Saturday, 24 March 2012

A Year in Books 2012 - Get Shorty



Elmore Leonard is one of those authors who keep appearing in any American Authors / books you should read lists that pop up every now and then so thought it was time I gave him a go. I don't read alot of crime and for some reason he is often tucked away in Waterstone's crime section which is probably why he kept escaping my basket.

Not knowing where to start I thought I'd go with the only one I'd heard of and that was only because the film version was part of John Travolta's first redemption period.

Get Shorty focuses on loan shark Chili Palmer and his adventures in film land. In a plot that zips along with complex twisits and turns, we find Chili on the search for a drycleaner who owes money, which brings him into contact with Harry Zimm a film maker specialising in b movie shockers. Harry wants to leave the horror films behind and he thinks he has the script to do it. The problem lies in that he owes a couple of wise guys a lot of money that was meant to be an investment in his films not his gambling. With Harry, Chili sees a way in to the film business and so he is pitching to executives and spoilt brat movie stars, whilst trying to keep ahead of his past in the form of Miami gangster Ray Bones.

Got it so far.... and I've not even touched on airport locker containing 300k of drug money, the ex stuntman body guard and the ageing actress looking for a serious role. The joy of the 260 pages is not only the modern day noir dialogue but also how Leonard weaves together all of these disparate elements each of which could have been the book's main plot line in their own right.

With such a convoluted plot there would have been a danger that the minor characters would have stumbled into cliche, but each is so well drawn , you miss them when they are not on the page.

 Get Shorty is a great read and if you like your books hard boiled then you can get it here

Having finished I thought I'd finally give the film a go. It works well despite some cop out plot changes however it has one piece of massive miscasting.

In the book the actor who Harry wants to be in the film comes across as a man in demand and of the moment Tom Cruise type ..at a push a younger Robert De Niro. In the film he is played by ......Danny Devito !!!!!! ...who i shouldn't have been surprised to learn was also a producer. Maybe the film had fallen into the very trap that the book is there to satirise

2 comments:

  1. Great film; didn't know about the DeVito casting.
    The follow up was good also, as was a film that held similar pleasures; 'Heist', again with DeVito and Hackman. Script is by David Mamet ("everybody needs money, that's why they call it money") and works well.
    The best filmed Leonard for me is John Frankenheimer's '52 Pick Up' with Roy 'Jaws' Scheider and a brilliant John Glover.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've not seen 52 pick up - will add it to the lovefilm list!

    ReplyDelete

Leave a comment and let me know what you are listening to.