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.


Anonymous said...


i have just bought a signed by Victor Mclaglen first edition of express to hollywood, with a personal enscription.. Does anyone know how many were published??


Anonymous said...

This is a rare book and there are no copies currently for sale. Jarrolds is not a major publisher but I doubt if the print run was remarkably small-- Hollywood was a good subject then as now. Possibly the secret is only known in the files at Jarrolds.

Anonymous said...

I've been searching for this book for over a year now. Damn, it's frustruating not to be able to find it!

Unknown said...

I have a copy which I would consider selling for the right price. Contact me on prmetca@surfanytime and I will send you full details and perhaps you can make me an offer.

Anonymous said...

Peter--email address does not work not even with .com or .co.uk on the end. Please email charingx@anyamountofbooks.com

Anonymous said...

Yes, Peter the address does not work.

em_1_9_7_9@yahoo.com if it's still up for possible sale



white dog said...

I am Victors great nephew (he was my fathers uncle) and would really appreciate any assistance in trying to get a copy of the book. I have many family photo's scanned if any one is interested


Thsnk you

didi99 said...

My great uncle, Clark Nairn, was a sargeant in the Black Watch during WWII. He and Victor were big buddies. Is there any mention of Clark in his book Express to Hollywood. I´d love to find out. Cheers.

Jay said...

Hi White Dog,

My name is Jay Glennie and I am working on a project, with the permission of AMPAS., chronicling British Academy Award awardees. I have interviewed two hundred, with many more to follow and built up the definitive record of British success at the Oscars. In the 2010 I launch the project via the internet, with a book of my interview at the beginning of 2011

I would dearly love to learn more of the life and career of Victor McLaglen and read with interest that you are his great nephew and that you have some photographs. Would it be at all possible if I could use any photographs for the project?

Happy to supply any further details.

Warmest regards