Elmore Leonard


". . . I don't think of them as bad guys. I just think of them as, for the most part, normal people who get up in the morning and they wonder what they're going to have for breakfast, and they sneeze, and they wonder if they should call their mother, and then they rob a bank. Because that's the way they are. . . ."

-- Elmore Leonard on his characters

Not a private eye writer, per se, but many of Elmore Leonard's protagonists (it would be too charitable to call them heroes) fulfill most of the requirements of what most of us deem necessary for private eye status, being loners trying to follow what they feel is a code of honour, be they bail bondsman, bounty hunters, airline stewardesses, or car thieves.

Sure, Jack Ryan, for example, a thief who shows up in several books, and becomes a process server in Unknown Man No. 89 (1977) mighr be considered a P.I. of sorts, and a case could be made for several of Leonard's other characters as private eyes, at least as defined on this site. But honestly, with stuff this tough and taut, who cares about splitting hairs?

And make no mistake, Leonard was one hell of a writer -- not just a genre writer, but, as Stephen King put it, "The great American writer." His writing took all that was good and true about early pulp fiction and jacked it up for a modern era. As Publishers Weekly put it, "his fiction valued dialogue, urgency and agency over muddling prose."

As Leonard himself put it, he "left out the stuff people didn't read."

In other words, people talk and things happen. Relentlessly.

* * * * *

Leonard was one of those guys who wrote and wrote and wrote, for years and years and years, only to become an overnight success in the 1980's. He started way back in the early fifties, originally writing westerns, short stories at first and eventually novels, starting with The Bounty Hunters in 1953. After several years as a successful western writer, and several notable sales to Hollywood (especially 3:10 to Yuma and Hombre), he switched to contemporary crime, starting with The Big Bounce in 1969.

But it was really only the settings that changed. Hell, most of his Westerns read like crime novels anyway -- it's easy to re-imagine Hombre, for example, recast in modern times, with a an abandoned shopping mall, perhaps, replacing the deserted mine.

Elmore's always been a quality act. It just took the reading public a little while to catch up to him. The drop-dead dialogue, the moral ambivalence, the shady two-bit hoods, be they cattle rustlers or drug dealers, carjackers or stagecoach robbers, all struggling for their piece of the pie, have always been there. The normal joes, caught between various rocks and assorted hard places, trying to not so much do the right thing, as the least-wrong thing, and hopefully survive, remained constants in his work for over sixty years.

And if the reading public was ignoring him in the early part of his career, Hollywood wasn't. They continued to adapt his short stories and novels for film, and more than a few (Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, Get Shorty, Hombre, the TV series Justified) have been excellent. And more are on their way.

In fact, given the quality of the source material, the real mystery may be how anyone can make a bad flick from a Elmore Leonard book. And yet, much to his dismay, they did. Regularly.

The answer may come from Elmore himself. In Elmore's office, the tale goes, was a movie poster promoting Burt Reynold's Stick, one of the most dismal and disappointing of all the flicks based on his work, made worse by the fact Leonard himself participated in writing the screenplay. The tag for the film reads "The only thing he couldn't stick to were the rules." Elmore himself had crossed out the word "rules" and substituted "the script."

But eventually the reading public came around. In the latter part of his career, Leonard became a mainstay on the bestseller lists, and garnered awards and acclaim, becoming one of the most respected crime writers around, receiving both the Lifetime Achievement Award from PEN USA and the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America.

When he passed away on August 20, 2013, we lost a great one.


  • "The great American writer."

-- Stephen King

  • "The reason (I think) some of us prefer Leonard to most others is that he speaks to us as accomplices. Probably, much of this comes from the conversational nature of his style and his use of dialogue, a bit from his "observer," viewpoint, and the rest from his attitude about his characters, their situation and the world in general. If Leonard is your guy, even his weak stuff is told in a way that entertains, makes you smile, delivers some truth about the way we behave, and that lets us in on the joke, whatever it is."

