I don’t know when I would have gotten to Elmore Leonard as an influential author but his death on this past Tuesday (August 20, 2013) obviously sped up consideration.

Elmore Leonard Dead At 87. Author Of Jackie Brown

Elmore Leonard

Just as with many of the other authors, Elmore Leonard is a surprise in the breadth and diversity of his work. From his wiki:

Elmore John Leonard, Jr. (October 11, 1925 – August 20, 2013) was an American novelist and screenwriter. His earliest published novels in the 1950s were Westerns, but Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into motion pictures.

Among his best-known works are Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk, and Rum Punch (adapted for the movie Jackie Brown). Leonard’s short stories include ones that became the films 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T, as well as the current FX television series Justified.

Now just look at that short list. Get Shorty was a novel that led to the movie of the same name. Out of Sight is a novel that became a movie. Mr Majestyk a crime movie that Leonard wrote the original screen play then novelized after. Hombre was yet another novel that was adapted to the screen.

Look at the list of actors in movies based on Leonard’s work: Paul Newman, George Clooney, John Travolta, Charles Bronson, Pam Grier. If you check Leonard’s list of credits at IMDB you see classic westerns, classic mysteries, comedy/dramas, and TV screen plays for movies and series. But it is not just his work across multiple genres – it is work across multiple genres where the end result has been movies that are acknowledged as classics. Besides the actors I have already listed, there’s Clint Eastwood, Burt Lancaster, Burt Reynolds, Candice Bergen, George Segal, Glenn Ford, Tom Selleck, Van Heflin, Morgan Freeman and the list goes on and on.

I have to admit that with all of the wonderful books Leonard has written and the classics that became movie classics, I tend to enjoy the humor quite a bit. I liked Get Shorty and even enjoyed Be Cool as both books and movies. I did not realize that the movie The Big Bounce with Morgan Freeman, Owen Wilson, Willie Nelson, Charlie Sheen, Gary Sinise, and Bebe Neuwirth had been based on a Leonard novel and had been made into an earlier movie back in ’69 with Ryan O’Neal and Leigh Taylor-Young.

I also have a soft spot and enjoyed the movie Stick with Burt Reynolds, George Segal, Charles Durning, and Candice Bergen – not because it was a great movie, which it is not. But because it got me to read the book and was a fun read.

So check out the movies and books and lets talk about your Leonard favorites: books, movies, westerns, crime, mysteries, whatever.

Photo from Zennie Abraham licensed under Creative Commons