Location: Redstone Theater
Dir. Stephen Frears. 1990. 110 mins. 35mm. With John Cusack, Anjelica Huston, Annette Bening. When Stephen Frears first approached Donald Westlake about adapting Jim Thompson’s noir classic, he was turned down. “The book’s too gloomy,” Westlake said. Frears changed his mind by arguing that the movie belongs not to John Cusack’s Roy, but to his mother, Lily, played by Anjelica Huston—which makes it a story of survival at all costs. A key decision was to update the setting rather than make a period piece. “There’s no problem with updating Thompson, because his people only live in a very narrow world, with each other,” Westlake said. “To update it, all you have to do is take their hats off.” It was nominated for four Oscars, including for Westlake’s screenplay.
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