Saturday, November 5, 2016

"It Was One of Those Smiles That Seem to Go Clean Through You and Light Up All Your Inner Being As If with a Searchlight"

"The Smile That Wins."
(a.k.a. "Adrian Mulliner, Private Detective").
By P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975).
First appearance: The American Magazine, October 1931.
Reprinted in The Strand, February 1932; Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, June 1952; Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (Australia), August 1952; The Saint Detective Magazine, September 1954; and other places.
Collected in Mulliner Nights (1933).
Filmed for TV in 1978 (IMDb HERE).
Novelette (24 pages).
Online (HERE).
"It was the Adventure of the Missing Sealyham that brought the young couple together."
The course of true love, as some obscure writer once observed, never doth run smooth; in the case of Adrian Mulliner vis-à-vis Lady Millicent Shipton-Bellinger and the clearly insuperable obstacle of her father, however, thanks to "the mere exercise of the risible muscles," love's course doth run much more smooth than it really ought tooth.
Dramatis personae:
~ Millicent:
   "Oh, Adrian. The worst has happened. My father refuses to hear of our marrying. When I told him we were engaged, he said 'Pooh!' quite a number of times, and added that he had never heard such dashed nonsense in his life."
~ Adrian Mulliner:
   "What is all this about smiling? I never smile. I haven't smiled since the butler tripped over the spaniel and upset the melted butter on my Aunt Elizabeth, when I was a boy of twelve."
~ The specialist:
   "Happiness is the only cure. Be gay, Mr. Mulliner. Be cheerful. And, if you can't do that, at any rate smile. But I think it would be better if, for the present, you endeavoured not to smile at invalids or nervous persons. That will be five guineas, precisely."
~ Sir Sutton Hartley-Wesping, Bart:
   "At all costs, he felt, he must conciliate this leering man."
~ Lord Brangbolton, Millicent's father:
   "You imagine, do you, that I propose to welcome a blighted footprint-and-cigar-ash inspector into the family? It is your idea, is it, that I shall acquiesce in the union of my daughter to a dashed feller who goes about the place on his hands and knees with a magnifying-glass, picking up small objects and putting them carefully away in his pocket-book? I hate detectives. They give me the creeps."
~ Sir Jasper Addleton:
   "This is no time for doing the Astaire pom-pom dance. Tell me what you meant by that stuff you were talking about prison."
- As Rudyard Kennedy observes at The Thrilling Detective website (HERE), Adrian Mulliner was . . .
. . . an astoundingly inept junior detective at a large detective agency who endeavoured to clean up his act in order to impress the girl of his dreams. Adrian appeared in "The Smile That Wins." Okay, it wasn't really a detective yarn but rather a comic romance in which the lead just happened to be a gumshoe. Still, it's pretty entertaining.
Adrian, incidentally, is just one of the innumerable nephews of Wodehouse's Mr. Mulliner character; he would return years later in a short Sherlock Holmes pastiche, "From a Detective's Notebook," wherein he discovers the "truth" about the great detective.
- The Wodehouse Playhouse version is online for the nonce (HERE) (32 minutes 25 seconds).
- We've communed with Plum a couple of times before, (HERE) and (HERE).

The bottom line: "As a sleuth you are poor. You couldn’t detect a bass-drum in a telephone-booth."

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