Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Neo-noir films

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 16 Jul 2004


Thanks for the list. I've see many of them, but there are a few I'll have to check out.

However, looking over the list reminded me of something I've been thinking about lately. Why are so few of the books we discuss here made into films? I only recognized two on your list (Another Day in Paradise and Divorcing Jack) as having come from books. Maybe I'm unaware of the written source of one or two more, but most are still original screenplays. Sure, a lot of the original noirs were also original screenplays, but many, and most of the best known, were adaptations. And many (most?) of the vintage authors we discuss here had their work filmed -- Hammett, Chandler, Cain, Woolrich, Goodis, Thompson, Hitchens, Hughes, Gardner, etc, etc. Many were even drafted to write for Hollywood.

However, Robert B Parker aside (and in his case, on the little screen), very few of the current authors we discuss here have had their work put on the big screen. And, Clint Eastwood productions aside, it's seldom a big budget film when they do. Three Willefords have been made. Lansdale had a story (indie) filmed, of course, but what about his Hap and Leonard books? They seem custom made for the screen. And although Pelecanos books have been optioned, not one has been made.

This seems very odd to me, especially since so many contemporary crime writers are so cinematic in their description and pacing. For instance, Douglas Winter's Run is essentially a movie on the page, a fleshed out screenplay. I can't believe no one has made it into a movie.

Is it simply movie economics -- why pay for a book and adaptation, when you can just buy an original screenplay? But we often hear of books that have been optioned, so they've paid for the book. Or is it that movies once saw themselves as piggybacking on the popularity of a book, but Potter/Ring aside, few books are thought to be popular enough for Hollywood to assume the popular audience would know them? Or is the reading public and filmgoing public thought not to overlap? Odd.


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