-- Jim Blue, on Rara-Avis, May 2000

  • "The greatest crime writer of our time, perhaps ever."

-- The New York Times



  • "Trail of the Apache" (December 1951, Argosy; aka "Apache Agent")
  • "Apache Medecine" (May 1952, Dime Western; aka "Apache")
  • "You Never See Apaches..." (September 1952, Dime Western; aka "Eight Days fromWillcox")
  • "Red Hell Hits Canyon Diablo" (October 1952, 10 Story Western Magazine; aka "Tizwin)
  • "The Colonel's Lady" (November 1952, Zane Grey's Western Magazine; aka "Road to Inspiration")
  • "Law of the Hunted Ones" (December 1952, Western Story Magazine; aka "Outlaw Pass")
  • "Cavalry Boots" (December 1952, Zane Grey's Western Magazine)
  • "Under the Friar's Lodge" (January 1953, Zane Grey's Western Magazine)
  • "The Rustlers" (February 1953, Zane Grey's Western Magazine; aka "Along the Pecos")
  • "Three-Ten To Yuma" (March 1953, Dime Western)
  • "The Big Hunt" (April 1953, Western Story Magazine; "Matt Gordon's Boy")
  • "Long Night" (May 1953, Zane Grey's Western Magazine)
  • "The Boy Who Smiled" (June 1953, Gunsmoke)
  • "The Hard Way" (August 1953, Zane Grey's Western Magazine)
  • "The Last Shot" (September 1953, Fifteen Western Tales; aka "A Matter of Duty")
  • "Blood Money" (October 1953, Western Story Magazine; aka "Rich Miller's Hand")
  • "Trouble at Rindo's Station" (October 1953, Argosy; aka "Rindo's Station")
  • "Saint With a Six-Gun" (October 1954, Argosy; aka "The Hanging of Bobby Valdez")
  • "The Captives" (February 1955, Argosy)
  • "No Man's Guns" (August 1955, Western Story Roundup)
  • "The Rancher's Lady" (September 1955, Western Magazine; aka "The Woman from Tascosa")
  • "Jugged" (December 1955, Western Magazine; aka "The Boy from Dos Cabezas")
  • "Moment of Vengeance" (April 21, 956, The Saturday Evening Post; aka "The Waiting Man")
  • "Man with the Iron Arm" (September 1956, Complete Western Book; aka "The One Arm Man")
  • "The Longest Day of His Life" (October 1956, Western Novel and Short Stories)
  • "The Nagual" (November 1956, Two-Gun Western; aka "The Accident at Joe Stam's")
  • "The Kid" (December 1956, Western Short Stories; aka "The Gift of Regalo")
  • "Only Good Ones" (1961, Roundup: Writers of America Anthology)
  • "The Tonto Woman" (1982, Roundup: Western Writers of America Anthology)
  • "Hurrah for Capt. Early" (1994, New Trails: Western Writers of America Anthology)
  • "Karen Makes Out" (1996, Murder For Love; 1996, MHCMM; Karen Sisco)
  • "Sparks" (1999, Murder and Obsession; also Summer 1999, MHCMM; Ray Canavan, arson investigator)
  • "Hanging Out at the Buena Vista" (June 13, 1999, USA Weekend)
  • "Chickasaw Charlie Hoke" (2001, Murderer's Row)
  • "Fire in the Hole" (2001, Contentville Press e-book)
  • "Tenkiller" (2002, When the Women Come Out to Dance and Other Stories)
  • "When the Women Come Out to Dance" (2002, When the Women Come Out to Dance and Other Stories)
  • "Showdown at Checotah" (2003, McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales; Carl Webster)
  • "Louly and Pretty Boy" (2005, Dangerous Women, Carl Webster)
  • "Comfort to the Enemy" (2005-06, The New York Times Magazine; Carl Webster)
  • "Chick Killer" (2011, McSweeney's 39; Karen Sico)
  • "The Only Good Syrian Foot Soldier is a Dead One" (February-May 2013, The Strand Magazine)
  • "One Horizontal" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)
  • "Charlie Martz" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)
  • "Siesta in Paloverde" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)
  • "Time of Terror" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)
  • "A Happy, Lighthearted People" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)
  • "Arma Virumque Cano" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)
  • "Confession" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)
  • "Evenings Away from Home" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)
  • "For Something to Do" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)
  • "The Italian Cut" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)
  • "The Line Rider" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)
  • "The Trespassers" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)
  • "The Bull Ring at Blisston" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)
  • "Rebel on the Run" (2015, Charlie Martz & Other Stories)


