Saturday, May 25, 2013

Frank Clews

Here's a little mystery that has me mystified. Frank Clews briefly flared in the paperback firmament in 1962-64 and was then  heard of no more.

His first known book was the 1960 novelisation of Ordered to Love, described as "the story of one of the most gryesome projects ever known to mankind, a project which completely ignored all principles of human decency ... for this is the story of Hitler's Love Camp, that gruesome institution where the flower of Germany's youth was brought together to conceive the new super-race that would eventually rule the world."

Filmed as Lebensborn, this German production starring Marie Perschy, Joachim Hansen and Harry Meyen was eventually passed for British release in a cut version in May 1962. The book may have been written some time before as it carried a publication notice saying it was published in 1960. However, the cover noted the name of the British distributor (Miracle Films) and that it was an X certificate, which could only be known once the film was certified; also a variety of titles were advertised that appeared as late as December 1962 and January 1963, which leads me to believe that the book did not appear until late 1962 at the earliest.

Clews' second novel also suffered from similar problems. The Party's Over was a novelisation of the movie starring Oliver Reed, scripted by Marc Behm and directed by Guy Hamilton. The original movie filmed in 1962 became entangled in various censorship battles and eventually emerged in a mangled form in April 1965; the uncut original only emerged on DVD in 2010. For more details of the film, see here.

Clews' only other known novelisation was also of a Miracle Films title. His Women was a cut version of the Italian comedy Il mantenuto [The Retained].

Frank Clews also wrote two books about pop stars and pop hits of the day. In Teenage Idols he covered dozens of young stars, many of them represented with brief interviews. In his introduction the author notes:
... what of the enormously wealthy young people the teenage idols? What of Helen Shapiro and Mike Sarne, Joe Brown and Eden Kane? What are their backgrounds and their ambitions, their successes and failures, their likes and dislikes? What sort of people are they, these young ones, away from the stage and the cameras, relaxing at home, or at parties or just meeting other people? These things I hope to throw some light on in the following pages, for I too have been deeply involved in the top twenty charts for some time, as each week I review records and films in my syndicated column. The newspapers this column appears in are compelled by pressure of space only to quote little tit-bits about my meetings with the stars, in their homes, at receptions, or sometimes, even accidentally, walking along the street. We have discussed together many things, swapped yarns together, been serious and joked. I know the big names and the little names, those on the way up and those who seem to be slipping from favour. And so when my publishers suggested I write a book about these young ones, I greeted the suggestion with enthusiasm, for here is the chance to tell, in more detail, the stories of the stars, the facts and the feelings.
Clews' other title, The Golden Disc was a collection of biographies of singers whose records sold more than a million copies.

In 1964, Clews wrote the forward for Scream, a 32-page magazine subtitled "Top Pop Parade of the Stars No.1", and featuring the likes of Dave Clark, The Hollies, Billy Fury, Joe Brown, Cilla Black and Dusty Springfield; a colour pull-out featured The Beatles.

And that is the last positive sighting I have of him.

Ordered to Love (novelisation of the movie). London, Digit Books nn, 1960 [1962?].
The Party's Over (novelisation of the movie). London, Digit Books R680, Mar 1963.
His Women (novelisation of the movie). London, Mayflower Books 3603, 1963.

Teenage Idols. London, Digit Books R677, 1962 [Feb 1963].
The Golden Disc. London, Digit Books R711, Jun 1963.


  1. Interested to discover this piece about Frank. He was my partner Belinda's father. Here's a little bit about his background: Frank Clews was born in Glasgow and after a short spell in the navy he moved successfully into a journalism career in London. Later he ran a model agency before moving back to Scotland for a period, and again working in journalism. He then went to live in Bristol, working with Christian Aid, and died there in 2004.

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