Parker news from France (Updated!)

I have been terribly remiss in sharing this news from Miroslav, a French reader who continues to send me great stuff even though I seem to take forever to post it. But as I’ve said before, nothing that is e-mailed to me is forgotten. I’ve got lots of great cover scans and other goodies in the files that will all make it here eventually. My problem is, I always think I’m saving this stuff for some super-awesome mega-post, when what I really ought to be doing is just giving you the damn information. I’ll work on that.

Anyway, Miroslav provides the cover of the French edition of Darwyn Cooke’s The Outfit, and provides some great backstory.

Translation is no more by Tonino Benacquista [who did Cooke’s The Hunter], but by Doug Headline. Doug is the (pen name of the) son of one of the most famous French noir writers, the late Jean-Patrick Manchette (Headline is an English translation of one of the meanings of the French word “manchette”)

JP Manchette had a correspondence with Donald Westlake (I think some of the letters have been published in France). Moreover, Manchette started publishing in the lead crime collection “La série noire” in the late 60s/early 70s at a time when all Stark novels were published in the same collection. (In the 60s a short story collection by Donald Westlake was also published in la “série noire” with a foreword by the publisher underlining that the young Westlake was a major author). Another link, albeit subjective: I always considered Manchette’s first in “série noire” (whose French title could be translated in “let the corpses sun tan”) bore the influence of Stark prose, before Manchette developed his own distinctive style.

Since the 90s, Manchette, Stark and Westlake were no more published by “série noire” but by “Rivages” where Westlake was sometimes translated by Manchette and/or his son. Rivages still promotes today Westlake/Stark. I think they picked Memory for this year.

I’ve not read Jean-Patrick Manchette, although, as Detectives Beyond Borders points out, the opportunity to do so in the good ol’ USA has recently arisen.

This brief roman [Fatale] noir tells the story of Aimée, a hitwoman who comes to a French town to sniff out the money and stir things up. Not especially cold or distant, she nonetheless finds just one kindred spirit, an old baron off his nut who scandalizes the town while nonetheless remaining part of it.

Sounds good to me. Unfortunately my TBR pile is massive right now, so it will be awhile before I check it out. [Update: See Sarah Weinman’s article in the Wall Street Journal for more on Manchette.]

Miroslav continues with some unfortunate news, or, rather, lack of news.

The other potential Stark French front is unfortunately very quiet: still no DVD edition of Alain Cavalier’s Mise à Sac in sight. The restoration I mentioned a while ago seems to have been a one off initiated by the cinematographer, proud of this work in this dark movie (in every meaning of the word).

Mise à Sac is the French film based on The Score. I don’t think it’s lost, but it’s in danger of becoming lost. Miroslav told us awhile back that it used to air on French television regularly, which means someone has a copy. I’ve tried every means, legal and illegal, that I can think of (other than becoming so rich I can fly to France, track down a print, and purchase it myself) to get this film, but with no luck. I’ve been hunting for it for a good twelve years at this point.

Why on earth can no one see this film? Alain Cavalier is still directing movies. I’ve heard from a few sources that this movie is good. Buckets of film noirs seemed to be dumped onto DVD every week of the year. Why hasn’t someone, in France, America, or anywhere else, decided that this film is worth a release on video?

A couple of months after sending me all this great information that I pathetically didn’t post at the time, Miroslav followed up with more:

I came across a Westlake interview on the web.

It is in French.

It is an e-mail interview dated 2006 on the website of a french bookstore devoted to crime fiction.

Westlake among other things explains the origin of Child Heist.

“Universal Pictures asked me to write a script about the Peugeot Kidnapping in Paris where the story would come from a Lionel White book. i e Americans watching a movie and then doing a score. When the film was not made, they were OK for me to take the story and I decided to use a novel as source. Afterwards, I had the idea of Dortmunder and Co using a non existing Parker Novel”.

The Peugeot kidnapping took place in the early 60s in Paris and happily ended with the return of the child.

I do not know what Lionel White novel DW refers to. [Update: It’s The Snatchers, from 1953.]

Nor do I–this is all new to me. I had no idea that Jimmy the Kid originated as a movie concept.

Great stuff, Miroslav. Thanks again, and sorry it took me so long to post!