Road Coming Plus Movie Walkouts

August 23rd, 2016 by Max Allan Collins

The Brash Books edition of the complete ROAD TO PERDITION novel is now available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in either print or e-book form.

It’s something of a dream come true for me to have my original version out there in the world, after having been forced back in 2002 to cut its 75,000 words to around 40,000, in addition to be made to rewrite it substantially to make it further conform to the film. This is the definitive edition of the prose version of what is undoubtedly my most famoeus and successful work. Read more about it at Brash’s web site.

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This Sunday Barb and I achieved something very special, a personal best: we walked out of two movies on the same day.

We watched forty-five minutes or so the new BEN-HUR, which I would describe as a travesty except a perfectly good word like “travesty” shouldn’t be wasted on this. Where to begin? A nothing score. Unneeded narration. Cheap-looking sets and costumes. Embarrassing dialogue. Slow pace. I felt sorry for actor Jack Huston, who was so memorable as a disfigured hitman on BOARDWALK EMPIRE. His Messala, Toby Kebbel, is an unattractive thug. The carpenter who, in the process of making a table or something, offers up some philosophy is…Jesus! Get it? Jesus.

Leaving a movie called BEN-HUR without staying for the chariot race is like leaving DEEP THROAT before Linda Lovelace gets examined by Doctor Harry Reems. But we left, scurrying across the hall with our 3-D glasses still on, to catch KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS.

Now, some of you may have seen that film and loved it or anyway liked it, and lots of reviewers are gaga over it. But none of you suffered through 45 minutes of the new BEN-HUR before starting KUBO. KUBO is visually lovely, very poetic, and its use of stop motion over computer animation is most winning. But it’s also precious and full of itself, and is nothing approaching a story, at least not in the first hour. I would think for most children under twelve it would be mind-numbing. (My son Nate, with his bent for Japanese culture, may disagree with me.) There is a monkey, voiced blandly by Charlize Theron, who wore its welcome out quickly with us. The film is from Laika, the studio that produced PARANORMAN (which I liked very much) and BOX TROLLS (which I did not, though my smart friend Terry Beatty loved it…he may love this one, too).

As regular moviegoers, we are getting very worn down. I would suspect we have become cantankerous geezers if we didn’t find so much to like on TV. We just watched the excellent second season of THE TUNNEL, the British/French take on the nordic noir, THE BRIDGE, as well as a six-part Australian JACK IRISH mini-series called “Blind Faith” starring Guy Pearce. Both of these intelligently and skillfully use the police procedural and private eye melodrama respectively in ways that seem fresh and not at all dated, focusing on contemporary themes and subjects. The JACK IRISH is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the USA, but I got THE TUNNEL from Amazon UK (the first season has just become available here).

On an entirely different note, VICE PRINCIPALS with the great Danny McBride and the also great Walton Goggins is easily our favorite series currently airing – it’s very dark and yet somewhere deep down there is a beating human heart, in a world where the teachers are far more childish than the students.

Coming soon: QUARRY on Cinemax on September 9.

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Speaking of QUARRY, here is a positive UK review of the first novel, though the reviewer doesn’t quite get it….

And here’s a really great, perceptive QUARRY review from (wait for it) New Delhi!

Finally, give a listen to this interesting, interview-packed look at novelizations, featuring (among others) my pal Lee Goldberg and, well, me.


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10 Responses to “Road Coming Plus Movie Walkouts”

  1. Terry Beatty says:

    Yup — I loved KUBO. We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one.

  2. Max Allan Collins says:

    I think we would have stayed through it if BEN-HUR hadn’t already hammered us like a cheap steak getting tenderized. I wanted to like KUBO, and felt like I should like it. I thought everything about it was great but the story, which is a drawback in a narrative.

  3. Tom Zappe says:

    It’s a shame you couldn’t have walked in to HELL OR HIGH WATER. A few months back I compared Caleb York to real life Texas Ranger Bill Jordan. Jordan’s bones are fleshed anew by Jeff Bridges as a ranger a few weeks away from forced retirement when a string of bank robberies in timeless west Texas puts a kink in everyone’s tail. The action and ambiguities vie for your attention, but are topped off by an appearance from the world’s greatest waitress.

  4. stephen borer says:

    Could an upriver guy please plug the Crusin’ gig on Aug 26th ? Just this once ?

  5. Max Allan Collins says:

    Stephen, I was lax about plugging the gig.

    Crusin’ is appearing at Ardon Creek Winery this coming Friday (Sept. 26) from 6 pm till 9. Buy a bottle of win and sit and relax, and maybe bring some snacks or even a picnic basket along. It’s a beautiful location. Check out this link, and clink on CONTACT US for directions.

    Stephen, HELL OR HIGH WATER hasn’t hit any screens around here. Sounds terrific.

  6. Tom Zappe says:

    As of lunchtime in St. Louis, MO a trip to the local Barnes and Noble shows that the pre-order paper availability of PERDITION has not hit their computer screens, only the electronic version.

  7. Dr. Angela Celeste May says:

    Good day. I just discovered you as an author when my husband recently brought home one of your Criminal Minds thrillers from the library, titled KILLER PROFILE. As a longtime fan of the show I anxiously awaited reading your work. While I can see why you have been lauded as a writer, I feel compelled to take issue with, and address an aspect in your approach that I am sure you are completely unaware.

