Philip MacDonald: British writer (1900 - 1980) | Biography
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Philip MacDonald
British writer

Philip MacDonald

Philip MacDonald
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro British writer
A.K.A. Phillip MacDonald
Was Writer Screenwriter Playwright
From United Kingdom
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio Literature
Gender male
Birth 5 November 1900, London
Death 10 December 1980, Woodland Hills (aged 80 years)
The details (from wikipedia)


Philip MacDonald (5 November 1900, London – 10 December 1980, Woodland Hills, California) was an English author of thrillers.

Life and work

MacDonald was the grandson of the writer George MacDonald and son of the author Ronald MacDonald and the actress Constance Robertson. During World War I he served with the British cavalry in Mesopotamia, later trained horses for the army, and was a show jumper. He also raised Great Danes. After marrying the writer F. Ruth Howard, he moved to Hollywood in 1931. He was one of the most popular mystery writers of the 1930s, and between 1931 and 1963 wrote many screenplays along with a few radio and television scripts.

His detective novels, particularly those featuring his series detective Anthony Gethryn, are primarily "whodunnits" with the occasional locked room mystery. His novel X v. Rex (1933), aka The Mystery of The Dead Police, is an early example of what has become known as a serial killer novel (before the term "serial killer" was coined), in which an insane murderer is killing police officers one after the other. Perhaps his best-known novel is The List of Adrian Messenger.

His work in screenwriting included not only screenplays based on his own works (such as The Mystery of Mr. X in 1934, Who Killed John Savage? in 1937, based on The Rynox Mystery, and many others) but also original stories and screenplays for series characters such as Charlie Chan (Charlie Chan in London, 1934, and Charlie Chan in Paris, 1935) and Mr. Moto (Mysterious Mr. Moto in 1938, Mr. Moto's Last Warning and Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation in 1939). He did not receive any screen credit for his work in adapting Bride of Frankenstein. He adapted a story written by Agatha Christie for the movie Love From A Stranger (1947). MacDonald and Michael Hogan adapted the novel Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, from which Robert E. Sherwood and Joan Harrison created the screenplay for Rebecca, the 1940 film. Sherwood and Harrison were nominated for an Academy Award.

In later years MacDonald wrote television scripts for Alfred Hitchcock Presents ("Malice Domestic", 1957) and Perry Mason ("The Case of the Terrified Typist", 1958).

His novel Patrol was issued as one of the first twenty Penguin Books, and, as "W.J. Stuart", he wrote the novelisation of the 1956 science fiction film Forbidden Planet. MacDonald also infrequently dabbled in science fiction under his own name, writing four SF short stories over a span of decades; despite his meagre science fiction output, two of MacDonald's SF short stores (1931's "Our Feathered Friends" and 1949's "Private - Keep Out!") are frequently anthologized.

MacDonald twice received an Edgar Award for Best Short Story: in 1953, for "Something to Hide", and in 1956, for "Dream No More".

Bibliography of works by Philip MacDonald

  • The Rasp (1924)
  • Queen's Mate (1926)
  • Patrol (a.k.a. The Lost Patrol) (1927)
  • The White Crow (1928)
  • Likeness of Exe (1929)
  • The Noose (1930)
  • The Link (1930)
  • Rynox (1930) (a.k.a. The Rynox Murder Mystery, The Rynox Mystery, The Rynox Murder)
  • The Choice (a.k.a. The Polferry Mystery and The Polferry Riddle) (1931)
  • The Crime Conductor (1931)
  • Murder Gone Mad (1931)
  • The Wraith (1931)
  • The Maze (a.k.a. Persons Unknown) (1932)
  • Rope to Spare (1932)
  • Death on My Left (1933)
  • R.I.P. (a.k.a. Menace) (1933)
  • The Nursemaid Who Disappeared (a.k.a. Warrant for X) (1938)
  • The Dark Wheel (a.k.a. Sweet and Deadly) with A. Boyd Correll (1948)
  • Something to Hide (a.k.a. Fingers of Fear) (1952)
  • The Man out of the Rain (1955)
  • Guest in the House (a.k.a. No Time for Terror) (1955)
  • The List of Adrian Messenger (1959)
  • Death & Chicanery (1962)

As Oliver Fleming

  • Ambrotox and Limping Dick (1920), with Ronald MacDonald
  • The Spandau Quid (1923), with Ronald MacDonald

As Anthony Lawless

  • Harbour (1931)
  • Moonfisher (1931)

As Martin Porlock

  • Mystery at Friar's Pardon (1931)
  • Mystery in Kensington Gore (1932) (a.k.a. Escape)
  • X v. Rex (1933) (a.k.a. The Mystery of Mr. X and Mystery of the Dead Police) (Later republished as Mystery of the Dead Police by Philip MacDonald as Pocket Books #70, 1940)

As W. J. Stuart

  • Forbidden Planet (1956)

As Warren Stuart

  • The Sword and the Net (1941)
  • Hubin, Allen J., Crime Fiction, 1749-1980: A Comprehensive Bibliography. New York/London, Garland Publishing, 1984. ISBN 0-8240-9219-8
  • "Discovered: An previously unknown novel by PHILIP MacDONALD," on Mystery*File

Films based on works by MacDonald

  • 1929 - Lost Patrol (the novel Patrol), directed by Walter Summers
  • 1932 - The Rasp, directed by Michael Powell
  • 1932 - Rynox, directed by Michael Powell
  • 1934 - The Lost Patrol (the novel Patrol), directed by John Ford
  • 1934 - The Mystery of Mr. X (the novel X v. Rex), directed by Edgar Selwyn
  • 1937 - Who Killed John Savage? (the novel Rynox), directed by Maurice Elvey
  • 1939 - A Gentleman's Gentleman (the play), directed by Roy William Neill
  • 1939 - Le Collier de Chanvre (the novel Rope to Spare), directed by Léon Mathot
  • 1939 - The Nursemaid Who Disappeared (the novel Warrant for X), directed by Arthur B. Woods
  • 1942 - Nightmare, directed by Tim Whelan
  • 1942 - Dangerous Intruder, directed by Vernon Keays
  • 1951 - Circle of Danger, directed by Jacques Tourneur
  • 1952 - The Hour of 13 (the novel X v. Rex), directed by Harold French
  • 1956 - 23 Paces to Baker Street (the novel Warrant for X), directed by Henry Hathaway
  • 1963 - The List of Adrian Messenger, directed by John Huston

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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