Alfred Hitchcock: The 1930s

The 3X murders

On the evening of June 11, 1930, 39-year-old grocer John Mozynski decided to drive to a secluded part in the College Point area of Queens, New York with his mistress, Catherine May. However, Mozynski’s decision turned out to be a bad one – in fact, it cost him his life. In a quiet minute, a man with a gun appeared at the rear door of the car and shot Mozynski. The killer then raped the 19-year-old May. Following this, he escorted her to a bus line. Before leaving, the man handed her a note and instructed her to read it the following day. May did not notify the police after the incident, but the police contacted her after recovering her bloodsoaked coat from the crime scence. May handed them the note written by the alleged killer. It read:

      Joseph Mozynski
3X                              3-X-097

May told the police two different stories, thus resulting in her being held as material witness. The whole story changed when the Journal, a local newspaper, received a letter from the killer. In the letter, the killer called Mozynski a “rascal” and a “dirty little rat” and included a description of the gun used in the murder of Mozynski and type of ammunition. The letter ended with a threat: “fourteen more of Mozynski’s friends will join him”. The killer signed the piece of paper with an inverted V and V 3X. On June 16, 1930, 26-year-old radio technican Noel Sowley was shot in his parked car near Creedmore, Queens. According to his companion, Elizabeth Ring, a man with German accent approached Sowley’s car and demanded his driver’s license. The man flashed a symbol with his flashlight before turning his head back to Sowley, saying “You’re the guy we want all right” followed by “You’re going to get what Joe got.” He then escorted Ring – like in May’s case – to a bus line and gave her a note similar to May’s. One day after the murder, the police and the Journal received another letter from the 3X killer, in which he warned readers that “thirteen more men and one women will go”. On June 21, 1930, a mysterious note was mailed to Mozynski’s brother, threatening him with death if he won’t cooperate and return “those papers”.

On the same day, police received a final letter from the 3X killer, in which he stated that his “mission has ended” and that there is “no further cause of worry.” The killer claimed that he was a former officer in the German army who had become a special agent of a secret organization called “The Red Diamond of Russia”. He stated that Mozynski and Sowley were former members who “came in contact with a gang of blackmailers and a drug ring and turned against us.” One of the two victims allegedly stole three important documents belonging to the organization. The killer affirmed that the documents had been found and closed the letter with the following statement:
This is final. You know what we want you to know. Quiet your people and tell them that 3X is no more.“ The person behind the 3X murders has never been caught and the case still remains unsolved.

Remembering  Robert Donat  on his birthday (18 March 1905 -9 June 1958). He won the Best Actor Oscar for Goodbye, Mr Chips, 1939. He is seen here in a screencap from The 39 Steps (Alfred Hitchcock, 1935)

“His tragedy was that the promise of his early years was never fulfilled and that he was haunted by agonies of doubt and disappointment”  - David Shipman

5 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About That Graduation Song

In honor of the Class of 2015, here are 5 fun facts about what is arguably one of the most well-known pieces of classical music.

  1. We have Shakespeare to thank for the ‘pompous’ title: “The royal banner, and all quality, / Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!” (Othello III.iii)
  2. Pomp and Circumstance actually refers to the entire set of six marches composed by Edward Elgar between 1901 and 1930, his Op. 39. The one played at graduations is formally called “Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D Major.”
  3. The famous graduation melody (around 1:55) caught the attention of King Edward VII, who suggested that words be added so it could be sung at the Royal gala preceding his coronation. The tune with words – known as “Land of Hope and Glory” – was therefore incorporated as the final movement of Elgar’s Coronation Ode, Op. 44.
  4. Elgar knew he had composed a hit, calling it a “damned fine popular tune” and saying before its premier, “I’ve got a tune that will knock’em – knock’em flat.”
  5. The first time the piece was actually played at a graduation ceremony wasn’t until 1905, when Elgar received an honorary doctorate from Yale. Since then, it’s become a staple of American graduations.

Congrats, grads!