Monday, December 7, 2009

57 Books from the University Book Sale: Book 24

Title: Down to Eternity (Gold Medal s550, 1956)
Author: Richard O'Connor
Cover artist: I think that's Charles Binger's signature

Yours for: $5

  • "Efxcuse me, sfir, you're pholding my head afwittle tight..."
  • "Does this life jacket smell clean to you, Mary!? Well does it!? Whoa, is that an iceberg?"
  • Next time you really want to annoy a woman, accuse her of riding the "P.M.S. Titanic" (that's what that life jacket says, right?)
  • This book was reviewed in the New York Times (found this page trying to hunt down the date of this book, which appears to lack a proper title and publishing info page)

  • Easy on the bloated hyperbole, junior.
  • Oh, R.M.S. Titanic ... yeah, that makes more sense.

Page 123~

Still clad in his dressing gown, he bustled around the boat deck and undoubtedly made a great nuisance of himself.


[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter]


Frank said...

Hey, is that the guy who played Walter Lydecker in Laura? You know, the one who was go-to for slightly sinister effetes in 1940s Hollywood?

Deb said...

Frank--that's exactly what I thought. Clifton Webb is the actor's name--and, if I remember rightly, he was in a movie about the Titanic. I think Barbara Stanwyck may have been in it also.

Maughta said...

THIS IS THE GREATEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN that I've read seated on my toilet.

Ms Avery said...

Yeah, once the Titanic went down, the poor were never oppressed again.

...seriously, what?

Jen Alien-Spouse said...

Damn! Beaten to the Clifton Webb reference, although he'll always be Frank Gilbreith to me.

justjack said...

The Jean Negulesco-directed "Titanic" was released in 1953, and yes it did star Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck. Also starred a young feller who is waaay too full of college spirit, by the name of Robert Wagner. Thelma Ritter's in it, too, of course playing the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" character.

So this book has a cover picture obviously copped from that movie, but the book came out three years after the movie and isn't related to that movie in any way? Huh?

I can't remember for sure, but the guy described in the Page 123 quote may have been Allyn Joslyn, in full-on weasel mode.

Tellya whut, That Clifton Webb really turned in a great performance in that movie (that's unrelated to this book, even though his picture is on the cover...). Barbara Stanwyck in matron-mode is not that interesting, but Webb's acting takes what would have otherwise been just another piece of Negulesco fluff (and I like Negulesco fluff) and gives it unexpected depth. That last scene with him and his son as the ship finally goes down? Fuggedaboutit. I get choked up just thinking about it.

L. said...

That's the thing, in the movie (which this cover is ripping off) Clifton Webb was with his SON as the ship went down. Yet the cover art seems to have attempted to feminize the young boy into a young girl. I wonder if the actor who played the son was offended at his sex change.

justjack said...

Okay, I get it:

"Titanic" directed by Jean Negulesco and starring Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck came out in 1953. Big box office, and everyone thinks of that movie when they think of the Titanic.

Couple years later, Richard O'Connor writes his book, and Gold Medal publishes it. He wanted to call it something like "Transitioning Riveting Protocols for Macroload-Bearing Surfaces: Socio-Economic Factors And Their Role In Manufacturing Trends At The Dawn Of The 20th Century."

Gold Medal, in their best Tom Ewell Seven Year Itch mode, decide that O'Connor's title lacks pizzazz. They rename the book.

Then for the cover they hire Charlie Binger and tell him, Charlie, evoke everyone's memories of the most recent successful movie about the Titanic, so they'll think this crummy book has something to do with that. But make sure you're not too on the nose with the art, so we can't get sued...maybe you should change Norman into a girl, and maybe you can erase Clifton Webb's mustache...leave a little smudge, though, so it sorta still looks like a mustache...Yeah, that's the ticket.

And now you know.....the REST of the story.

justjack said...

From that NYT book review: "It is to the credit of Gold Medal Books that they have brought out this second-best book in a limited field."

Ouch. Talk about backhanded compliments. Also, for a fat guy, you don't sweat too much.

"Mrs. Brown taking over her lifeboat with a cooked pistol."

Baked or boiled?

Elaine said...

Darn it! I think I said David Niven (on the Other Blog) and as soon as I saw this cover art, I knew, KNEW, it was Clifton Webb. Three Coins in a Fountain, Cheaper by the Dozen, Titanic Clifton Webb. Dang.