Sometimes an author wants to let off steam, to tell the world about an unsatisfactory experience.
Over to you, Philip Baker:
'Not Quite A Judas is a compelling, well-researched, and well-told story about two friends growing up on opposite sides in World War II. It begins with the two boys' childhood – one growing up in England, the other in Hitler's Germany, with frequent visits between them – then moves forward to detail their actions in the war, where they eventually come in direct conflict with each other.'
Quote from a 'Hollywood Treatment ' by Ryan Graff, Professional Film Script-writer, U.S.A.
'The book goes into great detail portraying their various activities as youths, and their various missions as adults. In print, this works perfectly, as it adds an extra layer of depth and authenticity. That said, film audiences have come to expect etc: etc: '
'In short, Not Quite A Judas is a powerful story about a friendship strong enough to survive the world's most terrible war …. '
[It may appear – after that – that I'm about to bite the hand that fed me … but make up your own mind about that. ]
I read the following to my Writer's group:-
Authorhouse U.S.A. published – at my expense – my first novel, NOT QUITE A JUDAS. They then suggested that their Professional Film Scriptwriter should prepare a 'Hollywood Treatment' from it. This to be made available to the major Film Studios, who are always on the lookout for new storyline material. Needless to say this 'Treatment' did not come cheap, and I now very much regret having agreed that it should be done.
The result was 14 pages, starting with a nice – even complimentary – outline of my work. [As above.] This was followed with many totally inappropriate additions, some of which I can only describe as Horror Comic material. For example, my single German bomber is pursued by a single Spitfire, which fires a single burst with its machine guns, and both then disappear into the distance – having served their purpose in my story. This is re-written as – and I quote … A nightmare of carnage roars above them. Propellers, engines, and wings – wings bearing the emblems of both their countries – comes (sic) screaming down in flames and twisted steel. (sic)
Both my principal characters – protagonists if you will – are undergoing Officer Training. However, in the 'Treatment', Erich, the German, is seen to be doing this, But – on the very same page – John is now an 'Army recruit being instructed by an Officer'; a pointless change-for-the-sake-of-change? Further, when I have Old John tell his Grandson all about a 'could-have-been-fatal' incident – when he was being instructed by an N.C.O. – the boy now asks, 'Did that really happen?' And Old John admits that it almost did. Why does the old man have to lie to the boy?
And so it goes on. So many improbabilities are introduced; including the sudden attendance of Hitler, at a routine weekly meeting of the local Hitler Youth, where boxing training is the main activity for that particular evening. This is now described, at length, with a succession of impossible or utterly ludicrous happenings. John – matched against a larger Hitler Youth – is getting the upper hand. Jochen, the Hitler Youth Leader, signals urgently for the bell, to end the bout. Then John, is asked. '… how he learned to box so well?' … he – a 16 year old English Public Schoolboy – replies 'that he learned from Erich.' This despite the fact that the original makes clear that they had only known each other for a matter of days, and that they had NEVER boxed each other!
Later that same evening John and Erich were engaged in a bloody 'international' three round contest. Quote 'The two of them trade blow for blow, harder and more seriously than they ever have. Erich gets past John's defences and starts to pummel him. An OFFICIAL reaches for the bell, but Jochen stops him. Finally John shoves Erich off and punches back again, gaining his second wind. The two friends fly at each other, while Jochen stands torn about whether or not to signal for the bell. Finally they both fall to the mat. And the REFEREE begins to count off in German. …...
John starts to climb to his feet, a bit faster than Erich …. Hitler stands up shouting and gesticulating .... John looks over at Erich, still struggling desperately to climb back up, and willingly falls back to the mat. Erich manages to pull himself upright, and the referee immediately proclaims him the winner.
I find it nice to know, that at least one American recognises, that we English, always behave as
a thoroughly decent chap, ought to do!
Contrast John's 'noble' behaviour, with this utterly unbelievable, gratuitous, Horror Comic addition.
Later that night, John is woken up, by his first opponent and five others, who are threatening to burn his face, with a hot Swastika branding-iron! They are only dissuaded from doing this, by the intervention of Erich.
I can imagine how my American friends would comment after reading my original, and then the 'Hollywood Treatment' produced by the Professional Film Scriptwriter. It would be something along the lines of 'Cut out all that God'dam Crap!'
Having written to Authorhouse, pretty much as above, only rather more forcefully, I did receive a 'Final and Revised' Treatment, in which some of the wilder excesses were removed, though Hitler was still involved, to a totally improbable degree.