Who Was Mumsie McGonigle?

A typical reaction from anyone who reads Geoffrey Homes’ hard-to-find 1946 novel Build My Gallows High (basis for the film noir Out of the Past) is: how on earth did he come up with a name like Mumsie McGonigle? The short answer is: he didn’t. There was a real Mumsie McGonigle, and she was much in the news in early 1940s Los Angeles. Her story involves depravity and corruption to equal any hardboiled fiction plot.

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A Big Sleep Chronology

The film adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s debut 1939 novel, The Big Sleep, began filming in October 1944 but didn’t begin its run in Los Angeles area theaters until almost two years later, in September 1946. The usual explanation for delay is that World War II was ending soon so the studio held it back in order to rush its war-related films into theaters, and in the interim Lauren Bacall’s bad reviews for Confidential Agent led Warners to reshoot some of her scenes. A closer look at the timeline:

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How the Housing Crisis Brought Down the Gambling Ships

Gambling ships began operating off the Southern California coast regularly in the late 1920s. Local, county, state, and federal authorities tried various means to get them shut down, even dredging up 18th century piracy laws, without any real lasting effect. Earl Warren, as California A.G., successfully raided and closed the last four ships in 1939 and World War II put a damper on any new such ventures starting up. But there was still no state or federal statute outlawing them. Everyone may have thought the era of gambling ships had passed. Everyone except Tony Cornero.
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