Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, February 24, 2017


Sinners and Supermen by William F. Nolan (1965)

William F. Nolan has had his fingers in many pies.  He's written movies, television shows, biographis, mysteries, westerns, science fiction, horror, poetry, and just about everything in between.  He's won two Edgars and a Bram Stoker Award, and has been named IHG Living Legend in Dark Fantasy, SFWA Author Emeritus,  and World Horror Society Grand Master, as well as being given the HWA Lifetime Achievement Award.  He is probably best known for co-writing Logan's Run, a novel that inspired the movie, a television show, and a number of sequels.

Before embarking on fiction, Nolan churned out articles and books on one of his hobbies, auto racing.  His first book of profiles Men of Thunder, covered many of the big names in the history of auto racing.  He then embarked on other profiles people he knew and admired, as well as others who had extraordinary, larger-than-life careers.  Fourteen of these profiles, dating from 1956 on, are included in this book, which was published by the small California paperback publisher All Star Books as a Private Edition Book.  The cover copy declared:  "Guys with Gusto living in a world of wonderment where the bizarre becomes the status quo."  And the back cover went on:  "These modern mavericks thumb their noses at middle-age conventions as they indulge their volcanic mania for life in the raw.  envied, imitated, and often despised, the world's most illustrious men of action live and love to the maximum degree possible, while on-lookers idly sit back and discuss their daring escapades."


All fourteen of the men profiled here are entertainers in some way.  Some of them are not pleasant people.  Some are just plain talented.  Nolan does a superb job bringing each to life on these pages, making for an interested and now (alas) sometimes dated read.  Those covered are:

  • Marlon Brando
  • Ian Fleming
  • Otto Preminger
  • Ray Bradbury (good friend and major influence on Nolan's career)
  • Luis Miguel Dominquin (bullfighter)
  • Orson Welles
  • Rod Serling (another good friend and influence)
  • Lance Reventlow (millionaire playboy and sometime auto racer)
  • Raymond Chandler (another influence)
  • Peter Sellers
  • Ben Hecht
  • Dean Martin
  • Howard Hughes
  • James Thurber
This collection was reprinted some 32 years later by Borgo under the title Legends and Lovers:  Fourteen Profiles.  Copies of the original paperback are available from the usual on-line sources for ten bucks or more.

Sinners and Supermen isn't a major book by any standard, but it is certainly worth picking up if you happen to run across it.


  1. William F. Nolan is an underrated writer. As you point out, he worked in different genres and mediums and was successful in them all. I'll track down LEGENDS AND LOVERS. Great review!

  2. Enjoyed this, Jerry. Eclectic collection of profiles.