Sunday, November 18, 2007

Paperback 45: Pocket Books 447

Paperback 45: Pocket Books 447 (1st ptg, 1947)

Title: Turnabout
Author: Thorne Smith
Cover artist: Uncredited (possibly Charles L. McCann)

Yours for: SOLD! (8/22/08)

Best things about this cover:
  • I can't believe that in the 1940's you could get away with a front cover featuring a transvestite man in the bed of a transsexual Joan Crawford impersonator. Progressive.
  • I hope (for his sake) that those are his knees that are tenting that bed sheet.
  • Look at the bloody talons peeking out from the sleeve of Man-Joan's candy-cane pyjamas. Run away, transvestite man, run away!
  • I believe that Charles L. McCann illustrated this cover. Why? Well, this "woman" has McCann's signature noseless-alien design. Remember this looker, from one of McCann's illustrations in Let's Make Mary?

Of course you do.

I love that the front cover gives you No explanation of what exactly is going on with Joan and her John - you have to flip the book over to find out; not that things get much clearer ...

Best things about this back cover:

  • "Ribald" - 40's code for "sexed-up"
  • "It seems..."
  • "Mr. Ram..." - because Egyptian gods like European formality
  • "Tim now occupied his wife's body..." [!?]
  • "personally" [???]
  • Last sentence makes No grammatical sense - I believe "become" should be "becomes"; I know that Pocket Books had decent editors, so this is just embarrassing
  • "... the most hilarious novel in many a moonshine" [which copy writers were clearly drinking when they wrote this up]

Thorne Smith was a terrifically popular "humor" writer of the 40's and 50's. I own several of his paperbacks. One features a lady with preposterous boobs not unlike Mr. Crawford's here, and she is riding a sheep. I know, you can't wait, but you'll have to.



G said...

I really, really want to read this book now. Does that make me weird?

Also, love this post. Nice job.

wendy said...

I am completely dumbstruck.

Nomi Lubin said...

Man-Joan is noseless, and her right eye extends far beyond the edge of her skull. Transvestite man compensates for this by having super masculine features.

Michael5000 said...

I agree with g. This one looks like a ribald riot!

Checking.... but oh! alas, it is not in the collection of the Multnomah County Public Library. My loss.

Regarding eye & nose placement, etc. -- couldn't this be Exhibit A in a masters thesis on the impact of Cubism on midcentury popular illustration? Check out that lamp! It must have taken moments to get its subtleties just right!

Nomi Lubin said...

Yes, I think the permeation of a watered-down much-stylized notion of Cubism is evident in this cover and many of the others. Good point.

Robert said...

This was turned into a movie in 1940 starring Carole Landis, John Hubbard, and Adolphe Menjou. It's not on DVD, but Turner Classic Movies has shown it before. Really bizarre. Carole and John switch bodies, but not voices. So while Carole has to go to work in John's body, she's talking to subordinates in a feminine purr, while John (in Carole's body) has to host a coffee clatch with the girls and barking out comments in a masculine drawl.

And the ending is pretty risque, especially for the '40s. The genie switches their bodies back at the end, but has neglected to complete the process properly, meaning Carole, having recently discovered she's pregnant, is astounded that John is actually pregnant!

JamiSings said...

Okay, I know this post is old, but is this one of the ones you already sold? (Since no price is listed.) I really want to read it and it's not at my public library. Also is this the same Thorne Smith who wrote Topper?

You'll probably have to email me as God only knows if I can find this paticular blog post again.

Rex Parker said...

Drop me a line:

Yes, same Thorne Smith.