Marc Behm

Marc Behm (12 January 1925 in Trenton, New Jersey – 12 July 2007 in Fort-Mahon-Plage, France) was an American novelist, actor and screenwriter, who lived as an expatriate in France. Behm wrote the script for The Beatles' Help! (1965) and the film Charade (1963). His best and most well-known literary work is the surreal love story cum hard-boiled crime novel Eye of the Beholder (1980).

Behm developed a fascination for French culture while serving in the US army during World War II; later, he appeared as an actor on several French television programmes, before moving there permanently.


Eclectic and a great admirer of Graham Greene, Behm turned an unfilmed script for producer Philip Yordan into a novel, The Eye of the Beholder. His first had been Queen of the Night (1977), written when Behm was in his forties. Echoing the infamous 1974 film The Night Porter and foreshadowing D.M. Thomas' The White Hotel (1981) and Steve Erickson's Tours of the Black Clock (1989), it's a highly picturesque first-person account of a sexually voracious young woman's exploits in Nazi Germany.

The Eye of the Beholder (1980) centers on a detective known only as the "Eye" who is fixated on his lost daughter. The Eye proceeds to tail a woman across America, and gradually protects and aids the woman as she murders successive husbands. "She was going to kill him. Her hips moved in a contortion so exquisitely gracious that his throat choked with tenderness." Such implicit notions as free will and an all-seeing God are better appreciated, however, through the warped mind's eye of Behm's narrator.

After such an unqualified triumph it was probably inevitable that Behm's following novel would be something of a let-down. That was indeed the case with 1983's The Ice Maiden, an imaginative but rather wobbly and misconceived vampire romp (whose sole English language appearance was in a three-novel omnibus published by Zomba Books). It centers on Cora, Brand and Terry, a trio of centuries-old vamps looking to get rich by pulling off a complex robbery. The planning and execution of the caper are juxtaposed rather clumsily with lengthy flashbacks depicting the characters' past exploits. These vampires can shape-shift, frequently transforming into bats, wolves and a shapeless invisible mass—a talent that comes in mighty handy during the robbery!

Behm's novel Afraid to Death (1990) is considered a Siamese twin to Eye of the Beholder as a man runs from a mysterious blonde woman who continues to show up for him throughout his life. Behm's work makes it thrilling (if disappointing) to find that three more novels appeared only in French, during the '90s. Until the manuscripts for these novels appear in Behm's native language, English speaking fans will have to continue to make do with Behm's four English language novels.


  • The Queen of the Night (1977)
  • The Eye of the Beholder (1980)
  • The Ice Maiden (1983)
  • Afraid to Death (1991)
  • Off the Wall (1991)
  • Seek To Know No More (1993)
  • Crabs (1994)



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