Wednesday, January 7, 2009


FOLKS, here is my debut as an LA Times freelancer. i'll be doing regular film writing for them.

the story is about the prolific crime writer donald westlake, and the generally poor job Hollywood has done handling his talents. 

there are lots of European adaptations i didnt have room to get into -- i hear great things about costa-gavras' "Le Couperet," made from the novel "the ax." (the novel and film are about a laid off guy who begins to literally eliminate the competition -- seems like an idea whose time has come.)

here is an example of the softcore porn he wrote in the 60s under a pseudonym -- shame this never fell into the right director's hands.

if you've not read any of the parker novels that he wrote under the pen name Richard Stark, run dont walk to get the new university of chicago press reissues. they are as pure a distillation of the noir sensibility as i've ever read.

Photo credit: Flickr user 4


rich said...

I enjoyed your recent article about Westlake.
It was well researched and I agree with most of your points, but I have been mulling over some thoughts about "Point Blank".
You mention Lee Marvin and John Boorman in your praise for the film as maybe the best Hollywood effort with Westlake material. I agree with that point. One reason is that I liked the script a lot.
It was written by the late Alex Jacobs, who you do not mention.
He's the secret weapon Boorman used.
You can also see that in Boorman's next film, "Hell In the Pacific".
But the rest of Boorman's films, except for his filming of James Dickey's script for "Deliverance', show how much his performance depended on the writing.
Alex Jacobs was a special 'find' for Boorman , as he was for Walter Hill (commenting in Wikipedia "...Hill read Alex Jacob's screenplay for the Lee Marvin film, Point Blank and considered it a "revelation" in terms of style and format. He decided to tailor his own scripts in that manner, as he described it, "extremely spare, almost Haiku style. Both stage directions and dialogue." You should take a look at "Hell In The Pacific" where Jacobs was really at home writing a taciturn Japanese character.
I knew Jacobs socially back in those days.
He was as "spare" with talk as the characters he wrote. Back then it was fun to be with him - a Brit toughie/intellectual . I miss him and his like. ... so I'm writing this message as a sort of homage in his memory.
-Richard Kahlenberg

North Hollywood

Scott Timberg said...

i dont doubt that jacobs was an important part of that movie -- in fact he may've been, along with lee marvin, crucial to it feeling like a richard stark book... boorman, after all, said for many years that he had never read "the hunter", the book on which his film was ostensibly based!