Re: RARA-AVIS: Film noir musical drama?

From: Karin Montin (
Date: 25 Jan 2006

Unfortunately, I missed the program, tuning in just in time to catch the Armenian singer's visit to her ancestral homeland.

Thanks for the rundown on the Dick case, Kerry.


At 04:16 PM 20/01/2006 -0500, Kerry wrote:

>At 03:14 PM 19/01/2006 -0500, Karin wrote:
>>Just got this notice about tonight's program Opening Night. Kind of a
>>strange double-bill.
>>CBC TV Program, Thursday,
>>January 19, 2006, 8:00 p.m.
>>Black Widow/A Long Journey
>>Black Widow
>>A film noir musical drama loosely based on the Evelyn Dick Torso murder
>>case, starring Sarah Slean, Tom McCamus, Mary Margaret O'Hara and Martin
>>Tielli of the Rheostatics.
>So did you watch it? How was it? How "loosely based" on the original story?
>The Evelyn Dick, Torso murder case scandalized Canada immediately after the
>war. She was the daughter of a janitor at the Hamilton Street Railway
>sheds, who had a lucrative if somewhat bulky sideline re-selling used
>streetcar tickets. One of the more recent books about the case suggests
>that he was sexually abusing his daughter as well. Whatever the reason,
>Evelyne was enrolled at the city's top, private, Catholic finishing school,
>straining the financial resources of this Protestant family. Evelyn did not
>fit in with the other girls, and tried buying the affection of a few, to no
>effect. It seems likely she was already turning tricks before graduating.
>But she wasn't working the streets. Within a short time of graduating she
>and her mother were living in a home at least twice the size of the modest
>bungalow where papa still resided, and closer to the downtown action. There
>was another apartment rented, working space, in one of the most
>sought-after rental buildings of the time, surrounded by the even bigger
>homes of the city's industrial and financial establishment. Mom and
>daughter drove from one to the other in a lightly-used Packard. Rumours
>spread that the pretty, nun-educated, just-out-of-school girl was servicing
>the Provinces most elite clientele.
>Papa still had some influence on the family, however, hooking his daughter
>up with John Dick, a Mennonite farm boy from just outside the city, working
>as a streetcar conductor for the HSR. Evelyn quickly married him, possibly
>as cover for her business, possibly for other reasons. Dick misunderstood
>his purpose, loudly protesting that the marriage hadn't been consummated
>and, indeed, that he did not appear to be welcome in her company. Defining
>the term half-smart, Dick began to suspect Evelyn's financial means, and
>took to hiding in the bushes outside her place of business, gathering proof
>of the number of men who went in and out of the building. A short time
>after that Dick's body was found by boys hiking on the top edge of the
>Niagara Escarpment, which bisects the city. Head and limbs were missing.
>Hamilton was an industrial city enjoying the war-time boom, the returning
>soldiers but still small enough that people knew of one another. Everyone
>seemed to know someone who had seen or met Evelyn. My mother, for instance,
>later recalled serving Evelyn Dick at the counter of Kresge's 5&10. Those
>sorts of connections. She was often seen in the company of one of the
>city's top athletes, and sometimes, it was suspected, big-wigs from
>Toronto. Supporting these rumours was the counsel hired to defend Evelyn in
>court. Where did the money come from to hire J.J. Robinette, soon to be the
>country's top defense attorney? The Dick case is said to have vaulted him
>into that status, so maybe he didn't become expensive until after winning
>the case. Evelyn was found not-guilty of the murder of her husband John.
>She did serve time, however. During a search of the house Evelyn shared
>with her mother, police found a suitcase containing the corpse of a
>strangled baby, partially encased in cement.
>After serving her sentence, Evelyn disappeared. Periodically there are
>rumours of her whereabouts. There have been at least two books based on the
>case, a theatrical production (later televised, I think) and now, a
>musical, not to mention careers made and lost.
>It pops up about every five years.
>Literary events Calendar (South Ont.)
>The evil men do lives after them

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