Collects the Carl Webster stories.

Library of America edition includes Fifty-Two Pickup, Swag, Unknown Man No. 89 and The Switch.

A collection of fifteen early stories, most of them unpublished, including several westerns, show Leonard honing his craft -- and introducing characters we would see again.

  • Elmore Leonard: Four Novels of the 1980s (2015).. Buy this book

Library of America edition includes City Primeval, LaBrava, Glitz and Freaky Deaky.

Includes Get Shorty, Rum Punch, Out of Sight and Tishomingo Blues


  • THREE-TEN TO YUMA....Buy this video
    (1957, Coumbia)
    92 minutes
    Based on the story by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Halsted Welles
    Directed by Delmer Daves
    Theme song performed by Frankie Laine
    Original music by George Duning  
    Cinematography by Charles Lawton Jr.
    Produced by David Heilweil
    Starring Van Heflin as DAN EVANS
    and Glenn Ford as BEN WADE
    Also starring
    Felicia Farr, Leora Dana, Henry Jones, Richard Jaekel, Robert Emhardt, Ford Rainey 

    (1957, Columbia)
    78 minutes
    Based on the story "The Captives" by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Burt Kennedy  
    Directed by Budd Boetticher
    Original music by Heinz Roemheld  
    Cinematography by Charles Lawton Jr.
    Produced by Harry Joe Brown  
    Assistant producer: David Breen
    Associate producer: Randolph Scott
    Starring Randolph Scott as Pat Brennan
    and Richard Boone as Usher
    Also starring
    Maureen O'Sullivan, Arthur Hunnicutt, Skip Homeier, Henry Silva, John Hubbard , Robert Burton, Robert Anderson, Fred Sherman

  • HOMBRE....Buy the video....Buy the DVD....Buy the Blu-Ray....Watch it now!
    (1967, 20th Century-Fox)
    111 minutes
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank Jr.  
    Directed by Martin Ritt
    Starring Paul Newman as JOHN RUSSELL
    Also starring
    Frederic March, Richard Boone, Diane Cilento, Cameron Mitchell, Barbara Rush, Martin Balsam
    Produced by Irving Ravetch and Martin Ritt

I remember reading this when I was only ten or so, and thinking how grown-up I was. My first Leonard. It was only years later that I saw the film.

    (1969, Warner Brothers)
    102 minutes
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Elmore Leonard
    Directed by Alex March
    Original music by Mike Curb  
    Cinematography by Howard Schwartz  
    Starring Ryan O'Neal as JACK RYAN
    Also starring
    Leigh-Taylor Young, James Daly, Robert Webber, Lee Grant, Van Helflin

    (1970, MGM)
    100 minutes
    Screenplay by Elmore Leonard, based on his novel
    Directed by Richard Quine
    Cinematography by Richard H. Kline
    Original music by Neal Hefti, Fred Karger
    Associate producers:Leonard Blair, James C. Pratt
    Producer: Martin Ransohoff
    Starring Patrick McGoohan, Richard Widmark, Alan Alda, Melodie Johnson, Will Geer, Joe Williams, Lee Hazlewood, Harry Carey Jr., Tom Nolan, John Schuck, Bo Hopkins, Teri Garr

