Wednesday, 1 October 2008

another item retrieved from my parents attic on my recent visit. I picked up this paperback second hand around thirty years ago. I loved the cover which deliberately evoked an earlier time and illustrational style. It was painted by Alan Manham, of whom I know nothing. Then I was knocked out to find the sequel, and the craftsmanlike diligence with which he had painted the same character a second time. It just so happened that I loved Bergman's writing too. He's probably best known for his script credit in Blazing Saddles and some other movies. IT was marvellous to lose my whole plane trip back to Australia to a rereading of these great detective novels. Hollywood and Levine rushes to a conclusion in which Humphrey Bogart plays an unexpected part:
"It'll take a while, mister. Like I said, she's wedged in."
A sense of futility and anguish possessed me like sick fever. There I stood, my car fenced in by the Rolls-Royces and Bentleys of Hollywood royalty, while a woman I had grown to love was being driven away, to her death, by a lunatic FBI man.
I didn't have any choice, I had to steal a car.
I sprinted away.
"If you're going to put the arm on one." he called out, "bring it back before midnight."
As I turned the corner and ran toward the front of the house, a blue Cadillac was coming up the driveway.
Panting, I reached the car and leaned in through the front window. The driver, who had dipped his head to light a cigarette, turned to face me.
"What do you want?" asked Humphrey Bogart.
"Your car." It wasn't what I had planned to say, not at all, but confronted with Bogart, the truth rushed to my head like a snort of cocaine.
"What?" He was friendly, calm, a bit loaded.
"Why do you want the car?' asked his companion. She was thin and tawny, with sleek brown hair, large intelligent eyes, and a mouth you could have used for collateral. She was, I realized, Lauren Bacall.
"To prevent a murder," I said.
Bogart's mouth tightened. "You serious?" he asked.
"Very serious. Walter Adrian's widow is in terrible danger."
"Jesus Christ," said Bogart. He turned to Bacall. "Go inside, Betty, tell them I'll be late.
"I can't come?" she asked.
"No, no," Bogart grumbled. "C'mon, let this guy in the car. Helen Adrian. Christ almighty."
Bacall got out and I got in, thanking her profusely. She put her hands on the window, her eyes worried.
"Bogey, don't be a hero. Take care," she told him.
Bogart said not to worry, but we had to go; then he floored the gas pedal and sent us smoking out the driveway. He executed an impossible U-turn and went roaring up St. Cloud, which ran into Bel Air Road, and down a series of hair raising curves to Sunset Boulevard. Bogart stopped at Sunset and turned to me.
"Which way and what's your name?"
The above were published in 1974 and 1975. Bergman revived his Jewish shamus, Jack LeVIne in 2001 in Tender is Levine, which I haven't read. Reviewer J Kingston Pierce retreads an anecdote:
"As the story goes, Bergman hadn't intended to revisit Jack LeVine. After penning the script for the movie Blazing Saddles (1974), he'd settled into a prosperous career of moviemaking, turning out comedic films such as Honeymoon in Vegas and Striptease (the latter based on Carl Hiaasen's 1993 novel). But a devoted and discriminating crime fiction fan -- former U.S. President Bill Clinton -- coaxed him to revive his wisecracking shamus. "Clinton was a big fan of Honeymoon in Vegas," Bergman was quoted as telling a New Jersey newspaper recently, "so I sent him a flying Elvis [Presley] hat and an album from the film. He writes back, 'Thanks, but I wished you'd written a dozen more LeVine books.'"

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4 Comments:

Blogger Matthew Adams said...

Could the Alan Manham you mention actually be Allan Manham, an illustrator who stopped illustrating in the early or late 70's and set up his own agency which I think was/is called artworks inc or illustration inc or something like that. His illustration style was similar to the samples you posted.

Don't actually know a lot about him either but that might give you a bit of clue if you want to look up info on him. I found out about him in an old graphis magazine (I think) I had picked up at a second hand shop. It had an interesting article on him, going on about being an agent was just as creative as being an illustrator. I can't find the magazine at the moment which is a bugger.

2 October 2008 2:53:00 am GMT-5  
Blogger James Langdell said...

If you like Andrew Bergman's work, I hope you've seen the original film of "The In-Laws" with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk. One of the best films ever at keeping a balance between escalating absurd humor while continuing to care about the plot and the characters.

3 October 2008 5:31:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous sophie manham said...

Dear Eddie, yes, Matthew is right: Allan was both a fine illustrator and then an illustrator's agent until he retired a few years ago. he's now a very talented ceramicist! i'm proud to say that i'm his daughter, and remember him doing these book covers, and am delighted to see them again.

11 October 2009 1:18:00 pm GMT-5  
Blogger Eddie Campbell said...

sophie,
A big thanks for letting us know. much appreciated.
Eddie

11 October 2009 2:21:00 pm GMT-5  

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