Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Happy Birthday, Mr Deighton .....

Today is Len Deighton's 86th birthday. On behalf of readers of this blog and fans of his spy and other fiction, we wish him an enjoyable birthday with his family and many more birthdays to come.

I understand from Len he'll be celebrating with a cheesecake from his local bakery. Well deserved.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

A certain Mr L.C. Deighton makes an appearance in a new detective novel ....

Author and friend of the Deighton Dossier Mike Ripley - editor of the Getting Away with Murder column on Shotsmag, the online resource for fans of crime and thriller fiction - has paid tribute to his friend and fellow author Len Deighton in his new novel.

Mike, the author of the Angel series of detective novels and supremo behind Ostara Publishing - which is resurrecting lost thrillers and spy novels, book by book - has written the new Albert Campion novel - Mr Campion's Fox - starring the detective character created by Margery Allingham.

The first novel in this new series, Mr Campion's Farewell, was based on a fragment of a manuscript started by the author's widower, Youngman Carter, which Ripley completed to resurrect this detective.

This new novel, the second in the revamped series, Mr Campion's Fox, is a new story created by Ripley for the character.

The crime fiction in thebook takes place in the fictional Suffolk coastal village of Gapton.  Here's the summary of the plot from the book's publicity material:
'The Danish Ambassador has requested Albert Campion's help on 'a delicate family matter'. He's very concerned about his eighteen-year-old daughter, who has formed an attachment to an unsuitable young man. Recruiting his unemployed actor son, Rupert, to keep an eye on Frank Tate, the young man in question, Mr Campion notes some decidedly odd behaviour on the part of the up-and-coming photographer. 
Before he can act on the matter, however, both the Ambassador's daughter and her beau disappear without trace. Then a body is discovered in a lagoon. With appearances from all of Margery Allingham's regular characters, from Campion's former manservant Lugg, to his wife Lady Amanda Fitton and others, this witty and elegant mystery is sure to delight Allingham's many fans. The dialogue is sharp and witty, the observation keen, and the climax is thrilling and eerily atmospheric.'
In the Campion books, Albert Campion worked on and off for British Intelligence, usually just referred to as ‘Security’. The Head of Security (capital S, nothing to do with Sandyman’s Brewery...), who retired in one of the Youngman Carter books, was L. C. Corkran, known as “Elsie” from his initials “L.C.”

In Ripley's new book, as it involves East German spies, he sought a replacement “Elsie” and the thought came to him: who did he know with those initials? So, Ripley invented “Major” L.C. Deighton as the new “Elsie”. Here's an excerpt from the text:
"My name’s not Corkran, though – that would be rather incestuous – it’s Deighton, actually.’

‘Like the writer of those clever spy stories?’ Campion asked innocently.

‘Who?’

‘Never mind.’ Campion turned to the man closer to his own age and took his proffered hand. ‘Delighted to meet you, Mr Sandyman; speaking as a grateful customer.’"
Len's initials are, of course, L.C - Leonard Cyril Deighton. Nice tribute! The book is available on Amazon here.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Heir to the throne?.....

Insufficiently posh
This review in The Guardian of the new Matthew Vaughn film Kingsman draws a line between this modern spy action movie and the spies of past decades of British cinema, including, of course, Harry Palmer.

This being The Guardian, the article is all about class - are we still obsessed by 'posh' spies, given that one of the main characters in this new movie wears Savile Row seats, speaks RP and is part of an elite?

Spy fiction on film has been the preserve of the heroic posh Brit (Harry Palmer aside), writes Stuart Jeffries, but in reality many of the UK's poshest spies have proved their worst, such as Donald McLean and of course Kim Philly.

You can read too much into one movie, of course. The main lesson from the trailer seems to be that the film (like the graphic novel) should be a lot of fun. And that's the point.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Pinterest page set up

I've now created a PINTEREST page for the Deighton Dossier, on which I'll feature some of the images from the main website and link to some other interesting images relating to Len Deighton, his works and other connected items of interest.

You'll find the page here. If you want to pin anything to it, go ahead.

Monday, 19 January 2015

How to save money on your film production .... part 1

A short anecdote from my recent lunch with Len in London.

We had discussed the production of The Ipcress File and how it was kept to budget.

