Monday, December 2, 2013

Nutshell Studies & Frances Glessner Lee Article 1966

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1966/12/6/a-colloquium-on-violent-death-brings/

It almost goes without saying that most of the research on the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death and Frances Glessner Lee cannot be done online, but every now and then you can find a little gem, like this one from the Harvard Crimson. Make sure you read the last few lines. So dark.


Parsonage. Photo by Susan Marks

A Colloquium on Violent Death Brings 30 Detectives to Harvard



Each of the studies shows the victim in exact scale, one inch to one foot, and they are accurate down to the smallest detail, even to the wool stockings...
 
On Monday morning, August 19, 1946, at about 11, a high school girl named Dorothy Dennison left her home to buy some meat for dinner. A few hours later, when she still had not returned, Dorothy's mother telephoned the butcher. He told her he had sold Dorothy a pound of hamburger shortly before noon, but that he had not seen in which direction she was headed.

Police Lt. Robert Peale received a call from Mrs. Dennison at 5:25 p.m. that day and began investigating at once. A careful and systematic search revcaled no trace of Dorothy until Friday, August 23, when Peale entered the deserted home of the town parson -- who had been on vacation for several months -- and found the missing girl.

Flat on her back in the middle of the living room, her head resting in a pool of blood, Dorothy's eyes were open, but surrounded with black stains. Her right car was completely covered with blood. Her dress was ripped down to her waist, exposing her mutilated breasts. Her skirt was also torn and a large red bruise was visible on the inside of her right thigh.

It was a shocking crime, though not an especially difficult one to solve. The murderer was apprehended and the case forgotten -- but not before it came to the attention of Harvard's Department of Legal Medicine, which carefully researched the crime, then constructed a miniature replica of the room in which the body was found.

Not A Museum Piece
 
The Department was not putting together a museum piece. It needed the replica as a principle tool for perhaps the most unusual course offered by the University.

Since the mid-1930's, the Department of Legal Medicine has twice each year held a seminar on violent death, a seminar open only to qualified police detectives with extensive experience in the investigation of homicide.

The seminars are based on more than 20 "nutshell" studies. Each is based on an actual murder, like the Dennison case, or is compiled from details of several unrelated murders. Each -- with one exception -- has a known solution and is designed to illustrate principles which are discussed in seminar lectures.

The studies require an attention to minute details that would have put Sherlock Holmes to shame. The Dennison replica, for example, has tiny marks, meant to represent hammer dents, in the floor. Though they are easy to miss, they are essential clues to solving the murder.

Last month, 31 detectives from across the country, most of them state police, spent a week at Harvard, using the studies in connection with discussions of everything from abortion and infanticide to gunshot wounds.

The police officers were paired and each pair assigned a different nutshell study. They had two or three days to go over the models and accompanying, background information. At the end of the week, sitting around a table in Building E-1 at the Med School, each pair had to describe how they would have gone about solving their crime and give a reasonable explanation of it. Parker A. Glass, of the Department of Legal Medicine and chairman of the session, sat at the head of the table, a large loose-leaf notebook with information on all the cases opened before him. He cross-examined the detectives as they presented their theories, asking an unexpected question or pointing out some obscure, overlooked detail.


Pick the Butcher

The detectives who studied the Dennison case told the group they had concluded that the butcher had forced Dorothy to the parsonage, where he killed her.

Glass, however, reminded them that the temperature had fluctuated between 86 and 92 degrees during the week that Dorothy was missing, and that humidity had remained extremely high. These conditions, he said, would hasten the deterioration of the body, yet the body was very well preserved when the police finally discovered it. He pointed out that the replica showed the package of hamburger which Dorothy had purchased the previous Monday was covered with maggots.
"Have any of you ever seen a dead body left standing for four days in that kind of heat and humidity?" he asked. A few of the detectives grunted. They had seen such bodies. They realized that Dorothy could not have died as early as Monday and that Glass had destroyed the detectives' hypothesis.

Who, then, did kill her? She was found in the parson's home, Glass said; the seminar should begin with that fact. He then led the group, step by step, to the solution. (He later asked that it not be made public, for fear that detectives who will be attending the seminar in the future might read it.)
The other nutshell studies illustrate almost every conceivable variety of death: murder, suicide and accident. They depict hangings, drownings, knifings and, in a few cases, heart attacks.

