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James M. Cain

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books by James M. Cain

movies & TV

works about James M. Cain

friends & family


          James Mallahan Cain was born 1 July 1892 in Annapolis, Maryland. He inherited a love for music from his opera-trained mother, but lacked the voice for an opera career. He graduated from Washington College (where his father was president) in 1910, and took a job as a reporter at the Baltimore Sun newspaper. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent a year in France writing for an Army magazine. After the war, he wrote for the New York World newspaper and H.L. Mencken's American Mercury magazine, and briefly served as the managing editor of The New Yorker magazine.
          His newspaper work attracted attention in Hollywood, and in 1931 he was hired as a screenwriter at Paramount Pictures, followed by stints at Columbia Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, United Artists, and Warner Bros..

          His first novella "The Postman Always Rings Twice" [1934] was an immediate bestseller, then an unsuccessful Broadway stageplay. "Double Indemnrity" was published two years later in Liberty Magazine; "Mildred Pierce" was published in 1941 – his three major works were published in seven years time. Though he wrote & published until his death in 1985, he did not repeat that level of success.

          James M. Cain had four wives and no children. Though he disliked the terms 'noir' and 'hard-boiled', he is known for his part in the creation of those two genres of crime fiction.

James M. Cain entry at Wikipedia
James M. Cain credits [since 1934] at Internet Movie Database

Works About James M. Cain

James M. Cain bio by Roy Hoopes  "Cain: The Biography of James M. Cain" [1982]
by Roy Hoopes

SIU Press 9¼x6 hardcovor [12/87] out of print/used
Henry Holt hardcovor [9/82] out of print/used
American Roman Noir   "The American Roman Noir: Hammett, Cain, & Chandler" [1995]
by William Marling

Univ GA Press 8.6x5.6 pb [10/98] for $12.60
Univ GA Press hardcover [2/95] out of print/used
BlackHat Mystery Bookstore's Raymond Chandler [1888-1959] Page
BlackHat Mystery Bookstore's Dashiell Hammett [1894-1961] Page
Our Man In Washington  "Our Man In Washington" [2000]
by Roy Hoopes

A mystery novel by Cain biographer Hoopes, about real-life pals James M. Cain and Baltimore journalist H.L. Mencken in the 1920s.
Forge pb [10/2001] out of print/used
Forge hardcover [9/2000] out of print/used

Books by James M. Cain
{ in alphabetical order }

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Baby In The Icebox" [stories 1981]
filmed as "She Made Her Bed" [1934] {see below}

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Butterfly" [1947]
filmed by Matt Cimber in 1947 {see below}

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Career In C Major and Other Stories" [1943]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Cloud Nine" [1983]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Cocktail Waitress" [2012]  
 book by   Recently-discovered unfinished novel, edited by Charles Ardai; after her abusive husband dies in a car accident, a beautiful widow and mother takes a job as a cocktail waitress where she meets a handsome young schemer who makes her blood race and an unwell old man with lots of money.
Kindle Edition from Hard Case Crime [9/2012] for $10.19
Hard Case Crime 9¼x6 hardcover [9/2012] for $13.58

"Double Indemnity"
An insurance salesman plots with a beautiful client to murder her elderly husband for the insurance.
But a company investigator suspects foul play, the old man's daughter accuses the woman of
murdering her mother in order to marry her father, and suddenly the salesman fears a double cross.
Double Indemnity novella by James M. Cain  
serialized in Liberty Magazine in 1936; book form 1943
Vintage 8x5¼ pb [5/89] for $8.76
Amereon 9x6¼ hardcover [9/96] out of print/rare
Caedmon UNABR audio CD [5/2005] for $29.95
★    ★

