THE GETAWAY by Jim Thompson

When I set out to collect different editions of THE GETAWAY by Jim Thompson, I had no idea it would pass 30 different copies. For 13 years there were only two versions of THE GETAWAY – the Signet paperback original (PBO) and the French translation in the Serie Noire series. Then a 1972 film version generated at least 10 MTI (movie tie-in) editions. The movie was remade in 1994 in a version that generated zero movie tie-ins.

THE GETAWAY is a tough thriller from one of the past masters of noir. Personally, I prefer the upbeat Slim Pickens ending of the movie to the bleak “welcome to hell on earth” dark twist of the book, where there is no getaway.

THE GETAWAY – Jim Thompson, Signet 1584, PBO January 1959. GVG, spine slant, small spine tear $95.

As LE LIEN CONJUGAL, Gallimard Serie Noire 527, 1959. Translation by Pierre Chateau (pseudonym of Rene Lelu). The title translates in English as THE MARRIAGE BOND. The French “got” Thompson, and this was the only other edition until the movie was made in 1972. 

W.H. Allen, 1972. First hardcover edition and first UK edition. Movie tie-in. VG $50.

Mondadori 1245, 1972. Giallo Italian digest, movie tie-in. Translated from the WH Allen UK hardcover. 

Gallimard Carre Noir 93, 1972. French paperback.

Bantam N7592, 1973. US movie tie-in. The unbeatable combination of novelist Thompson, screenwriter Walter Hill and director Sam Peckinpah made a fine movie that called for a world-class, eye-popping MTI paperback. Instead Bantam gave us this dull photo cover, with only the words “Now a major motion picture!” to clue us into the tie-in.   Good $7.

As GETAWAY Deine Chance ist Der Tod – C. Bertelsman Verlag, 1973. German hardcover movie tie-in.  A loose translation of the title is YOUR CHANCE AT DEATH.

As THE GETAWAY: OS IMPLACAVEIS – Edicoes MM 500109, 1st Brazilian PB, 1973. In Portuguese. Movie tie-in. Trade PB. Steve McQueen's name is spelled wrong on the front cover, correctly on the back. OS IMPLACAVEIS translates as THE RELENTLESS. The worldwide success of the film generated bestselling editions in every major market. VG $95.

Sphere 84751, 1st UK PB, MTI 1973. Ali MacGraw's name is spelled correctly on the back cover but incorrectly on the front.

VG $30.

Sphere 84778, 2nd UK PB, MTI 1972. The second printing got Ali's name right, but apparently they were unable to secure any photos from the film. Those are McQueen & MacGraw lookalikes on the photo cover.

As LA HUIDA. Grijalbo hardcover, first Spanish translation 1973. Movie tie-in. This beauty was distributed in Spain, Argentina and Mexico. LA HUIDA translates as THE ESCAPE.

As DE ONTSNAPPING, Zwarte Beertjes 1621, 1st Dutch PB, 1974. Movie tie-in. This edition was distributed in the Netherlands and Belgium. Title translates as THE ESCAPE. VG $35.

Japanese language edition, no date. Movie tie-in. Softcover in dust jacket with nine photos from the film including this cover, a cover the American paperback needed and did not have.  

Back cover has a scene from the bank robbery in the film.

Japanese edition is also shown here with wraparound banner. VG $150.

As GETAWAY DEINE CHANCE IST DER TOD – Heyne Verlag, German paperback 1975. VG $45.

Ullstein Krimi 3548101860, German paperback 1983.

In 4 NOVELS by Jim Thompson, Black Box / Zomba, UK 1983. British omnibus collected THE GETAWAY with THE KILLER INSIDE ME, THE GRIFTERS and POP. 1280 – Jim Thompson's Greatest Hits. Simultaneously printed in hardcover. 

Black Lizard 87075-8, 1984. Introduction by Barry Gifford, cover art by Nancy MacGregor. A decade later, after all the excitement generated by the movie died down, Jim Thompson was in print again thanks to Black Box in the UK and Black Lizard in the US. The brainchild of author Barry Gifford, Black Lizard Books came out of Berkeley CA and re-introduced Thompson to a new generation of readers. Suddenly Jim Thompson was more popular than ever and all of his books were back in print. The pitch-black noir of his dark novels seemed understandable to 80's readers. Perhaps he had been ahead of his time the first time around. VG $10.

As LA FUGIDA, Edicions 62, 1987. Spanish paperback. In Catalan.

My Catalan to English dictionary says the title translates as THE FLIGHT.

Gallimard omnibus, 1988 hardcover. French collection of THE GETAWAY, POP. 1280 and A HELL OF A WOMAN

Gallimard Folio 1897, 1988 paperback.

Corgi 1584, UK PB 1989. Corgi issued a set of Jim Thompson reprints in 1988 and 89 (including a move tie-in of THE GRIFTERS) with bright super-real cover paintings that hit the mark in 1995 - and still do today.

Vintage Crime 0679732500, 1990. Trade paperback. Black Lizard was too good to last in the modern world of book publishing, and it was purchased and swallowed up by Random House. They reissued the books as trade paperbacks called “Vintage Crime”, usually with murky cover photos like this one. This was all part of the death of the great American mass-market paperback, signaled by a change in size and a decision to use computer-generated images in lieu of the paintings of the great illustrators who had made paperbacks cool for half a century.

Greek edition, 1994.

Diogenes, 1995. German paperback.

Mondadori – Italian Giallo paperback, 1995

Picador omnibus, UK trade paperback, 1995. Reprints 4 NOVELS


Orion, UK hardcover, 2002.

Orion, UK paperback, 2002.

Gallimard Folio 256, 2002.

Gallimard Serie Noire 527, 2005.

As IN FUGA, Fanucci 2005. Italian paperback.  The English translation of the title is ON THE RUN.

Orion UK PB, 2006 / Kindle edition 2010.

As IN FUGA, Fanucci, Italian hardcover, 2010. 

As LA HUIDA – RBA Spanish-language edition, paperback and Kindle format, 2011.

As L'ECHAPPEE – Rivages / Noir, France 2012. Hardcover & PB. By 2012, Rivages director Francois Guerif and translator Peter Bondil felt that LE LIEN CONJUGAL needed to be updated. The original translator had chosen to leave too many things out. Even the title did not meet Thompson's intent. And so this new translation, much truer to the original American book, was published in French. The French don't have a word to match the American idiom “getaway”, the closest they could come was THE ESCAPE although some translations have this as BREAKAWAY.

Mulholland, 2014 paperback and 2011 Kindle edition. The latest incarnation of THE GETAWAY brings the book into the 21st century with optional formats. 

I'm sure there are other GETAWAYs out there waiting to be re-discovered. I've heard there was a large print edition that I've never seen. If you can add to this collection, let me know.

Lynn Munroe Books