  • VALDEZ IS COMING ....Buy the video
    (1971, Norlan)
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Roland Kibbee and David Rayfiel
    Directed by Edwin Sherin
    Associate producer: Sam Manners
    Producer: Ira Steiner
    Executive producer: Roland Kibbee
    Starring Burt Lancaster as BOB VALDEZ
    Also starring
    Susan Clark, Frank Silvera, Jon Cypher, Richard Jordan, Barton Heyman, Hector Elizondo, Phil Brown, Ralph Brown

  • JOE KIDD....Buy the video....Buy the DVD....Buy the Blu-Ray
    (1972, Universal)
    88 minutes
    Written by Elmore Leonard
    Directed by John Sturges
    Cinematography by Bruce Surtees
    Original music by Lalo Schifrin
    Produced by Sidney Beckerman
    Executive producer: Robert Daley
    Starring Clint Eastwood as JOE KIDD
    Also starring
    Robert Duvall, John Saxon, Don Stroud, Stella Garcia, James Wainwright, Paul Koslo, Gregory Walcott, Dick Van Patten, Lynn Marta

  • MR. MAJESTYK....Buy the video....Buy the DVD....Buy the Blu-Ray....Watch it now!
    (1974, Mirisch Company/United Artists)
    103 minutes
    Screenplay by Elmore Leonard (later novelized)
    Directed by Richard Fleischer
    Cinematography by Richard H. Kline
    Original music by Charles Bernstein
    Produced by Walter Mirisch
    Starring Charles Bronson as VINCE MAJESTYK
    Also starring
    Al Lettieri, Linda Cristal, Lee Purcell, Paul Koslo, Alejandro Rey, Taylor Lacher, Frank Maxwell, Bert Santos

Believe it or not, this is a one damn fine flick, with Bronson as one hard-nosed, um, watermelon farmer. Recommended. It's all about the melons, man.

    AKA Peacemaker
    (1984, Northbrook Films/Cannon Group)
    97 minutes
    Based on the novel 52 Pick-Up by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Max Jack
    Directed by J. Lee Thompson
    Original music by Dov Seltzer
    Associate producer: Isaac Kol
    Produced by Yoram Globus, Menahem Golan  
    Starring Robert Mitchum, Ellen Burstyn, Rock Hudson, Fabio Testi, Donald Pleasence, Michael Bat-Adam, Heli Goldenberg, Ori Levy

In Rock Hudson's last film, Leonard's auto parts manufacturer becomes a U.S. ambassador (MItchum) trying to negotiate peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Go figure.

  • STICK....Buy the DVD....Watch it now!
    (1985, Universal)
    109 minutes
    Tagline: The only thing he couldn't stick to were the rules.
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Elmore Leonard and Joseph Stinson
    Directed by Burt Reynolds

    Cinematography by Nick McLean
    Original music by Joseph Conlan, Barry De Vorzon  Associate producer:
    David Gershenson   (associate)
    Executive co-producer:
    William Gordean
    Jennings Lang  
    Executive producer:
    Robert Daley
    Starring Burt Reynolds as ERNEST "STICK" STICKLEY
    Also starring
    Candace Bergen, George Segal, Charles Durning, Jose Perez, Richard Lawson, Alex Rocco, Tricia Leigh Fisher, Dar Robinson, Castulo Guerra

Originally slated for 1984 release, but hauled back for some reshooting. Rumours have it that that Candace Bergen sent Leonard an apology-- not just her performance, but the whole movie.

