Max Rockatansky Junior writes:
on January 11th, 2015 at 9:57:09 AM
While it is a coincidence that the book that Willis bought the rights for (in order to option for a film) does have the same name as the movie he starred in back in 2001, they are two completely different plots, even though they share the same name:
Bandits (2001 film) : Two friends and convicts, Joe (Bruce Willis) and Terry (Billy Bob Thornton), break out of Oregon State Penitentiary in a concrete mixing truck and start a bank robbing spree, hoping to fund a dream they share. They become known as the "Sleepover Bandits" because of their modus operandi: they kidnap the manager of a target bank the night before a planned robbery, then spend the night with the manager's family; early the next morning, they accompany the manager to the bank to get their money. Using dim-witted would-be stunt man Harvey Pollard (Troy Garity) as their getaway driver and lookout, the three successfully pull off a series of robberies that gets them recognition on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.
When Kate, a housewife with a failing marriage (Cate Blanchett), decides to run away, she ends up in the hands of the criminals. Initially attracted to Joe, she also ends up in bed with Terry and a confused love triangle begins.
The three of them go on the lam and manage to pull off a few more robberies, but after a while the two begin to fight over Kate, and she decides to leave them. The two criminals then decide to pull off one last job.
The story is told in flashbacks, framed by the story of the pair's last robbery of the Alamo Bank, as told by Criminals at Large, a fictional reality television show. The show tells the story of the last job to be a failure when Kate tips off the police and the two are caught in the act. The two then begin to argue when Joe tells the police "You won't take us alive!" and the argument gets to the point where the two of them shoot each other dead.
At the end of the film the real story behind the last job is revealed: Harvey used some of his special effects to make it seem as though Terry and Joe were shooting each other. Harvey and his girlfriend then ran in dressed as paramedics and placed the stolen money, Terry, and Joe in body bags. In the ambulance, Harvey uses electronics to blow out his tires which sends the ambulance into a junkyard. Under his jumpsuit, Harvey was wearing a fire suit. He lights himself on fire and rigs a bomb to go off. Kate, Harvey, Harvey's girlfriend, Terry, and Joe flee the scene, leading officials to believe the bodies were burned.
Reunited, Joe, Terry, Harvey and Kate make it to Mexico to live out their dream. The last scene shows Harvey getting married in Mexico and Kate kissing Joe and Terry passionately.
*courtesy of Wikipedia
Bandits, the Elmore Leonard novel:
THERE'S A CONTRA IN MY GRUB
Date: January 4, 1987, Sunday, Late City Final Edition Section 7; Page 7, Column 1; Book Review Desk
Byline: By Walker Percy; Walker Percy's new novel, ''The Thanatos Syndrome,'' will be published in April.
Lead: LEAD: BANDITS By Elmore Leonard. 345 pp. New York: Arbor House. $17.95.
BANDITS By Elmore Leonard. 345 pp. New York: Arbor House. $17.95.
THE question here is, Why is Elmore Leonard so good? He is. He is as good as the blurbs say:
''The greatest crime writer of our time, perhaps ever,'' ''Can't put it down,'' and so on. It's true enough. But how does he do it? Because it looks like he's thrown away the rules of a noble genre. He doesn't stick to the same guy or the same place. I had thought Raymond Chandler wrote the book when he set down Philip Marlowe in Los Angeles, in his lonesome house up Laurel Canyon, stoic and pure-hearted amid the low life of Sunset Boulevard and the bad cops of Bay City, a tough Galahad pitted against some very sleazy barbarians.
But look at what Mr. Leonard is doing. Here he is now in New Orleans. I haven't read many of his books, but, as I recall, he's taken on Detroit, Miami Beach, Bal Harbour, Jerusalem, with a different cop or a different tough guy in each place. His New Orleans is done up with meticulous accuracy. The restaurants, streets, bars, hotels are just right - especially a lovely neighborhood restaurant, Mandina's, which tourists have never heard of, and even the funeral home across the street. One imagines Mr. Leonard moving into a city for a couple of weeks, yet doing his research as exhaustively as John Gunther doing another ''Inside'' book. Yet Mr. Leonard's New Orleans lacks the authenticity of Chandler's L.A., which works for Marlowe - and for us - as his very soul's terrain.
I've often wondered why some good crime writer, local or otherwise, hasn't taken up with New Orleans, what with its special raffishness, its peculiar flavor of bonhomie and a slightly suspect charm. It's got the backdrop: Mafia types and the French Quarter downtown, enough decayed aristocrats uptown, lonesome anonymous suburbs like Gentilly, a greater ethnic mix than Marseilles. There are no ranker patios anywhere. Yet I can't recall a good novel in this genre and only one second-rate television series, ''Bourbon Street Beat.''
Does Elmore Leonard do the job in ''Bandits''? The early signs are not auspicious. His hero is an ex-con, a jewel thief turned mortician. The female lead? A good-looking ex-nun just back from Nicaragua where she took care of lepers until the contras hacked them up with machetes. Lepers?
The ex-nun wants to smuggle a young Nicaraguan woman - who contracted leprosy and whom her lover, a Somoza-type colonel, is trying to kill for honor's sake and because he thinks she might have given him leprosy - out of Carville, a leprosarium in Louisiana. He is also raising millions from rich Americans to take back to the contras. The ex-jewel thief and his tough ex-con ex-cop friend are out to steal the money that the ex-nun wants so she can help the lepers and the Sandinistas. H'm. When she was a nun, the woman believed in touching people. Why did she quit her vocation? Because, she says, ''I was burnt out.'' ''What does that mean?'' her ex-jewel-thief boyfriend asks. ''I was touching without feeling,'' she explains.
Oh my. What has Mr. Leonard got himself into this time? Nicaraguan politics and a gun-toting ex-nun who touches without feeling? Is it going to be standard Leonard crime and punishment flavored by gumbo and laced with bad contras and good Sandinistas?
But wait. Things are not so simple. Who should show up but a Miskito Indian who is working for the contras and who shoots people in the head with his 9-millimeter Beretta. He's a Miskito, and we know, don't we, what the Sandinistas did to the Miskitos.
A preposterous business this, but we keep turning the pages. Why? Here's one reason. Here's Jack Delaney, ex-con mortician, talking to his tough ex-con ex-cop friend, Roy, who's tending bar. Mr. Leonard has got the bar just right. We know what the bar looks like, what street it looks out on. Jack is telling Roy about the $5 million they can take from the colonel. Roy is mixing a drink, not paying attention. He ventures a remark. ''Delaney, you know what broads do when they get sick? I've never seen it to fail, they throw up in the washbasin. They don't throw up in the toilet, like you're supposed to.'' This gets your attention. What's Roy up to? Jack is telling him about stealing the $5 million from the contras and serving humanity at the same time. Roy is unimpressed by serving humanity. He tells about the humanity he serves at the bar.
''Guy comes in, looks around, he whispers to me, 'You got any absinthe?' He says, 'They don't have none at the Old Absinthe House. They tell me it's against the law to serve it.' I say how do I know, to this little . . . fella, you're not a cop? He shows me he's from Fort Wayne, Indiana. I glance around the bar, get out a clear bottle I make up that's got Pernod in it and a piece of deadwood with a caterpillar stuck on it. [ He ] drinks five of 'em at five bills a shot. Serve humanity, I serve 'em any . . . thing they want.'' Mr. Leonard has got my attention. You begin to notice his prose, the way he moves people around. People get shot in dependent clauses. Franklin de Dios is the Miskito Indian. '' 'I said I quit,' Franklin said, and shot him.'' The snap and crackle of the dialogue is something to hear. Mr. Leonard's ear is sharp and accurate: ''Jack put on a reasonably stupid grin for Wally Scales and slipped a little bit of West Feliciana Parish into his sound. 'Well, I can't say it was enjoyable, but I come through it, yes sir.' '' Sure enough, folks in West Feliciana Parish, which is next door to where I'm writing, could say that.
Franklin drives a Chrysler Fifth Avenue. A black New Orleanian can't figure him out - he looks Indian but he's got nappy hair. ''Man, I look at you close I thought you were a brother. You know what I'm saying? I thought you were black.'' ''Yes, one part of me,'' Franklin says. ''The rest Miskito.'' Here's an item for the next doctoral thesis on Mr. Leonard: he often drops the word ''if'' in dialogue - and uses hardly any conjunctions. ''I had a tire iron we could find out in ten minutes.'' This sentence could use an ''if'' and a comma and would be worse for it.
Yes, Mr. Leonard knows what he's doing. In the end he senses that Nicaragua and the gun-toting ex-nun may not be working out here. He backs off. Says Roy, mystified: ''I want to know, for my own information, which are the good guys and which are the bad guys.'' Jack doesn't know either. Mr. Leonard's instincts are good. Nicaraguan politics, it turns out, may be a bit too heavy to be carried by the graceful pas de deux of Mr. Leonard's good guys and bad guys. For this reason, ''Bandits'' is not quite of a piece, like ''Glitz.''
But it will do. Mr. Leonard has got his usual diverting cast of grifters and creeps up his sleeve and action as Byzantine as ever Chandler himself thought up. In fact, reading it, I felt like William Faulkner when he was writing the screenplay for the film version of Chandler's novel ''The Big Sleep.'' The story is that he had to call up Chandler to find out what was going on. Chandler wasn't sure.
Yes, it will do.
Letting the Characters Do It
''Most thrillers,'' says Elmore Leonard, ''are based on a situation, or on a plot, which is the most important element in the book. I don't see it that way. I see my characters as being most important, how they bounce off one another, how they talk to each other, and the plot just sort of comes along.'' In fact, Mr. Leonard is so comfortable allowing his characters to control the pace and action of his stories that he didn't know how ''Bandits'' would end until three days before he finished it last April.
Mr. Leonard began writing for an advertising agency in 1949 and wrote westerns for two hours each morning before work. He published his first novel, ''The Bounty Hunters,'' in 1953, and sold his first crime novel, ''The Big Bounce,'' along with the movie rights, in 1969. Though he concedes that he writes genre fiction, he does so grudgingly. ''I write about crime, solving crime. But it's not a mystery, and it's not a puzzle. There are certain formats, and it's the same thing over and over, so I try to come up with fresh situations and real people.''
Mr. Leonard's characters are commonly tangled in the seedier fray of a community, whether it be Detroit or Atlantic City. He chose New Orleans for ''Bandits,'' his 24th novel, not only because he was born there in 1925, but also because the place intrigued him. He spent two weeks there researching the city and making notes on the speech of his characters.
''Until I get to know a character,'' he said recently from his home in Birmingham, Mich., ''the character isn't going to behave properly. I fool around with the dialogue, with how they talk, things they might say. As a scene develops, a character will start to do things on his own, but as soon as I can get a character to talk when I want him to, that's when I feel confident I've got a book. I know that I can mix them up together and something's going to happen. I'm not a strong narrative writer. I'm not especially good with imagery, so I have to let my characters do it. I studied writers who used dialogue well.
''I studied Hemingway when I was learning to write. You study him closely and you realize all the stuff he leaves out that you think is in the story. That's always interested me - to see the white space on a printed page.'' MICHAEL RUHLMAN
*Courtesy of The New York Times