RARA-AVIS: Thompson and other novelists who wrote screenplays

From: Jay Gertzman ( jgertzma@earthlink.net)
Date: 04 Nov 2004

I have been reading about Jim Thompson's collaboration with Stanley Kubrick on the latter's 3rd film, _The Killing_. Kubrick said he wanted Thompson's hard boiled dialogue, but the film clearly shows the novelist's influence in other ways. For example, the well thought out plan to steal millions from the race track unravels due to common people's uncommon obsessions and desires: a wife's disloyalty, her husband's masochism, a hit man's bigotry. Bad luck, Fate, is also an enemy. The last words in the film, the protagonist's bitter resignation, are in fact a direct echo of one of Thompson's father's pet phrases
("What's the use of kicking?"). And for all this, the ambitious Kubrick slighted Thompson (although just how much is debatable) by giving him credit only for "additional dialogue."
    My question is: are there other noir novelists whose writing for the movies was recognized as very close to that in their books? I understand that screenplays are advertised as being valuable because of the contributions by good novelists. Yet when one views films like Double Indemnity, or Stranger on a Train (Chandler), Stranger on the 3rd Floor
(Nathaniel West), Shadow of a Doubt (Thornton Wilder) one does not think primarily of the novelists' own work. Even The Burglar, from a novel by Goodis and with a screenplay largely (I understand) by him, does not seem to me very much like Goodis' novel.

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