Sunday, December 28, 2014

Elmore Leonard movies starring Clooney, Travolta, Lopez, Grier

The master crime and western scribe left behind a library of novels and short stories when he died this week, at 87. And 27 of his books and stories were turned into films - a few of them terrific.

Elmore Leonard movies starring Clooney, Travolta, Lopez, Grier

Travolta´s Chili Palmer makes a point, in the adaptation of Leonard´s "Get Shorty."
Travolta's Chili Palmer makes a point, in the adaptation of Leonard's "Get Shorty."

Elmore Leonard, who died on Tuesday, age 87, left behind a  library of game-changing mystery and crime thrillers – LaBrava, Get Shorty, Rum Punch, Unknown Man No. 89... a daunting list of smart, funny, suspenseful and impossibly cool novels and stories. Leonard’s relationship with Hollywood was impressive, too: in all, 27 of his books and short fiction titles have been adapted for the movies and television -- three of them twice (52 Pick-Up, 3:10 to Yuma and The Big Bounce).

Here’s a list of a half-dozen of the best Leonard book-to-screen adaptations. Also, Ken Tucker, in his savvy appreciation of Leonard in Grantland, singled out the 1957 Randolph Scott western, The Tall T.

3:10 to Yuma (1957) Taut western, with Van Heflin holding outlaw Glenn Ford until the sheriff can get him on the train. A posse of bad guys intervene. Remade in 2007 with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe.

52 Pick-Up (1985) Roy Scheider and Ann-Margret in gritty neo-noir about blackmail and retribution.

Get Shorty (1995) John Travolta as a Miami mobster who comes to L.A. and finds he does just fine swimming with the sharks in the movie biz.

Hombre (1967) Paul Newman is a taciturn, Apache-raised white man caught up in a stagecoach robbery and its bloody aftermath.

Jackie Brown (1997) Quentin Tarantino's homage to blaxploitation is also one of the best homages to Leonard’s books. Pam Grier is a flight attendant playing the Feds against a ring of arms smugglers, and falling in with a bail bondsman (Robert Forster) who has, understandably, fallen for her.

Out of Sight (1998) Jennifer Lopez is a US Marshall taken hostage by George Clooney when he escapes prison. She breaks free, but can’t break her attraction to the guy, who aims to pull off one last job.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
About this blog

Steven Rea has been an Inquirer movie critic since 1992. He was born in London, raised in New York City, and has lived in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Iowa City, Iowa. His column, "On Movies," appears Sundays in Arts & Entertainment, his reviews appear in the Weekend section on Fridays, and his blog, On Movies Online, can be found here. He is a member of the National Society of Film Critics.

Steven Rea's previous blog posts can be found here. Read his most recent columns and reviews, here. He is the author of the book “Hollywood Rides a Bike,” and also curates the movie stars and bicycling photo blog, Rides A Bike.

Reach Steven at srea@phillynews.com.

Steven Rea Inquirer Movie Columnist and Critic
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