Cinema, First Editions, and the Eclectic from James Pepper Rare Books
By Michael Stillman
James Pepper Rare Books recently issued their Catalogue 165 of Literary First Editions, Mystery and Detective Fiction, Rare Cinema Material, and Assorted Eclectic Offerings. The catalogue is similar in format to others offered by Pepper, but the material is new. For those who collect first editions, mystery and items related to films, here is a whole new group of items to consider. For example...
Item 95 is a rarity, the first edition of the first Mr. Moto mystery by John P. Marquand, No Hero. Mr. Moto was a fictional Japanese secret agent who became popular in a series of films in the late 1930s, with Peter Lorre playing the title role. Moto fell out of favor in America after the bombing of Pearl Harbor (as might be expected), but staged a modest comeback in the 1950s. This copy is inscribed to Hart F. Pantzer, whom I have not been able to identify despite his distinctive name. He and Marquand shared some memories from 7 Landis Street in Cambridge. Pepper notes that while Marquand signed some limited editions, he rarely signed regular trade copies such as this. Priced at $16,500.
You will find lots of items you like in Peppers' catalogue, but there is only one place you can get anything you want (excepting Alice). That, of course, is Alice's Restaurant. Item 4 is the Doubleday first edition screenplay for the film version of Alice's Restaurant, by Venable Herndon and Arthur Penn. The movie, of course, was based on the song of the same title by Arlo Guthrie. It starred Guthrie, Pat Quinn, James Broderick, Tina Chen, and even Arlo's Dad's (Woody Guthrie) old cohort Pete Seeger, appearing as himself (to this day Seeger is still singing his songs and trying to make the world a better place). This 1970 paperback is signed by director, co-writer Penn. $125.
Here is a strange association copy -- Mao Tse-Tung and Marlon Brando. Brando was always interested in politics and causes, so perhaps it is not that surprising he would have owned this copy of the Quotations of Mao Tse-Tung, once one of the most well-read books in the world. This copy contains Brando's bookplate plus a signed letter from his former girlfriend Pat Quinn (who played Alice in the aforementioned film) stating she gave him the book. Brando got anything he wanted at Alice's. Item 15. $1,500.