Crime Fiction Studies: Cornell Woolrich Issue

Crime Fiction Studies cover art v4 n1 2023

Crime Fiction Studies v4n1

Cornell Woolrich and Transmedia Noir

Thanks Rob King for editing the collection which puts together a variety of topics, My essay:

Transforming Black Alibi‘s Jaguar into The Leopard Man

K. A. Laity

4(1), pp. 62–77

Abstract | Full Text | References | PDF/EPUB

If your library doesn’t have access, let me know and I can get a copy of my piece to you. More people need to know about Ardel Wray!


Woolrich’s 1942 novel Black Alibi takes place in South America and offers up a series of suspenseful vignettes following women destined for bloody deaths. The alibi for the killer is that everyone assumes the murders to be the work of an escaped black jaguar. The set pieces offer mini-portraits of the doomed women that encourage our identification with them as individuals, the better to mourn their fate. Woolrich has far less interest in the identity of the person behind the murders than in a final plunge through the old Inquisition dungeons where the killer lurks. The 1943 film adaptation The Leopard Man, directed by Jacques Tourneur and produced by Val Lewton, offers an opportunity to once more use the black leopard Dynamite familiar to audiences from Cat People (1942). The narrative moves to New Mexico and the script by Ardel Wray highlights how human evil hides behind an animal mask. Woolrich focuses on the shadowing contrast between dark and light, on shapes and repeating motifs, to give an impression of almost surreal images. Wray’s script borrows much from the novel to visualise the action of the film.