Friday, February 17, 2012

New Additions to My Vintage Book Collection – February 2012

These are but three of dozens of books I've procured over the last months, and wouldn't you know it: my scanner goes and dies when I finally decide to get around put some of the great purchases for this blog. Oh well, guess the rest will have to wait awhile longer, as a scanner is not the highest thing on my list of needed purchases.
But let's take a look at all three of these books, bought (as normal) just for their covers. It is doubtful I shall ever read one of them – has anyone out there done so?

The Great Ones
by Ralph Ingersoll
Popular Library 243
Copyright 1948 / No print edition information given
Cover artist unknown
We admit: we bought this packet of three books primarily because of this book — isn't the cover grand? His six-pack and her curves, but not a bellybutton to be found. The cover artist is not given credit, which is a shame, and "this book has been slightly abridged for your greater reading pleasure." No info about the author is supplied in the book, but we assume the author to be Ralph McAllister Ingersoll (December 8, 1900, in New Haven, Connecticut March 8, 1985, in Miami Beach, Florida). Among other things, he was the managing editor of The New Yorker from 1923 to 1925, supposedly getting the job only because the founder Harold Ross spilled ink on his suit during the interview. From there, he became the managing editor of Time-Life publications. He eventually founded PM, an influential leftist daily that ceased publication in 1948. In the 1950s he founded a newspaper empire that was eventually bought out from under him by his own son Ralph M. Ingersoll Jr. in 1982. When The Great Ones came out, Kirkus Reviews wrote on Feb. 16th, 1948: "The romance of two V(ery) I(mportant) P(eople), defined in terms of wealth, carefully, but not too carefully camouflaged to avoid definite identification, but paralleling sufficiently the fortunes of the Luces to cause plenty of gossip when the book comes out. A brittle, brilliant, fast-paced story in the modern tradition of surface action, photographic technique, cynical caricature, and a resultant composition which fascinates while it repels, both through its likenesses to conditions in the abstract and through its exaggerations, in typing the characters. The story concerns the career of Sturges Strong, a youthful prodigy, out of Yale, who makes a spectacular success of a magazine called FACTS, almost comes a cropper with its stepchild FANTASY, but wins through to a great fortune and great power as editor-owner. It concerns too the even more sensational career of Lucia Long who ultimately becomes his wife. Once established as a stylist and designer, Lucia turns her back on that when she is a success, and becomes the rage as a painter, discards that role and writes a best seller, and then meets Success — thinks she has found her star — marries — suffers successive disillusionments (he has his feet of clay) and enters the arena of internationalism with the War and of politics as its aftermath... Sheer entertainment, with no load of social significance save for its cynical view of wealth."

Walk with the Devil
by Elliott Arnold
Pocket Book 839
1st Printing December 1951, Pocket Book edition January 1952
Complete & Unabridged
Cover Artist: Ray Pease
Cover artist Ray Pease, aka Raymond S. Pease, was born in Vermont in 1908 or 1909; he attended Grand Central Art School and the National Academy of Design in New York City, and received a B.F.A. degree from the Yale University School of Art. He also studied art in Paris at the Ecoles des Beaux-Arts and Academie Julian. He died around 1991 of Alzheimer's Disease in Prescott, Arizona, where he was living with his wife Harriett. He quit painting in 1989 due to his illness. Aside from cover illustrations, Peasewas a painter outdoor sports and Western scenes. His polo paintings are particularly well represented on the web.
The author, Elliott Arnold (13 September 1912, Brooklyn, New York — 13 May 1980, New York City, New York) was an American journalist, novelist and screenwriter. Elliott Arnold is probably best known for his novel Blood Brother, which was filmed in 1950 as Broken Arrow, the "first Hollywood film sympathetic towards Indians" (opening credits); a TV series of the same name followed in 1956. Of Walk with the Devil, Kirkus Reviews wrote Oct. 16th, 1950: "An unusual story, in that its interest and values lie on the level of psychological conflicts, while its setting is war in Southern Italy, its proponents, people to whom the war and its implications are at the focus of the immediate issues. Guy Bertini, American born, did not realize the potency of his Italian blood until he found himself a Captain in OSS, American Army, assigned to a secret-service mission involving his Italian-born brother whom he — at home — had helped convict on charges of illegal activities in traffic of liquor, women and drugs. The mission raised a moral issue; Guy was charged to offer his brother not only money and security but reinstatement of the American citizenship he had sacrificed, if he would betray his Italian and German associates, and secure the bridge, sole entrance to the town. Guy went that far — and farther, agreeing to the sordid price his brother further demanded, a price which involved Guy in complicity. But this alone did not change him. It was when he found himself bearer of the secret plan to cheat the gangster of the final price that he knew that he himself had 'walked with the devil' and could not free himself. The scenes in the officers' quarters where the idealist, Russell Linscomb, and the realist, General Culpeper, battle for common ground, not knowing Guy is at stake; the scenes in which Guy's gangster brother plays Guy for a sucker – in which it is the gangster who is straight, the moralist crooked, these are unique in their test of our own moral precepts. Arnold's best book to date."

No Highway
by Nevil Shute
Dell Book 516 / Mapback
Copyright MCMXLVIII / No print edition information given
Complete & Unabridged
Cover: Movie tie-in (colored photo) with James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich
Nevil Shute was quite the best seller once upon a time. Born Nevil Shute Norway in Great Britain on 17 January 1899, he eventually moved to Australia, where he died 12 January 1960. A successful aeronautical engineer, he dropped his last name for his books so as to prevent any potential negative feedback or reaction from his writing career. His most famous novel is probably On the Beach, which was made into a film in 1959 (trailer) directed by Stanley Kramer and starring Eva Gardner, Gregory Peck, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins.
No Highway was first published in 1948 and was then filmed in 1951. Starring James Stewart as Honey (a widowed scientist), Jack Hawkins as Scott (a young aeronauticist and head of the structural department at the RAE), and Marlene Dietrich as Teasdale (a minor but known Hollywood actress), the film was released as No Highway in the Sky in the USA. The movie was directed by Henry Koster — born Herman Kosterlitz in Berlin, Germany, on May 1, 1905, he was one of many who had to flee the National Socialists — whose last film was that gagathon The Singing Nun (made in 1966, long before Jeanine Deckers, the real "singing nun," along with Annie Pécher, her "companion" of ten years, committed duel suicide). After The Singing Nun, Koster retired to Leisure Village, Camarillo, California, to pursue his interest in painting.

Trailer to No Highway in the Sky:

While I couldn't locate any online review of the book, there are numerous of the film. At At-A-Glance Film Reviews, for example, they say: "They don't make movies like this anymore. No Highway in the Sky is an unusual film and is hard to classify into a genre. There are elements of comedy and disaster thriller, but at its heart it's simply the story of a scientist unsuccessfully trying to convince people that a particular new type of aircraft is unsafe to fly. More interesting are his efforts to reconcile his conflicting emotions about where his responsibilities as a scientist lie. Although it sounds like a heavy and possibly frustrating film, in fact it is neither, thanks to Jimmy Stewart's ever-watchable performance and an amusing flair."
The young Elspeth Honey is no one less than Janette Scott, who really got me hot when I saw her fight a triffid that spits poison and kills in The Day of the Triffids (1962 / trailer). Before she faded into obscurity, she also took part in such fun films as Paranoiac (1963), The Old Dark House (1963 / trailer) and Crack in the World (1965 / trailer).
In regard to the basic idea in No Highway that the plane is doomed to crash due to metal fatigue, this was the cause of a number of fatal crashes of the de Havilland Comet in the 50s.
Full film:

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