Elliott Baker, a screenwriter and novelist with one book listed in Crime Fiction IV, by Allen J. Hubin, died on February 9th. He was perhaps best known for his first book, A Fine Madness, which was made into a movie starring Sean Connery, Joanne Woodward and Jean Seberg.

   Described elsewhere as a “dark, picaresque” tale, A Fine Madness told the story of Samson Shillitoe, a poet forced to work as a carpet cleaner. Mr. Baker also wrote the screenplay for the fillm.

   Born Elliot Joseph Cohen, December 15, 1922, he changed his name when he began his writing career.

   His entry in CFIV is scant, as previously mentioned:

BAKER, ELLIOTT (1922-2007 )
   * -Pocock & Pitt (Putnam, 1971, hc) Joseph, 1974.


   The dash indicates a title of marginal crime content. The cover shown is that of the British edition. Some online reviews praise Pocock & Pitt but do not elucidate:

   “It’s a long time since I read a book that was so consistently enjoyable. The whole novel, while tough and disenchanted, increases your appetite for life.” –Eastern Daily Press

   “A strange and comic odyssey, too complicated to summarize, but a joy to read.” –Daily Telegraph

   “Pocock and Pitt” is philosophical, witty and erudite, wise and exciting and one of the best novels I have read this year.” –Irish Times

   “Elliott Baker is one of the wittiest of American authors. Quite rightly, this is a ‘one of a kind’ fiction.” –The Scotsman

   Adderly, a series created for Canadian television by Mr. Baker, was based on a character from Pocock and Pitt, described by one source as being in the “humorous adventure” category.

   Excerpting from a synopsis from IMDB:

    “V. H. Adderly, a former James Bond style operative for I.S.I., is given a desk job in the Department of Miscellaneous Affairs after losing function in his left hand – the result of torture by enemy agents. He hates the mundane assignments he is given, thumbs his nose at protocol, and somehow manages to dig up a threat to national security or a spy at every turn.”

   Adderly aired in the US from September 1986 through March 1988 by CBS at 11:30 pm, opposite Johnny Carson and Dave Letterman, but it made little ratings headway against the two late night hosts.

   Excerpting from a NY Times review:

    “[Adderly is the] sole agent in a basement operation called the Bureau of Miscellaneous Affairs. ‘What’s Miscellaneous Affairs?,’ someone asks. ‘Making your tax dollars work,’ answers Adderly sourly.

    “The tough, no-nonsense agent is played determinedly by Winston Rekert. His weekly cohorts are his bumbling, bureaucratic boss, Melville Greenspan (Jonathan Welsh); Mona (Dixie Seatle), the kooky agency secretary who adores Adderly, and Major Clack (Ken Pogue), the crusty intelligence chief with a heart of plutonium.

    “Think of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. done at bargain prices.

    “Adderly is not about to be overly demanding. It would be gratifying if the viewer were able to stay awake until the conclusion. If not, nothing’s missed.”

   I don’t know. I wish I’d seen it when it was on. I liked The Man from U.N.C.L.E. I even liked Get Smart. From the rest of the review, however, which is rather unfavorable, the chances of seeing the series on DVD are fairly slim.

   On the other hand, actors and other people responsible for putting the show on the air either won or were nominated for a number of Canadian Gemini awards, including Winston Rekert for best actor. Blame it on provincialism here in the US?