Sunday, January 3, 2016

THE REAL MARQUIS WARREN and his Violent Handiwork

Maybe Quentin Tarantino just likes the sound of the name, but it may be that the writer and director of The Hateful Eight named Samuel L. Jackson's character after director-screenwriter and pulpster Charles Marquis Warren as a tribute to Warren's work. Warren was the rare (?) writer who broke into Hollywood before working for the pulps. After Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer took an option on his play, Warren went to work as an uncredited writer. It may have been a desire for recognition, or for more consistent income, that led him to pulp fiction. His first stories appeared in 1936. For the first three years of his pulp career he mostly wrote sports stories published by Ace and the Thrilling group. Warren broke into Argosy late in 1938, but didn't start appearing there regularly until 1940. He broke into the slicks, landing a short story in The Saturday Evening Post, before earning a Purple Heart and other commendations in the Pacific theater of World War II. He returned to Hollywood after the war and started earning writing credits in 1948. He became a director in 1951. Probably his best known films as a director are 1953's Arrowhead, a western pitting Charlton Heston against Jack Palance, and his last directorial credit, the 1968 Elvis Presley western Charro! I recently saw his 1958 film,Cattle Empire with Joel McCrea, which was entertaining if not distinguished, but who knows whether Tarantino likes any particular movie or TV work of his or just likes to drop names. I don't know how well-read Tarantino is outside movies, but I've read a piece of pulp fiction by Warren that might impress him. "Bugles Are For Soldiers" is the first serial Warren published in Argosy, running from the April 13 through May 11, 1940, issues. Wikipedia mistakenly describes "Bugles" as a Saturday Evening Post serial. After the war he expanded it into the novel Valley of the Shadow. In a period when Argosy was toning down its content in search of a broader audience, "Bugles" is an unusually violent western, lurid in its descriptions of death in battle and torture. I've extracted the five chapters of the original serial from existing online scans of the relevant Argosy issues and combined them into one convenient 97-page file you can download from the link below. Western fans should enjoy it, and general pop culture fans may find it a colorful footnote to movie history.

Argosy Weekly, April 13 - May 11, 1940.

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