Tag Archives: James Hadley Chase

They Made Me a Fugitive

I recently wrote a yet to be published article on the critical furore that greeted the 1939 James Hadley Chase book, No Orchids for Miss Blandish, and the 1948 film version. Among my research was an article by British film academic James Chapman which discussed the film version of No Orchids as part of a cycle of British crime films that drew severe condemnation from censors, moralists and film critics for their depiction of sex and violence and their bleak take on post-war British life. Another was the 1948 adaptation of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock. But it was the first of this cycle, appearing in 1947, that I had not seen and only vaguely heard about, They Made Me a Fugitive or I Became a Criminal, the title it was released under in the United States.

Fugitive stars Trevor Howard as Clem Morgan, a demobbed Royal Air Force pilot who joins a criminal gang headed by a flash gangster with a very nasty streak, Narcy (Griffith Jones). Narcy runs a funeral parlour business as a front for a black-market operation, the good smuggled in the coffins. Morgan and Narcy take an instant alpha male dislike to each other. Morgan is particularly critical of Narcy’s decision to traffic in what he calls ‘sherbet’, which I think is cocaine (although this is not spelt out in the film).… Read more

Pulp Friday: more adventures behind the bamboo screen

The Turncoat

One of the most successful pulp fiction related posts to date on this site was a selection of Asian themed pulp fiction paperback covers I put up in 2011, Behind the bamboo screen: Asian pulp covers of the sixties and seventies.

For a while now I’ve been planning a follow up and here it is.

As was the case in the original post, the covers below portray the anti-communist hysteria created by the rise of the so-called ‘red menace’ as well the fate of innocent (and not so innocent) Westerners thrown into chaos and intrigue of the ‘Far east’, a place of intrigue, “notorious pleasure palaces” and “forbidden desire”.

Hong Kong was a popular setting of Asian themed pulp fiction, as evidenced by titles such as A Coffin From Hong Kong (“A seemingly innocent telephone call led him to the murder of a Chinese call-girl who had talked to much and into the teeming, sordid nightlife of colourful Hong Kong”).

Other locales portrayed below include, Korea (The Turncoat), China (Shanghai Incident – “I had two callers my first night in Shanghai – death and a honey blonde”), the “South Seas” (November Reef), India (Men and Angels), Burma (The House of Bamboo – “In a Burmese girl’s warm, seductive beauty he found escape from the flames of forbidden desire”), and Thailand (Port Orient).… Read more