Elmore Leonard is the Dickens from Detroit who writes what he calls 'crime thrillers' involving strangely principled hoodlums, whores, conmen and hustlers who all want to score big bucks and points without resorting to tiring car chases and Murder One. His wonderful underworld is a Grand National of zanies and whackos chasing a winner but usually finding there are too many hurdles.
Quentin Tarantino is the young Hollywood writer/director of the moment. After making the viciously violent 'Reservoir Dogs' in 1992 and last year's 'Pulp Fiction' the former video store clerk who wrote 'True Romance' and the original script for 'Natural Born Killers', is already a movie myth, a subject of adulation, three unofficial biographies this year and continuing controversy. 'Reservoir Dogs' is still -- officially -- not available on video in Britain . Tarantino now wants the film options on all Leonard's available offbeat novels. 'Killshot' will be his first movie from the work of the author with a Panasonic ear for real life dialogue and a penchant for black and stag humour.('When the girls would say do-it-to-me, do-it-to-me, he would think: What do you think I'm doing?')
The newcomer Tarantino,32, who created John Travolta's smacked-out punk killer Vincent Vega in 'Pulp Fiction' and the veteran Leonard, 64, who described hit man Eddie Moke in his novel 'Stick' as 'looking like he mainlined cement' are an artistic team in what is, for most, is an askew and forbidden world.
It's a killer combination.
Both men work in shades of society mixed on a palette of behaviour that involves both the absurd and the abominable. And the sociopathic are the most colourful of all.
Tarantino won a screenplay Oscar this year for'Pulp Fiction'. Leonard's 'Pronto', is selling brilliantly worldwide ( in paperback in Britain ,Penguin, Sterling 4.99) and a couple of the characters from it appear again in his latest, 'Riding The Rap', which has just received an enthusiastic reception in America .
Filming of Leonard's comic -thriller 'Get Shorty' was completed this Spring. It involves a Miami hit man who flies to Tinseltown to collect a debt and then decides he likes Hollywood and wants to make his life into a movie.
Travolta was paid $5 million dollars for his lead role and frankly admits that until his extraordinary reviews for 'Pulp Fiction' he thought he was finished as a movie star:' I wasn't getting any calls. I was thinking "Maybe, it's over -- twenty years was a pretty good run." ' Sitting in a Beverly Hills hotel suite he says:' I was please with it, honestly, I was happy to go with it until this something special happened.'
But that 'something special' involved playing a heroin-taking killer. Did that bother him? 'It's the biggest change I've ever had on screen but at that point in my career it was a risk I had to take. I trusted the actors, the director and the material.'
A Scientologist since 1975 he credits the cult -- Tom Cruise is another member -- with helping him through his difficult patches but has, he says, no difficulties with his personal believes and the violence in the movie which resurrected his career.
Tarantino brought Travolta back as an actor.The 'Look Who's Talking Movies' had helped his bank balance but simply reincarnated his celebrity from the stellar days of 'Grease' 'Saturday Night Fever' and the late 1970s when he, in every way, was the disco king of the movies, a worldwide star.
'Get Shorty' which does not involved Tarantino was produced by Danny Devito's Jersey Films and the actor-director plays a greedy producer.