After a Petty Sessions hearing at Beechworth in August, Ned Kelly was taken to Melbourne, passing through streets thronged with gaping people.
He was deemed fit to stand trial for murder at Melbourne’s Supreme Court on 28 October, 1880.
The judge, Sir Redmond Barry, who had once made the grim promise that he would see Ned Kelly hang, wanted to dispose of the trial in a single day, in order to have it finished before the Melbourne Cup.
The inexperienced barrister defending Ned was no match for an expert prosecutor, a determined judge and a chief Crown witness — the constable who escaped at Stringybark Creek — and who committed perjury.
Barry also misdirected the jury on a vital point of law concerning self-defence.
Inevitably, a guilty verdict was announced. Barry sentenced Ned to hang, concluding with: ‘And may the Lord have mercy on your soul.’ Ned famously retorted: ‘I will see you there, where I go.’
Twelve days after Ned was executed, Judge Barry dropped dead in his chambers on 23 November, 1880.
Ned Kelly’s execution was scheduled for Thursday 11 November, 1880 — only thirteen days after his trial.
A massive movement was launched to save his life. There were huge public meetings, torch-lit marches, a deputation to the Governor, and a petition for Ned’s reprieve from execution.
Three days before the planned hanging, the petition was presented to the Governor with more than 32,000 signatures.
An hour later, the Executive Council announced that the execution would go ahead.
Image of Ned Kelly taken on November 10, 1880, the day before his execution.
At 9 am on the morning of 11 November, 1880, as a crowd of 5,000 gathered outside the Melbourne Gaol, Ned was transferred to the condemned cell.
Just before 10am, he was led out onto the scaffold.
As the hangman adjusted the hood to cover his face, Kelly’s last words were: ‘Arr well, I suppose it has to come to this. Such… (is life?)’.
At four minutes past ten, the executioner pulled the lever and Ned Kelly plunged into immortality.
His headless body was buried in an unmarked grave on the grounds of the Old Melbourne Gaol.
In the 1920s it was then removed to the Pentridge Prison cemetery.
William Dodd, an Anglican priest, was imprisoned for counterfeiting and then hanged in 1777. Image Courtesy Getty.
Is the death penalty ever acceptable? And, if so, what kind of criminals should it apply to?
In early nineteenth century England, legal scholar Phil Handler writes, it was clear to authorities that death was an appropriate penalty for forgery.
According to Handler, starting in the early eighteenth century, more laws were passed concerning forgery than any other crime.
Given the growing commercial economy’s reliance on paper credit, both in the form of government currency and in notes of credit offered by private parties, forgery posed a “peculiarly subversive threat” with the potential to topple the entire economic system.
In 1797, a shortage of gold bullion pushed the Bank of England to begin issuing paper notes in smaller denominations of one and two pounds, without being backed up by gold reserves. With the wide circulation of these bills came a rise in forgeries, and forgery prosecutions.
From 1805 to 1818, convicted forgers or counterfeiters represented almost one in three people executed in London and Middlesex, and one in five across England and Wales.
Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies, published from 1757 to 1795, was an annual directory of prostitutes then working in Georgian London. A small, attractive pocketbook, it was printed and published in Covent Garden, and sold for two shillings and sixpence.
A contemporary report of 1791 estimates that it sold about 8,000 copies annually.
Each edition contains entries which describe the physical appearance and sexual specialities of about 120–190 prostitutes who worked in and around Covent Garden.
Through their erotic prose, the lists’ entries review some of these women in lurid detail.
While most compliment their subjects, some are critical of bad habits, and a few women are even treated as pariahs, perhaps having fallen out of favour with the lists’ authors, who are never revealed.
Samuel Derrick is the man normally credited for the design of Harris’s List, possibly having been inspired by the activities of a Covent Garden pimp, Jack Harris.
A Grub Street hack, Derrick may have written the lists from 1757 until his death in 1769; thereafter, the annual’s authors are unknown.
Throughout its print run it was published pseudonymously by H. Ranger, although from the late 1780s it was actually printed by three men, John and James Roach, and John Aitkin.
As the public’s opinion began to turn against London’s sex trade, and with reformers petitioning the authorities to take action, those involved in the release of Harris’s List were in 1795 fined and imprisoned.
That year’s edition was therefore the last to be published, although by then its content was less euphemistic, lacking the originality of earlier editions. Modern writers tend to view Harris’s List as erotica; in the words of one author, it was designed for “solitary sexual enjoyment”.
Quicksand is a 1950 American film noir. It is a crime film starring Mickey Rooney and Peter Lorre.
It is a story about a young garage mechanic’s descent into crime after he steals $20 to take his girlfriend on a date.
It was directed by Irving Pichel shortly before he was blacklisted by McCarthy’s House on Un-American Activities Committee used to block screenwriters from obtaining employment in the film industry.
This film was a chance for Rooney to play a substantial role that differentiated him from his widely regaled Andy Hardy goody, “good boy” image. It was considered by many to be one of Rooney’s best ever roles.
