Monday, July 28, 2014

John Shaft’s Mixed Parentage

For years rumors have swirled around about how journalist-turned-author Ernest Tidyman didn’t write all seven of the Shaft novels carrying his byline, but instead turned to ghost writers for substantive work on at least the later entries in that series. Now Steve Aldous -- who is working on a book about Tidyman’s tales of New York City private eye John Shaft and the films those tales inspired -- delivers a fascinating, well-researched piece in our sister publication, The Rap Sheet, that looks back closely at Tidyman’s authorial efforts. Aldous explains at one point:
The success of the films Shaft and The French Connection -- for the latter of which Tidyman received an Academy Award (as well as an Edgar Allan Poe Award) -- significantly increased demands for his time and encouraged him to branch out further into other film writing and production. He set up Ernest Tidyman Productions and began to spread his time across a number of developing projects. The increasing workload encouraged Tidyman to hire writers to help out -- particularly with continuing the Shaft book series.

Tidyman had sketched out story ideas for three further
Shaft books, which he wanted to produce in quick succession so they would fall within the timeframe of MGM’s options agreement. He recruited two writers to help: Robert Turner, a vastly experienced author of pulpish fiction (The Girl in the Cop’s Pocket, etc.) and a contributor to many of the pulp magazines of the 1940s and 1950s; and Phillip Rock, a screenwriter who had also worked on a number of novelizations in the early 1970s (including an adaptation of Dirty Harry). Tidyman had previously used Rock on his novelization of High Plains Drifter, the screenplay Tidyman had written for Clint Eastwood’s 1973 Western.
For all fans of Tidyman’s mostly out-of-print books or Richard Roundtree’s Shaft film series, this piece is well worth reading.



Post a Comment

<< Home