Monday, March 30, 2009

Obscure Chandler no more obscure

I posted earlier about a short novelization of Double Indemnity that was published in Finnish in 1945. I asked if anyone knew where the thing came from - is it a translation of an American tie-in or was it perhaps Swedish in origin?

No one came to help, so I started digging around. I took a look at Fennica, the Finnish National Library's database and made a note of what films had been novelized in the same series. There were surprisingly many, 37 in total, and some of the films were European in origin. Many were American, like Robin Hood, Road to Cairo (another wonderful Billy Wilder outing) and The Saratoga Trunk, to mention only a few.

Then I made quite a many Abebooks searches for many of the films the names of which I'd found in the library database. I knew there are lots of European bookselelrs in Abebooks, and before long I noticed there has been something called Illustrierte Film-Bühne (translated approximately as Illustrated Film-Scenes or some such). And then simply Googling with that I noticed a German-located database had listed all of the books published in the series. I then cross-searched with the books that had been published in the Finnish series, and they all matched each other.

So, the series (which was called Paletin filmiromaanit, by the way, and it was published by Lehtiyhtymä, one of the foremost Finnish published specialized in cheap entertainment) that had the Double Indemnity novelization was first published in Germany and the writers of the texts were probably German, too, so to count the novelization of Double Indemnity as a work of Raymond Chandler is a bit of a stretch.

I haven't been able to find who was the German publisher of these booklets, but they lasted surprisingly long, to the late fifties. Depicted is the cover of John Ford's Gideon of Scotland Yard and Jack Hawkins as the titular hero.

Edit: my friend, Sauli Pesonen, found this quote from the German Wikipedia. It says that the series was published by the Paul Franke publishers in 1946 and that the series lasted till 1969! This seems, though, that there have been quite a many series that have been called Illustrierte Film-Bühne, since the books I found (again, check the link above) were published already in the thirties and early fourties.
And here's the quote: "Die Illustrierte Film-Bühne (IFB) wurde 1946 in München von dem Verleger Paul Franke gegründet. Die Programmhefte wurden häufig in Blau, Grün, Braun oder Rot gedruckt. Mit der Nr. 8069 wurde 1969 die letzte Ausgabe produziert."
Edit 2: Thanks to Tapani Bagge for the explanation of the word "Bühne".

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