Day 20 of Noirvember: The Dark Page – Part II

Two years ago, during Noirvember, I wrote about one of my book collection treasures, a beautiful coffee table tome called The Dark Page: Books That Inspired American Film Noir, by Kevin Johnson. The Dark Page shares beautiful photos of books that were the basis of film noir features in America, and provides trivia tidbits (my favorites!) about both the books and the movies.

My post back then focused on Part I of this double-volume set; this year, I thought I’d write about some of the books in Part II, which covers 1950 to 1965.

Book: Mischief by Charlotte Armstrong

Movie: Don’t Bother to Knock (1952), starring Richard Widmark, Anne Bancroft, and Marilyn Monroe

Originally, Dorothy McGuire was cast in the starring role in the film, and Jules Dassin (who would go on to direct a top-notch heist movie, Rififi) was tapped as director. Both were replaced for the final film, McGuire by Anne Bancroft, in her big-screen debut, and Dassin by Roy Baker.

Book: The Bloody Spur by Charles Einstein

Movie: While the City Sleeps (1956)

Author Charles Einstein is the older half-brother of comedian/actor/director Albert Brooks (who was born Albert Einstein) and actor-comedian Bob Einstein (better known as Super Dave Osborne). The story was based on the William Heirens serial killings that took place in Chicago in the mid-1940s.

Book: Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

Movie: Strangers on a Train, starring Farley Granger, Robert Walker, and Ruth Roman

Famed writer Raymond Chandler worked on the screeplay, but director Alfred Hitchcock wasn’t happy with the work he did and he wound up hiring Czenzi Ormonde, one of Ben Hecht’s assistants, to finish it. “Whenever I collaborate with another writer who, like myself, specializes in mystery, thriller, or suspense, things don’t seems to work out too well,” Hitchcock told Francois Truffaut in his 1967 interview. “We’d sit together and I would say, ‘Why not do it this way?’ and he’s answer, ‘Well, if you can puzzle it out, what do you need me for?’”

Book: The Harder They Fall by Budd Schulberg

Movie: The Harder They Fall (1956), starring Humphrey Bogart, Rod Steiger, and Jan Sterling

The book was based on the Primo Carnera boxing scandal. This was Bogart’s last film; he was dying of cancer during production, but he was so close-mouthed about his illness that even the film’s producer didn’t know.

Book: The Condemned by Jo Pagano

Movie: The Sound of Fury (AKA Try and Get Me), starring Frank Lovejoy, Lloyd Bridges, and Richard Carlson

The novel was based on the case of two killers in San Jose, California who were hanged by a lynch mob in November 1933. The 1936 Fritz Lang film Fury, starring Spencer Tracy, was also based on this incident.

Book: Sudden Fear by Edna Sherrry

Movie: Sudden Fear (1952), starring Joan Crawford, Jack Palance, and Gloria Grahame

The role of the husband in the film was first offered to Marlon Brando, and Clark Gable was also considered (the director, David Miller, put the kibosh on the Gable casting, saying that Gable was too old for the part). Both Joan Crawford and Jack Palance earned Academy Award nominations for their performances.

If you can, check out some of these books and films — you won’t be sorry.

Join me tomorrow for Day 21 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 20, 2019.

4 Responses to “Day 20 of Noirvember: The Dark Page – Part II”

  1. Re:STRANGERS ON A TRAIN. Initially Highsmith did not like the film. But she changed her mind and told Hitchcock.

  2. I’d love to read ” Mischief” as I’m quite the fan of “Don’t Bother to Knock”! Thanks for the fun post.

  3. I didn’t realize “The Harder They Fall” was written by Budd Schulberg. Now I’ve got to find a copy of it.

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