RARE PRESENTATION/ASSOCIATION COPY OF WILLIE BOY, BASIS FOR THE 1969 FILM TELL THEM WILLIE BOY IS HERE, INSCRIBED BY AUTHOR LAWTON TO ALVAH BESSIE, BLACKLISTED SCREENWRITER AND MEMBER OF THE CONTROVERSIAL HOLLYWOOD TEN
LAWTON, Harry. Willie Boy. A Desert Manhunt. (Balboa Island, California): Paisano, (1960). Octavo, original gray pictorial cloth, cartographic endpapers, original dust jacket. $850.
First trade edition of Lawton’s tale of the 1909 Western manhunt of a Paiute Indian, an exceptional presentation/association copy inscribed on dedication page to blacklisted screenwriter Alvah Bessie whose 1939 memoir about the Spanish Civil War is recalled in Lawton’s warm note, “For Alvah, from one who also went to Spain in about ’68 and found it much the way he described it. Best wishes, Harry.” Lawton’s account was memorably adapted to film in 1969, starring Robert Redford and directed by another blacklisted filmmaker, Abraham Polonsky.
Harry Lawton’s award-winning non-fiction novel “was based on three years of research that included interviews with surviving posse members” of the historic 1909 manhunt that pursued a young Paiute man across the Southwest (Boston Globe). Willie Boy heightened attention to American Indian/non-Indian relations and Lawton served as historical consultant on the 1969 film adaptation, Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, which starred Robert Redford and Robert Blake. The feature was also “the first directorial effort in 20 years” by blacklisted filmmaker Abraham Polonsky (Buhle & Wagner, 204-6). That connection to the Hollywood blacklist is accentuated by Lawton’s inscription in this rare presentation/association copy to filmmaker Alvah Bessie, “the tough veteran of the Spanish Civil War” whose successful career as an Oscar-nominated screenwriter was also cut short by the blacklist (Kanfer, Journal of the Plague Years, 96). Bessie’s 1939 account of fighting in Spain, Men in Battle is the likely basis for Lawton’s warm inscription here. First trade edition, issued simultaneous with a signed limited edition of 85 copies.
Book with closed tear to spine; light edge-wear and faint toning to dust jacket. A distinctive presentation/association copy in extremely good condition.