One of the very best novels of Alistair Maclean, ‘Fear is the key’ (1961), will be made into a movie. Again.
After closing a deal to acquire the rights from StudioCanal, Cassian Elwes and Andre Gaines, are producing a remake of the 1972 classic that featured a car chase that ran for twenty minutes. The story, based on a thriller by Alistair MacLean, takes place in Louisiana and follows the character of John Talbot, a ruthless killer. The plot intricately weaves itself around a family that died in a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico.
The original movie ‘Fear is the key’ was produced by Elwes’ step-father, Elliott Kastner, who produced the film with former Paramount chief Alan Ladd and Jay Kanter. Kastner had previously produced an adaptation of MacLean’s book ‘Where Eagles Dare’ in 1968, and Fear came about as a result of their relationship. Kastner died in 2010.
“I’ve loved this movie ever since I was a kid,” Elwes said. “It was one of my stepfather’s favorite movies, and my hope is to remake it even better than he did.”
“I’m happy to help Cassian breathe new life into ‘Fear is the Key’,” Gaines said. “The film takes the revenge thriller to the next level, and it is the type of movie you want to watch over and over again.”
Blacklist writer Terrell Garrett is currently writing the screenplay for the remake.
What happens if you disturb a nest of hornets? Well, you might get stung. Repeatedly.
No so very long ago I wrote here about Alastair MacNeill:
The entire author profile smells fishy, the submitted manuscript that started his career was never published and I’m wondering why Alastair MacNeill hasn’t written a novel since 2000 when one reads that he came to Britain to ‘pursue a career in writing’.
His agent at Christopher Little claims (personal communication, June 7, 2013) that ‘Alastair MacNeill has not permanently retired from writing, but he does not have any work that is due to be published in the near future either’ and – rather cryptically – that ‘He has not written anything under a pseudonym’. Which is technically true if Alastair MacNeill is itself a pseudonym.
Curiously, shorty after I had contact with his agents, MacNeill’s profile on their website changed. It now claims that Alastair MacNeill ‘has now moved back to live in South Africa’.
And now, out of the blue, a new novel (could one say ‘a novel novel’?) has been published under the name Alastair MacNeill. ‘Facades‘ has been released in June, 2015 and tells us ‘Author of Double Blind’.
But the most interesting feature is that ‘Facade’ has only been issued as an e-book. Which is odd because Alastair MacNeill supposedly wrote a number of books that met with reasonabe commercial success.
So, according to his agents, Alastair MacNeill has returned to South-Africa and – two years ago – had not any work that was due to be published in the near future. Then ‘Facades‘ is available via Amazon.co.uk. No publicity has been generated by his agents and what does a writer these days do to create his own publicity? He turns to social media and posts glowing reviews and news on Twitter and Facebook. Not Alastair MacNeill. He is curiously absent from social media.
Which begs the question again: is the pseudonym Alastair MacNeill again used by another unknown writer from the clientlist Christopher Little?
After writing here about The Mysteries of the MacLones, I was contacted by Simon Gandolfi, writer of five (or three) novels that were based on an script for a movie or television series in the 1970s.
Simon Gandolfi wrote: ‘Yes, I wrote five books featuring Trent. The publishers gave me a rough film treatment by MacLean featuring a protagonist living on a converted tug boat,action taking place off the UK coast. I returned the treatment as unusable. The publishers then mislaid it!’
Shona Maclean, the niece of Alistair MacLean, has written four books about Alexander Seaton, a disgraced minister turned teacher who is caught up in the political and religious turmoil of Scotland in the early 17th century.
Her next novel will be called ‘The Seeker’ and features a new protagonist called Damian Seeker.
No one knows where Damian Seeker originated from, who his family is, or even his real name. Mothers frighten their children by telling them tales of The Seeker. All that is known of him for certain is that he is utterly loyal to Cromwell, and that nothing can be long hidden from him.
In the new, fashionable coffee houses of London, a murder takes place. All London is ringing with the news that John Winter is dead, the lawyer Elias Ellingworth, found holding a knife over the bleeding body of the dying man, held in the Tower.
Despite the damning evidence, Seeker is not convinced of Ellingworth’s guilt. He will stop at nothing to bring the right man to justice…
The plan is to release the novel during February, 2015. It’s going to be a long wait.