Nicholas Ray’s astonishingly self-assured, lyrical directorial debut opens with title cards and lush orchestrations over shots of a boy and a girl in rapturous mutual absorption: “This boy … and this girl … were never properly introduced … to the world we live in …” A shriek of horns suddenly obliterates all other sound – their shocked faces both turn toward the camera, and the title appears: They Live by Night.
Meet 23-year-old escaped killer Bowie Bowers and his farm-girl sweetheart Keechie Mobley (Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell), in an imaginary idyll of peace and contentment that will never come true for them.
Bowie, jailed at 16 for killing his father’s murderer, has known nothing but jail, and is still a boy.
Having escaped the prison farm with two older bank robbers – T-Dub and the psychotic Indian Chicamaw “One-Eye” Mobley (Jay C Flippen, Howard da Silva) – he feels loyalty-bound to tag along on their crime spree.
Keechie is Chicamaw’s niece, and soon circumstances force them to lam it cross-country at the same time as they tremblingly discover love for the first time.
Somehow all the planets aligned for Ray, a novice director with an achingly poetic-realist vision of Depression-era Texas and the determination to implement it wholesale: a perfect source novel, Edward Anderson’s Thieves Like Us; and exactly the right combination of producer (John Houseman), studio (RKO) and sympathetic studio head (Dore Schary).
The result is luminous in its imagery and highly sophisticated in its musical choices.
Pictured: Alphonse Bertillon – Archives of Service Regional d’Identité Judiciaire, Préfecture de Police, Paris via Jebulon on Wikipedia
While the photographing of criminals began in the 1840s shortly after the invention of photography, it was not until 1888 that French police officer Alphonse Bertillon standardised the process.
Mug shots, which were typically taken after a person was arrested, allowed law enforcement to have a photographic record of an arrested individual to allow for identification purposes by victims, the public and investigators.
Alphonse Bertillon (24 April 1853 – 13 February 1914) was a French police officer and biometrics researcher who applied the anthropological technique of anthropometry to law enforcement creating an identification system based on physical measurements.
Anthropometry was the first scientific system used by police to identify criminals.
Before that time, criminals could only be identified by name or photograph. The method was eventually supplanted by fingerprinting.
I’ve seen Otto Preminger’s “Laura” three or four times, but the identity of the murderer doesn’t spring quickly to mind. That’s not because the guilty person is forgettable but because the identity is so arbitrary: It is not necessary that the murderer be the murderer.
Three or four other characters would have done as well, and indeed if it were not for Walter Winchell we would have another ending altogether.
Film noir is known for its convoluted plots and arbitrary twists, but even in a genre that gave us “The Maltese Falcon,” this takes some kind of prize.
“Laura” (1944) has a detective who never goes to the station; a suspect who is invited to tag along as other suspects are interrogated; a heroine who is dead for most of the film; a man insanely jealous of a woman even though he never for a moment seems heterosexual; a romantic lead who is a dull-witted Kentucky bumpkin moving in Manhattan penthouse society, and a murder weapon that is returned to its hiding place by the cop, who will “come by for it in the morning.”
The only nude scene involves the jealous man and the cop. That “Laura” continues to weave a spell — and it does — is a tribute to style over sanity.
No doubt the famous musical theme by David Raksin has something to do with it: The music lends a haunted, nostalgic, regretful cast to everything it plays under, and it plays under a lot.
There is also Clifton Webb’s narration, measured, precise, a little mad: “I shall never forget the weekend Laura died. A silver sun burned through the sky like a huge magnifying glass.
It was the hottest Sunday in my recollection. I felt as if I were the only human being left in New York. For Laura’s horrible death, I was alone. I, Waldo Lydecker, was the only one who really knew her.
”It is Clifton Webb’s performance as Waldo Lydecker that stands at the heart of the film, with Vincent Price (see above), as Laura’s fiancee Shelby Carpenter, nibbling at the edges like an eager spaniel.
Both actors, and Judith Anderson as a neurotic friend, create characters who have no reality except their own, which is good enough for them.
The hero and heroine, on the other hand, are cardboard. Gene Tierney, as Laura, is gorgeous, has perfect features, looks great in the stills, but never seems emotionally involved; her work in “Leave Her to Heaven” (1945) is stronger, deeper, more convincing.
Dana Andrews, as Detective Mark McPherson, stands straight, chain-smokes, speaks in a monotone, and reminded the studio head Daryl F. Zanuck of “an agreeable schoolboy.”
As actors, Tierney and Andrews basically play eyewitnesses to scene-stealing by Webb and Price.
As long as there is something worth stealing it is probably the case with the human race that what that something is won’t be, and will be stolen.
This has been the case forever, and as vigilant as an owner of property might be–whether that bit that stood for labor exchange units was a cow or land or gold or money itself–there will be someone else out there in the anti-vigilant world tempting fate and chance and skill at taking someone’s belongings away.
We have a little window that has opened to reveal a piece of that world–an unusual one, for the 19th century, anyway.
That is what I saw when breezing through the memoirs of George Washington Wallace (1823-1891), Recollections of a Chief of Police, which was published in 1887.
Wallace was police chief of New York City, making him the police chief (sorry, Chicago), and he had some pretty good recollections to recollect.
(Which is a good thing he recorded this book when he did, because he would be dead four years later.