News Column

Elmore Leonard's books became Hollywood classics

August 21, 2013


Aug. 21--Elmore Leonard learned to give up any emotional attachment to his work once it was sold to Hollywood for movie and TV versions. "When a bad movie is made I think, 'God, they didn't know how to do it, they didn't stick to the story,' you know?" he told the Free Press.

Sometimes, however, they got it right, as with these four titles that Leonard previously shared some thoughts about with the Free Press.

"Get Shorty" (1995): Leonard, an occasional screenwriter, told director Barry Sonnenfeld that the characters in this John Travolta-starring caper are being serious, even when they say something funny. "Barry understood this, and left it to the audience to discover the humor and they did," said Leonard two years ago.

"Jackie Brown" (1997): Leonard called this film the closest to actually putting his book on the screen. "It's something only (Quentin) Tarantino could do," he said.

"Out of Sight" (1998): Steven Soderbergh's stylish crime drama was an instant classic. "The treatment of the romance between (George) Clooney, the bank robber, and (Jennifer Lopez), the U.S. marshal, was perfect and the scenes shot in Detroit really brought the film to life for me," said Leonard.

"Justified" (2010-present): The FX series, plus a suggestion from its star Timothy Olyphant, inspired Leonard to write his 2012 novel "Raylan." Leonard was interested in putting the Raylan character -- who had appeared in a previous short story -- into yet another book, against his Hollywood agent's advice because of possible future sale complications. "But I don't care about that. I want to make the book good," he said.

Remembering Elmore Leonard:

-- Legendary crime novelist Elmore Leonard dies at 87

-- Elmore Leonard had a keen ear for dialogue

-- Authors, literati speak of Elmore Leonard's influence

-- Critical praise for Elmore Leonard's mastery of his craft

-- Elmore Leonar''s books became Hollywood classics

-- Fans remember novelist Elmore Leonard on social media

-- Elmore Leonard's ten rules of writing

-- Photo gallery: Elmore Leonard, 1925-2013 -- Mobile users tap here

-- Video: Book Beat co-owner talks about Elmore Leonard -- Mobile users tap here


(c)2013 the Detroit Free Press

Visit the Detroit Free Press at

Distributed by MCT Information Services

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters