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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Paperback Cover Cavalcade 6

A trio of Movie Tie-ins.

Five Golden Hours, based on the screenplay by Hans Wilhelm (Digit R469, Apr 1961)
'Mourners are lavish spenders. Most of those we lay to rest here sleep well above their means,' remarks Aldo Brondi (Ernie Kovacs), professional undertaker and pallbearer as he gazes fondly across the cemetery. And his words give the key to the most off beat—and one of the most pungent—comedies of the year.
__For "Five Golden Hours", Mario Zampi's Production for Columbia Pictures, starring Ernie Kovacs, Cyd Charisse, George Sanders and Kay Hammond, is the story of the lovable—but frankly crooked—Aldo, whose ambition is one day to operate his own funeral parlour. To this end he becomes comforter and friend to a number of recently bereaved widows, wealthy ones, of course. That he should profit from this is only natural, since he gives himself so wholeheartedly to his work and has such enormous success. But the artful pallbearer meets his match in the beautiful, unscrupulous Baronessa (Cyd Charisse) who has buried too many husbands to be taken in...
__And those 'five golden hours'? They represent the time difference between Rome and New York. 'Golden' because Aldo has convinced his wealthy widows that he can take advantage of the time difference to make their fortunes on the New York stock exchange!
Not much to add. This was an anonymous adaptation, probably by a Digit regular.

A Question of Adultery by Gordon Wellesley, adapted from the screenplay by Anne Edwards (Digit R189, 1958) Cover by R. A. Osborne
Adapted by Gordon Wellesley from the screenplay by Anne Edwards of the currently running Eros Films picture of the same title, starring Anthony Steel and Julie London.
__It poses the burning topic of the hour... Should a wife be denied Motherhood?
__So extremely topical and controversial is the theme of this highly dramatic story that no reader who wants to keep abreast of the contemporary scene will miss it. The plot of the film has been developed into literary form with great delicacy by a gifted writer. The result is a moving tale of a young couple who desperately try to save their marriage from going on the rocks in the face of almost insuperable difficulties.
Based on the play A Breach of Marriage by Dan Sutherland and produced in an era when divorce was not automatically granted on grounds of irreconcilable differences. Adultery usually had to be proved to obtain a decri nici.

The interesting thing here is author Gordon Wellesley. He was involved in British films as a writer and producer from the early 1930s, initially for a company called Associated Talking Pictures, where his credits included Lorna Doone (1934) and three comedies starring Gracie Fields. In 1936, Gordon Wellesley Productions produced The High Command, starring Lionel Atwill, Lucie Mannheim and James Mason; it seems to have been their only production. Wellesley wrote the original story which was adapted by Sidney Gilliat & Frank Launder for the Carol Reed-directed thriller Night Train to Munich (1940) and was nominated for an Oscar (Best Writing, Original Story) in 1942. The film starred Margaret Lockwood and Rex Harrison and re-introduced the characters Charters and Caldicott, who had appeared in the earlier Lockwood movie, The Lady Vanishes.

Wellesley wrote a number of films for Warner Bros.-First National Studios and Two Cities Films during the war and co-directed The Silver Fleet (1943), starring Ralph Richardson as a Dutch marine engineer who sabotages a U-Boat he is supposedly building, and Rhythm Serenade (1943), starring Vera Lynn. After the war he wrote mostly for television, including episodes of Douglas Fairbanks Presents, The Gay Cavalier, The White Hunter, The Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre, International Detective, Sir Francis Drake and Beware the Dog. His occasional movie credits in the 1960s included Visa to Canton (1961) for Hammer Films.