Double Indemnity movie poster  Paramount feature film [Sept 1944]
11"x17" poster available at
Co-written & directed by Billy Wilder; script co-written by Raymond Chandler [1888-1959] from Cain's 1936 novel; starring Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Tom Powers & Edward G. Robinson; seven Oscar noms for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Script, Best Actress [BS], Best Cinematography, Best Music Score, Best Sound; listed on National Film Registry 1992
not available on Region 1 Blu-ray
Universal Studios b&w DVD [8/2006] 2 disks for $22.50
Universal Studios b&w DVD/digital combo [8/2012] for $12.99
Universal DVD includes docufilm, commentaries & 1973 TV version
Image Ent b&w DVD [10/2000] for $34.95
Universal b&w VHS [4/98] for $6.55
full credits on IMDbmovie entry at Wikipedia

DI script  

"Double Indemnity" script by Billy Wilder & Raymond Chandler
Univ CA Press 9x6 pb [12/2000] for $11.17

critical textbook [1992] by Richard Schickel
B.F.I. 7½x5¼ pb [9/92] for $10.46

★    ★

"Double Indemnity" A.B.C. tv movie [1973]
Directed by Jack Smight; starring Richard Crenna, Lee J. Cobb, Samantha Eggar & Robert Webber
available on 2006 DVD above; full credits from IMDb

"The Embezzler" [first published as "Money and The Woman"
in Liberty Magazine in 1938; book form 1944]
filmed as "Money and The Woman" [1940] {see below}

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Enchanted Isle" [1985]
filmed as "Girl In The Cadillac" [1995] {see below}

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Galatea" [1953]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Institute" [1976]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Jealous Woman" [1950]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Love's Lovely Counterfeit" [1942]
filmed as "Slightly Scarlet" [1956] by Allen Dwan {see below}

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Magician's Wife" [1965]

"Mildred Pierce"
Partly inspired by the life of his friend Kate Cummings, mother of actress Constance Cummings; set in Depression-
Glendale, California. A housewife gets rid of her unemployed, cheating husband and fends for herself and her
two daughters, all the while worrying that people - and especially her oldest daughter - will see Mildred as settling
below her station in life. Mildred's job as a waitress leads to success with several restaurants and a pie factory,
but the daughter still acts out her contempt for people who work for a living. The murder, blackmail, and larceny
elements of the 1945 movie were added by producer Jerry Wald and director Michael Curtiz.

Mildred Pierce novel by James M. Cain  
1941 novel
Kindle Edition from Random House Digital [12/2010] for $10.99
Vintage/Black Lizard movie tie-in 7¾x5 pb [3/2011] for $9.95
Impress Mystery 8½x5½ hardcover [2003] out of print/used
book entry at Wikipedia
Mildred Pierce 1945 movie directed by Michael Curtiz & starring Joan Crawford  "Mildred Pierce" feature film [Warner Bros. Oct 1945]
Directed by Michael Curtiz; based on the novel by James M. Cain, starring Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth, Zachary Scott, Jack Carson, Eve Arden, Bruce Bennett & Lee Patrick; Crawford won Best Actress Oscar • full credits at IMDb
Warner Home Video keepcase b&w DVD [6/2005] for $16.99
Warner Home Video snapcase b&w DVD [2/2003] out of prodn/used
both DVDs include T.C.M. documentary "Joan Crawford: The Ultimate Movie Star"
M.G.M. Video b&w VHS [11/94] for $9.74
11"x17" red-white poster available for $12.49 at

"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast 60-minute radio adaptations on 6 June 1949 and 14 July 1954,
with Zachary Scott reprising his film role

★    ★

Mildred Pierced mystery novel co-starring Joan Crawford  "Mildred Pierced" mystery novel [2003]
by Stuart M. Kaminsky [1934-2009]

Set in June 1944; actress Joan Crawford witnesses the killing of a woman by a bolt from a crossbow; about to start the filming of "Mildred Pierce" at Warner Bros. Studios, she hires Hollywood private detective Toby Peters to keep her name out of the case; then Toby discovers that the victim is his office landlord's wife ...
Carroll & Graf 9½x6¼ hardcover [6/2003] out of print/many used
★    ★

