Joe Medford
Created by Jimmy Starr (1904-90)

JOE MEDFORD is a fast-yapping, skirt-chasing Hollywood newshawk who appeared in three semi-hard-boiled (and increasingly surreal) screwball novels by Hollywood reporter Jimmy Starr in the 1940s.

Joe's your typical fictional reporter of the time: quick to crack wise, and not particularly adverse to playing fast and loose with the facts, if it will help him land the much-desired "scoop."

And I'm not kidding about the surreal bit. Here's Fender Tucker, editor of the recent The Jimmy Starr Omnibus (2011), summarizing the three books:

In The Corpse Came C.O.D. (1944), he tackles the classic "body-in-the-trunk" murder and in Three Short Biers (1945) he encounters the ghastly crime of midgeticide. Three of the little murders, in fact. They will prepare you for the third thriller, Heads You Lose (1950), which challenges the works of Harry Stephen Keeler in the popular "cut-off-the-head-then-sew-it-back-on" oeuvre. As one wag once put it: "It's like Craig Rice meets The Thin Man meets The Front Page."

The first novel in the series was even made it into film, although the nutiness of the book was toned down to focus on the battle between Joe and rival reporter Rosemary Durant (Joan Blondell). The Corpse Came C.O.D. (1947, Columbia) kicks off when Hollywood dress designer Hector Rose is shot and killed and his body is shipped C.O.D. to the home of flaky movie star Mona Harrison (Adele Jergens) who calls on wanna-be suitor Joe Medford (played by George Brent). The screenplay was co-written by Black Mask boy Dwight V. Babcock (Homicide Hannah), and directed by Henry Levin.

Jimmy Starr was himself a Hollywood reporter, best known for his Hollywood expose, 365 Nights in Hollywood (1926). In the thirties, he worked as a screenwriter, and in the forties he became a press agent and columnist, offering up reviews, gossip and insights into the film world, as well as writing the three Joe Medford novels. After retiring from the Hollywood scene, he moved to Phoenix, where he worked for many years as Director of Advertising and Public Relations for Ramada Inn. His name is even dropped in the opening of the film version of The Corpse Came C.O.D., along with those of Heda Hopper and Louella Parsons.

NOVELS

OMNIBUS

  • A Jimmy Starr Omnibus (2011) ...Buy this book
    Includes all three novels.

FILMS

  • THE CORPSE CAME C.O.D
    (1947, Columbia Pictures)
    Based on the novel by Jimmy Starr
    Screenplay by George Bricker and Dwight V. Babcock
    Directed by Henry Levin.
    Starring George Brent as
    JOE MEDFORD
    Also starring Joan Blondell, Adele Jergens, Jim Bannon, Leslie Brooks, John Berks, Grant Mitchell, Marvin Miller, Una OíConnor.

RELATED LINKS

Report submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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