Best 1937 Adventures (10)

By: Joshua Glenn
May 14, 2017

One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1937 adventure novels. Happy 80th anniversary!

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Cameron McCabe’s crime adventure The Face on the Cutting-Room Floor.

Estella Lamare, an actress, is cut by a movie’s producer; that is to say, her scenes are edited out from the film. Estella herself, meanwhile, is found dead in the studio’s London cutting-room. Although her murder was filmed by an automatic camera, the evidence has vanished. The investigation ranges across the city; jazz music is frequently and lyrically described. The novel’s principal character is named Cameron McCabe (which is also the author’s name). A Scotland Yard detective shows up, and the novel becomes an exercise in subjectivity as the two men joust over their different perceptions of the same event. The concluding section of the book is an epilogue commenting on the novel’s literary qualities, which range from hardboiled genre writing to stream of consciousness passages a la Hemingway or Joyce.

Fun fact: “Cameron McCabe” was actually Ernest Borneman, a 22-year-old communist refugee from Nazi Germany. He worked as a film editor, was well-acquainted with Bertolt Brecht’s alienation techniques, and particularly admired American crime fiction. The Face on the Cutting-Room Floor has been described as an “extraordinary work of [proto-]postmodern fakery.”

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Let me know if I’ve missed any 1937 adventures that you particularly admire. Also, please check out these additional lists. The 200 Greatest Adventure Novels of All Time. THE OUGHTS (1904–13): 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912. THE TEENS (1914–23): 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922. THE TWENTIES (1924–33): 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932. THE THIRTIES (1934–43): 1935 | 1936 | 1937 | 1940 | 1941 | 1942. THE FORTIES (1944–53): 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1950 | 1951 | 1952. THE FIFTIES (1954–63): 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1960 | 1961 | 1962. THE SIXTIES (1964–73): 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1970 | 1971 | 1972. THE SEVENTIES (1974–83): 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982. The goal, eventually, is to publish a Top 10 Adventures list for every year of the 20th century.

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Adventure, Lit Lists

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