Tag: Be Cool

Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard

Posted August 8, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp / 0 Comments

Get Shorty by Elmore LeonardTitle: Get Shorty (Goodreads)
Author: Elmore Leonard
Series: Chili Palmer #1
Published: William Morrow, 1990
Pages: 304
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Chili Palmer is a shylock with mob connections working in Miami. However he is sick of the grind and it seems that his friends in the industry have a bad habit of dying. While chasing a deadbeat across America, he eventually ends up in Hollywood, where he decides to stay and start a new life. Besides, he has a killer idea for a movie and this is the town where dreams can come true…or do they?

It is no secret that Elmore Leonard has a bitter opinion towards Hollywood and Get Shorty allowed him to vent his feelings. In 1984 Leonard won an Edger Award (Best Novel) for his novel LaBrava and during the hype, Cannon Films brought the rights for a film adaptation. Dustin Hoffman had signed on to play former Secret Service agent Joe LaBrava in what was dubbed “the richest star deal in entertainment history”.  Elmore Leonard had to do multiple rewrites (all unpaid) at the request of the star only to have Hoffman terminate his contract citing ‘contract desputes’. The reason behind Hoffman’s departure from the project was due to some advertising; Cannon Films two full page ads in some trade papers which showed him pictured under the heading “Welcome to the Cannon Family Dustin Hoffman”. His contract granted him final approval to all advertising for the upcoming movie.

When reading Get Shorty you get a real sense of Elmore Leonard’s bitterness towards Hollywood and the failed movie. According to IMdb Dustin Hoffman is 5’5” and his depiction in the novel is the over compensating Michael Weir (who was portrayed by Danny DeVito in the film adaptation). Despite what Leonard may have thought about the movie industry, Get Shorty turned into one of the great satires depicting Hollywood. The film adaptation was the next of his novels to make the transition to the screen, this time with only minor changes to the main plot. This lead the way to a range of great Elmore Leonard adaptations, from Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, Be Cool, 3:10 to Yuma and the TV show Justified.

Get Shorty is probably one of the best modern crime novels I have read in a long time. I tend to find that modern authors in the genre do not explore social issues within their books. Elmore Leonard was one of the best crime novelists and it was sad to lose him back in 2013. I plan to read the next book in the Chili Palmer series, Be Cool and I think I should rewatch the movies sometime soon as well.