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Their Favorite Movies No Longer a Mystery

March 27, 1994|MONICA YANT

The dearth of current mystery movies notwithstanding, popular mystery authors had no trouble naming their favorite mystery movies of all time:

Walter Mosley, creator of detective Easy Rawlins, who appears in "Devil in a Blue Dress," among other books: "The Maltese Falcon"--"Because it's the right blend of noir and comedy."

Marcia Muller, creator of San Francisco gumshoe Sharon McCone, protagonist in "There's Nothing to Be Afraid Of" and other works: "The Big Sleep" (the 1946 original)--"It captured the spirit of the book so very well. The dialogue was practically taken word for word from the novel, and, of course, Chandler's dialogue was so wonderful to begin with. The characters were just like seeing the characters in the book. They came right off the page."

James Lee Burke, creator of Cajun detective Dave Robicheaux, who appears in "Heaven's Prisoners" and other books: "All the Presidents' Men"--"That was an important film because it told the story of people who were in effect trying to steal the Constitution. . . . A film that is called a mystery film is probably not going to be a very good film. Even Hitchcock films, which were often called mysteries, were a lot more than that--they were an investigation into psychological terror. Once you put labels on things, they're no good."

Patricia Cornwell, creator of medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, in "Body of Evidence" and other works: "The Silence of the Lambs"--"Because it faithfully adhered to the novel, and because of the brilliant performances of Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster."

Tony Hillerman, creator of Navajo policeman Jim Chee in novels including "The Dark Wind": "Presumed Innocent"--"I got so totally caught up in both the characters and the plot that when I got to the end and the truth comes out, it just came as a complete surprise--and that's what makes a good mystery."

Jonathan Kellerman, creator of psychologist Alex Delaware, who appears in "Devil's Waltz" and other works: "D.O.A." (the 1949 original)--"It was just a scary and bizarre movie."

Sue Grafton, creator of detective Kinsey Milhone, star of the alphabetized series that includes "J Is for Judgment": "Blade Runner"--"Because it is so atmospheric and has the same sort of 1940s tone that Raymond Chandler evokes in his books."

Ruth Rendell, British mystery writer and creator of the series featuring Chief Inspector Wexford: "Rosemary's Baby"--"For strange reasons. I think it's very well acted; I think there are things in it that are very tantalizing and suspenseful. . . . I like the fact that it is in New York, and I think in a way I deplore it because it's a child they subject to this. It is so exciting, in a way so terrible and so exciting."

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