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WILLIAM RAND
Up Pompeii!


click to enlarge

(Sphere, London, 1972)
price: 25p; 144 pages


The blurb on the back:

Frankie Howerd is Lurcio in Up Pompeii!.
And if you don't know what or where that is open the book and let yourself loose on the staggering saga of the lugubrious Lurcio, whose revelations throw new light on the lives on those incredible inhabitants of ancient Pompeii!


opening lines:
First of all, perhaps I'd better introduce myself. My name is Lurcio, and I am the chief slave of the great, if ageing Senator, Ludicrus Sextus, who is a great force for moral good in the city of Pompeii - he thinks.


Up Pompeii!, of course, you'll remember was a successful vehicle for Frankie Howerd, a show that harnessed his rambling delivery to a traditional sitcom format, complete with implausible plot contrivances. Although the TV series (which ran for two seasons in 1969-70) wasn't bad, the 1971 big-screen movie stretched the formula far too thin, and this novelization of the movie is really a complete waste of time. It sticks pretty close to the screenplay by Sid Collin and Talbot Rothwell, but in the absence of Our Francis arching his eyebrows, what's the point?

As she spoke she wrapped a blanket round herself to disguise her more prominent features - no, not those, I meant her face and hair, and I had just got time to put on her cloak, and cover my own - face, I mean. (p.93)

I have no idea who William Rand was, but the British Library lists just three works by him: Up Pompeii!, Up The Chastity Belt and Up The Front. Surely it's a pseudonym?


ARTISTIC MERIT: 1/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
2/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
3/5


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