Saturday, 28 November 2015

Caine: "Ipcress File always my favourite ..."

Michael Caine is out and about - this time in New Zealand - doing the promotional tour for the new he stars in, Youth.

In this interview in the New Zealand Herald News, Caine looks back at his film career, and confirms that he has always had fond memories of starring in The Ipcress File. in which he played Harry Palmer or "...James Bond Three-and-a-half".

Nice interview, and great to see Caine still supremely active in cinema at 82, showing no signs of slowing down!

Friday, 30 October 2015

Battle of Britain ... images from a unique copy of the book

Still a brilliant depiction of the battle
A reader of this blog, [we'll call him RR], is one of the world's top Ian Fleming collectors but is also a serious collector of the works of Len Deighton.

Recently, he shared with the Deighton Dossier images from his latest acquisition - a first edition of Battle of Britain by Len Deighton, but with some unique additions. His new US first edition contains the signatures of twenty-one World War 2 air aces, most of whom had fought in the Battle of Britain.

It includes: 15 Luftwaffe aces (including the top 3 aces of all time), 5 RAF aces including the top British ace, and, randomly a top Japanese ace! Many of these were interviewed by Deighton in the course of writing the book originally; all have now, of course, passed on.

The first 20 were collected by the dealer from whom the books was purchased at the first flyers' reunion (Fliegertreffen) in 1981 in Germany, just after Douglas Bader started the Luftwaffe/RAF rapprochement with Adolf Galland around the 40th anniversary of the battle in 1980. The top German ace, Erich Hartmann, scored about 350 kills (mostly Soviet) and the leading British ace, Johnnie Johnson, only 38. Against against each signature is their full military titles, honours and the numbers of kills made in battle.

What a tremendously interesting historical document with the imprints of the brave flyers from both sides. Photos are reproduced below:

Thursday, 15 October 2015

London filming starts soon on SS-GB ... with a surprise for residents

The Holly Lodge Estate, near the Highgate Cemetery
Very interesting little story in today's Evening Standard, here.

The good burghers of Highgate, with the famous cemetery, are warned about waking up and walking around their neighbourhood next week and being confronted by Nazi stormtroopers and guards. This is to do with planned filming of a number of scenes from the book. Not immediately clear which ones.

The article refers to an effortlessly polite note to local residents from the production company working for the BBC, which states: "There will be actors dressed in German Army, SS and Russian military uniform, some will be armed – please do not be alarmed." Quite.

Unlike the Game, Set & Match ennealogy, which is still sitting in pre-production with Clerkenwell Films, who've shed very little light on what's happening, at least this is evidence that when the BBC says we'll get SS-GB in 2016, that's likely to be the case.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Game, Set ... but not Match? A reader invites answers on perplexing questions about the Samson series

Adrian Bailey's illustration for the Game, Set and Match series. Can you recognise each character?
The Samson series of ten novels is, in my opinion, the apogee of Deighton's fiction writing. Over these novels he creates such a web of well-developed who all have some part to play in their respective futures.

But opinions on the novel and the characters are not uniform. Canadian blog reader Milan Stolarik got in touch with the Deighton Dossier to offer his views on this series of books having just read the novels in sequence.

He had some questions about the characters and the books, and I thought it would be best to encourage blog readers to read his thoughts and respond. Here's Milan's contribution:

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

More info on the coming SS-GB adaptation ...

1980's paperback cover art
...courtesy of the Radio Times.

In this piece online, the magazine confirms the appointment of Sam Riley to play the lead character in Len Deighton's famous alternative timeline history of a Nazi-occupied Britain.

The producers and writers aim to "think the unthinkable". Sounds like it will be fascinating stuff.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Spies are cool again ... says the Guardian

Great article in this week's Guardian newspaper about the fact that spies and agents are de riguer again in Television.

TV critic Mark Lawson, who's often on the Newsnight review show, identifies the plethora of spy-related shows that UK TV viewers can look forward to this autumn: the new season of Homeland, a new five-parter called London Spy which - as Lawson notes - immediately draws comparisons perhaps with London Match, the first Bernard Samson novel; plus there's a new adaptation of Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent.

The future BBC SS-GB adaption is also referenced but is incorrect, in that filming is starting this year but it is not scheduled for broadcast in 2015. Sadly, we have to wait a little longer!

Monday, 24 August 2015

James Bond is 85 tomorrow - happy birthday!

That's Sean Connery, of course, who's 85th birthday is on 25 August. Great actor as Bond but also in so many other films that are too numerous to mention. Here's a nice summary on the BBC website of his career and how he moved on from the 007 character to star in some great roles.

The Bond blogs and discussion forums will I'm sure be alive with debates about whether he's the best Bond or not.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Riley ... ace of spies

News from the film world about the planned SS:GB film production, being written by Bond writers Neil Purvis and Robert Wade.

