Out There In The Dark

Written by Wesley Strick
Review by Lorraine Gelly

Harley Hayden was a bit player in Hollywood in the early ´40s. When the U.S. went to war, many of the male stars were drafted. Harley, with his extreme nearsightedness, was 4F – not qualified for service. That didn’t sound glamorous, so the studio hacks made up a tale about him injuring himself when he was a collegiate wrestler. Harley declares himself a patriot, and when he realizes that the director of his new film is not really named Derek Sykes but is really a German filmmaker named Dieter Seife, Harley wants to have him investigated.

A crooked cop named Roarke, who has done favors for Hollywood bosses in the past, is hired by Harley to get the goods on the director. When Harley has what he believes to be incriminating evidence, he takes it to the studio head and gets the German fired, reflecting the attitude of the times. The main character, never a leading man, utilizes his charm and good looks to become a politician and ultimately rises to a high office. That sounds like a familiar storyline.

Strick, a screenwriter by trade, may be forgiven for thinking that everyone is enthralled with Hollywood’s past and its stars. Movie buffs will certainly appreciate the historical Hollywood details. The book is well written; as a scriptwriter, Strick’s dialogue is right on target, his descriptions crisp. I’m sure that there are a lot of real people who inspired his other characters, but I didn’t recognize them except for the stereotyped Harley. An enjoyable, but not inspiring, read.