RARA-AVIS: Tie-ins

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 05 Nov 2007

Jim is quite correct in all his history. The movie tie-ins go all the way back to the silent era with "Photoplay editions" illustrated with stills from the movie. Sometimes these were reprints and sometimes originals produced after the screenplay. I have one somewhere by the pioneer woman screenwriter Frances Marion that she wrote based on her screenplay for the 1931 gangster movie starring Wallace Beery and Clark Gable.

Jim is also right about the role of Whitman Publishing Co., based out of Racine, Wisconsin. They began publishing Big Little Books in the early 1930s featuring popular radio and comics heros as well as shortened versions of popular literature. Dick Tracy, Tarzan, Little Orphan Annie, Red Ryder, and etc. all had their Big Little Books. Later they dropped that name and commissioned full print adventures of movie, radio and television characters.

To go back to Dragnet, the first paperback tie-in for Dragnet was CASE NO. 561 by David Knight published by Pocketbooks in 1956. Knight was a penname of Richard S. Prather. Somewhere I heard that Jack Webb was not pleased with Prather's version of Joe Friday. I have a couple of books on Jack Webb but naturally not where I can put my hands on them.

Webb was quite particular about how dialog was handled as Robert Bloch reported in his autobiography. Bloch did one script for Webb and he rewrote all of the dialog into Dragnet-speak, even though the script was not for Dragnet. Bloch got a little revenge when Webb proudly ushered him to the case containing all of Webb's awards from police departments from around the country. Bloch surveyed the many trophies for a bit and turned to Webb and said something on the order of "You must be a very good bowler."

In 1957, a year after the David Knight/Prather Dragnet book, Whitman Publishing published a book of Dragnet short stories written by Richard Deming. The six stories were written from the original television scripts (which were often based on earlier radio scripts).

Deming then got the assignment to do two adult Dragnet books: DRAGNET: THE CASE OF THE COURTEOUS KILLER (Pocketbook 1958) and DRAGNET: THE CASE OF THE CRIME KING (Pocketbook 1959). I have read both and they are very well done.

Richard Moore

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, JIM DOHERTY <jimdohertyjr@...> wrote:
> Ed,
> Re your question below:
> "The TV tie-in books then go back to 1959-60. Was this
> concept used when TV became popular, earlier in the
> 1950s? Just curious."
> Itr predates television, in fact. Whitman, a midwest
> publisher that printed quite a few TV-tie-in books for
> the juvenile market in the '50's and '60's, published
> radio show tie-in books in the '30's and '40's.
> Grossett & Dunlap, a hardcover publishr specializing
> in reprints, would often do "movie editions" of books
> that had been filmed, with stills from the film on the
> cover and, if the film used a different title, the
> title of the book changed. Hence, there are editions
> of FAREWELL, MY LOVELY that were published under the
> title MURDER, MY SWEET, with Dick Powell on the cover,
> and editions of THE HIGH WINDOW, published under the
> title THE BRASHER DOUBLOON (ironically the title
> Chandler wanted to use) with George Montgomery on the
> cover.
> There's even a book about crime-solving
> photojournalist Jack Casey, by an author OTHER than
> George Harmon Coxe, that specifically ties in, not to
> Coxe's books and stories, but to the radio show CASEY
> - CRIME PHOTOGRAPHER that was loosely based on those
> books ans stories.
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