"Mildred Pierce" 5-part miniseries [H.B.O. March 2011]
Mildred Pierce 5-part miniseries from H.B.O.  Adapted from the original novel, omitting the murder/blackmail elements added to the 1945 film.
Co-adapted & directed by Todd Haynes; based on the novel by James M. Cain; starring Kate Winslet, Guy Pearce, Evan Rachel Wood, Melissa Leo, Quinn McColgan, Mare Winningham, James LeGros, Brían F. O'Byrne & Hope Davis
DVD/Blu-ray not yet available
full credits at IMDbofficial series siteseries entry at Wikipedia

"Mignon" [1962]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Moth" [1948]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Our Government" [1930]
Our Government book by James M. Cain  a collection of satirical sketches from American Mercury
& New York World Sunday
Alfred A. Knopf hardcover [1930] out of print/used
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Past All Dishonor" [1946]

"The Postman Always Rings Twice"
A drifter is hired as handyman by the middle-aged proprietor of a roadside restaurant/gas station. He begins
an affair with the owner's beautiful & unsatisfied wife, and then they plot the murder of the old man.
The Postman Always Rings Twice novel by James M. Cain  
1934 novel
Vintage 8x5¼ pb [5/89] for $8.76
Otto Penzler hardcover [7/96] for $39.95
Caedmon UNABR audio CD [3/2005] for $15.61
1936 Broadway play: credits at Internet Broadway Database
Le Dernier Tournant poster  "Le Dernier Tournant" feature film [France May 1939]
Directed by Pierre Chenal; starring Michel Simon, Fernand Gravey, Corinne Luchaire, Marcel Vallée, Florence Marly & Robert Le Vigan
video/DVD not available; full credits from IMDb
Ossessione 1943 Italian film  "Ossessione" Italian-language b&w feature film
[Italy May 1943, USA Oct 1976]

Co-written & directed by Luchino Visconti; starring Clara Calamai, Massimo Girotti, Dhia Cristiani, Elio Marcuzzo, Michele Riccardini & Juan de Landa
Image Ent. b&w DVD [7/2002] for $22.99
Xenon b&w VHS [2/2002] out of prodn/used
full credits from IMDb
Postman Always Rings Twice 1946 movie poster  b&w feature film [M.G.M. May 1946]
Directed by Tay Garnett; starring John Garfield, Lana Turner, Cecil Kellaway, Hume Cronyn, Leon Ames & Audrey Totter
Warner b&w DVD [1/2004] for $17.99
M.G.M. b&w VHS [6/96] out of prodn/used
full credits from IMDb
11"x17" poster from Amazon for $9.99
Postman Rings Twice 1981 movie  color remake [Lorimar/Northstar March 1981]
Produced & directed by Bob Rafelson; script by David Mamet; cinematography by Sven Nykvist; starring Jack Nicholson, Jessica Lange, John Colicos, Michael Lerner, John P. Ryan, Anjelica Huston & William Traylor
Warner color DVD [8/97] for $9.98
Warner color VHS [1/93] out of prodn/used
full credits from IMDb
11"x17" poster from Amazon for $9.99

"Rainbow's End" [1975]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Root of His Evil" {aka "Shameless"} [1951]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Serenade" [1937]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Sinful Woman" [1948]

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Tales For Males stories  "Tales For Males: Selected For Man's Enjoyment" [1945]
Edited by Ed Fitzgerald

Cadillac Publng hardcover [1/45] out of print/rare
stories by Konrad Bercovici, James M. Cain, Morley Callaghan, George S. Chappell, John Collier, Clarence Day Jr., John Fante, W.C. Fields, Corey Ford, Benjamin Franklin, C.A. Hamilton, Fred C. Kelly, Arthur Kober, Ring Lardner, Dorothy Parker, William Saroyan, Bernard Sobel, Donald Ogden Stewart, Frank Sullivan, James Thurber, George Weller, and others

M o v i e s
James M. Cain credits [since 1934] at Internet Movie Database

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"She Made Her Bed" [Paramount 1934] /tt0025775/
Directed by Ralph Murphy, based on short story "The Baby In The Icebox"

