“Off the record, on the QT and very hush-hush”

Ellroy's prime source material - propaganda disguised as a TV tie-in!

Noir icon James Ellroy is well known for his almost seamless blending of fact and fiction, but a recent chance purchase of a copy of 1940s magazine On The QT at a market stall in Bath popped another piece of his creative puzzle into place.

Ellroy’s creative obsessions/inspirations are still the still-unsolved 1958 murder of his mother, coupled with Dragnet star Jack Webb’s quasi-facistic history of the Los Angeles Police Department, The Badge, which his father gave him as a gift shortly after her disappearance. The Badge comes on like a covert LAPD recruitment tool and celebrity-endorsed justification of police brutality. Indeed, during his foreword to the reprinted version of Webb’s tome, Ellroy cops to the fact that he appropriated several cases covered by the book as a basis for his celebrated ‘LA Quartet’ (The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, LA Confidential and White Jazz), but that’s not all…

Ellroy titled LA Confidential as a tribute/nod to the all-pervasive scandal sheets of the day, and the novel features the character of Sid Hudgens, who edits the supposedly fictional Hush-Hush magazine. Sid’s catchphrase, memorably delivered by Danny DeVito in the film version of LA Confidential, is “Off the record, on the QT and very hush-hush” — but in typical Ellroy stylee, Confidential, On The QT and Hush-Hush were all very real scandal sheets…

Which prompts the question, will future noir authors be referencing Heat, OK and Hello? Hmm, probably not…

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