Movie Stars and Crime Fiction


Jean-Paul Belmondo on the cover of the Italian translation of Meurs pas, on a du monde !,

Milano, Mondadori, 1981

The intermedia nature of Crime Fiction facilitates its international circulation. Crime Books benefit from the aura of Crime Films. Publishers are understandably tempted to figuratively suggest such links between printed works and moving images. It is frequent to find references to cinema on book covers.  In the case of translated books, this reference to familiar icons helps to reduce the “strangeness”  of a foreign work, by  highlighting the quasi-universal nature of its narrative. Audiences are thus reassured that the particular object of a given translation is part of a global cultural form. The  iconic images of Movie Stars are a pragmatic and economical way to put the stamp of a dominant cultural industry on exogenous books.  Their perceived national particularism, which  might otherwise be seen as a deterrent for the mass market is thus watered down. The celebrity of the actors represented serves as an international currency.

But capturing   images of celebrities  can produce amusing shortcuts and distortions. The few following examples suggest such cultural clashes. These are productive as they  reveal hidden truths about the local perception of the books thus marketed. They explain the context of their adaptation to a different cultural environment.  They show what mediations  were used to facilitate this international transfer. And they sometimes leave us wondering why…


Belmondo, cover of the second italian edition of Des Dragées sans baptême (E.O 1953, 1st Italian translation, 1971), Milan, Mondadori, 1980


Jamie Lee Curtis (with not much reason at all) on the cover of San-Antonio, Le Loup habillé en Grand-mère, Vladan,Moscou, 1992

San-A russe 1San-A russe 2

Charles Bronson, an inspiration from Death Wish which  has frankly little in common with San-Antonio chez les Mac

Translation V. Berejnoy, S. Kokla, Publisher  Arktous, Toulbyt service, 1993, Toula,  (Collection Didier Poiret)

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