‘Out into the unknown and Desmond Bagley’.
Desmond Bagley and his wife Joan. Those who have read the books, Bagley’s, many of whom have probably imagined him as a big, strong legal and adventurous person, a true “Super Man”. But they have been misled in error and confusion; the man is rather frail in appearance and far from being pretty adventurous.
Desmond Bagley, the British novelist, has become well-known to Icelanders in recent years, or rather his pulp fiction books have. These include the books Gildran (The Freedom Trap), Eitursmyglarar (The Spoilers), Fellibylurinn (Wyatt’s Hurricane), Skriðan (Landslide) and last but not least Út í óvisunna or Running Blind as it is called in the original language. People may remember that this latter book was set in our beloved homeland.
Running Blind was certainly all very pulp fiction. Bagley had the worst spies from three (or more) nations being in the country and travelling across the whole area, shooting at each other and applying the most awful villainous trickery. Can you believe that such things can be happening in our country? I am sure, that something lies behind this. Though after reading the book I guess that spies are not amongst us like this female and male running across the country. Enough of that.
It is surprisingly common for Icelanders to ask the question to foreigners who come here what they think of Icelandic women. The general consensus with people seems to be that this Icelandic variant is one of the, if not the, most beautiful, on our planet. And Bagley certainly had a wonderful beauty emerging in Running Blind. The heroines of his books are usually attractive.
Interestingly, Bagley drew a clear and geographically accurate picture of Iceland in the book, although he had only spent a few weeks here to get to know the country. He must have tried hard this time and surely stretched his Bronco Jeep travelling throughout the country. In this connection it may be mentioned, that the undersigned is aware, that in one of these “spy missions” he was well on the way to land down in hell (according to international interpretation), or rather his Jeep was, as he lost control of it on the Námaskarð pass in Mývatn. The Jeep had to be lifted out by a crane.
Rumor has it; Desmond Bagley intends to make a film about his book Running Blind or rather make a film deal about it. Would it be filmed in this country? We don’t know any more about this, though it has been claimed that he will come here in the summer, along with experts to explore the situation and begin preparations for the film.
Initially, he received offers from film companies in Hollywood to make the movie. He was asked to travel to the “city of dreams” to write the screenplay for the movie to discuss terms, and there he went. However the “city of dreams” proved to be a vulgar hell. After having been there three times, failing to reach agreement, he packed up and headed back home to “good old England.” And now he has made an agreement with the British film company Rank.
No, he is not a Hollywood success story, and this is clearly stated in an interview a Norwegian newspaper had with him some time ago, whilst he was traveling in Norway with his wife Joan. Finally, here published a short extract from that interview.
This was a terrible experience that I would not wish to experience again. Everything you have read about Hollywood is true. I felt it was a great honour, as I was informed that a movie would be made from the book and I should come west to write the script. But my experience of the capital of cinema was a poor experience. I was there three months, and during the whole time we could not agree on a script. I sat there with a good idea in mind whilst around me sat a group of senior men who could not agree.
There were limitless meetings. I could never bring my own views across, but the top men continually struck me on the shoulder and said that this would do quite nicely. They tore the words of “Running Blind” apart and put the story together again in order to tear it apart again. I came many times with the modest suggestion that we should now start to work on the script itself. And they just smiled at me and said that this do would fantastically well. When they finally finished cutting and carving the story, so that it was more profitable but unrecognisable, they asked me to start writing the script. But I’ve never written with a group of people around me forever raising questions and comments. At this point, I was getting annoyed at Hollywood and wished that I had never written “Running Blind”. Stupidity and nit-picking reached its peak one day as we sat round and all talked about one issue for three consecutive days, if the girl in the movie was to say, “Hello darling, it’s great to see you” or “Darling, how marvellous to see you, come right in.” They did not reach an agreement and the item was wiped out. I left Hollywood and did not think of going back.
1. Tíminn (1973). ‘Út í óvissuna og Desmond Bagley’ (15th April 1973 pp. 13 & 39).