Slim Callaghan

Created by Peter Cheyney
(1896-1951)

Hard-boiled (some would argue over-boiled), bull-in-a-china-shop SLIM CALLAGHAN, prone to lying to just about anyone about just about anything, is–after Lemmy Caution–the most famous of Cheyney’s tough guys. Unlike Lemmy, readers are mercifully spared the ersatz Americanisms–Slim is an English tough guy, a private eye working in England.

Anthony Boucher even tagged him “the Sam Spade of London” and ranked Farewell to the Admiral as “fair ersatz Hammett.”

I’m not convinced. Sure, Slim’s still one tough bloke, a nasty bit of goods. Compared to Caution, Slim’s slightly more polished, although he’s still such an obnoxiously crude caricature of a brash, hard-boiled tough guy, he’s still hard to swallow. He’s no Sam Spade in my book.

Then again, what do I know? Boucher’s considered the ne plus ultra of crime fiction critics, and then there’s Gary Warren Niebuhr, a guy almost as obsessed as I am with private eyes, who cited The Urgent Hangman as one of the twenty-one classics in his A Reader’s Guide To Private Eye Novels. Which is pretty high praise, indeed. Although he doesn’t exactly say why he thinks it’s one of the twenty-one classics of the genre.

Still, Cheyney was immensely popular, particularly in England and Europe. He made it into half a dozen films, some of them in French. His rougher edges were generally toned down for his film appearances, and Uneasy Terms, a 1948 British flick, in particular is quite effective, with Michael Rennie as Slim, who agrees to meet a prospective client and is subsequently drugged.

Cheyney seemed to know what his fans wanted, and wasn’t shy about giving them what they wanted. Incredibly prolific, he churned out a steady stream of books and short stories. He also created private eyes Nicholas Gale, Terence O’Day, Johnny Vallon and Carlyl O’Hara, and, of course, FBI agent/thug Lemmy Caution.

 

UNDER OATH

  • “Slim Callaghan’s quick wit and knowledge of rough and tumble place him in the top ranks of private eyes. What a man!”
    — The New York Times Book Review

SHORT STORIES

  • “Account Rendered”
  • “At the Grape-Vine”
  • “The Big Bluff”
  • “Birthday for Callaghan”
  • “Black-Out”
  • “Callaghan Plus Cupid”
  • “The Callaghan Touch”
  • “Christmas for Callaghan”
  • “Dance Without Music” (possibly originally a Caryl O’Hara story)
  • “The Date After Dark”
  • “The Dencourt Stiletto”
  • “The Disappearing Diamonds”
  • “Documentary Evidence”
  • “Double Alibi”
  • “Fifth Column”
  • “The Guess Comes Off”
  • “In the Bag”
  • “In the Hall”
  • “It Comes Off Sometimes”
  • “It Runs in the Family”
  • “Lady in Love”
  • “The Lady in Tears”
  • “The Man with Two Wives”
  • “A Matter of Cooperation”
  • “The Missing Bullet”
  • “Murder with a Twist”
  • “On the Cards”
  • “A Spot of Murder”
  • “The Telephone Talks”
  • “They Kidnapped Cecelia”
  • “Vengeance with a Twist”
  • “You Can’t Trust Duchesses

NOVELS

COLLECTIONS

  • Mr. Caution-Mr. Callaghan (1941; contains 12 Callaghan stories, also features Lemmy Caution)
  • Calling Mr. Callaghan (1943)
  • Making Crime Pay (1944; contains 3 Callaghan stories)
  • A Spot of Murder and Other Stories (1946)
  • Vengeance with a Twist and Other Stories (1946)
  • Dance Without Music (1945)
  • Date After Dark and Other Stories (1946)
  • G Man at the Yard (1953; also stories with Lemmy Caution, Alonzo MacTavish)
  • The Mystery Blues and Other Stories Peter Cheyney (1954; aka “Fast Work”)

FILMS

  • UNEASY TERMS
    (1948, British Pathe)
    Based on the novel by Peter Cheyney
    Directed by Vernon Sewell
    Starring Michael Rennie as SLIM CALLAGHAN
    Also starring Nigel Patrick, Moira Lister, Alex Bernard, Faith Brook, Clifford Buckton, Paul Carpenter, Joan Carroll, Barry Jones, Robert Moore, Marie Ney, Tony Quinn, Michael Rennie, J.H. Roberts, John Robinson, Roy Russell, Joy Shelton, Mark Stone, George Street, Sydney Tafler, Terence de Marney
    Absorbing British thriller stars Michael Rennie as a private detective who agrees to meet a prospective client and is subsequently drugged. After he wakes up, he is ordered to not take the case by the man’s stepdaughter. But when his would-be customer turns up dead, Rennie finds himself thrust into an investigation packed with blackmail, murder and family infighting.
  • MEET MR. CALLAGHAN Buy the DVD Watch it now!
    (1954, British Eros)
    Based on the novel The Urgent Hangman by Peter Cheyney and the play by Gerald Verner
    Screenplay by Brock Williams
    Directed by
    Charles Saunders
    Starring Derrick De Marney as SLIM CALLAGHAN
    Also starring Robert Adair, Delphi Lawrence, Harriette Johns, Michael Balfour, Larry Burns, Michael Partridge, Howard Douglas, Trevor Reid, Frank Sieman, John Ainsworth
    Big screen adaptation of the 1952 play.
  • PLUS DE WHISKEY POUR CALLAGHAN
    (1954, France)
    Language: French
    Based on the novel It Couldn’t Matter Less by Peter Cheyney
    Screenplay by Xavier Vallier
    Directed by Willy Rozier
  • À TOI DE JOUER CALLAGHAN
    (1954, France)
    88 minutes
    Black & white/Mono
    Language: French
    Based on the novel Sorry You’ve Been Troubled by Peter Cheyney
    Screenplay by Xavier Vallier
    Directed by Willy Rozier
    Starring Tony Wright as SLIM CALLAGHAN
    Also starring Martine Alexis, Robert Berri, Robert Burnier, Paul Cambo, Lysiane Rey, Colette Ripert, Yorik Royan
  • CALLING MR. CALLAGHAN
    (1960, Atlantis)
    According to Crime Fiction III, the existence of this film is not confirmed…
  • CALLAGHAN REMET ÇA
    (1960, France)
    Language: French
    Based on characters created by Peter Cheyney
    Screenplay by Xavier Vallier
    Directed by Willy Rozier

TELEVISION

  • MEET MR. CALLAGHAN
    (1952, BBC)
    45 minutes
    Black & white
    Premiere: September 8, 1952
    Based on The Urgent Hangman by Peter Cheyney and the play by Gerald Verner
    Starring Terence de Marney as SLIM CALLAGHAN
    Also starring 
    Jack Allen, Larry Burns, Harriette Johns, Michael Partridge, Trevor Reid, Frank Sieman, Roger Williams
    An excerpt from a special performance of act one of the hit play, filmed before an invited audience.

PLAYS

  • MEET MR. CALLAGHAN
    (1952, London)
    Performed at the Garrick Theatre,  London, England
    Based on The Urgent Hangman by Peter Cheyney
    Adapted by by Gerald Verner
    Starring Terence de Marney as SLIM CALLAGHAN
    Also starring Jack Allen, Larry Burns, Harriette Johns, Michael Partridge, Trevor Reid, Frank Sieman, Roger Williams
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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