The novel version of Alistair MacLean’s Where Eagles Dare is not all that it seems.
It’s a classic thriller made into an explosion-filled, action-packed film.
Well, not quite.
In fact, the book started out as the film.
Producer Elliott Kastner approached MacLean directly and asked him for an original script.
MacLean wrote the script and then the book to coincide with the movie’s release.
Years later, Kastner remember the moment he first approached the author.
“I rang Alistair MacLean at his home in Surrey, and told him that I would really like to meet with him. He refused; he didn’t wanna meet without my telling him more details. So I told him: I wanted him to consider writing an original story, directly for the screen. There was a moment of silence, followed by ‘Hmm, nobody ever asked me that before…’
“ ‘So’, he said, ‘What is it you want?’ ‘I want a team of five or six guys on a mission in the Second World War, facing enormous obstacles. I want a mystery. I want a sweaty, exciting adventure movie.’ That’s all I told him, just that.”
And in the book and film that is exactly what we got!
Lovely new five star review for ‘Farewell Leicester Square’ on Amazon:
“Good Story, Well Written, Recommend, Well Edited…
“This book starts with an intrigue and in the present time but quickly moves back to WWII and a different perspective, that of the Channel Islands, the only part of the UK to be occupied by the Nazis during WWII.
“It quickly pulled me in and was full of pathos, well told and a story that flowed well with some twists and turns that took me off track but I pulled myself back quickly.
“It was a story I didn’t want to end and I enjoyed the book and would like a sequel!”
Currently reading Sarah Helm’s book ‘A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Lost Agents of SOE’.
It’s a fascinating portrait of the SOE officer who looked after agents heading into the field.
The remarkable Noor Inayat Khan features prominently.
Noor (she later used the name Nora) was born in 1914 in Moscow to an Indian father and an American mother. The family moved to Paris, where she was educated. She later worked writing childrens’ stories.
Noor escaped to England after the fall of France and in November 1940 she joined the WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force). In late 1942, she was recruited to join SOE as a radio operator.
In June 1943 she was flown to France to become the radio operator for the ‘Prosper’ resistance network in Paris, with the codename ‘Madeleine’. Many members of the network were arrested shortly afterwards but she chose to remain in France and spent the summer moving from place to place, trying to send messages back to London while avoiding capture.
In October, Noor was betrayed by a Frenchwoman and arrested by the Gestapo.
In November 1943, she was sent to Pforzheim prison in Germany where she was kept in chains and in solitary confinement. Despite repeated torture, she refused to reveal any information. In September 1944, Noor and three other female SOE agents were transferred to Dachau concentration camp where on 13 September they were shot. Noor was 30.
For her courage, Noor Khan was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1949.