“Oh papa, I do love you”. This line taken from the big-screen adaptation of Sidney Sheldon’s second novel THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT somehow stuck with me throughout the years. Whenever I think of the movie or its stars, I always blurt out the line, which ultimately became a catch phrase in my entourage (meaning my boyfriend). It certainly sets the tone for the film ridiculous but so addictive story of love gone wrong. In fact, most of Sheldon’s adaptations are about bad relationships. Whether set in WWII (THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT) or in Hollywood (A STRANGER IN THE MIRROR) or in Romania behind the Iron-Curtain (WINDMILLS OF THE GODS) no one is left unfazed, which to trash connoisseurs like you and I is pure joy.
The first time I ever laid eyes on a Sheldon book was when RAGE OF ANGELS was topping the paperback best-seller lists, which was around 1981 if I remember correctly. I was in my late teens, having spent my youth reading solely horror. But I had a friend who introduced me to the author swearing I was going to have as much of a swell time. At first I was a bit hesitant. How could he ever top the likes of King, Koontz or Saul (yes, Saul)? But ultimately he did. That’s how I came to know about fast-paced, sexually-charged roman à clefs that could literary blow my mind. Strange that it occurred during my tumultuous bouts of my own sexuality, but it did, in a big way. From then on I was a Sheldon man, grabbing any work of his I could get my hands on. When I finished with him, I switched to Jackie Collins, then after her, Harold Robbins. I mean, I was on a roll.
In 1983 I became even more ecstatic when I found out there was to be a mini-series adaptation of RAGE OF ANGELS on NBC, and it was going to star my fave Charlie’s angel, Jaclyn Smith. Suffice to say I had the greatest time watching her in it. The TV event was such a rating success that it spawned a sequel (the only one not based on a Sheldon novel) and many other adaptations like MASTER OF THE GAME in ’84, IF TOMORROW COMES in ’86, MEMORIES OF MIDNIGHT in ’91… Speaking of MEMORIES OF MIDNIGHT, this one is the sequel to the megahit THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT released on the big screen in 1977. I saw it on TV some late night in the mid-80s. The late Marie-France Pisier does a fabulous job playing mega-bitch Noelle. Her journey from the slums of Paris to the beds of the most powerful men around the globe makes for a fun trashy experience. And no one does it better than Sheldon since he wrote the screenplay.
Rumor has it that Susan Sarandon, who plays the other lead (Catherine), refuses to talk about the film, that she’s even omitted it from her filmography. A shame, for I certainly would be interested to know of her input; however negative it may turns out to be. As for Sheldon’s later works, though not all slam-dunks, they always brought me joy. They still do today with author Tilly Bagshawe taking over after his death in 2007. But one thing’s for sure: there will never be another one like him. He was the best in the business. So rest in piece, dear sir. But you are surely missed.
Until next post—Martin