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May 31, 2007

Ed on George

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Ed Gorman enjoys "Blackmailer", a nearly-50-year-old novel by George Axelrod that has just been republished by the excellent Hard Case Crime.

Axelrod (who died in 2003) doesn't seem to be well-known these days. But he was a legend back in the '50s and '60s -- a wildly successful TV and radio writer; a celebrated playwright ("Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?", "The 7-Year Itch"); and a high-paid screenwriter who penned scripts for such movies as "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "The Manchurian Candidate," and the hyper-kooky "Lord Love a Duck" (one of The Wife's favorites), which he also directed. As far as I 've been able to tell, "Blackmailer" was his only novel. He wrote it for the famous Gold Medal paperback line, which I blogged about here.

He was at his malicious and exuberant best doing dizzy, poppy satire. Ed Gorman describes Axelrod this way: "There were few cooler guys on TV in the Fifties than George Axelrod ... I always thought Now that's the kind of guy I wish I could be. Hip but accessible." Ed calls "Blackmailer" "larky ... pure escape," which sounds awfully good to me. I've just hit Amazon's One-Click button.

I couldn't find much about Axelrod online. (Funny how little the web offers on some major figures, isn't it? How is our picture of culture being affected by this?) Axelrod dropped out of circulation in the late '60s, then did a few screenwriting jobs in the '80s: "The Last Protocol," "The Holcroft Covenant," neither one of which I've seen.

Here's a short look at his life. Wikipedia is pretty informative too. Here's an AP obit.

It's good to see that a movie based on one of Ed Gorman's novels has just gone into production. I'm looking forward to that too.



posted by Michael at May 31, 2007


Boy--Axelrod has quite a list of plays and movies there---even half of those would make him historic! Is there any equivalent today? Anybody who wrote today's equivalent of both "The Manchurian Candidate" and "The 7-Year Itch"? And...wait for it...didnt become a director, to boot?

Plus..."Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?", "Breakfast at Tiffany's", "Lord Love A Duck"---talk about evoking America in a different time. Think of how vastly different Americans' world view was, then---when so many wanted to be Doris Day and Rock Hudson, and live in California and drive a convertible and have a swimming pool and everything was just perfectly perfect---even if a bit daffy. Interesting how Axelrod's own work began to signal the sea change---"The Manchurian Candidate" was some kind of bellweather, when Sylvia Plath got to be more important than Doris Day. Bummer.

Posted by: annette on June 1, 2007 1:36 PM

There's a great Axelrod line in "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter," when Tony Randall, who plays a PR flack for Rita Marlowe, the Jayne Mansfield movie star character, makes a PR phone call, in her presence, and says: "I may be the president of Rita Marlowe Productions but Miss Marlowe is the titular head of the company," which earns him a patented Jayne Mansfield squeal and squeeze.

It has to be seen. Just google Jayne Mansfield Tony Randall and click video.

Posted by: ricpic on June 1, 2007 5:15 PM

Axelrod also wrote a Hollywood novel:

Where am I now--when I need me?
New York, Viking Press [1971]

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on June 2, 2007 3:12 PM

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