Friday, May 09, 2008

Forgotten Books: PASSING STRANGE by Richard Sale

Although Patti Abbott forgot to include me in the roundup of people who wrote about a forgotten book last week, I remember doing it. And here we go again. This week I'm recommending Passing Strange by Richard Sale. The book's 66 years old now, but it's still fun to read. The story begins in Hollywood, where a Dr. Peter Merritt is performing a caesarean on a famous actress. While he's operating, someone dressed in gown and mask shoots another doctor in the room and escapes easily. Merritt returns to his home in New York, where there's an attempt on his life. Two other people connected with the case are killed. Great stuff, and, as I've said before, who can resist a novel in which Spanish Fly is a major plot element?

Richard Sale may be forgotten today, but if he is, it's a shame. His pulp stories are entertaining, but he moved on to hardcovers like this one and Lazarus #7, as well as "big" books like For the President's Eyes Only. Not to mention The Oscar (both book and movie, one of the great bad movies).

15 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:42 AM

    I really liked Passing Strange and Lazarus#7. Great stuff. mtm

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  2. I know the name but sadly I've yet to read anything by him. I'll have to seek him out on these two worthy recommendations.

    Spanish Fly. Didn't they film that on the sound stage at night after The Fly's cast and crew went home like they did with the Spanish language version of Dracula in 1931?

    The term pops into my head every now and again but haven't heard it mentioned since a teen and others would tell the urban legend tale:

    http://www.snopes.com/risque/aphrodisiacs/gearshift.asp


    I also remember the ads in magazines of the time including. I believe, Playboy.

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  3. I've read Sale in one or the other sort of HITCHCOCK anthology, I'm pretty sure...or perhaps one of Ed Gorman's latter-day BIG BOOKs...

    Wow, again. THE OSCAR. One of the sure ways to make Harlan Ellison, co-adaptor of the novel, cringe or snap or both. AFAIK, also still the only produced cinematic as opposed to television screenplay by HE, which seems odd.

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  4. Spanish fly would maybe be advertised in PLAYBOY, but would be even more SAGA and TRUE's speed...

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  5. Ooo! Also wrote the excellent little known film, Suddenly (1954) which Sinatra used his pull and had shelved after the Kennedy assassination. One of my favorites since A&E aired at 4 am back in the late 80s. Recently aired on TCM and is due to air again May 28th at 3 AM EST (click "Remind Me" feature under date on page below and they will e-mail a reminder a week before and a day before):

    http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=5808

    http://www.dvdplanet.com/details.cfm?info=SCL081159


    After seeing it on A&E I picked it up on cheap DVD a few years later when I saw it in a store:

    http://www.oldies.com/product-view/3022D.html

    He also wrote the novel and the screenplay for White Buffalo (the movie is a pretty decent Western that stars a number of actor favorites of mine including Clint Walker who didn't make enough movies in my opinion - the other day I just recorded None But the Brave (1965) off of TCM, which also stars Sinatra, and mentioned both Killdozer (1974) (TV) and Scream of the Wolf (1974) (TV) on a message board the other day discussing the ABC Tuesday and Wednesday Movie(s) of the Week).

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0907636/

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  6. Thanks, Todd. I'll have to check my books. I have a boatload of the Hitchcock anthologies, both paperback (including several of the old Dell with the back map covers)and hardcover that I've collected over the years.

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  7. Bill-I had no idea anyone would want to do this a second time so I missed it. I'll keep my eyes open from now on. Patti

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  8. The Assistant is one of my favorite books too. So sorry. Also love The Magic Barrel for the best short stories. How did we forget Malamud when he dominated the sixties-seventies?

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  9. Maybe I just thought he was forgotten. Seems as if he's still in print.

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  10. Todd Mason11:47 AM

    He is much loved. At least by a whole lot of us. And THE NATURAL the film, much more than, say, THE FIXER the film, didn't hurt.

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  11. Sale's NOT TOO NARROW, NOT TOO DEEP (from, I believe, 1936) is a very good adventure novel, to be enjoyed by someone who doesn't care for the religious symbolism. Apart from that, I've read only one or two short stories. SUDDENLY is a very much okay little film.

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  12. "To be enjoyed *even* by someone..."

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  13. I agree, Juri. And the religious symbolism is there for those who look for it.

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  14. Strange Cargo (1940) screenplay by Lawrence Hazard based on Sale's NOT TOO NARROW, NOT TOO DEEP is a nice film with a very good cast.

    Calendar Girl (1947) co-written by Sale and Lee Loeb is enjoyable. As is A Ticket to Tomahawk (1950) which Sale wrote the screenplay for. He also co-wrote Mr. Belvedere Goes to College (1949), which being a fan of Clifton Webb and Mr. Belvedere I like very much (it also has a 21 year old Shirley Temple who was as beautiful in her late teen/young adult roles as she was cute in those kiddie hoofer movies she did).

    Horror Hotel with Chris Lee's back on so back to the tube.

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  15. I like Mr. Belvedere and Webb, too.

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