Actor Sam Riley is in talks to become the lead character in the upcoming film adaptation of SS:GB, playing British cop Douglas Archer, in this much anticipated BBC-backed film. This article in Deadline, the movie industry magazine, confirms that German director Philipp Kadelbach is on board to direct.

Interesting news.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Food for thought: Deighton on Radio 4 in August

When last in London, Len Deighton recorded an interview with Radio 4, which will be broadcast at 1230h on 9 August.

The theme is food heroes. Presenter Tim Hayward examines Deighton's qualities for this heroic role by looking at the way he changed people's understanding of food and cooking in the 'sixties through his Action Cookbook, and the wider influence food has had on his life, from his time as a pastry chef in a London hotel through to the present day.

Sounds interesting.

You can access the programme online here, after the original broadcast next week.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Fifth Q&A with the author ...

The author, 2013
As promised, Len Deighton has kindly responded to the request of the blog editor and readers and provided a fifth edition of our Q&A series which, over the years now, he's been kind enough to provide to the blog to give readers some further insights into this books and his process as an author.

This time, again, there are a mixture of questions from me, the editor, together with questions from readers of the blog or the main Deighton Dossier website.

Full Q&A below the fold. Some further updates may be added in due course.


Monday, 8 June 2015

Another file on Ipcress ....

Friend of the blog and Deighton biographer Edward Milward-Oliver has written a nice new blog post on The Ipcress File on the Picturehouse blog, which looks at how the decisions made by the Columbia film studio led to the film we know and love today.

Find it here.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Off hunting

The ultimate 1st edition?
Expecting tomorrow to be at the Rare Books London fair hosted by the ABA and PBF at Olympia. It's regarded as one of the rare book world's premier market places, and I - along with thousands of other readers and collectors - will be there looking for interesting items for our respective collections.

What's the best bargain you've ever picked up at a book fair, Deighton or indeed any other author?

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Choose ... wisely

[Just dropped in a little Indian Jones and the Last Crusade reference, did you see?]

Readers, I put up a recent post about ideas for the next Q&A for Deighton Dossier readers which Len Deighton has kindly agreed to do.

I've had some questions through. I'm not going to propose a single theme, but am keen instead to post up interesting - and new questions (check the other interviews here to see what we've already asked as a readership).

Couple of possible themes emerging are FILMS and THE WRITING PROCESS.

However, post up questions on any relevant theme that you'd like to add to the Q&A and, within reason, I'll aim to include them on the Q&A, share it with Len and then, at some point, post it on this blog and the main Deighton Dossier website.

Not an app, but a lagniappe .....

A mysterious lagniappe

I've recently purchased a US first edition of XPD, Len Deighton's 1981 novel which, following in the SS-GB style of alternative history builds a story around a fictitious meeting between Churchill and Hitler early in the war, the discovery of papers of which must be prevented at all costs by the hero of the story, agent Boy Stuart.

The story itself is good but what's interesting about the US first edition is this lagniappe - or laid-in gift, often used by booksellers and publishers - of a postcard of the German Hindenburg airship, which frequently made the transatlantic trip between Germany and New Jersey, USA.

It's an interesting card in and of itself, and on the back contains the simple message: 'From: Len Deighton". But why is it there and what marketing purpose did it have? I'm not sure - there's no reference to the Hindenburg in the novel, so there's no obvious connection with the subject matter.

Nevertheless, to collectors, this lagniappe is much sought after and reasonably rare, much like other ephemera associated with Len Deighton's works.

Any readers have suggestions about the connection?

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Further on the trail of Funeral in Berlin .....

A recent post highlighted a rare discovery of a Funeral in Berlin paperback release press kit from Penguin (posts passim).  Today I met up with Caroline Maddison, one of the trustees of the Penguin Collectors Society, who is writing an article for the society's magazine on the press junket and the impact it had on the company and the book.

The full story will be linked to here when completed, but in chatting to Caroline it's clear that Penguin effectively bet the house on the success of the paperback of Funeral in Berlin, judging by the scale of the expenditure and the enormity of the marketing programme.

Tony Godwin was appointed as fiction editor of Penguin to boost the brand, which was coming under pressure from companies like Pan. He was to invigorate Penguin - not just the covers, but the marketing too. One of this first ideas - hire two planes to take journalists, reps and booksellers over to Berlin and see the city and film being made, having been met on the tarmac by none other than Harry Palmer himself, Michael Caine.

The stunt cost the company £15,000 - a massive sum at the time - but it undoubtedly helped sales to associated the paperback with the new film and the brand already building behind Len Deighton's name on the shelves.

As well as the press kit featured already on the Deighton Dossier website, Caroline shared with me other ephemera from this whole press event which gives a guide to the push behind the book and the cachet associated with both the film and Michael Caine, at the height of the 'sixties spy thriller trend.

Check the photos out below: