James Ellroy - Film Adaptations and Screenplays

Film Adaptations and Screenplays

Several of Ellroy's works have been adapted to film, including Blood on the Moon (adapted as Cop), L.A. Confidential, Brown's Requiem, Killer on the Road/Silent Terror (adapted as Stay Clean), and The Black Dahlia. In each instance, screenplays based on Ellroy's work have been penned by other screenwriters.

While he has frequently been disappointed by these adaptations (such as Cop), he was very complimentary of Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland's screenplay for L.A. Confidential at the time of its release. In succeeding years, however, his comments have been more reserved:

L.A. Confidential, the movie, is the best thing that happened to me in my career that I had absolutely nothing to do with. It was a fluke—and a wonderful one—and it is never going to happen again—a movie of that quality. Here’s my final comment on L.A. Confidential, the movie: I go to a video store in Prairie Village, Kansas. The youngsters who work there know me as the guy who wrote L.A. Confidential. They tell all the little old ladies who come in there to get their G-rated family flick. They come up to me, they say, “OOOO… you wrote L.A. Confidential.... Oh, what a wonderful, wonderful movie. I saw it four times. You don’t see storytelling like that on the screen anymore.” ... I smile, I say, “Yes, it’s a wonderful movie, and a salutary adaptation of my wonderful novel. But listen, Granny: You love the movie. Did you go out and buy the book?” And Granny invariably says, “Well, no, I didn’t.” And I say to Granny, “Then what the fuck good are you to me?

Shortly after viewing three hours of unedited footage for Brian De Palma's adaptation of The Black Dahlia, Ellroy wrote an essay, "Hillikers," praising De Palma and his film. Ultimately, nearly an hour was removed from the final cut, and the film was a commercial and critical disappointment. Of the released film, Ellroy told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Look, you’re not going to get me to say anything negative about the movie, so you might as well give up." He had, however, mocked the film's director, cast, and production design before it was filmed.

In 2008, Daily Variety reported that HBO, along with Tom Hanks's production company, Playtone, was developing American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand for either a miniseries or ongoing series.

Ellroy co-wrote the original screenplay for the 2008 film Street Kings but refused to do any publicity for the finished film.

In a 2009 interview, Ellroy himself stated, "All movie adaptations of my books are dead."

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