27 February 2007

Express to Hollywood. Victor McLaglen. 1934.

Sorry have been off the air for 3 days while I completed the complicated process of turning this blog into a website. Please note it's now called www.bookride.com. The name has no real meaning, it was just available at the time, but it seems curiously suitable with its suggestions of horseracing, being taken for a ride, bookies, punters, touts and a merry adventure. Buying books is a bit of a punt and I am here to point out the favourites and the starting prices, the winners, the losers and the outsiders. Can't stretch the metaphor much further...today's hot tip is howling rare - Jarrolds was an interesting publisher.

Victor McLaglen. EXPRESS TO HOLLYWOOD. Jarrolds, London, 1934.

Current Selling Prices
$600-$800? /£300-£400? Want level 25-50 Highish

Autobiography by Hollywood hard man and ex boxer recalling his wildly adventurous career prior to entering the movies. McLaglen was born in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England. His father, a bishop, moved the family to South Africa when McLaglen was a child. He left home at fourteen to join the army with the intention of fighting in the Second Boer War. However much to his chagrin, he was stationed at Windsor Castle and was later forced to leave the army when his true age was discovered. From 1904 - 1920 he was a boxer and in 1918 McLaglen won the Heavyweight Championship of the British Army. The Wikiman says of this unfindable book "His tale of the road, his odyssey from his native England through Canada and the western United States, details his long-held desire to be a professional prizefighter, climaxing in a no-decision fight with world heavyweight champion Jack Johnson. McLaglen supplements his story with vignettes of life as a farmer, gold and silver prospector, wrestler, policeman, soldier, vaudeville performer, miner, pearl fisher, big-game hunter, and sign-painter. In all likelihood the only Academy Award-winning actor ever, past or future, also to be Assistant Provost Marshal of the city of Baghdad, McLaglen writes a story that reads as though Jack London had written it. He writes with candor and humility, and with style. It is am immensely enjoyable book, and the fact that McLaglen was at the time of its writing only beginning to achieve the fame and popularity that would maintain his career nearly another three decades is both astonishing and a bit disappointing: it would have been wonderful to read his accounts of the next quarter century...." Of course he went on to make "The Informer," "The Quiet Man," and "What Price Glory?". Book is wanted by movie buffs and boxing collectors. I have trod on his name on Hollywood Boulevard where, as Ray Davies has it, his name "is written in concrete."

VALUE? 18 years ago someone paid $120 for a signed photo at Darvick , there is a BIN for an insubstantial clipped note at ebay $250. He wasn't John Wain, who can go very high indeed, but for some reason hard guy's signatures are often pricy.
No record of the book anywhere. Unknown to science. Jarrolds books tended to have funky colourful jackets so it would look good and could be worth a few hundred of your British pounds. Sans jacket still very good, people want to read it.
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