All of them were built by Mrs. Francis Glessner Lee, a wealthy widow from Chicago, and a cabinet maker she hired. Although the cases are permanently sealed shut to protect the contents, Mrs. Lee insisted that every one be a working model, with miniature doors that open and shut, lights that go on and off, windows that go up and down. Each of the studies shows the victim and his surroundings in exact scale, one inch to the foot, and they are accurate down to the smallest detail, even to the wool stockings that Mrs. Lee knitted herself.

Mrs. Lee did more than construct the replicas. She was also responsible for the creation of the Department of Legal Medicine itself.

A very close friend of Mrs. Lee's brother was Dr. George McGrath, professor of Legal Medicine at Harvard (before the department itself was created), and medical examiner for Boston. Through her brother, Mrs. Lee became interested in McGrath's work, especially in his belief in medical examiners as opposed to coroners.

The medical examiner has no judicial power; the coroner does. The coroner, who in many parts of the country is an elected official, can, after he has investigated a case, select a jury, call witnesses, and advise the jury on its verdict as to the manner of death. Furthermore, in some areas the coroner is not required to be a physician, and undertakers have, on occasion, assumed the position. A medical examiner, on the other hand, must be a doctor, and has no independent authorities. He can only report his findings to the district attorney.

At the turn of the century, Massachusetts established the first medical examiner system in the country. New York City followed soon afterwards. For many years, the two areas were alone.
Then Mrs. Lee decided to promote medical examiners by giving Harvard $250,000 to establish Legal Medicine as an autonomous academic department. (The Cleveland pathologist who was chosen to head the department had to spend two years in Europe studying Legal Medicine before he could assume the post, since there was no school in this country which could teach it to him.) In succeeding years she continued to donate money, much of it going to the department's library--still the best library of Legal Medicine in the country.

The seminars in homicide investigation were also Mrs. Lee's ideas. She hoped to bring detectives from around the country and convince them of the need for medical examiners.
She designed each of the nutshell studies to illustrate some aspect of that basic proposition and, at the same time, to acquaint police officers with a few basic medical principles. One, for example, demonstrates the principle that blood will always settle in the area of the corpse which is closest to the ground at the time of death. Thus, if a person dies while lying on his back, gravity will draw the blood to that area and lividity (an easily observable, red discoloration) will set in. The study shows an apparent suicide, lying face down, yet with obvious lividity in the lower back--demonstrating that someone turned it over after death occurred.

Mrs. Lee attended every seminar, displaying and explaining the studies, until her death. She always hoped that after seeing the advantages of the medical examiner system, the detectives would return to their states and fight to get the coroners replaced. For the present, however, she has failed; there are still coroners in more than 40 states.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Frances Glessner Lee's Family Estate - The Rocks - Bethlehem NH

Sometime getting into the Holiday Spirit is way harder than it should be. But you know what helps us? Visiting The Rocks, Frances Glessner Lee's family estate that is now part of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Frances lived at The Rocks while she made her Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. On our last visit we even discovered some unfinished Nutshells. And the people at The Rocks - like Nigel and Clare - are wonderful! If you can't make it out there to harvest your own Christmas tree, you can always buy one online.





Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Sale Nutshell Studies DVD

Image of DVD Of Dolls & Murder (for home viewing)

$14.95 - Of Dolls & Murder DVD On Sale

Before forensics, DNA, and CSI we had dollhouses – an unimaginable collection of miniature crime scenes, known as the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Created in the 1930s and 1940s by a crime-fighting grandmother, Frances Glessner Lee created the Nutshells to help homicide detectives hone their investigative skills. These surreal dollhouses reveal a dystopic and disturbing slice of domestic life with doll corpses representing actual murder victims, or perhaps something that just looks like murder. Despite all the advances in forensics, the Nutshells are still used today to train detectives. Documentary film, Of Dolls and Murder, explores the dioramas, the woman who created them, and their relationship to modern day forensics. From the iconic CSI television show to the Body Farm and criminally minded college students, legendary filmmaker and true crime aficionado, John Waters narrates the tiny world of big time murder.

