Monday, December 12, 2011

No Beast So Fierce by Edward Bunker

(hb; 1973)

Review

Excellent, straightforward, no-frills crime drama-tale about an ex-con (Max Denbo), who, out on parole, works hard to stay "straight" (out of prison), only to be pushed back into his shady, sometimes violent ways by the very people who are supposed to be helping him become a better man.

The author, Edward Bunker, was himself a longtime prison inmate who discovered the pragmatic catharsis of writing while in the joint. He turned this into a lucrative post-joint career and had a few of his novels turned into good films (e.g., The Animal Factory). The upshot? Bunker knows what he's writing about.

Worth owning, this.

#

The resulting film, Straight Time, was released stateside on July 14, 1978.

Dustin Hoffman played Max Denbo. Theresa Russell played Jenny Mercer. Gary Busey played Willy Darin. Kathy Bates played Selma Darin. Jake Busey, billed as Jacob Busey, played Henry Darin (Jake is the real-life son of Gary Busey - in the film he plays his father's character's son).

Harry Dean Stanton played Jerry Schue. M. Emmet Walsh played Earl Frank (the cinematic equivalent of the novel's Joseph Rosenthal). Rita Taggart played Carol Schue. Sandy Baron played Manny.

Source novel author and co-screenwriter Edward Bunker played Mickey.

The film was co-directed by Ulu Grosbard and an uncredited Dustin Hoffman, from a script penned by Edward Bunker (as mentioned before), Jeffrey Boam, Michael Mann (uncredited) and Nancy Dowd (uncredited), which itself was based on Alvin Sargent's story/adaptation.

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