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Blockade" [dialogue; United Artists 1938] /tt0029924/
Directed by William Dieterle; starring Madeleine Carroll & Henry Fonda

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Algiers" [dialogue; United Artists 1938] /tt0029855/
Directed by John Cromwell; starring Charles Boyer & Hedy Lamarr

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Stand Up and Fight" [M.G.M. 1939] /tt0031972/
Directed by W.S. Van Dyke; starring Wallace Beery, Robert Taylor & Florence Rice

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Wife, Husband and Friend" [Fox March 1939] /tt0032128/D
irected by Gregory Ratoff; starring Loretta Young, Warner Baxter & Binnie Barnes

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Le Dernier Tournant" [France May 1939]
based on "The Postman Always Rings Twice" {see above}

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"When Tomorrow Comes" (Universal Aug 1939) /tt0032124/
based on Cain's story "A Modern Cinderella"; starring Irene Dunne & Charles Boyer

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Money and The Woman" [Warner Bros. Aug 1940] /tt0032806/
based on Cain's 1938 novel

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Ossessione" [Italy 1943]
Directed by Luchino Visconti; based on "The Postman Always Rings Twice" {see above}

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Gypsy Wildcat" (Universal Aug 1944) /tt0036890/
starring Maria Montez, Jon Hall, Douglass Dumbrille, Peter Coe & Nigel Bruce

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Double Indemnity" [Paramount Sept 1944] {see above}
Directed by Billy Wilder, starring Fred MacMurray & Barbara Stanwyck

"Mildred Pierce" [Warner Bros. Oct 1945] {see above}
Directed by Michael Curtiz; starring Joan Crawford, Ann Blyth & Zachary Scott

"The Postman Always Rings Twice" [M.G.M. May 1946] {see above}
Directed by Tay Garnett; starring John Garfield & Lana Turner

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Everybody Does It" (Fox Oct 1949) /tt0041341/
Directed by Edmund Goulding; based on a James M. Cain story; starring Paul Douglas & Linda Darnell

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Serenade" [1956] filmed by Anthony Mann

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Slightly Scarlet" [1956]
filmed by Allan Dwan; based on the 1942 novel "Love's Lovely Counterfeit"

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Interlude" [1957] directed by Douglas Sirk

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Double Indemnity" [ABC-TV 1973] {see above}

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Postman Always Rings Twice" Lorimar/Northstar March 1981] {see above}
Directed by Bob Rafelson; starring Jack Nicholson & Jessica Lange

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Butterfly" [1982]
based on Cain's 1947 novel; filmed by Matt Cimber

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Girl In The Cadillac" [1995]
filmed by Lucas Platt, based on the 1985 novel "The Enchanted Isle"

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"Mildred Pierce" [2011 HBO-TV] {see above}
Directed by Todd Haynes, starring Kate Winslet

Friends & Family

father James W. Cain []
mother Rose Cain [1862-?]
four younger siblings

first wife Mary Clough Cain [], married 1919, divorced 1927

second wife Elina Sjösted Tyszecka Cain [] married 1927, divorced 1942

friend Kate Logan Cummings Halverstadt in Hollywood, circa 1940

third wife film actress Aileen Bisbee Pringle Cain [1895-1989] married 1944, bitter divorce 1946

fourth wife retired opera singer Florence Macbeth Cain [-1966] married xx, died 1966

mentor & friend H.L. Mencken [1880-1956]

cover of Manhunt Detective Story Monthly of May 1953 with James M. Cain short story            cover of Manhunt Detective Story Monthly of August 1953 with James M. Cain short story

L i n k s
James M. Cain entry at Wikipedia
browse James M. Cain Store at Amazon
James M. Cain credits [since 1934] at Internet Movie Database

'Dark City' James M. Cain fansite

here on Blackhat Mystery Bookstore's James M. Cain [1892-1977] Page

top of pageshort profilebooks by James M. Cainmovies & TV

works about James M. Cainfriends & familylinks

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