Sunday, April 15, 2007

Here, There, and Everywhere

• Writing in Britain’s Telegraph, Jasper Rees adds to the wealth of tributes published since the demise earlier this month of crime writer Michael Dibdin. “The news of Dibdin’s own death at the age of 60,” Rees opines, “is a terrible blow to fans of superior crime fiction. The spectral [Italian commissario, Aurelio] Zen, a shadowy detective answerable directly to the conniving Interior Ministry in Rome, has, for my money, been the most fascinating of Euro-cops lately solving crime between hard covers.”

• Today would have been the 110th birthday of hard-boiled writer Horace McCoy, among whose published works was They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1935), which, 14 years after his death in 1955, was turned into a movie starring Jane Fonda and Michael Sarrazin.

• Can’t argue with this one: Danuta Kean lists in today’s Independent what she believes are the best and worst film adaptations of novels. First on the roll of her favorite conversions is 1949’s The Third Man (“Graham Greene adapted his own novel, and director Carol Reed turned it into cinematic gold with more than a little help from a sublime Orson Welles.”), while among the dogs she barks at is last year’s movie version of James Ellroy’s 1987 novel, The Black Dahlia (“Brian De Palma proves once more that great books can make terrible films ... or is it just him?” Her other selections can be located here. (Hat tip to Campaign for the American Reader.)

• Sunday’s interview at the Noir Writer blog finds Steve Allan quizzing The Rap Sheet’s own Megan Abbott (The Song Is You) on subjects ranging from Hollywood as a noir-story backdrop and her perspective on clashes between literary and genre fiction (“basically I feel that all fiction is genre fiction, or none of it is”), to film as an influence on her writing.

• Ali Karim recently wrote on this page about the branding of best-selling crime novelists, and the use of often unacknowledged writers to help produce new titles. Now comes The Arizona Republic with a piece that makes many of the same points.

• The Lipstick Chronicles reports that author Elaine Viets, who last week suffered a stroke, “is out of the medically-induced coma and off the ventilator--two big steps. And--she is talking!”

• Duane Swierczynski finishes up his unofficial “Allan Guthrie Week” with an interview in which the author of Hard Man says that the highlight of his recent visit to the States was “Ian Rankin answering, at length, your [Swierczynski’s] question about whether he would snort a dead relative.” Read more here.

• And don’t forget, today’s the last day to vote in The Rap Sheet’s second online poll, asking readers to select their favorite TV police detectives and private eyes. If you haven’t already made your picks, go directly to the two silver-shaded boxes near the top of the right-hand column on this page. You can choose one or more characters in each category. Results will be reported later this week.


Juri said...

THE THIRD MAN was written as a screenplay and Greene wrote the novel actually as a tie-in, so it doesn't count as a film version of the book.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Thanks for clearing that up.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Library Journal weighs in on the provenance of THE THIRD MAN: "Greene's novella, or 'entertainment,' was written in 1950 as a sort of preliminary draft for a screenplay and was not actually intended to stand alone as a written work." I believe the date's wrong here; Greene's novella was only PUBLISHED in 1950, but written prior to that. The film was released in 1949.

Therefore, the novella--if I understand this situation correctly--did in fact precede the screenplay, whether or not Greene intended it to be published separately. So I can see why The Independent's Danuta Kean thought this ought to qualify THE THIRD MAN in the category of written work transferred to the screen.