Alistair MacLean was a writer who found his niche at the very beginning of his writing career. Having made a successful debut with H.M.S. Ulysses, he proceeded to turn out thirty-three novels in the next thirty years. He worked very quickly, completing a screenplay in about two months and a novel in even less time. That he set a demanding schedule for himself can be inferred from his output. He was a formula writer, whose formula was exceedingly successful, and he would not have claimed to be anything else. To MacLean, writing was a business, and his responsibility as a businessman was to please the customer (that is, the reader).
As noted above, MacLean’s fast-moving narratives and their often rugged settings are eminently filmable, and several of his early books were adapted for the screen. By 1967, MacLean was ready to try his own hand at screenwriting. His first effort was the script for Where Eagles Dare, which had been published as a novel that year. He enjoyed solving the technical problems associated with screenwriting and went on to adapt several more of his novels: The Guns of Navarone (1957), Caravan to Vaccarès (1970), When Eight Bells Toll (1966), Puppet on a Chain (1969), Force 10 from Navarone (1968), and The Golden Rendezvous (1962). MacLean novels adapted for the screen by others include Fear Is the Key (1961), Ice Station Zebra (1963), The...
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