Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Get Shorty, Elmore Leonard

Get Shorty
Elmore Leonard

This is another in my occasional series of readings that come from wanting to know how the movie differs from the book. Exactly why I want to know that isn't clear even to me, but it is the case.

Get Shorty - the book - is fun. I read it in just a few days and took it to work to read over lunch time. That was a good sign given my recent string of books I haven't been all that enamored of.

The story revolves around Chili Palmer, a movie lover and shylock who is tired of that business - for various reasons. He finds himself getting involved movies when he goes to Las Vegas and then LA to look into some loans that are past due.

There are, of course, all kinds of complications. Chili winds up dealing with some local drug dealers who are laundering their money through a B movie production company, and so on. It's well written and well paced.

For those who have seen the movie, it differs from the book in both small and medium sized ways. Example: the drug courier's father is never mentioned in the book, and never makes an appearance. Nor does the wife of the writer - Doris, played in such outrageous fashion by Bette Midler - exist in the novel.

Other semi-important changes include the fact that it isn't Harry Zimm who causes Ray Barboni to go to LA, and there isn't even a confrontation between Barboni and Zimm, so that hospital scene - "Who wants to take a crack at wiring Mr. Zimm's jaw?" - doesn't happen in the book either.

The smaller changes are too numerous to mention, and yet don't add up to anything all that important.

In all I'd have to say that the conversion to the screenplay was done with skill and attention to detail.