Let Me Caution You About Lemmy Caution
Would you just pick up James Bond and put him in a science fiction movie on another planet?
In the 1960s, as a kid growing up in New York City we only had a few TV channels, but enough to show odd films once in a while. And I caught the strange, seductive, mesmerizing and oddball movie called “Alphaville.” Cheap. Black and white. Sci-fi? James Bond? Detective noir? Detective …no-where? Who is this protagonist Lemmy Caution? There was no internet to type the name into and BAM – the whole backstory appeared, so I lived in “juvenile,“ entertainment ignorance!” But now? The research is available.
Of the film, critic Paul Burrows writes “Alphaville (1965). A French new wave, dystopian, science fiction, noir scripted and directed by Jean-Luc Godard. A movie that influenced Salman Rushdie, Bryan Ferry, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, I’ve gotta say this was hard work to get through. Twenty four hours after watching it and now having read some more, it still does my head in, but it does have an appeal if for nothing else other than the cutting edge style of Goddard’s movie making and the visual of Paris not so long after WW2. Government agent Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) is dispatched on a secret mission to Alphaville, a dystopian metropolis in a distant corner of the galaxy. Caution is hot on the trail of rogue agent Henri Dickson (Akim Tamiroff) and a scientist named Von Braun, the creator of Alpha 60, a computer that uses mind control to rule over residents of Alphaville. Caution is aided in his quest to destroy the despotic computer ruler by Von Braun’s own daughter, Natacha (Anna Karina).”
In the books, Lemmy was more down to earth (now in even in graphic novels and comic strips, the tough guy, a Marlowe, Simon Templer, the original, non-sci-fi, Lemmy Caution was created by Reginald Evelyn Peter Southouse Cheyney. Cheyney was born in London. After serving as a lieutenant during the First World War, he worked as a police reporter and freelance investigator until he found success with his first Lemmy Caution novel. In his lifetime Cheyney was a prolific and wildly successful author, selling, in 1946 alone, over 1.5 million copies of his books. His work was also enormously popular in France, and inspired Jean-Luc Godard’s character of the same name in his sci-fi film Alphaville. The master of British noir, in Lemmy Caution, Peter Cheyney helped amass the growing blueprint for the tough-talking, hard-drinking pulp fictional detective, if even, later, teleported into…outer space?
For the very strange movie trailer-
A short video if you care, Understanding Alphaville, click here:
And read more about the MANY Cheyney books, click here: