The Whiff of Money

JGIn Hindi-movies, there are quite a few library-scenes and scenes of a character reading. One may consider, When Eight Bells Toll (Alistair MacLean) in Aradhana (1969, dir. Shakti Samanta); You’ll Never Eat Lunch In This Town Again (Julia Phillips) in Khel (1992, dir. Rakesh Roshan); The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield) in Dil To Pagal Hai (1997, dir. Yash Chopra); The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum) in Pyar To Hona Hi Tha (1998, dir. Anees Bazmee); The Attorney (Steve Martini) in Dil Chahta Hai (2001, dir. Farhan Akhtar); Shantaram (Gregory David Roberts) in Rang De Basanti (2006, dir. Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra); Norwegian Wood (Haruki Murakami) in Wake Up Sid (2009, dir. Ayan Mukherjee); The New York Trilogy (Paul Auster) in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011, dir. Zoya Akhtar); Macbeth (William Shakespeare) in Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, (2013, dir. Vishal Bhardwaj); The Forgotten (David Baldacci) in Khoobsurat (2014, dir. Shashanka Ghosh).JHCJohnny Gaddaar (2007, dir. Sriram Raghavan) is dedicated, in part, to James Hadley Chase. True to the dedication, it explores the what-why-when-how-where-who in relation to a particular incident. The protagonist is even observed holding a JHC. Any of Chase’s thrillers could have been chosen. The final selection: The Whiff of Money (1969). The reason: JG is about false moves in pursuit of becoming rich. Otherwise, there are no other similarities!

I bothered to explore…

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John Dorey [Head – French Division, Central Intelligence Agency] felt a rush of blood to his head. ‘Is this a joke?’ he demanded, his voice sharp. ‘Henry Sherman has just left Orly, heading for central Paris, wearing a disguise and with a false passport,’ O’Halloran repeated woodenly. Dorey had reason to be alarmed for Henry Sherman was running for the Presidency of the United States and so far he was well ahead of the small field. ‘Hotel Pare, Rue Meslay.’

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He got to his feet, crossing the room to where his suitcase stood against the wall. From the suitcase he took an 8 mm film projector, neatly stowed away in its blue carrying case. Quickly, he assembled the machine, threaded on a spool of film, then set the projector on the shabby dressing-table. He plugged into the lamp socket, pulled the thick, dusty curtains, shutting out the late morning sunlight. Dorey watched the film. It was one of those blue films so popular at American stag parties: obscene, crude, sexually brash and to Dorey utterly disgusting. Sherman said quietly, his voice unsteady, ‘The girl in that film, John, is my Daughter.’

‘Give Girland a whiff of money and there is no job he won’t do. It’ll probably cost you twenty thousand dollars. I’ll try to get him for less of course. With that kind of money hanging in front of his nose, Girland would undertake to kidnap Charles de Gaulle.’

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‘There are six boys in Paris making these films. I would say Pierre Rosnold shot that film. I can’t swear to it, but the lighting and the camera angles have Rosnold’s touch. He has a studio on Rue Garibaldi.’

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Herman Radnitz was the last man on earth Sherman expected or wanted to see. ‘My dear, I think you must be forgetting our bargain. I promised you that I would make you President. Now here you are in this ridiculous disguise… here in Paris.’

‘You are wasting time!’ Radnitz’s voice was savage. ‘You heard what I asked you. If you never saw your Daughter again, would you mind? That’s simple enough, isn’t it?’

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Girland went on to tell Dorey what he had learned that afternoon. ‘So it would seem that Rosnold and Gillian have gone off to Garmisch.’

It was while he was driving along a narrow road bordered by wild flowers that he saw ahead of him a scarlet sports car, parked on the side of the verge. He slowed, seeing the hood was open and Gillian Sherman sitting in the passenger’s seat. He slowed to a crawl, and as he approached, he saw Rosnold peering at the motor.

‘Do you want any help?’ he asked in French. ‘The damn thing just stopped. Do you know anything about cars?’ Girland slid out of the Mercedes and went over to the T.R.4. ‘This is Gilly… Gillian Sherman.’

‘Miss Sherman, this brief encounter has made my vacation.’

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Count Hans von Goltz sat in a high-backed leather chair in the Baronial Hall of the Obermitten Schloss. Count Hans von Goltz was Herman Radnitz’s nephew.

‘You are blackmailing your Father. You have three films which you are threatening to send… I intend to have them.’

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Von Goltz considered breakfast the most important meal of the day. As soon as he had shrugged himself into his coat, he went to the trolley and lifted first one and then the other silver cover: scrambled eggs, done lightly with plenty of butter, surrounded a fillet of smoked haddock. Lambs’ kidneys with creamed potatoes in the second dish also pleased his  eyes.

His hurried breakfast had given him indigestion. He wished he hadn’t eaten so quickly. ‘As they are in the forest, there is no point wasting time searching here.’ ‘Get rid of Girland. We will keep the girl until the films arrive. It is possible Rosnold was lying. When we have the films, then I will get rid of her.’

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‘Gilly, you gave me your word. This goes to your Father.’ She went white. ‘No! Please! I couldn’t live knowing he had seen those films! If you give them to him, I’ll kill myself! I swear I will!’

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‘Did you know Sherman gave the green light to Radnitz to have her murdered?’

‘And so when the girl started to cry her eyes out,’ Girland concluded, ‘I thought the gentlemanly thing to do was to give her the films… so I gave them to her. Perhaps you wouldn’t have?’

‘What has happened to the girl?’

‘You don’t have to worry about her. She is capable of taking care of herself. She’ll keep her promise… I’m sure of that.’ ‘There are times when I don’t understand you,’ he said. ‘I was under the impression any money smelt good to you.’

‘I have ten thousand dollars to squander. I’ve given up working for peanuts… Think big is my motto: should be yours too.’

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It isn’t a bad idea to adapt JHC books. I may explain, some other day. JHC