When ‘The Cruel Sea’, written by Nicholas Montsarrat, was published in 1951 it was an immediate success. One of the first reviews of Alistair MacLean’s debut ‘HMS Ulysses’ (1955) described the book as “the worst insult to the Royal Navy ever published”. That certainly alerted people and the novel soon topped the world’s bestseller lists. In other reviews ‘HMS Ulysses’ and ‘The Cruel Sea’ were compared and most reviewers agreed that both novels were equally disturbing in their portraying of the horrors of the battle of the North Atlantic.
What did Alistair MacLean write to deserve such a scalding review? ‘HMS Ulysses’ is certainly not a glamorous story about heroism but about unrelenting stress, hardship, exhaustion and extreme weather conditions that took a heavy physical and psychological toll on the crew of HMS Ulysses.
These factors lead to a mutiny on the previous trip of HMS Ulysses and the admiralty, staffed by officers that remain safely ashore, decided that ship and crew should be given the one chance to redeem themselves. They were ordered to escort a Murmansk-bound convoy, and if necessary, to act as bait for the Tirpitz that was at the time holed up in a Norwegian fjord. In MacLean’s book the real enemy is not the Germans, but the horrendous conditions in the Arctic.
‘The Cruel Sea’ by Nicholas Monsarrat is also a novel that does not portray the good and the bad as white and black but both sides of the conflict are painted in shades of grey. The book, like ‘HMS Ulysses’, focuses on the crew of a woefully inadequate corvette the ‘Compass Rose’ on duty in the icy North Atlantic to protect convoys. Monsarrat’s tale revolves too around the hardship the crew must endure continuously simply to survive. But it also makes abundantly clear the tough decisions those in command of such a vessel must make while carrying out their duties.
So, which one is the better novel? The answer to that question is a personal one and I would not want to cast doubt on the heroism of these brave sailors. I think these books have so much in common that they should be seen as a testament to that intensely cruel period that many already seem to have forgotten.
 1980 Hostage Tower [by John Denis | UNACO-01]
 1981 Air Force One is Down [by John Denis | UNACO-02]
 1989 Death Train [by Alastair MacNeill | UNACO-03]
 1989 Night Watch [by Alastair MacNeill | UNACO-04]
 1990 Red Alert [by Alastair MacNeill | UNACO-05]
 1991 Time of the Assassins [by Alastair MacNeill | UNACO-06]
 1992 Golden Girl [by Simon Gandolfi | Golden Girl-01]
 1992 Dead Halt [by Alastair MacNeill | UNACO-07]
 1993 Golden Web [by Simon Gandolfi | Golden Girl-02]
 1993 Code Breaker [by Alastair MacNeill | UNACO-08]
 1994 Golden Vengeance [Simon Gandolfi | Golden Girl-03]
 1995 Rendezvous [by Alastair MacNeill]
 1997 Prime Target [by Hugh Miller | UNACO-09]
 1997 Storm Force Navarone [by Sam Llewellyn]
 1998 Borrowed Time [by Hugh Miller | UNACO-10]
 1999 Thunderbolt from Navarone [Sam Llewellyn]
 1954 The Cruise of the Golden Girl
 1955 HMS Ulysses
 1957 The Guns of Navarone
 1957 South by Java Head
 1959 The Secret Ways – The Last Frontier
 1959 Night Without End
 1961 Fear is the Key
 1961 The Black Shrike – The Dark Crusader
 1962 The Golden Rendezvous
 1962 The Satan Bug
 1963 Ice Station Zebra
 1966 When Eight Bells Toll
 1967 Where Eagles Dare
 1968 Force 10 From Navarone
 1969 Puppet on a Chain
 1970 Caravan to Vaccares
 1971 Bear Island
 1973 The Way to Dusty Death
 1974 Breakheart Pass
 1975 Circus
 1976 The Golden Gate
 1977 Seawitch
 1978 Goodbye California
 1980 Athabasca
 1981 River of Death
 1982 Partisans
 1983 Floodgate
 1984 San Andreas
 1985 The Lonely Sea
• The Dileas
• St George and the Dragon
• The Arandora Star
• The Sinking of the Bismarck
• The Meknes
• MacHinery and the Cauliflowers
• McCrimmon and the Blue Moonstones
• They Sweep the Seas
• City of Benares
• The Gold Watch
• The Jervis Bay
• The Good Samaritan
• The Black Storm
 1986 Santorini