  • 52 PICK-UP....Buy the video....Buy the DVD....Watch it now!
    (1986, Cannon Group)
    111 minutes
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Elmore Leonard and John Steppling
    Directed by John Frankenheimer
    Cinematography by Jost Vacano
    Original music by Gary Chang
    Produced by Yoram Globus, Menahem Golan  
    Executive producer: Henry T. Weinstein
    Starring Roy Scheider as HARRY MITCHELL
    and Ann-Margaret as Barbara Mitchell
    Also starring
    Vanity, John Glover, Robert Trebor, Lonny Chapman, Kelly Preston, Clarence Williams III, Doug McClure, Alex Henteloff

  • THE ROSARY MURDERS....Buy the video....Buy the Blu-Ray
    105 minutes
    Based on the novel by William X. Kienzle
    Screenplay by Elmore Leonard and Fred Walton
    Directed by Fred Walton
    Associate producer: Chris Coles
    Executive producers: Robert G. Laurel, Michael R. Mihalich
    Donald Sutherland, Charles Durning, Belinda Bauer, Josef Somer, Roger Angelini, Anita Barone, B. Constance Barry

  • CAT CHASER....Buy the DVD....Watch it now!
    (1989, Vestron Pictures)
    97 minutes
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by James Borrelli & Elmore Leonard
    Directed by Abel Ferrara
    Music by Chick Corea
    Cinematography by Anthony B. Richmond
    Producers: Peter S. Davis, William Panzer, Mari Provenzano
    Executive producer: Guy Collins, Josi Konski
    Starring Peter Weller as GEORGE MORAN
    Also starring
    Kelly McGillis, Charles Durning, Frederic Forrest, Tomas Milian, Juan Fernandez

  • BORDER SHOOTOUT....Buy the video
    110 minutes
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by C.J. McIntyre  
    Directed by
    C.J. McIntyre  
    Original music by Coley Music Group  
    Cinematography by Dennis Dalzell
    Produced by C.T. McIntyre
    Starring Cody Glenn as KIRBY FRYE
    and Michael Forrest as Earl Beaudry
    Also starrng
    Michael Horse, Jeff Kaake, Lizabeth Rohovit, Charlene Tilton, Russell Todd, George Salazar, Danny Nelson, Sam Smiley, Don Starr , Ed Gable, Glenn Ford

Young rancher Kirby Frye is appointed deputy in a small town tyrannized by ruthless Phil Sundeen, the son of one of the founders of the town in this film based on an early Leonard western.

  • GET SHORTY...Buy the video...Buy the DVD...Buy the Blu-Ray
    (1995, Jersey Films/MGM)
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Scott Frank
    Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
    Producers: Danny DeVito, Graham Place, Susan Ringo, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher  
    Executive producer: Barry Sonnenfeld
    Original music by John Lurie  
    Cinematography by Donald Peterman  
    Starring John Travolta as CHILI PALMER
    Also starring
    Dennis Farina, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, Danny DeVito, Delroy Lindo, James Gandolfini, Jon Gries, Bobby Slayton

  • TOUCH....Buy the video....Buy the video
    (1997, MGM)
    96 minutes
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Written and directed by Paul Schrader  
    Produced by Fida Attieh, Lila Cazès
    Associate producer: Trek T. Kelly
    Co-producer: Llewellyn Wells   (co-producer)
    Original music by David Grohl  
    Cinematography by Ed Lachman
    Starring Skeet Ulrich as JUVENAL
    Also starring
    LL Cool J, Gina Gershon, Conchata Ferrell, John Doe, Christopher Walken, María Celedonio, Chris Hogan, Anthony Zerbe, Bridget Fonda, William Newman, Tom Arnold, Breckin Meyer, Matt O'Toole, Richard Fancy
    Based on a non-crime novel, this one's about a faith healer who just may be the real thing...

  • JACKIE BROWN.....Buy this DVD....Buy the Blu-Ray...Buy this video
    (1997, Miramax)
    Based on the novel Rum Punch, by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino
    Directed by
    Quentin Tarantino
    Starring Pam Grier, Robert Forster, Samuel L. Jackson, Bridget Fonda, Robert DeNiro
    Great acting really pushes a plot along. Pam Grier and Robert Forster are superb. Looks like Quentin's aiming for a career this time, not a reputation. It's long, and slow-moving (but not slow), but eventually it all wraps up. Definitely not for the Johnny-come-lately Pulp Fiction groupies who came expecting exploding heads and zoom-ins on gunshot wounds. It's an solid, intelligent, well-done caper flick that won't make you feel cheap in the morning. Alas, right after this, Quentin went off the deep end for a decade, playing to the cheap seats of his inner-fanboy.