The DVD includes extended version of Of Dolls & Murder as well as extra features!

Eco-friendly packaging.


Image of Nutshell Necklace - Movie Poster Doll

$24.95 - Of Dolls & Murder Movie Poster Necklace On Sale

Own the mystery. Or give the gift a murder.
This stainless steel necklace was designed by Suzy Greenberg with a Nutshell Study photo by Susan Marks, and poster design by Adam Tow.
The pendant is coated in resin and includes a 24 inch ball chain.
All proceeds go towards offsetting the cost of making independent film, Of Dolls and Murder!

Image of DVD Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse (for home viewing)

$9.99 Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse DVD

Inspired by a collection of dollhouse crime scenes known as “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” Cynthia von Buhler recreates the story of her grandfather’s prohibition-era murder with a dollhouse replica of his speakeasy club and bakery.

This documentary film goes inside Cynthia’s world of miniature murder and steps back in time through her off-broadway immersive play. With these investigative techniques she attempts to unravel the curious mystery surrounding her grandfather’s death.

Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse DVD includes the documentary film (Running time 17:38) and special PDF files of Cynthia von Buhler's graphic novel "Speakeasy Dollhouse, The Bloody Beginning" and an Evidence Booklet Playbill.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Crowd Sourcing for Documentary Film Research!

If I don't ask for a little research help, I'm afraid my next two documentary films won't get finished. And there's only so much online research that can be accomplished - just ask anyone who has sunk window-less weeks on end into archival research.

So here's the deal: I need volunteer researchers in the Boston area, NYC and New Hampshire. Do you have experience in this kind of research? Are you up for some archival/library research, making a few phone calls, having a few conversations with archivists/librarians and even some folks in law enforcement? I'm almost sure that very little of it could be done from home, so willingness to get out of the house is a must! (Suddenly, I feel like I'm writing a Craigslist ad)

If this sounds like something you would like to volunteer for, please be in touch! We would love to have you on our documentary team. doll [dot] documentary [at symbol] gmail.com

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Documentaries, screenplays & books

I've been so busy lately that my brain is mostly mush. But exciting things are happening no matter how mushy things get.

Look for news soon about our documentary film on Frances Glessner Lee.

While this post may be a little on the lame side - at least you know I'm still alive and working hard to bring you more documentaries, screenplays and books.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Artist Murder Investigator: Cynthia von Buhler

Read all about the subject of our film, Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse, Cynthia von Buhler. She's fascinating and we adore her! As you may know, Cynthia - like us - was so inspired by Frances Glessner Lee that it opened up a whole new world to her.


 The Artist Murder Investigator: Cynthia von Buhler

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Frances Glessner Lee Documentary update and more!

Our newest documentary film on Frances Glessner Lee is going very well! (Despite that fact that we could use quite a bit of travel money) But we are plugging along anyway. The footage is beautiful thanks to our incredible DP - Matt Ehling. And our sound is pristine thanks to sound guy and co-director John Kurtis Dehn.

We really are stunned by all the new information that is surfacing about Frances. And we feel so lucky to have her family participating in the film. I think Frances would be really proud of her great -grand kids. They truly are wonderful people and I feel lucky to know them. And if it weren't for this project, we would have never met. So believe me when I say I am grateful for the wonderful opportunities Frances has afforded me. I'm also grateful to the Jerome Foundation and the McKnight Foundation for their generous support. And I'm grateful for you - a person the cares enough about the Nutshells and the Frances Glessner Lee to read this blog post. And I know hundreds of people read this blog every week, even though very rarely does anyone comment. How do I know? There's a cool little feature that allows bloggers to see how many visits they get on each post.

If you want more Nutshells - like us on facebeook.
If you want more Of Dolls & Murder - like us on facebook.

If you want some Of Dolls & Murder related tweets - follow us here.

If you want to buy an Of Dolls & Murder DVD - go here and buy one for yourself and gifts for others. You will be supporting indie filmmakers and we will adore you forever and ever.  (And it's inexpensive and we will send out ASAP)

If you want cute puppies - go here.

From the Nutshell Saloon and Jail. Did he really just slip on a banana peel and die? Or are darker forces at play?

