Thursday, September 03, 2015

Cornell Woolrich's "It Had to Be Murder" and Hal Jeffries

I read Cornell Woolrich's short story "It Had to Be Murder" yesterday due to my book project on books (and seemingly short stories also) that were filmed. Woolrich's story (that, by the way, doesn't differ so much from Hitchcock's subsequent film Rear Window as is usually thought) was published in Dime Detective in February, 1942. It features Hal Jeffries (L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries in the film) as the hero, stuck in a wheelchair just like James Stewart in the film. Stewart's Jeffries is a photographer, but Woolrich doesn't give his hero any professional traits, but he knows the police and the lieutenant is his personal friend. The ending climax is a bit different from the film, as Jeffries of the short story doesn't have the photographic equipment Stewart uses in the film to distract Raymond Burr's Thorwald. One notable difference: Jeffries's hired help is an African-American man, not Thelma Ritter of the film.

I just got to thinking Woolrich may have written more stories that feature Hal Jeffries. There's something about the story to make me think he was familiar to the readers of Dime Detective. I can't find any info on this, however. There's no Hal Jeffries in the series index at the Crime, Mystery, & Gangster Fiction Magazine Index, so I'm must surely wrong, but I'd really appreciate if someone could confirm.

3 comments:

Todd Mason said...

Barry Malzberg is on Rara-Avis as well as FM, and Francis Nevins can be reached through MYSTERY*FILE...

Juri Nummelin said...

Thanks, posted a question on FM.

Juri Nummelin said...

Convinced by the comments on FM that Hal Jeffries never appeared in another story.