He recalled that on the call sheets for each days production that the white MGB that Nigel Greene drives in the film was his own; the Jaguar that Gordon Jackson drives was his own too; the Zodiac driven by Michael Caine was owned by a ‘Mrs Moss’; and the limo in which Dr Radcliffe is driven to Marylebone Station at the beginning of the film was Alex Paal’s Bentley (Alex Paal was a Hungarian producer and former stills photographer once married to Eva Bartok, a friend of Alex Korda and of Harry Saltzman)

That's a good trick for budding producers to learn. Don't money wasted on hired ‘action vehicles’ - use the cast's or friends'.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Whole load of videos now up on the main site

I've linked to embedded YouTube videos where they are available for all the film pages on the film section of the main Deighton Dossier website. Thought it was worthwhile collating these all together on the website so that interested readers could check them out. They include:

  • A Yorkshire TV promo for Game, Set & Match
  • Ray Hawkey's title sequence for Oh! What a Lovely War
  • The trailer for The Ipcress File and opening sequence for same
  • The trailer for Billion Dollar Brain
  • A trailer for Only When I Larf, among others
Enjoy. If you know of any others which should be linked to, add them in the comments. Hope to be adding soon snippets from 'The Truth About Len Deighton' and maybe some key scenes from G, S & M.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

New additions to the main Deighton Dossier website

Hawkey's SS-GB stamps
I've been busy over the Christmas period adding new information and galleries of pictures to the main Deighton Dossier website which I hope will interest readers. Do check out:



There's plenty more that's been updated and improved - hope readers find it interesting.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

New interview with Len Deighton on the web ... and Happy New Year!

I've just been emailed by Remy Dean, co-editor of Scrawl, the literary website, who's advised that he has just put up a short interview with Len Deighton up on their website, which covers a range of themes about the authors career.

You can catch the interview here.

To anyone's who's read the Deighton Dossier blog and website in 2014, a Happy New Year!

Friday, 26 December 2014

Suited and booted ...

On my wanderings across the Internet I found this very interesting - and specific - site relating to James Bond and the different suits he has worn in the cinema since the sixties.

As well as fulsome identification of the styles, cut and cloth associated with each different James Bond, the site - run by US designer Matt Speiser - has a fun blog post about the suits that Michael Caine wore as Harry Palmer. If you want to know the cuff style, suit fabric and pocket designs that make up the Harry Palmer look, this is the page to check out.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Wonderful images: the Berlin Wall Then & Now, courtesy of The Guardian


The way things were
I've just discovered on The Guardian's website this lovely photographic essay of the Berlin Wall, looking at classic images and then superimposing on them the exact same view as it exists today. Very interesting and well-designed piece, with commentaries, which shows just how utterly transformed the city is from its days as the fulcrum of the Cold War.

Really worth investigating.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Winding back the clock - cookstrips are back in The Observer

Readers who enjoy the feel and simplicity of Len Deighton's cookstrips - which first emerged as serialised items in The Observer between 1962 and 1966 are to appear in this Sunday's edition of The Observer magazine, and thereafter monthly in the magazine. The cookstrips of course subsequently morphed into the Action Cook Book, and famously appear in the coffee making scene in The Ipcress File!

The interview can be found here (hat-tip to Terry).

It features a great reproduction of the famous photo of Len showing Michael Caine as Harry Palmer how to make an omelette in a production still from The Ipcress File. Many of the anecdotes are familiar but there's plenty new in the article of interest to readers, such as the fact Len kept terrapins in his airing cupboard (!).

Here's an extract from the article by Robin Stummer:
'In the film, as Harry nonchalantly cracks eggs into a bowl with one hand while the woman pours out two large whiskies, you can see a cluster of newspaper cuttings pinned up near the copper pans and string of garlic. They are from the Observer’s food section. Not words, but drawings – like prison-cell treasure maps dotted with arrows, numbers and scraps of staccato text veering, slightly insanely, into bold and italic. Those cuttings are some of Deighton’s famous “cookstrips”'.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Immortalised in fabric ....

Discovered this on the Internet recently. Len Deighton is available as a collectible figure. As are a host of other literary personalities.

Very odd. But compellingly so!