From the Nutshell Two Story Dwelling - you can tell a lot about a crime scene from the trash. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Buy the Of Dolls & Murder DVD

Don't forget! You can buy the Of Dolls & Murder DVD right here! This documentary film stars John Waters, the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death and some pretty amazing experts! And some say the DVD extras are just as good as the film. 

Garage - one of the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Don't Give Up

Don't Give Up poster in my yoga class


This is the sign from the Universe you were looking for. Yay you! If you want to know more about this, check out this blog post from Laurel Van Matre - owner of Yoga Garden and the best yoga instructor I've ever known.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Want to know more about Susan Marks? Of course you do! ;-)

If I wasn't so busy making documentary films, screenwriting, novel writing and everyday freelance producing work - I would create a website that spells out my various projects a little clearer. I've been getting a lot of inquiries lately about what exactly I do, especially since my screenplay advanced to the quarterfinals for the Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting.

The inquires go a little something like this: Whaaa? I didn't know you wrote screenplays. I thought you were just into dead dolls, or Betty Crocker, or John Waters, or underwear, or goldendoodles, or what have you.

I know it's confusing because I don't do just one thing - like write books. Or two things - like documentary filmmaking and screenwriting. I do all those things because a good story is a good story is a good story.  Oh and I'm also a historian because that's what my degrees are in. Yup, I graduated from grad school too.

So here's a down and dirty lowdown on me - Susan Marks. But feel free to contact me if you still have questions about my work.


BOOKS
  • I wrote the book, Finding Betty Crocker: The Secret Life of America's First Lady of Food. (Simon & Schuster, 2005 hardcover, University of Minnesota Press, 2007 paperback) If you want the book, go here.
  • I wrote another book about the history of Band-aids. That was sort of a strange gig. 
  • I wrote a history book on Minnesota. Go here if you love MN history and archival photos.
  • I wrote another history book on Munsingwear - the underwear company.
  • I'm currently writing two novels. But I can't tell you what they are about just yet. 

SCREENPLAYS

  • Finding Poppy Pepperdine - 2013 Quarter-finalist for Academy Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting and a few other screenwriting competitions.
  • Bridal Bingo
  • 2 work-in-progress screenplays - currently untitled
 
 DOCUMENTARY FILMS (with filmmaking partner John Kurtis Dehn)


AWARDS



I know I left out a lot, but I think I hit the highlights. Thanks for your interest and support in my art and career. It means a lot to me.

To show my thanks I am leaving you with some images from my various gigs for the sole purpose of entertaining you - because you are awesome.


"Let's Get Down to Business" ad from my book In the Mood for Munsingwear
Looks like Author Susan Marks is giving it away for free. ;-) 

Sock Monkey Betty Crocker made by my talented mother, Alice Marks

Sadly, this Corn-Sausage Pie ad did not make it into my book.



I'm Sorry Cake ad from my book Finding Betty Crocker. This image also hangs on the wall in my kitchen.
My book in the dollar bin! aka the glamorous life.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting 2013

Some emails are just better than others, no? Happy news from the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting! Of Dolls & Murder director, Susan Marks (that's me) made it into the quarterfinal round with screenplay, Finding Poppy Pepperdine.

Wow, 372 out of 7,251 submissions made the first cut. Kind of amazing.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Of Dolls & Murder filmmaker awarded McKnight's Media Artist fellowship!

Read all about Susan Marks and the other fellows of the  McKnight's Media Artist fellowship here! 
(Love how they mention John Waters!)

Also, a recent (wonderful!) article/review about Of Dolls & Murder here.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

In this 1949 article about Frances Glessner Lee, George Oswald calls her a passionate crusade for justice and a tireless lobbyist for reform of the coroner system. He writes, "Many innocent Americans owe Mrs. Lee their freedom, and countless criminals their just convictions."

For this and many other reasons we honor Frances Glessner Lee every Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

More Missing Nutshell photos


Thanks to the iphone, I was able to carefully stick my hand into this Nutshell Study of Unexplained Death and snap a few photos. Otherwise these views are too far back to view properly. Impressive miniature carpentry, no? Especially when you consider the scale is 1:12.

More about the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Documentary Film Shoot at the Rocks


 Our documentary shoot at The Rocks exceeded all our expectations. Frances Glessner Lee's great-grandchildren hung out with us, sharing incredible insights about "Fanny." And you could not find better, more down to earth people than this family. We felt so lucky. And we also cannot say enough great things about The Rocks and the staff there. More photos coming soon of the unfinished Nutshell.

If want to know more about Frances Glessner Lee, go here!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Missing Nutshell


 Frances Glessner Lee's "missing" Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
Our shoot was amazing. We met so many wonderful people with great insights into Frances Glessner Lee's life. And ya know how new discoveries is a theme of this documentary? As of last week, there were more new discovery about her life. And a mystery was solved! Something we've been wondering about for about 7 years. It was a huge thrill to see finally get to see the missing Nutshells. And see several unfinished Nutshells.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Documentary Film - Frances Glessner Lee

We are so excited to be interviewing the family of Frances Glessner Lee! And yes, we have 2 new documentary films in the works and several related narrative projects. (screenplays and VOD series)  The more we uncovered about Frances and the Nutshells, the more endless possibilities to produce and write more projects!

And yes, we hear rumblings that other people are "stealing our ideas" and running with them, but so far, nothing has materialized. Plus, we have an incredible inside track to some very private info sources that the general public would have no way of knowing about. So, we feel great about all the research we've amassed (exclusively) and the trust we've built.

Switching gears - numerous people have asked me about our library/education version of Of Dolls & Murder. Not sure why people aren't seeing it on our website, but here it is!

And yes, we can work with your institution to invoice or whatever you need for your internal protocol for purchasing.

A little info about Of Dolls & Murder :


Before forensics, DNA, and CSI we had dollhouses – an unimaginable collection of miniature crime scenes, known as the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Created in the 1930s and 1940s by a crime-fighting grandmother, Frances Glessner Lee created the Nutshells to help homicide detectives hone their investigative skills. These surreal dollhouses reveal a dystopic and disturbing slice of domestic life with doll corpses representing actual murder victims, or perhaps something that just looks like murder. Despite all the advances in forensics, the Nutshells are still used today to train detectives. Documentary film, Of Dolls and Murder, explores the dioramas, the woman who created them, and their relationship to modern day forensics. From the iconic CSI television show to the Body Farm and criminally minded college students, legendary filmmaker and true crime aficionado, John Waters narrates the tiny world of big time murder.

The DVD includes extended version of Of Dolls & Murder as well as extra features!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Frances Glessner Lee Documentary

Considering there are so many Frances Glessner Lee film and television projects in development - we are thrilled to have the family exclusive! Filming with family members in a few days. We cannot wait!

We've recently unearthed so much new information about Frances! (And I know you other writers doing projects on Frances would just kill to know what we know,  but you're going to have to wait...)

As always, thank you, Of Dolls & Murder, fans for your on-going support! We are lucky to have such passionate, smart and funny fans!


Frances Glessner Lee - our hero!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

DVD 2er Sale - almost over!

A fan asked us to keep our sale going until May 1, when he gets paid, so we happily obliged. In fact, we're going to keep it going until this Friday. (Because some people get paid on Fridays) With the money we earn from this DVD sale we are turning around and putting it in the movie sequel. On May 10th were headed to the East Coast for more France Glessner Lee and Nutshell Studies-related interviews.

So for $14.95 you can get both Of Dolls & Murder DVD and "her creepy little sister" DVD Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse. Go to it!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Of Dolls & Murder and Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse DVDs


For a limited time we want you to have both Of Dolls & Murder and Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse DVDS for the price of one. Our version of a 2-Fer! Click here. But hurry it won't last long.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Newsletter! (About twice a year we send one out)

From our newsletter: 


A funny and beautiful thing happened when we finished Of Dolls & Murder; we started hearing incredible personal stories of dolls, murder, mystery, etc.  Some of the stories are so compelling that we are looking into making more films in this vein.

One woman in particular, artist Cynthia von Buhler, told us that she was so inspired by Frances Glessner Lee and her Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death that she created her own dollhouses to try to solve the mystery of her grandfather’s murder. She found the dollhouses helpful but limiting, so she expanded on the theme by creating an immersive play about the murder. By making her grandfather’s case so accessible, the public is helping to shed new light on this unusual case.

