Kristopher (2011). James M. Cain: Hard-Boiled Mythmaker, Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8108-8118-7
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to James M. Cain.|
- "James M. Cain". Hard-Boiled Books: Four crime writers from Maryland. University of Maryland Special Collections. Archived from the original on August 20, 2012. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
- David Zinsser (Spring–Summer 1978). "James M. Cain, The Art of Fiction No. 69". Paris Review.
- Bibliography and reviews
- Two essays on Cain by William Marling
- James M. Cain on IMDb