Amber Heard and Penn Badgley in "The Stepfather" 2009
Penn Badgley stars in Screen Gems' new 2009 version of THE STEPFATHER
While a CIA operative writes his memoirs he is chased by the agency. The novel is a thriller; the movie is a comedy (with Walter Matthau, Glenda Jackson and Sam Waterston); both were created by Brian Garfield.
Brian Garfield's seminal novel about a man whose demons drive him to vigilantism spawned a series of Charles Bronson movies.
THE MEINERTZHAGEN MYSTERY
Col. Richard Meinertzhagen was a storied British hero of natural science, exploration, espionage, military intelligence and front-line warfare. His exploits were admired by Winston Churchill, T. E. Lawrence ("of Arabia") and many others; he was a model for his friend Ian Fleming's creation James Bond (007). Meinertzhagen has appeared as the hero of films like "The Lighthorsemen", as a wry commentator on events ("A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia"), as a heroic historical character ("Young Indiana Jones" etc); and as a principal player in fiction and nonfiction books and in the annals of natural science. Three earlier biographies of him helped perpetuate his legend.
It was a fraud. His reputation is based on his own stories. The great adventures are tall tales -- it turns out they have little or no basis in fact.
Brian Garfield's new biography, substantially based on formerly sealed and recently released records as well as extensive interviews with RM's family and those who knew him, separates the heroics from the hoaxes.
It is an astonishing story, and a great read.
For those who have some knowledge of Richard Meinertzhagen and would like to know more about his activities in Africa than is included in "The Meinertzhagen Mystery", the texts of unpublished passages by Brian Garfield (including sources and notes) can be obtained on request by email from Gerald Rilling at firstname.lastname@example.org .
. . . . For the Wall Street Journal's review of "The Meinertzhagen Mystery", see "Events" page (tab at top of this page).
Films based on works by Brian Garfield:
DEATH WISH. The movie remake will be produced by Sony in 2012 for MGM, starring and directed by Sylvester Stallone, for release in 2013. The original was filmed in 1974, with Charles Bronson, Hope Lange and Vincent Gardenia. That movie introduced actors Jeff Goldblum and Olympia Dukakis, among others. Sequels “Death Wish II - III - IV - V” were filmed in the 1980s and 1990s. Garfield did not write, and did not care for, the sequels. His own sequel novel was filmed in 2007 (see "Death Sentence" below).
HOPSCOTCH. Garfield's book won the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award (the Edgar) as best novel of the year. Garfield co-produced the movie. The screenplay co-written by Garfield was a nominee-finalist for the Writers Guild of America Award. Filmed in 1980 with Walter Matthau, Glenda Jackson, Sam Waterston, Ned Beatty and Herbert Lom; directed by Ronald Neame. The author’s company, Shan Productions, co-released the film. A DVD, including both the theatrical version and the unrated Director's cut -- and on-camera interviews with Garfield and Neame -- is available from The Criterion Collection. Brian feels this is by far the best movie made from his work (to date, at least) and adds, "It's fun for audiences, and we had great fun making it. What more can one ask?"
DEATH SENTENCE. 2007 release, starring Kevin Bacon, Kelly Preston, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund and Aisha Tyler; directed by James Wan. (20th Century-Fox.) Now available on DVD, with numerous extras including the theatrical version and the unrated full-length director's cut. Garfield (uncredited) wrote the first drafts of the screenplay, and the shooting script by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers is faithful (at last) to the theme of the original. It's an excellently directed action movie, and it makes the point it was intended to make, both by the filmmakers and by Brian, whose main caveat is his wish that director James Wan might have made a better film if he'd muted his enthusiasm for gory violence.
WILD TIMES. Nominee for an American Book Award. Filmed as a television mini-series, 1980, with Sam Elliott, Ben Johnson, Penny Peyser, Pat Hingle, Dennis Hopper, L.Q. Jones, Gene Evans, Harry Carey Jr. and many others. The film now belongs to 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment; it is exhibited on cable TV channels.
THE STEPFATHER. Movie based on Donald E. Westlake’s screenplay from an original story by Brian Garfield -- 1987, with Terry O'Quinn (a stunning performance), Shelley Hack and Jill Schoelen (whose work in the film won an award in a European film festival); directed by Joseph Ruben. Garfield's company, Shan Productions, co-released the film, which won festival awards and has become a cult favorite.
The 2009 DVD of this film includes segments of an interview with Garfield about the film.
Sequels "Stepfather II" and "III" appeared subsequently.
Sony/Screen Gems released a remake of the movie in the fall of 2009, with a cast that includes Dylan Walsh, Penn Badgley, Sela Ward and Amber Heard (who is excellent); director is Nelson McCormick.
THE LAST HARD MEN. Western suspense-adventure, set in 1911 and filmed in 1976 on location on Garfield's home territory of Southern Arizona, with stars Charlton Heston, James Coburn, Barbara Hershey, Michael Parks, Christopher Mitchum; directed by Andrew V. McLaglen. It is based on Garfield's novel, and he worked as (uncredited) on-location script doctor.
RELENTLESS. Filmed for CBS TV in 1977 with Will Sampson, Marianna Hill, John Hillerman, Monte Markham. Screenplay was by Sam Rolfe, a good friend with whom Brian Garfield worked several times. This appears to have been the first major-company movie in which a Native American hero was portrayed by a top-billed Native American actor.
NECESSITY. Filmed for CBS TV in 1989, with Loni Anderson, John Heard, James Naughton. Garfield was on location with this suspense thriller, which is based on his novel.
FLESHBURN. Based on Brian Garfield’s suspense novel Fear in a Handful of Dust, originally published over the pen-name John Ives, the 1984 film starred Steve Kanaly, Karen Carlson and Sonny Landham; it was co-produced and directed by George Gage, and co-produced by Ashok Amritraj (who also co-produced the recent "Death Sentence").
