Literary Origins & Extra Reading: 2

It will come as no surprise that quite a few of cinema’s most popular spies also have healthy literary lives. Even some of the less popular cinematic heroes have quite a devoted following in book form. Here is a listing of further adventures of some of these characters. After all, we’ve all heard the saying ‘the book is much better than the film!’

Today we look at the character Jonathan Hemlock, who featured in two novels by Trevanian

“Trevanian” was actually the pen name of American author Dr. Rodney William Whitaker. Whitaker wrote in a wide variety of genres (Historical, Crime, Horror, Western as well as spy stories) and published books under several names (Nicholas Seare, Beñat Le Cagot and under his own name), but was best known as Trevanian.

Form Wikipedia:

His first novel, published under Trevanian at the age of forty when he was teaching at the University of Texas, was The Eiger Sanction, an intelligent, gritty and thrilling spy spoof. It became a worldwide best seller. In 1975 it was adapted as a movie directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. Trevanian described the movie as “vapid” in a footnote in Shibumi. He requested (and received) a screenwriting credit as Rod Whitaker. The balance of the script was written by Warren Murphy, the mystery author perhaps best known for co-writing the Destroyer series of men’s action novels.

Saddened that some critics did not ‘get’ the spoof, Trevanian followed it with an even more intense spoof, The Loo Sanction (1973), which depicted an ingenious art theft (which was copied by thieves in Turin).

The Eiger Sanction - Japanese Poster

As described above, Jonathan Hemlock only appeared in one film,The Eiger Sanction directed by and starring Clint Eastwood. The film was moderately successful, but not a runaway hit. Interestingly, a lot of the humour was removed from the Eastwood movie. For instance, Jonathan Hemlock’s CII controller is not simply ‘Dragon’. His name is ‘Yurasis Dragon’. I hear you groan, but the The Eiger Sanction novels was a cheeky little thriller, and the film unfortunately lost this in translation. I have never read The Loo Sanction (I have a dusty paperback copy lying around somewhere), but if the information from Wikipedia is correct, stating that it is even broader in spoofing the spy genre, it is not so surprising that it was never made into a film.

The Eiger Sanction 1972
The Loo Sanction 1972

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