TRAVEN, B. (PSEUD OF HAL CROVES). D. 1969.
Typed Manuscript, screenplay adaptation of The Bridge in the Jungle, 280 pp, 4to, n.p., n.d. [but c.1945], in yellow Paul Kohner Agency wraps with typed label to upper cover, pages mildly creased and thumbed, covers with mild wear and staining. WITH: Typed Letter Signed ("H. Croves"), 2 pp, 4to, Colonia del Valle, Mexico, September 24, 1949, to Paul Kohner, discussing his plans for the screen adaptation of The Bridge in the Jungle, with penciled note by Kohner to upper left corner forwarding the note on to Warner Bros. producer Henry Blanke, both leaves creased, toning at right margin, light chipping and perforations to both leaves. AND WITH: a small collection of correspondence relating to Kohner's attempts to place the script with a studio, 1945-1947.
Provenance: the Richard Manney Collection.
A RARE, UNPUBLISHED TYPESCRIPT OF TRAVEN'S SCREENPLAY VERSION OF HIS NOVEL, TOGETHER WITH A SIGNED LETTER.
Traven first published The Bridge in the Jungle in a German periodical in 1927, and then issued the work in book form in 1929. In the 1930s, this title and two others (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and The Death Ship) were published in English, with Hollywood taking notice. John Huston admired The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Warner Bros pursued the rights for him, though pre-production was interrupted by the onset of World War II. In 1947 Huston went to Mexico to begin work on the film, and invited Traven to meet him. Traven declined, but a man who identified himself as Hal Croves arrived and was so familiar with the work and the milieu that Huston invited him to serve as advisor on the film. Huston at first suspected that Croves and Traven were one, but then decided they were not, an opinion he held until the end of his life. Most scholars today, however, agree that Croves and Traven are one (along with Traven's other pseudonyms used at various times during his career). The Kohner correspondence present here certainly treats the two as indistinguishable.
Traven/Croves produced the screenplay version of The Bridge in the Jungle just after Warner Bros bought The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and according to the correspondence here, Kohner tried to place the manuscript with several producers at the studio, including Vincent Sherman and Henry Blanke. There is also an indication that Kohner had an English and a Spanish version of the screenplay, and that he was actively working to interest a Mexican film studio as well.
In the letter that accompanies the typescript, Croves explains to Kohner his vision for the final film: "Before Mr. Blanke decides on anything definite I would like you to explain to him that the script on hand is not the final one. It is mainly the raw material out of which the picture will be shaped. / More than half of the script, as you will have noticed, is description. If I do the picture no description of scenery, backgrounds, characterizations or reflections will be necessary as I have got all that and more of it in my head ... If I do the picture I can get along, I am sure, with one third or still less of the dialogue as it appears in the present script. It is my idea to employ only a limited number of professional actors; and if I must have actors for the more important parts I shall attempt to select them from actors little or not at all known to movie audiences. For the sake of the box-office, of which I am thinking just as much as Mr. Blanke has to ... There are a good many more problems to consider. But the picture will not be done this week or next. In the meantime I shall go over the script and make all the changes which I had in mind to do long ago. It would, therefore, be of great help if Mr. Blanke would come out with some of his suggestions once he has read the script...."
In spite of the success of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Bridge in the Jungle languished for years, until 1971, when Kohner's son Pancho directed an adaptation starring John Huston.