    Let us discuss hidden racism, that which we may not be aware of within ourselves. As I indicated previously, I am certain that this is not at all your intention, however as a Black/African American woman, scholar, educator, and fellow writer (and might I add fellow professional musician as well), the subtle racism is glaringly obvious to me. Simply put, as you give detailed descriptions of each character, I felt slightly let down when reading about Benny the “Hispanic boy”. And later as you introduced each of the main characters from the Criminal Minds cast I was further disappointed, and I have to say even insulted as you made sure that the reader knew that Derek Morgan was the “African American” in the room. I wondered aloud, at what point were you going to let us know that Rossi was the Italian-American in the room? But of course I already knew the answer; of course we were not going to find that out from your descriptions. That was not going to be incorporated into his, or Reed’s, or any of the other characters’ descriptions who are not people of color.

    What’s the big deal you might ask? Well, besides the fact that it would more fully inform and flesh out ALL character descriptions, this kind of verbiage perpeuates the idea of people of color as the “other”, as in “the ‘rest’ of us are ‘regular’ but we need to highlight those who are ‘different’ than the ‘rest’ of us. Of course there is no need to tell us what the non-Black/Hispanic/etc. ethnic backgrounds are because after all, they are the norm and we can take it for granted that they are White based on the rest of the physical descriptions. Sadly, this speaks to more of that hidden racism. Blonde hair does not necessarily mean a White person; I know a number of African American, chocolate dark women with blond hair. Nor do blue eyes automatically mean that a person is White, because my African-American god mother was born with green eyes and I know several with hazel eyes. And yes, some Africans for example, naturally have blue eyes.

    My Hope Is that you will be able to receive this message in the spirit in which it is given. We all continue to learn and grow no matter how far we may have gone in our careers. Thus my advice to you as you move forward in your illustrious work, is this: if you are going tell your reader the ethnicity of certain characters you’ll need to tell your readers the ethnicity of ALL your characters. Because I guarantee that if this stood out to me, it has most definitely has stood out to others as well.

    I wish you continued success.
    Dr. Angela Celeste May

  8. Max Allan Collins says:

    Meaning no disrespect, this is political correctness run amok.

    I can understand that identifying a character as African-American who is portrayed by an actor of color (on the TV series the book is based on) may seem redundant. But, believe it or not, some readers of my tie-in novels don’t watch the shows in question. So, yes, I do point out African Americans and Hispanics and Asians, just as i describe (to some readers’ irritation) the clothing they wear — such things are part of characterization. To accuse, however politely, an author who constantly includes people of color as well as gay characters as adding to the notion of the “other” in American culture is both insulting and wrongheaded. I notice you go out of your way to let me know you are “a Black/African American woman” — and you do this to provide context. Understandably.

    Right now, “white” is kind of the default setting in our culture, although that’s changing and will change dramatically in coming years. Still, I don’t think it’s necessary for me to identify a character named “Rossi” as of Italian-American stock, while I do think that my character Anne Nichols in the Reeder and Rogers political thrillers can use identification as a black woman, since her name in no way implies that. I try to help the reader visualize characters and understand them as people, and I use every color (so to speak) in my palate to do so.

    By the way, my co-author on the CRIMINAL MINDS novels, Matthew Clemens, is Hispanic, though his name does not imply that. If he objected to a character being so described, I would imagine he would have mentioned it by now…although he may have written that line himself.

  9. Dr. Angela Celeste May says:

    Interesting. I too could claim that your saying that the term white is a default word is so-called political correctness on your part, but of course I won’t because that is just something that people say when they try to by pass the point instead of actually dealing with the issue. Instead I will point out that I absolutely agree that it is a default term. In fact I preach this on a regular basis in my classrooms, among my colleagues, etc. Lumping everyone together into white no matter their background does a disservice. After all, there is a huge difference between someone from Southern Italy and Poland. The problem here is that it is not “political correctness run amok” or otherwise to say that it is a glaring omission to give extreme detail yet leave out the person’s background except for the black person or the Hispanic person. And for those, as you pointed out, who are unfamiliar with the show upon which the story is base, how do you leave out the fact that Rossi is an Italian-American since being Italian America is a huge part of his character’s identity? Rossi is forever telling people how proud he is to be an Italian-American but somehow you neglected to include that in the detailed description, but for those unfamiliar with the show you made sure to do so with your African American and Hispanic characters. And as far as your co-author, I am afraid that the “he is fine with it” line is as familiar as the old “some of my best friends are black” line. Bottom line, it’s still a problem that needs to be addressed. Igt may be uncomfortable for you to look at but my point remains valid. Peace.

  10. Max Allan Collins says:

    There is a very simple reason why I left out Rossi’s pride in his Italian-American heritage. When I wrote the first book, Rossi had not even been cast yet — Mandy Patinkin had quit the series, and I had to write about a character that had not been portrayed on screen. When I did the next (and final) CRIMINAL MINDS novel, the Rossi character had appeared only in a handful of episodes and his character had not been at all fleshed out yet, including his Italian pride.

    “Some of my best friends are black” — I wondered when that was coming. The cheapest of cheap shots.

    This is a non-issue.