With the money we raised on Kickstarter, we created a short documentary film on her. If you like dolls, murder, prohibition, mobsters, speakeasies and mystery - Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse is definitely the documentary film for you.

For the next week or so we are having a special offer - a 2-fer! If you buy Of Dolls & Murder, we will throw in Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse for free. That's a lot of dead dolls. Keep in mind, Mother's Day is right around the corner...

See the trailer for Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse right here.

Do you want to see Cynthia's Speakeasy Dollhouse off-Broadway hit play in NYC? Go here. We highly recommend you see it!

Meanwhile, we are in production on a new documentary film exclusively about the elusive Frances Glessner Lee and her miniature life of crime. We received a Jerome Foundation grant to help us with production.

Recently, we went through boxes and boxes of France Glessner Lee's personal papers. Read all about it on our blog.

We will be sitting down with Frances' family members next month and we cannot wait. We will even be filming one of the "missing Nutshells."

As always, thanks for your support and for signing up for this newsletter.

Sincerely,
Of Dolls & Murder filmmakers,
Susan & John

PS If you want the newsletter to come to your inbox - just got to www.ofdollsandmurder.com and sign up! We are happy to have you!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Nutshell Noir

From our latest miniature shoot - photo by Susan Marks, lighting and miniature by Sam Marks.
Shooting away for the next documentary - which may or many not be called Murder in a Nutshell or perhaps, Her Miniature Life of Crime, or quiet possibly, something else. If you have a strong opinion on the matter - do let us know. We may put off naming it until the very last minute. Suffice to say, this film is about Frances Glessner Lee and her Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. It's different from Of Dolls & Murder because we will focus exclusively on her life.

There is so  much new information to share about Frances!

As always, thank you for your support and don't forget about our 2-fer sale!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death - carpenter

Alton Mosher - Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death carpenter in the 1950s
This is one of our favorite photos of Alton Mosher - the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death carpenter. This rare photo was taken at The Rocks estate in New Hampshire in the 1950s. Alton took over the carpentry work for his father Ralph. We interview Alton recently for our next documentary film. He's truly a gem who handled his strict boss, France Glessner Lee, with grace. In return, she remembered him in her will.

Don't forget, you can buy the Of Dolls & Murder DVD directly from us!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Buy Documentary Film about the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

Three Room Dwelling - one of the most compelling Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

We get a lot of questions about buying our DVD, so this is for all the folks who are interested in owning our film.

The good news is our DVD is inexpensive and we ship anywhere, plus we ship next day.

The Of Dolls & Murder DVD has tons of bonus material! Click here, to order yours.

Watch the trailer here.

Of Dolls & Murder makes a great gift with Passover, Easter and Mother's Day right around the corner! ;-)

Fan Letters for Frances Glessner Lee

While researching some recently unearthed Frances Glessner Lee's files, we came across some gems. Like this folder of fan mail to Frances Glessner Lee. Curiously, several letters were written from inmates from criminally insane institutions in the 1940s-1950s. They were poor souls claiming to be innocent and locked up against their will - hoping Capt. Lee could help them out.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Of Dolls & Murder Screening in Minneapolis 3/21/13



Forensic Pioneer, Frances Glessner Lee with one of her Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death
Great little writeup by Chris Hewitt about our screening on Thursday - March 21st in Minneapolis.


Think of "Of Dolls and Murder" like this: Barbie's Dreamhouse, after a maniac tore through it on a blood-soaked rampage. 

Minneapolis filmmaker Susan Marks' "Of Dolls and Murder" documentary will be screened at Bryant Lake Bowl on Thursday, March 21. And it's a doozy. 

Marks -- who previously made the Betty Crocker story, "The Betty Mystique" -- focuses on Frances Glessner Lee, a Baltimore resident who created detailed, dollhouse-like crime scene replicas in the 1930s and 1940s. That's detailed, as in tiny blood spatters on the wall behind a victim and tiny, faded spots on the wallpaper where it was bleached by the sun. Continue

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dead Dolls & Betty Crocker



In our archival research we unearthed a letter from the Betty Crocker radio show, "Magazine of the Air" inviting Frances Glessner Lee to be a guest on the show. (1949) Considering I've made documentary films about both Betty Crocker and Frances Glessner Lee, my mind is forever blown.

