Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Richard Sale

Wed, 12 May 1999 01:14:42 +0000 Laurent Lehmann wrote:
> I've been looking for _Not too narrow, not too deep_, his first novel
> (1936), for quite a few years now, since I saw the 1940 adaptation
> starring Clark Gable as a feverish messiah/escaping convict. His
> second novel, _Is a ship burning?_ was published in 1937, at which time he
> started to work in the movie industry : wrote more than 30 scripts,
> directed about 10 in the '50s, and even composed a few scores.
> Laurent
> ____

Good to know there are some Sale readers out there. He doesn't get
mentioned much in the crit lit. Well I've never seen a critical piece on
him, tho he's certainly as deserving as many other popular fiction
Sale was a talented man, and could turn out stories morning noon and
night when he had to--the pulps used to refer to him as the American
Dumas. Not Too Narrow is a tour de force, written in a terse, lyrical
hardboiled style, a crazy escape from Devil's Island Christ parable with
a killer opening paragraph about treacherous fishermen and disemboweled
prisoners. Pretty impressive job for a guy who was 22-23 when he wrote it.

His '40s Hollywood mystery novels Lazarus #7 and Passing Strange are
breezy, cynical, lots of fun, reminiscent of Latimer or Norbert Davis,
and one has a gorgeous leper for a murder suspect. His stuff was
popular in the early paperbacks tho some of those pbks are really
reprints of Argosy or Sat. Evening Post novelettes. By then Sale was
concentrating on movies, directing Marilyn Monroe in Ticket to Tomahawk
and Jane Russell in Gentlemen Marry Brunettes and having a high old
time. He also created and produced a TV series, was it Yancy Derringer?
He got a dispiriting divorce if I recall and decided to leave movies for
a while, disappear on his yacht and write novels. His For the
President's Eyes Only is terrific and White Bufallo is very good. Close
to age 80 Sale was still hitting the typewriter, writing scripts for
Dino DiLaurentis mostly, Dino sometimes standing behind
him in his Beverly Hills office waiting for finished pages, just like
those editors used to do at Street and Smith in 1935...

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