  • OUT OF SIGHT.....Buy this DVD...Buy this video
    (1998, Jersey Films/Universal)
    122 minutes
    Screenplay by Scott Frank
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Directed by Steve Soderbergh (sex, lies and videotape)
    Produced by Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher  
    Executive producers: John Hardy, Barry Sonnenfeld
    Starring Jennifer Lopez as KAREN SISCO
    and George Clooney
    Also starring Ving Rhames, Albert Brooks, Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn
    One of the best Elmore adaptations, and possibly J Lo's best movie performance. Served as inspirastion for 2003-04 ABC TV series Karen Sisco.

    (2004, Warner Brothers)
    Release Date: January 30, 2004
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Sebastian Gutierrez and George Armitage
    Directed by George Armitage
    Producers: Jorge Saralegui, George Armitage, Steve Bing
    Executive producers: Brent Armitage, Zane Weiner
    Starring Owen Wilson as Jack Ryan
    Also starring
    Morgan Freeman, Sara Foster, Gary Sinise, Charlie Sheen, Vinnie Jones, Bebe Neuwirth, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Harry Dean Stanton
    Remake of 1969 flick which starred Ryan O'Neal, based on Elmore Leonard's first crime novel. "Re-imagined" as a romantic comedy, and now set on the exotic North Shore of Oahu. Owen Wilson as a likeable drifter/thief who hooks up with a thrill-loving woman specializing in good looks and petty scams. When she tries to seduce him into double-crossing his former boss, a shady real estate developer, for a chunk of cash, it could be the perfect score or the perfect set-up.

  • BE COOL...Buy the DVD...Buy the Blu-Ray...Watch it now!
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Starring John Travolta, Uma Thurman
    Sequel to Get Shorty, with Travolta returning to his role as Chili Palmer.

  • 3:10 to YUMA....Buy the DVD....Buy the Blu-ray
    Tagline: Time waits for one man
    Based on the short story by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt and Derek Haas
    Directed by James Mangold
    Starring Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Logan Lerman, Dallas Roberts, Ben Foster, Peter Fonda, Vinessa Shaw, Gretchen Mol

Since the marshall in the original story by Leonard (and the previous 1957 film starring Glenn Ford) is now a small-time rancher who's HIRED to transport a captured outlaw to a train that will take him to court in Yuma, does this deliberately old-fashioned western qualify as a P.I. film?

  • KILLSHOT...Buy the DVD...Buy the Blu-Ray...Watch it now!
    (2009, Weinstein Company)
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by
    Hossein Amini
    Directed by John Madden
    Starring Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Thomas Jane

A relentless, uncompromising stab at the Elmore Leonard novel. This is noir straight up, no chaser. Lane steals the show (as a woman in the Federal Witness Protection Program who is anything but protected) but the entire powerhouse cast is to die for. Too bad it fell through the cracks, and nobody saw it -- if this had been properly released the accolades Rourke collected for The Wrestler would have come a few years earlier. He's scene-chewing creepy as the deranged hitman out to make Lane's life horrible.

    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Charles Matthau
    Directed by
    Charles Matthau
    Starring Billy Burke, Christian Slater, Crispin Glover, Michael Jae White, Andy Dick

A sixties radical who's decided he'd rather be rich tangles with an ex-member of the Detroit bomb squad.

