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Singing Detective [Paperback]

Dennis Potter
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 3 1987
This is the unabridged original text of Dennis Potter's acclaimed six-part television serial. The narrative counterpoints life in a hospital ward of a writer crippled by a horrific skin disease with the plot of his atmospheric thriller to the point where fantasy and reality seem to exchange places. The result is the most painful and disturbing screen drama of the 1980s.

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About the Author

Dennis Potter was born in 1935 in Gloucestershire. After National Service he won a place at New College, Oxford where he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He became one of Britain's most accomplished and acclaimed dramatists. His plays for television include Blue Remembered Hills (1979), Brimstone and Treacle (commissioned in 1975 but banned until 1987), the series Pennies from Heaven (1978), The Singing Detective (1986), Blackeyes (1989) and Lipstick on Your Collar (1993). He also wrote novels, stage plays and screenplays. Seeing the Blossom, his final television interview, was published in 1994. He died in June 1994.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this a book? Feb. 6 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
As the Designer responsible for producing the "prop" book to which the protagonist refers throughout the series, I can tell you it existed only as a cover pasted over an unrelated 1940's pulp novel. Extracts from the book, as read by Michael Gambon on screen, formed part of the original scripts written by Dennis Potter, a copy of which I am fortunate to hold. These are well worth the read for the rich visual imagery interwoven with dialogue. If this book exists, I guess it reproduces the same shooting script. If not, that would be a pity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Screenplay April 5 2000
Format:Paperback
The Singing Detective may be the best screenplay ever written. I have the video and the original text (including cast) which I obtained thru interlibrary loan and copied. Its richness derives, not only from its excellent production, directing and cast, but also from its similarities to Dennis Potter's own life. Am now looking for the soundtrack: The Other Side of the Singing Detective, BBC CD 708 or ZCN 708 (cassette). email address: hbduck@koyote.com
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Screenplay April 5 2000
By Howard Duck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The Singing Detective may be the best screenplay ever written. I have the video and the original text (including cast) which I obtained thru interlibrary loan and copied. Its richness derives, not only from its excellent production, directing and cast, but also from its similarities to Dennis Potter's own life. Am now looking for the soundtrack: The Other Side of the Singing Detective, BBC CD 708 or ZCN 708 (cassette). email address: hbduck@koyote.com
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this a book? Feb. 6 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As the Designer responsible for producing the "prop" book to which the protagonist refers throughout the series, I can tell you it existed only as a cover pasted over an unrelated 1940's pulp novel. Extracts from the book, as read by Michael Gambon on screen, formed part of the original scripts written by Dennis Potter, a copy of which I am fortunate to hold. These are well worth the read for the rich visual imagery interwoven with dialogue. If this book exists, I guess it reproduces the same shooting script. If not, that would be a pity.
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT! Sept. 3 2011
By S. Paretsky - Published on Amazon.com
What we have here is not a novel or a "novelization" but rather, the screenplay for the brilliant BBC Television presentation of "The Singing Detective." If you have never read a screenplay, this may not be the place to begin, for even viewing this work as a multi-part series is challenging (in a good way) to the audience. However, if you are familiar with screenplays or you've seen this magnificent production starring Michael Gambon then you are in for a real treat.

Dennis Potter's story is about an author in a London hospital ward, nearly paralyzed by arthritis and psoriasis. Like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five: A Novel, Marlow drifts between the present and the past, reality and fantasy. Marlow weaves the elements of his own life with that of the cheap, dime-store detective in his pulp fiction novels. The result is truly extraordinary.

Although currently out of print, copies are available at surprisingly good prices.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More like a Cubist painting than a book March 16 2009
By Jeff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Singing Detective is the complete screenplay of a 6 part British TV series of the same name. I've not seen the TV series, but from reading the screenplay, I can tell that it is far more like a Cubist painting by Braque than it is any straightforward telling of a mystery story. If you liked The Usual Suspects and can imagine it as a screenplay, the result would look a lot like The Singing Detective.

The story follows a young man named Philip Marlowe through to his last days in a British hospital. It introduces us to his family, friends, wife through a series of flashbacks and scene shifts which happen chop-a-block throughout the tale. Reading this book, I'm reminded strongly of the protagonist in Vonnegut's Sirens of Titan, who got unstuck in time and is constantly shifted forwards and backwards along his time line for brief periods before he is off to another spot on his time line.

There's a murder, there's robbery, there's connivance, and there is most certainly deceit in this tale. In some sense, it is just a microsm of human foibles, told without any adornment.

At the end, I was glad I read the screenplay, but it made me realize that watching the series is likely to be far more rewarding.
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