Sunday, March 02, 2014

Fortnightly Book, March 2

The fortnightly book this time around is one that I've been meaning to get to for a while: Solomon and the Queen of Sheba by an author with the very striking name of Czenzi Ormonde.

There is remarkably little on Ormonde herself; all sources I've been able to find, like this notice of her death ten years ago at age 98, indicate that she mostly kept to herself. She wrote another novel, Laughter from Downstairs, but most of her writing was screenwriting. Her most famous work in that area seems to have been to re-work the script for Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, which came out in 1951. Hitchcock had a falling out with the original writer, Raymond Chandler, so he wanted Ben Hecht, the famous script doctor, to re-work it. Hecht, however, was busy, so he sent one of his assistants, who happened to be Ormonde. I have seen different sources saying both that the final script is essentially Chandler's, with just some polish by Ormonde, and that the final script owes a few ideas to Chandler's original, but is essentially Ormonde's. She seems also to have been stuck with the job of ferrying Hitchcock around occasionally, as the director did not drive.

In addition to screenwriting, Ormonde did quite a bit of research for movie scripts, and that research seems to have led to this book, published in 1954. Recall that this was the late 1940s and early 1950s: Samson and Delilah completely rocked the box office in 1949, touching off a flurry of biblical epic blockbusters that we associate with Golden Age Hollywood, of which the most famous were The Ten Commandments (1956) and Ben-Hur (1959). I've never read Ormonde's book, but given her background and the circumstances under which she wrote it, it's hard not to anticipate some taste of the same in her book: lots of color filling in the outlines, not shying away from sex and violence without dwelling on them, big, sweeping story that takes ideas seriously but is mostly interested in character interaction, and so forth. But we'll see.

The epigraph for the book is from Proverbs 29:18: Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

2 comments:

  1. Timotheos8:45 PM

    I almost forgot, happy Texas Independence Day!

    ReplyDelete
  2. branemrys7:17 AM

    Forgot it entirely myself.

    ReplyDelete

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