I had a lot of interest in my post earlier this week on Alan J Pakula’s wonderfully atmospheric 1971 movie, Klute. Given this, I thought Pulp Curry readers may be interested in having a look at this artefact from my pulp collection, the paperback tie-in for the film. It was published by Paperback Library in July 1971, a month after the film was released. I like the tag line on the cover, which reduces what is a remarkably sophisticated film to a classic, 1950s sounding pulp novel: ‘A small-town cop and New York call girl run a collision course with murder’.
I thought this would be a relatively straight forward post, but as is often the case there is a story behind the author of this book. Paperback tie-ins were a massively popular form of entertainment before the advent of VHS, as a way for fans to re-live their favourite films and television shows. The author of Klute, William Johnston, appears to have been somewhat of a master of the paper-back tie in.
According to an article on this site, much of which was taken by a longer piece by author, Lee Goldberg, Johnston penned a large number of them. The best known of these were numerous books for the Get Smart series. But Johnston also wrote tie-ins for Happy Days, Welcome Back Kotter, The Flying Nun, The Brady Bunch, Nanny and the Professor, The Munsters, Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched, The Monkees and F-Troop, Ironside, Dick Tracy, The Young Rebels, The Iron Horse, Then Came Bronson, and Rod Serling’s The New People, to name a few. He even adapted the cartoon characters Magilla Gorilla and Snagglepuss as books for children.
In addition to Klute, his movie ties-ins included The Swinger, a 1966 film starring Ann Margaret and Anthony Franciosa, Echoes of a Summer (1976), the wonderfully named The New Interns (1964), The Priest’s Wife (1970), in which a young women, played by Sophia Loren, starts an affair with a priest she meets on a help line after she attempts suicide, and Lt. Robin Crusoe USN, a 1966 Walt Disney film starring Dick Van Dyke.
His last job was the novelisation of Gore Vidal’s Caligula (under the pseudonym William Howard). Johnston also did on stand alone novel, a science fiction caper story, Sam Weskit on the Planet Framingham, that appeared in 1970.
He died in 2010.
William Johnson, I salute you.