From the 1930s on, Wellesley lived at Hammersmith Road, London, where he died in 1980. It's worth noting that, although the IMDB gives his birth as 8 December 1906 in Sydney, New South Wales, he was, in fact, born on 8 December 1894, possibly in China (or so says one 1930s movie magazine), the son of Florence Edith Wellesley (c.1869- ). His original name was Gordon Wellesley Wong, his surname reflecting the part-Chinese background of his father. He would appear to have been educated in England and spent his early years as a merchant, with business in Malaysia: he and his mother travelled to London in 1926, prior to which they had been living in the Federated Malay States in the Malay Peninsula; his mother continued to live there until at least 1933. It may be coincidence, but Wellesley is also a province of Malaysia (also known as Seberang Perai), named after Richard Wellesley, the 1st Marquess Wellesley (1760-1842). Gordon Wellesley Wong inverted his name to Gordon Wong Wellesley and, under that name, was contributing to the American pulp magazine Romance as early as 1929. One of his early credits, as co-adaptor of the movie Shanghai Madness (1933) was as Gordon Wong Wellesley. He was under contract in Hollywood in the early 1930s.

In 1935, and back in the UK, Wellesley married Katherine Hazel Strueby (1908-1988), an American-born scriptwriter who lived and worked in England. Wellesley was the scenario editor on Death Drives Through (1935) whch was based on one of her original stories.

How Wellesley came to novelise A Question of Adultery is unknown and his only other book credit is Sex and the Occult, a non-fiction study of occultism published by Souvenir Press in 1973. You have to wonder whether he wrote any other books pseudonymously in the intervening 15 years.

That Kind of Girl by Alastair Revie, based on the screenplay by Jan Reed (Digit R738, Aug 1963)
For the first time ever the screen has reflected with compelling frankness one of the great social evils facing the nation today. Now everyone can see in this dramatic story the facts, the truth and the danger of venereal disease.
__A subject that millions only dare whisper about has now been filmed for millions to see, read and shout about!
__That Kind of Girl has been described as '...having achieved the impossible.' IT HAS—and the producers believe—opened the eyes of a nation!
That Kind of Girl was Italian actress Margaret-Rose Keil as a free-loving baby-sitter in suburban Britain. Well, you expect that kind of thing from these continental dolly-birds, especially in an X-rated movie from 1963. Of course, there's a moral... a doctor warns viewers against having promiscuous sex because of sexually transmitted diseases, so it's no surprise that a young lad (David Weston) picks up a dose of VD from Eva (Keil), whom he picks up following an argument with his girlfriend (Linda Marlowe). Reconciled, he then passes the disease to her.

Adaptor Alastair Revie wrote a number of non-fiction books, including biographies This Is Liz Taylor (Consul Books, 1962), I Came Back From Hell (the story of Barry Ellis) (Digit, 1964) and The Last Englishman (about Alfred Wintle) (Michael Joseph, 1968). His other books include a history of WW2 Bomber Command, The Lost Command (David Bruce & Watson, Oct 1971; rev. 1972), Battle: A History of Conflict on Land, Sea and Air, with Thomas Foster & Graham Burton (Marshall Cavendish, 1974), The Pictorial History of Land Battles (Marshall Cavendish, 1974), plus two books on sports, All Roads Lead to Wembley (Pelham, 1971) and Wonderful Wimbledon (Pelham, 1972). I know little about Revie, other than that he was a journalist, and one of the first to learn of the Christine Keeler affair. He was possibly Alastair Shaw Revie (1919-1988), a Scot who later lived in Shropshire.

All I can add is that I once met Linda Marlowe at a screening of an absolute classic exploitation movie called The Swordsman in which she played a private-eye called Harriet Zapper (it was a sequel to Big Zapper) and she was a delightful speaker—and certainly not that kind of girl at all!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello, what an interesting article! I am actually researching Gordon Wellesley Wong for a publication about film in Malaya. I was wondering where you got your information about him from and if you happen to know his parents name or what he was doing in Malaya. Thank you!

Steve said...

Hi Anonymous,

All of the information came from researching around the net and various web-based genealogical sites (Ancestry, Find My Past).

As far as I can now tell, his father was named William Wellesley Wong. His mother was born Florence Edith Ann Husband who married a George Thornton Ratley in 1886. The Ratley family moved to Sydney, Australia, in 1888 where a daughter was born. George and Florence then have two more children in 1908-09. However, by the 1920s they have seperated and a Mrs Florence E. Wellesley can be found on some immigration records, one of them travelling with Gordon Wellesley Wong. Her death in 1954 is recorded as Florence E. Wellesley.

As Gordon was born in 1894 you'll have to make of that what you will.