Thursday, December 3, 2009

Casey Affleck as Lou Ford, or: Here Comes Another Thompson Revival

I just learned that in 2010 we will see a new film adaptation of Jim Thompson's "The Killer Inside Me". I have several reactions. One, an anticipation to see the final product; two, a fear that the final product will be sludge; three, boy, I sure love that book.

I first read "Killer" back in 1998 when I had decided to abandon spy fiction (reading and writing, only to return to writing it recently) and take a whirl-wind tour through hard-boiled literature. What a great place to start! "Killer" is a love-it-or-hate-it novel but you can't argue with how authentic Thompson wrote the interior character of Lou Ford, giving us the ability to watch this man break down in a way that is almost like watching a house fall apart from neglect. And the twist at the end always makes me smile. Lou thinks he's pulling a fast one on everybody but not so fast. His "prayer" at the end, as I think Ed Gorman once mentioned, is moving and tragic at the same time, and speaks for a lot of us who feel like we started life with our own crooked cue (or were handed the crooked cue later in life).

I know nothing about the movie other than that Casey Affleck and Jessica Alba star. I'm not sure Casey Affleck is the best choice, but I didn't think Daniel Craig would make a good James Bond, either; now, I think Craig is a terrific Bond. Thompson described Lou Ford in such a specific way, though, that it's hard to see anybody step into that mental picture. I hear Stacey Keach played the role once, and if anybody could do it, he sure could, but having not scene the Keach film I cannot comment further.

Thompson is one of my favorites but I never did get around to reading all of the books when Black Lizard/Vintage Crime reprinted them twenty years ago. I have a few on the shelf along with "Killer", though. As for my second favorite Thompson, it's really a tie between "The Grifters" and "A Hell of a Woman" and "The Nothing Man" and I'll be hanged if I can decide which one belongs in the second slot. Oddly enough, I don't care much for "The Getaway" probably because the movie, I think, ruined the book; Thompson's writing wasn't terribly coherent, at least when I read it the first time; and his choice for an ending always leaves me scratching my head. If you have a comment on that ending, and I'm sure you do because how could you not, I'd appreciate your opinion. I think now that it's been a few years I can read the book again and not see Steve McQueen as Doc (forget that other version), but we'll see. Once my TBR stack gets lower, maybe I'll go back to it.

In the meantime I wish the participants in the new "Killer" movie the best and hope it brings Thompson more attention and puts his books back in stores so I can snatch 'em up. He's a writer who should be rediscovered every few years.

If you're interested in reading more about the new movie, here's the link on the IMDB.

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