Ernest DeWalt
Created by Randall Silvis

The sun also rises on the P.I. novel, it seems.

In this very Hemingwayesque, very literate, very well-received (and Hammett-nominated) 1993 novel by Randall Silvis, ERNEST DeWALT is a tough, hard-drinking, hard-living, big city private dick until three .38 slugs take him out of the game, destroying his kidneys, his liver and, well, his dick. During his long, slow recovery, he "pulled a Wambaugh", writing a novel about his former profession.

Written more as an act of catharthis than as literature, the book became wildly successful, much to Ernest's embarrassment. But it brought him to the attention of academia. So now he's a professor in a university out in the sticks, where he tries to deal with being a "wholly useless and expendable scholar" and a "hollowed out human being," not to mention his attempts to rise above his own self-pity.

Intense and powerful stuff, and Silvis doesn't hold back on any of it; a magnificient read that I heartily recommend.

Too bad the film adaptation sucks.

In 1996, actor Tom Berenger co-produced and starred in a filmed version of the novel, with a screenplay co-written by the author, Randall Silvis. A few very fine performances, particularly by Berenger, but most of the potentially strong, emotional scenes are marred by an ill-conceived (no, make that bone-headed) attempt to give life to Ernest's interior monologues and bouts with temptation by having a women appear whom only Ernest can see and talk to. If you are one of the three people on the planet who might be able to get past this piece of contrived hokum, it might be a quietly powerful film that will stay with you. If you can't get over it -- and I certainly couldn't -- it just looks stupid. What were they smoking?

NOVEL

FILM

  • AN OCCASIONAL HELL ..Buy this DVD
    1996, Greenlight Productions
    Screenplay: Randall Silvis, based on his novel
    Director: Salome Breginer
    Executive Producers: Tom Berenger, William J. MacDonald
    Starring Tom Berenger as ERNEST DeWALT
    and Valeri Golina as Elizabeth
    Also starring
    Kari Wuhrer, Robert Davi, Richard Edson, Stephen Lang, Ellen Green, Geoffrey Lewis

RELATED LINKS

  • One Shot Eyes:
    Some great private eyes who've appearred in only one novel.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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