QB VII

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First edition (publ. Doubleday)

QB VII by Leon Uris is a dramatic courtroom novel published in 1970. The four-part novel highlights the events leading to a life-shattering libel trial in the United Kingdom. The novel is Uris' second consecutive #1 New York Times Best Seller and third overall.

Plot summary[edit]

Parts one and two concern the plaintiff and the defendant in this trial and take us through their lives before meeting in 1967.

The plaintiff is Adam Kelno, a doctor pressed into the service of the Nazis after Poland was overrun in World War II. As head physician in a concentration camp, he has the opportunity to save many prisoners from the gas chambers. After the war, he becomes a naturalized citizen of the United Kingdom and serves for several years in a free medical clinic in Borneo. Upon resuming private practice, the doctor is confronted with allegations that he collaborated with the Nazis and performed ghastly medical experiments for them. At first, he is staunchly defended; but, as more evidence comes to light in the trial, his past is revealed.

The defendant, Abraham Cady, served overseas in World War II and recovered in England. He had been a reporter and a writer of screenplays before and after the war; and one of his books documents the experiences of concentration camp survivors, several of whom cite the plaintiff as the source of their suffering. When he publishes a line to this effect in his latest book, citing "fifteen thousand" people as subject of surgery without anaesthesia by Dr. Kelno, he and the publishing house are sued for libel.

Part three deals with the defendant's search to vindicate his information, which ends with the famous violinist Pieter Van Damm revealing that Dr. Kelno turned him into a eunuch.

Part four is set in one of Her Majesty's courtrooms (Queen's Bench, Courtroom Seven of the title) where this trial is played out. The jury finds for the plaintiff and awards him one half-penny in damages—the lowest amount that could (then) be awarded for damages in Britain. In effect, the whole novel seems to indict the plaintiff for collaborating, while the defendant is guilty of a minor exaggeration since only one thousand surgeries could be verified from evidence, as opposed to the claimed fifteen thousand. As the defendant says before the verdict is read, "Nobody's going to win this trial; we're all losers," since he realizes that, even though most people think that they could resist the pressure that could arise in a concentration camp, it is impossible to tell who will be able to resist. The novel ends with the start of the Six-Day War in which the defendant's son, who immigrated to Israel, is killed in combat.

The novel is loosely based on a libel action brought against Uris himself by Dr Wladislaw Dering, a Polish physician who worked at Auschwitz, in relation to his previous novel Exodus, which resulted in Dr Dering being awarded a half-penny damages, the smallest possible amount at the time.[1] (Costs of £20,000 were awarded against him.) The lawsuit and trial against Leon Uris was documented in Auschwitz in England (MacGibbon & Kee, London, 1965), by barristers Mavis M. Hill and Norman Williams. The case is reported as Dering v Uris (no2)[1964] 2 QB 669. Under the rules of court in England and Australia a litigant who loses a case generally pays the costs of the other party. However, in order to promote settlements, a defendant may pay money into court and the plaintiff may take that money on settlement of the case. The judge is not allowed to know how much money has been paid into court by the defendant. In this case the defendant paid £500 into court and made a further offer of two pounds in settlement. The plaintiff did not take this money and therefore even though he won the case he was required to pay the costs because the damages were less than £502.

Television miniseries[edit]

QB VII
QBVII-DVDcover.jpg
Created by Leon Uris
Starring Ben Gazzara
Anthony Hopkins
Composer(s) Jerry Goldsmith
Country of origin  United States
Production
Executive producer(s) Douglas S. Cramer
Running time 390 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Original run April 29, 1974 – 2001

QB VII was made into an American television six-and-a-half hour miniseries produced by Screen Gems; it was also the final program from Columbia Pictures' television division to be made under the Screen Gems banner.[2] It began airing on ABC on April 29, 1974. Adapted to the screen by Edward Anhalt, it was produced by Douglas S. Cramer and directed by Tom Gries. The original music was written by Jerry Goldsmith and the cinematography by Paul Beeson and Robert L. Morrison.

The series was nominated for 13 Emmy Awards and won six.[citation needed]

The poster for the series shows a gavel, even though they are not used in British courts.

The timeframe was changed from the Six Day War in 1967 to the Yom Kippur War of 1973.[citation needed]

Cast[edit]

This was Jack Hawkins' final movie role. He had already had a laryngectomy for throat cancer, and used esophageal speech in his speaking parts. He died soon after filming was completed.

DVD releases[edit]

QB VII was released as a Region 1 DVD on May 29, 2001.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (June 24, 2003). "Leon Uris, Author of 'Exodus,' Dies at 78". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 1, 2010. Retrieved June 22, 2014.  Archived by National Conference on Soviet Jewry.
  2. ^ Internet Movie Database -QB VII

External links[edit]