  • LIFE OF CRIME...Buy the DVD...Buy the Blu-Ray...Watch it now
    Tagline: "Right target. Wrong woman."
    Based on the novel The Switch by Elmore Leonard
    Written and directed by Daniel Schecter
    Starring Jennifer Aniston, Yasiin Bey, Isla Fisher, Will Forte, Tim Robbins, Mark Boone Junior, John Hawkes, Mos Def

Not prime Leonard, but still rather enjoyable in a fluffy noir kinda way. Aniston is surprisingly likable as the bored but well-intentioned trophy wife turned kidnap victim, and Robbins is fun as the sleazy husband who ponders whether he should pay the ransom. this one slipped through the cracks, but -- much to our surpise we actually liked it.


    (in development, Universal?)
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen

Oh, this woulda been so cool.

  • 40 LASHES
    (2001, in development; Miramax)
    Based on the novel Forty Lashes Less One by Elmore Leonard
    Screenplay by Quentin Tarantino
    Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Years before Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight, Tarantino was thinking of doing a western. Two men facing life sentences in Yuma Prison- a black man and an Apache halfbreed - are offered their freedom in exchange for tracking down five dangerous outlaws. 2001? Obviously, this one bit the dust!!!

    (2002, in development; Paramount Pictures)
    Based on the novella by Elmore Leonard (author)
    Producers: Arnold Rifkin and Michael Siegel
    Starring Bruce Willis

An ex-rodeo star leaves to become a successful Hollywood stuntman. When he heads home, he finds that unsavories have taken over the family ranch. and another one down, another one down...


    (aka "High Noon, Part II, The Return of Will Kane")
    (1980, CBS)
    TV movie
    Teleplay by Elmore Leonard
    Directed by Jerry Jameson  
    Produced by Edward Montagne
    Starring Lee Majors as WILL KANE
    Also starring Frank Campanella, Katherine Cannon, David Carradine, Britt Leach, Michael Pataki, J.A. Preston, Pernell Roberts, M. Emmet Walsh, Tracey Walter, Tiny Wells

  • GLITZ....Buy this video
    (1988 , Lorimar)
    99 minutes
    TV movie
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Teleplay by Stephen Zito  
    Directed by Sandor Stern
    Cinematography by Richard Bowen
    Original music by Dana Kaproff  
    Produced by Steven R. McGlothen
    Executive producers: Gary Adelson, David R. Ginsburg
    Starring Jimmy Smits as VINCENT MARRA
    Also starring John Diehl, Markie Post, Ken Foree, Madison Mason, Robin Strasser, Geno Silva, James Purcell, Patrie Allen

    TV movie
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Teleplay by Vera Appleyard  
    Directed by Sheldon Larry  
    Produced by Zev Braun, Ken Gord
    Starring Gregory Harrison as ROBBIE DANIELS
    Also starring Robert Collins, Rebecca Jenkins, Steve Whistance-Smith, Maury Chaykin, David Hewlett, Melody Ryane, Dennis O'Connor, Tom Hollis, Nicholas Campbell, Kristina Nicoll, Eugene Clark

  • GOLD COAST....Buy this video
    (aka "Elmore Leonard's Gold Coast")
    (1997, made for cable)
    TV movie
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Directed by Peter Weller
    Starring David Caruso as MAGUIRE
    Also starring Barry Primus, Marg Helgenberger, Jeff Kober, Wanda De Jesus, Richard Bradford, Melissa Ramone, Rafael Báez

  • LAST STAND AT SABER RIVER....Buy this video
    (1997, TNT)
    TV movie
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Teleplay by Ron Cohen
    Directed by Dick Lowry  
    Executive producers: Michael Brandman, Tom Selleck
    Original music by David Shire  
    Cinematography by Ric Waite
    Starring Tom Selleck as PAUL CABLE
    Also starring Suzy Amis, Rachel Duncan, Haley Joel Osment, Keith Carradine, David Carradine, Tracey Needham, Chris Stacy, Harry Carey Jr., Patrick Kilpatrick, David Dukes, Raymond Cruz

