Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Leisure's Classic Film Collection

This is kind of cool. Leisure Books recently announced a series of four Western novels in its upcoming Classic Film Collection. The novels are all the basis of classic Western films. The first to be released is Alan LeMay’s novel The Searchers. It is scheduled to be released in February 2009. I recently watched the film version of The Searchers for the first time on a local PBS affiliate. It truly is a masterpiece. John Wayne can’t do everything well—like deliver lines—but in The Searchers the director John Ford captures Wayne at his best: the long lonely look of his aging face; the heavy swagger and bravado and his sheer masculine essence. It was a great film and I’m betting the novel is just as good.

The second to be released is Destry Rides Again by Max Brand. It is scheduled for release in March. This is a novel and film that I have never read or seen. I’ve read a handful of Brand Westerns and each one was enjoyable. Here is a taste from the Dorchester website:

“Destry Rides Again helped launch James Stewart’s career and revitalized Marlene Dietrich’s in 1939. The character has remained one of Max Brand’s most famous, spawning a 1954 remake of the movie, a TV series, and a Broadway musical.”

The third will be released in April 2009. Its title: The Man from Laramie. The author: T.T. Flynn. Flynn is a writer whom I have yet to read, although I have a few of his novels floating around. I do, however, remember the film. It starred James Stewart—as I recall—and was a pretty good Western. Dorchester’s website claims that there were more than 500,000 copies of this novel printed in the day.

The fourth and final novel in the series—so far as I know—is another Alan LeMay titled The Unforgiven. This is another title that I’m not familiar with. Here is what Dorchester has to say:

"In many ways this novel, a May release, is a companion to The Searchers, as it features a different perspective on the clashes and prejudices between whites and Native Americans. Rather than chasing after a missing white girl taken captive by the Comanches as in The Searchers, The Unforgiven presents the explosive ramifications when it’s revealed a white family may have taken in a Kiowa baby 17 years before."

I’m looking forward to these titles. I grew up with John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart on the television screen. My father enjoyed the work of the former and my mother the later. I’m especially looking forward to The Searchers. The film has been playing quite frequently on television recently and I’ve watched it more than once.

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