Monday, 6 December 2010

Ian Fleming James Bond 1970s Triad Panther Paperback Cover Gallery feat. Beverley le Barrow... or is it Beverley Goodway...?

Another relatively random selection of blog posts this week, among them a guide to how the covers for Coronet's UK paperback editions of Richard Stark's Parker novels developed in the late 1960s/early 1970s (featuring a little-seen cover for Point Blank); a look at a proof copy of Dennis Lehane's latest Kenzie-Gennaro novel, Moonlight Mile; and a review of Francis Clifford's The Naked Runner. But first, and continuing the Bond theme from the weekend, we return to a firm favourite of Existential Ennui: 1970s glamour photographer extraordinaire, Beverley le Barrow.

Beverley, you'll recall, has been the subject of a number of previous posts on this blog, chiefly this one and this one. Le Barrow's starkly lit photos, tendency to use models and minor actors, and awesomely literal approach made the photographer a firm favourite with British book publishers like Hamish Hamilton, Michael Joseph and Panther in the '70s and '80s, who harnessed Beverley's singular talents on covers for Ross Thomas, Dick Francis and others.

Beverley's schtick was photographing models in studios against flat black or white backgrounds – a stylistic quirk that may have owed something to a possible parallel career as a snapper of topless Page 3 girls. Indeed, I'm starting to wonder whether Beverley le Barrow was in fact a pseudonym for famed Sun newspaper Page 3 photographer Beverley Goodway, who is actually a bloke, and not, as I assumed Le Barrow to be, a woman. "Le Barrow" being a pseudonym might also explain the discrepancy between the spellings of that name in various book cover credits: "Beverly" – no third "e" – "Lebarrow" – one word – in the credits for the Hamish Hamilton Ross Thomas covers, "Beverley Le Barrow" elsewhere.

(UPDATE: Further evidence for my theory has emerged since I wrote this post. Francis from the Stanley Morgan Website – Beverley Le Barrow photographed a good many Morgan covers – commented on this earlier post that he'd contacted an American photographer who assisted Le Barrow in the 1970s. That photographer confirmed Le Barrow was a pseudonym... and he also reckoned Beverley's real surname was indeed Goodway... Go read this post for a round-up on all things Le Barrow.)

Anyway, perhaps Le Barrow's crowning achievement were the covers for Triad/Panther's paperback range of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels, issued (out of sequence, I believe, i.e. not in their original 1953 Casino Royale to 1966 Octopussy order) from 1977 to 1979. The concept for these was audaciously bald, even by Beverley's standards. Gaze upon their magnificence and you can almost see Le Barrow's mental processes at work; when she (he?) was handed the assignment to create covers for fifteen Bond books, naturally her (his?) inclination would be to round up a bunch of leggy models, dress them – or even underdress them – in the finest '70s clobber... and then... and then... Hmm. What to do to make the covers distinctive? Well, one of the Bond novels is called The Man with the Golden Gun... so... how about draping the leggy models over a great big model golden gun? Brilliant!

To realise this twisted vision, Beverley was assisted by a team of very well known creatives. Jewellery was provided by retailer Hooper Bolton; shoes – where they were worn – were by Terry de Havilland; and make-up was applied by, er, some bird called Bonny. Ahem. The giant gun, meanwhile, was designed and built by David Collins and Floris van den Broecke. Van den Broecke is a furniture designer of some note, but I'm not sure which of the many David Collinses that pop up when you Google his name is the right one. However, years ago, when I was doing an Art Foundation course at Ravensbourne, I attended a lecture by a visiting designer who created massive models of everyday objects to be photographed for advertising billboards. Because back then (1988, I think), the only way to photograph, say, a Polo mint, and blow it up to billboard size, was to create a huge man-sized model of said mint and photograph that instead. I've got a sneaking suspicion that that designer was David Collins. I could, of course, and as is often the case, be completely wrong. But a gigantic golden gun.... what are the odds?

Whatever the truth, the Bond covers photographed by Beverley le Barrow are among the most memorable ever to grace that series. So, gathered together here for the first time anywhere on the internet (at least, at this fairly large size), Existential Ennui proudly presents a complete cover gallery – with back covers where I have them – of the Ian Fleming (and Robert Markham/Kingsley Amis) James Bond novels published by Triad/Panther/Granada. Enjoy.

12 comments:

  1. Awesome! That gun should be in a museum somewhere.

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  2. I think I like the Colonel Sun one the most. Nice legs akimbo shot there. Very classy.

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  3. By the way, I keep seeing traffic coming from a blog of yours that I can't access. Have you got a secret blog?

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  4. Holy cow, that cover for On Her Majesty's Secret Service is an abomination. What on earth is she wearing? Who did that to her hair? What is trailer trash doing in the UK? Is it even possible for someone to hold that pose for more than four seconds?

    Why does my personal favorite have to have the worst cover?

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  5. How can you not love that pink lamé jacket and trousers she's rocking? Sublime.

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  6. Are you aware of these alternate covers for the Dutch editions? Different poses, some have different models, etc.

    http://www.deboekenplank.nl/naslag/aut/f/fleming_i.htm

    Fantastic site you've got, btw. Had a bang up time reading your posts.

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  7. Ooh, good find! I am literally gobsmacked at what the Casino Royale model is doing to the trigger guard of the golden gun at that link. Crikey. And ta for the kind words!

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  8. I knew the photographer Beverley Lebarrow. I also met Lebarrow and Goodway together in the same room! Definitely not the same person.

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  9. Intriguing! That rather contradicts the information Francis from the Stanley Morgan Website dug up. I have to say though, I'd be more inclined to believe you if you hadn't commented anonymously. Is that you, Beverley...?

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  10. Wow
    This really takes me back.
    I know I've had about four or five of these covers at one time or another. I might still have a few of them, but the only one I have to hand is 'Goldfinger', which I bought for 50p, in Banba second-hand bookshop in Dublin's Capel Street, in April 1983!

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