LEGS. TV-movie based on original screen story and script by Brian Garfield, 1983. The ABC telefilm, with Gwen Verdon, John Heard, Sheree North, is Garfield's only (to date) musical -- it was co-produced by Radio City Music Hall and features the Rockettes.
SCRIMSHAW. Based on Brian Garfield’s short horror story, this half-hour television film was broadcast as part of Survival Anglia’s “Tales of the Unexpected” series. It starred Joan Hackett, Charles Kimbrough and John Houseman.
TV and movies in the chute --
MANIFEST DESTINY: A True Romantic Saga of Young Theodore Roosevelt. Long-form television miniseries based on Brian’s historical novel about TR’s adventures in the Dakota Badlands. It is being prepared for release in 2013.
DEATH WISH -- Sylvester Stallone's remake for MGM is tentatively scheduled for release in 2013.
A movie based on "The Meinertzhagen Mystery" and a remake of "Hopscotch" are in the development hopper.
.... And recent suspense movies based on Brian Garfield's work are "Death Sentence" (DVD available now) and "The Stepfather". See column at left.
Selected Works by Brian Garfield
ARIZONA. Western novel. Ballantine 1969. Nominee for Western Writers of America's Golden Spur award, 1970.
CHECKPOINT CHARLIE. Collection of espionage short stories.
DEATH SENTENCE. Suspense novel. Filming in 2006 for 2007 release, starring Kevin Bacon, Kelly Preston, John Goodman and Aisha Tyler; directed by James Wan.
DEATH WISH. Suspense novel. Filmed in 1974, with Charles Bronson. Sequels filmed in the 1980s and 1990s.
DEEP COVER. Suspense novel.
FEAR IN A HANDFUL OF DUST. Suspense novel. (Pen-name: John Ives.) Filmed as FLESHBURN.
THE HIT and THE MARKSMAN. Duo - suspense novels.
HOPSCOTCH. Suspense novel. Winner of Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award as best novel of the year. Filmed in 1980. Screenplay co-written by Garfield was a nominee-finalist for the Writers Guild of America Award. The author’s company, Shan Productions, co-released the film.
KOLCHAK'S GOLD. Suspense novel. Brian Garfield’s favorite among his own novels.
THE LAST HARD MEN. Western novel. Filmed in 1976 with Charlton Heston and James Coburn.
LEGS. TV-movie based on original screen story & script by BG. 1983, ABC, with Gwen Verdon, John Heard, Sheree North. Musical about the Radio City Rockettes.
LINE OF SUCCESSION. Suspense novel.
MANIFEST DESTINY: A True Romantic Saga of Young Theodore Roosevelt. Historical novel, being prepared for filming in 2007-2008.
NECESSITY. Suspense novel. Filmed for CBS TV in 1989, with Loni Anderson, John Heard.
THE PALADIN. Historical novel. By Brian Garfield in collaboration with "Christopher Creighton" (a pseudonym).
RECOIL. Suspense novel.
RELENTLESS. Suspense novel. Filmed for CBS TV in 1977 with Will Sampson, Marianna Hill, John Hillerman.
THE ROMANOV SUCCESSION. Suspense novel.
THE STEPFATHER. Movie based on original story by Brian Garfield -- 1987, with Terry O'Quinn, Shelley Hack. Garfield's company, Shan Productions, co-released the film. It spawned two sequels.
SUSPENDED SENTENCES - collection of short crime stories.
SWEENY'S HONOR. Historical novel.
THE THOUSAND-MILE WAR: World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians. Nonfiction book. Pulitzer Prize finalist in History, 1970. 2003-2008 bestselling title, University of Alaska Press.
THE THREEPERSONS HUNT. Suspense novel.
TRIPWIRE. Western suspense novel.
THE VANQUISHED. Historical novel.
THE VILLIERS TOUCH. Suspense novel.
WESTERN FILMS: A Complete Guide. Nonfiction book.
WHAT OF TERRY CONNISTON? Suspense novel.
WILD TIMES. Historical novel. Nominee for an American Book Award. Filmed as television mini-series, 1980, with Sam Elliott, Ben Johnson, Dennis Hopper, L.Q. Jones.
From reviews of books by Brian Garfield:
"Garfield is one of the best. Anyone settling down with a Garfield book is in for a good time." - The New York Times (1975, reviewing Hopscotch).
"A scintillating, talented writer." - Newsday (1972, reviewing Death Wish).
"Engrossing and exciting... I couldn't put it down." - Robert Ludlum (1977, commenting on Recoil).
"This might well be required reading. It's edge of the chair all the way. . . Wholly fascinating and thought-provoking." - Booklist (1974, reviewing Death Sentence).
THE THOUSAND-MILE WAR: World war II in Alaska and the Aleutians
The first, and still the most comprehensive, history of the only WWII campaign fought in North America, is back in print--revised, updated and newly illustrated--from University of Alaska Press.
WESTERN FILMS: A Complete Guide
This definitive book was the product of ten years of research and writing. It begins with a comprehensive analysis of this uniquely American art form, including its origins, development, and future, comments on the foreign filmmakers who picked up the trend--culminating in the "Spaghetti Westerns"--and explores how the Western motif was used in "A" and "B" films for two very different audiences.
In all, the book includes over 2,000 films. The more than 100 illustrations include rare publicity photos, movie stills of famous actors, and lobby posters. The complete bibliography will be handy for the serious student of film.
MANIFEST DESTINY: A True Romantic Saga of Young Theodore Roosevelt
Garfield’s sprawling epic historical novel is the coming-of-age story of young Theodore Roosevelt in the wild Badlands of Dakota Territory in the 1880s.