Re: RARA-AVIS: Violent Saturday

From: jumblejim (
Date: 22 May 2003

> W.L. Heath's VIOLENT SATURDAY (1955) is fine stuff. It's been mentioned a
> couple of of times before on the list, and I see that Mr. Beaver and Mr.
> Clinton liked it. It's short, and I'd recommend reading it in one or two
> sittings--it's divided between Friday night and Saturday afternoon.
> Three hoods pull into a small Alabama town, ready to rob the bank the next
> day. About ten people are introduced in detail--a bellhop, some
> businessmen, their wives, a librarian--and they're all somehow involved in
> the robbery. Heath does a great job of showing life in a small southern
> U.S. town in the 1950s. There's a sense of trouble building as soon as
> the hoods arrive, and after that, a lot goes wrong. I can see why people
> put Heath in with country noir, and why Ed Gorman in his introduction
> compares it to the Florida social history that John D. MacDonald covered
> in his books from the same time.
> One interesting thing is that the bank robbery, which is shown being
> planned and put in motion, is then almost left out of it. Heath lets a
> couple of people tell what they saw happen, but he never describes it in
> the main narrative. Other events, and reactions, prove to be more
> important. It's not what I expected.

There's a very nice film version, with Victor Mature and Sylvia Sidney, and with Lee Marvin as one of the bank robbers. The robbery is depicted in the film, but as Bill said, other events and reactions prove to be more important. I'm really rather inordinately fond of the movie--can't quite say why, but I like it a lot. It's why I read the book (not the other way around).

Jim Beaver

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