The Ballad of the Running Man
The blurb on the back:
‘Great riches are coming to you, lady dear,’ Mrs Spade had said, gazing at the cards.
This is a splendid little thriller, in which a husband and wife concoct a series of life insurance frauds, based on the supposed death of the male partner. Inevitably the consequences of their actions catch up with them, culminating in a superbly tense showdown in Switzerland between the con artists and an insurance assessor. Hard to say anymore without revealing the twists and turns of the plot, but trust me, this is fun stuff, and was deservedly nominated for an Edgar Award.
Amidst the action, there are some nice little observations on life and human nature. And I’m particularly fond of the idea that the protagonist dreams up this elaborate scheme as a way of getting out of his career as a pulp writer, a life that was proving less than satisfactory:
As the cover indicates, this was filmed in 1963 by Carol Reed as The Running Man, with a screenplay by John Mortimer and with a cast starring Laurence Harvey, Lee Remick and Alan Bates. Sounds good to me, but I haven’t seen it.
Shelley Smith had previously written Background for Murder (1942), This is the House (1945), Death Stalks a Lady (1945), Come and be Killed (1946), He Died of Murder (1947), Man with a Calico Face (1951), Man Alone (1952), An Afternoon to Kill (1953), The Party at No. 5 (1954), The Lord Have Mercy (1956) and Rachel Weeping (1957).
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 4/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT: 2/5
The Full Treatment