  • PRONTO....Buy this video
    (1997, Showtime)
    TV movie
    100 minutes, rated R
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Teleplay by Michael Butler
    Directed by Jim McBride
    Producers: Richard Berg, Chris Danton, Allan Marcil  
    Original music by John Altman
    Cinematography by Affonso Beato
    Starring Peter Falk as Harry Arno (Henri Arnaud in novel)
    James LeGros as RAYLAN GIVENS
    and Glenne Headly as Joyce Patton
    Also starring Sergio Castellitto, Walter Olkewicz, Luis Guzmán, Bradford Tatum, Therese Kablan, Franco Trevisi, Armando De Razza, Francesca De Sapio, Glenn Plummer, Nikos Papatheodorou, Giorgos Iaokoyydis, Kathy Skalldou

    6 60-minute episodes
    Debut: August 4, 1998
    Based on the novel by Elmore Leonard
    Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
    Starring Beau Bridge as MAXIMUM BOB GIBBS
    Also starring Liz Vassey, Kiersten Warren, Sam Robards

This summer replacement tried, but never quite got there.

    (2003, ABC)
    Based on characters created by Elmore Leonard
    Developed for television by Jason Smilovic
    Starring Carla Gugino as KAREN SISCO
    with Robert Forster as Marshall Sisco
    and Bill Duke as Amos Andrews
    Guest stars: Gary Cole, Patrick Dempsey, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman

Yes! Sassy, sexy, and fun to watch. Not much angst, but a lot of zip. Carla Gugino shone as the dedicated U.S. Federal Marshal with really bad taste (and luck) when it comes to men (Jennifer Lopez played her in the theatrical release, Out of Sight). And Forster, as Karen's private eye dad, is the show's secret weapon. But, this being a witty, entertaining show that wasn't exactly like every other crime show on the tube, ABC dicked around with it, pitting it first against NBC's Law and Order behemoth, and then consigning it to various spots in the schedule where nobody could find, finally cancelling it because it never got the numbers. Well, DUH!!!

    (2010-15, FX)
    Based on characters created by Elmore Leonard
    Developed for television by Graham Yost
    Writers: Graham Yost, Elmore Leonard, VJ Boyd, Dave Andron, Benjamin Cavell, Wendy Calhoun, Fred Golan
    Starring Timothy Olyphant as RAYLAN GIVENS
    Also starring Natalie Zea, Nick Searcy, Joelle Carter, Jacob Pitts, Walton Goggins, Erica Tazel, William Ragsdale, Sam Elliot

This is what it's like when they get Elmore right. The author was so pleased with the results he penned another novel featuring the trigger happy lawman, the appropriately titled Raylan (2012). It turned out to be Leonard's last book.

A re-imagining of Leonard's novel (and the 1995 film) recasts the movie-crazy East Coast legbreaker Chili Palmer as Miles O'Day, an Irish hitman working for a Nevada mob, who decides becoming a movie producer is the best way to go legit and win back his estranged family. Not nearly as clever as they thought.


  • Elmore Leonard's Criminal Records: Profile of a Writer....Buy this video
    Produced and directed by Mike Dibb
    Starring Elmore Leonard

Originally a BBC documentary, this video is essentially a conversation with Leonard about the way he does the research for his books. Fans should get a kick out of Leonard revisiting many of the cops, judges, bail bondsmen and the likewho have inspired his work. Leonard also reads from some of his work.

Leonard's guide to writing is essentially a magazine article sandwiched between two slabs of cardboard. It runs less than a hundred pages -- and that's with large type and leading, plenty of white space and numerous large cartoony illustrations from Joe Ciardiello. It's obviously intended as a gift book, yet its common-sense expansion of what Leonard calls "'the rules I've picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I'm writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what's taking place in the story" is a bracing bit of advice well worth hearing -- if not exactly worth the price. Which is why it's called a "gift book."


The author's official site, including a blog and plenty of info on the tons of films adapted from his work.

New Yorker article from September 30, 1996, about Gregg Sutter, who did research for Leonard for over thirty years, and later edited the Library of America edition of Four Novels of thr 1970s.

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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