Al Colby

Created by David Dodge
(1910-74)

David Dodge‘s second series character, AL COLBY, is a private eye based in Mexico City. Colby is a tough-guy adventurer whose investigations take him throughout Central and South America. He is a norteamericano who was born in Mexico, lived most of his life there, and speaks fluent Spanish. He’s a loner who, although never lacking for female companionship, but unable to commit himself to a relationship.

In the first Colby novel, The Long Escape (1948), he tracks a runaway husband from Mexico to Santiago, Chile; in Plunder of the Sun (1949) he is hired to recover lost Inca treasure in Peru; and in The Red Tassel (1950) Colby faces off against saboteurs and witch-doctors at a silver mine in the high altitudes of the Bolivian Andes.

Colby’s cynicism and expatriate status make him a more hard-boiled character than Dodge’s previous series hero, San Francisco tax accountant James “Whit” Whitney. The Colby adventures are distinguished by their suspense-filled atmospheres and exotic locales. Dodge was an inveterate world-traveler and he drew on his experiences as settings for his novels, as well as for a highly successful series of humorous travel books.

The second novel, Plunder of the Sun (1948), was adapted in 1949 as an episode of the radio series Escape, and later turned into a pretty good film, with Glenn Ford handling thethe role of Colby quite nicely. The script, however, changes the locale from Peru to Mexico and now they’re looking for Aztec, not Incan goodies.

NOVELS

RADIO

  • ESCAPE!
    (1947-54, CBS)
    30-minute episodes
    An American antholoy series.

    • PLUNDER IN THE SUN
      (November 8, 1949)
      30 minutes
      Based on the novel by David Dodge
      Written by John Dunkel
      Produced by William N. Robson
      Starring Paul Frees as AL COLBY
      Also starring Gerald Mohr, Lucille Meredith, Harry Bartell, Charlie Lung, Tony Barrett

FILMS

  • PLUNDER OF THE SUN Buy this DVD Watch it now!
    Starring
    Glenn Ford as AL COLBY
    (1953, Warner Bros.)
    Based on the novel by David Dodge
    Directed by John Farrow
    Screenplay by Jonathan Latimer
    Starring Glenn Ford as AL COLBY
    Also starring Diana Lynn, Patricia Medina, Sean McLory
    Some spectacular shots of the ruins at Mitla and Monte Alban near Oaxaca, Mexico.

FURTHER INVESTIGATION

  • A David Dodge Companion
    Our pal Randal Brandt, in collaboration with the author’s daughter, is the creator/manager of one of the finest single-author sites I’ve ever seen. Check this one out–you won’t regret it.
Respectfully submitted by Randal Brandt (June 1999), with additional mucking around by Kevin Burton Smith. Special thanks to Jeff O’Brien for the unexpected Christmas gift.

Leave a Reply