For the record, there was a carbon copy of the reply letter and Frances politely declined.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Minneapolis Screening of Of Dolls & Murder



Dolls, Murder & other Guilty Pleasures
Bryant Lake Bowl (Minneapolis, MN)
March 21st.
Tickets $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
http://bryantlakebowl.com/

810 W. Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Doors 8-9
Film at 9
Music 10:15

The evening will showcase Of Dolls & Murder, a sneak preview of our documentary short, Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse and music by Bernie King and the Guilty Pleasures!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Frances Glessner Lee

We're discovering so many wonderful, new things about Frances Glessner Lee. Some of them are even a bit surprising. (Like her connection to J. Edgar Hoover!) In the meantime, if you need some old, background info on the Patron Saint of Forensics, I suggest you:

Watch Of Dolls & Murder
Read The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Frances Glessner Lee's First Miniatures

No crime here, just the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on display at the Glessner House. The exhibit recently ended, but fear not, we will showcase a little bit of it in our new documentary film, Murder in a Nutshell.

Learn more about this mini masterpiece.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death - 2nd Documentary

Alton Mosher - Carpenter for the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death and one hell of a guy.
Yep! It's really happening. We are making another documentary film about Frances Glessner Lee and her Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. Why two, you ask? New information came to light after we finished, Of Dolls & Murder, so we decided to chase down more of this amazing story. The working title is, Murder in a Nutshell.

If we aren't tired of Frances' dolls yet, we know you won't be either.

We have several research trips planned and we have a few big shoots that we are lining up. We already film with Alton Mosher  (above) - one of Frances' carpenters. The other carpenter was Alton's father, Ralph Mosher.

We don't need to tell how cool Alton is. You can tell from the photo, no?


Monday, March 4, 2013

New Documentary Film - Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse!

Poster for Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse


Our new documentary film, Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse is finished and ready for you! 

Inspired by a collection of dollhouse crime scenes known as “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” Cynthia von Buhler recreates the story of her grandfather’s prohibition-era murder with a dollhouse replica of his speakeasy club and bakery.

This documentary film goes inside Cynthia’s world of miniature murder and steps back in time through her off-Broadway immersive play. With these investigative techniques she attempts to unravel the curious mystery surrounding her grandfather’s death.

Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse DVD includes the documentary film (Running time 17:38) and special PDF files of Cynthia von Buhler's graphic novel "Speakeasy Dollhouse, The Bloody Beginning" and an Evidence Booklet Playbill.

Buy your DVD here. Need tickets for the play? Go here. Thank you for your support of independent film and theater!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Of Dolls & Murder Special Screening

Dolls, Murder & other Guilty Pleasures
Bryant Lake Bowl (Minneapolis, MN)
March 21st.
Tickets $10 in advance, $12 at the door.
http://bryantlakebowl.com/

810 W. Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408

Doors 8-9
Film at 9
Music 10:15





Of Dolls & Murder, a sneak preview of our documentary short, Inside the Speakeasy Dollhouse and music by Bernie King and the Guilty Pleasures!



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death - Unpapered Bedroom

video
True, no one is ever going to give you the solutions to The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death. (they are a well-guarded secret) Also true, you will likely never see them in person. (they are not open to the general public)

But are you going to let that stand in your way? Launch your own investigation with this short video we put together of one of the Nutshells, Unpapered Bedroom. The Nutshells were created by Frances Glessner Lee and her carpenters Ralph and Alton Mosher.

Unpapered Bedroom is unique because it has a moving part – a string on the outside of the diorama that lifts up the pillow.

John Waters narration from Of Dolls and Murder:

She died in a room where no one had bothered to change the calendar in 5 years.

The room was registered the previous evening under the names Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.

Mr. Smith left the next morning, specifically requesting that the staff not disturb his wife.

At 3:00 p.m. the rooming house maid tried several times to wake the woman, but Mrs. Smith wouldn’t be checking out at all.