Sunday, 30 November 2014

Guest post: reader Terry Kidd on SS-GB

I re-read SS-GB when I heard the news of a possible TV version. Over the years I’ve read long passages from SS-GB out to friends as I’ve tried to share with them my love for this tense and moving book. It was no chore to pick it up again.

Len Deighton, in his memoir relating to James Bond and film making (James Bond, my long and eventful search for his father) remarks on how the film director can build the tension by revealing things that the hero cannot know. In historical fiction the reader can have superior knowledge to the protagonists. In SS-GB Len exploites the reader’s knowledge of the atomic bomb and how it will fundamentally change warfare. At times Kellerman and Mayhew seem to be negotiating over the atomic secrets as though the atomic bomb were just some new type of hand grenade. The reader knows, as they cannot know, what an atomic bomb means.

The tension thus generated keeps the reader engaged throughout. In fiction there are three legs, world, character and plot. In a sense the plot and characters are only there to keep you turning the pages while you visit the world the writer has created. And so we stick with Douglas avidly as he makes his way through the horrific world of a German occupied London.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

EXCLUSIVE - Len Deighton on the true story of the production of Oh! What a Lovely War

Invite to the original premiere
In a coup for the Deighton Dossier, Len Deighton has written a personal and detailed account of his production of the award-winning UK film Oh! What a Lovely War. In this century anniversary of the start of the First World War a lot of focus has been placed on this film with its portrayal, through the music hall style of the original play, of the realities of war for many on the front.

Len has indicated to me that in response to some 'extravagant fictions' that have grown up around the film since its release, he would like to set the record straight and explain the reasons why he chose to make the film and tell the story of the men and the war.

_______

(c) Pluriform 2014

Producing 'Oh What A Lovely War' - how it happened

by Len Deighton


"The radio play

When Charles Chilton created 'The Long Long Trail,’ his musical play for BBC radio, he used only the words that were spoken or written by the participants of World War One. The programme was entertaining but it was an important record too. In a typically British light-hearted way, it brought the facts, figures and first-hand opinions of the war to a wide audience.

The stage production

On 19 March 1963, Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop opened their production. Joan had transformed the radio programme into a musical entertainment for the stage. Her Theatre Royal was a lovely old music hall and Joan's instinct told her to adapt a line from one of the songs - 'Oh, its a lovely war' - to make her more exclamatory title ‘Oh What A Lovely War'. Joan's production adopted the variety theatre format, and even used the illuminated numbers at each side of the stage to distinguish each act. The Theatre Royal was small and the audience was mostly local people, but the heavy irony of Joan's new title attracted wide attention. Theatre critics, always curious about Joan's startling and unpredictable talent, came to Stratford in London to see what it was all about. Kenneth Tynan, the theatre critic of The Observer, gave the show a rave review. I read his verdict a day or two later, in Portugal. The production was obviously an important historical record and I made plans to go to London and see it. I went to London, saw the show and bought the LP recording of the songs and music.

The screenplay

After seeing Joan's Theatre Workshop production at Stratford East the show remained in my mind, and I had played the songs over and over again. I bought a published copy of the stage play to see if I could make it into a screenplay. Harry Saltzman warned me that other admirers of the show had bought movie options previously, but failed to get deals; but I persevered. My determination was driven more by the wish to make a permanent record of the show than by a wish to become a film producer...."

Read the rest of this story on the newly upgraded Deighton Dossier website.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Deighton Dossier main site refresh completed

Readers,

over the last few days I've been busy re-building the main Deighton Dossier website from scratch, including all the original content but adding in more content too and updating some imperfections in the site.

In this mobile age, the site is (I hope) now fully responsive meaning it can be accessed on a phone, table or PC. Also, the design is such that it will now be easier for me to include more galleries, potentially some video and other interesting stuff that I've not been able to put up now.

Here's the new front page:


At some point soon I will also be upgrading the blogger template on blogger.com so it more closely resembles this upgraded site.

Anyway, hope readers like it. If there are errors or things not on there that should be, please send me an email and I'll correct them. If readers have any interesting books or other pieces from their collections which they think should be feature on here (appropriately referenced), do get in touch.

The content itself has been edited slightly, but with this new content structure in place I hope to do a further refresh on all the written content and add some new commentary and analysis, re-using some of the information readers have provided on the blog.

Enjoy!