Elmore Leonard  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Elmore John Leonard, Jr. (October 11, 1925 – August 20, 2013) was an American novelist and screenwriter. His earliest published novels in the 1950s were Westerns, but Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, many of which have been adapted into motion pictures.

Among his best-known works are Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Hombre, Mr. Majestyk, and Rum Punch (adapted for the movie Jackie Brown). Leonard's short stories include ones that became the films 3:10 to Yuma and The Tall T, as well as the current TV series on FX, Justified.


Writing style

Commended by critics for his gritty realism and strong dialogue, Leonard sometimes takes liberties with grammar in the interest of speeding along the story. In his essay "Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing" he says: "My most important rule is one that sums up the 10: If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." He also hints: "Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip."

Elmore Leonard has been called "the Dickens of Detroit" because of his intimate portraits of people from that city; however, Leonard has said, "If I lived in Buffalo, I'd write about Buffalo." His ear for dialogue has been praised by writers such as Saul Bellow, Martin Amis, and Stephen King. "Your prose makes Raymond Chandler look clumsy," Amis told Leonard at a Writers Guild event in Beverly Hills in 1998. Stephen King has called him "the great American writer."


Aside from the short stories already noted, a number of Leonard's novels have been adapted as films, including Out of Sight in 1998, Get Shorty in 1995, and Rum Punch (as the 1997 film Jackie Brown). 52 Pick-Up was first adapted very loosely into the 1984 film The Ambassador, starring Robert Mitchum and, two years later, under its original title starring Roy Scheider. He has also written several screenplays based on his novels, plus original ones such as Joe Kidd.

The 1967 film Hombre starring Paul Newman was an adaptation of Leonard's novel of the same name.

His short story "Three-Ten to Yuma" and novels The Big Bounce and 52 Pick-Up have each been filmed twice.

A 2001 comedy film, Bandits, was originally meant to be an adaptation of Leonard's novel by that name, to which Bruce Willis owns the film rights; however, the producers brought in writer Harley Peyton to write a new script from scratch that bears little or no resemblance to Leonard's book.

Other novels filmed include:



Year Novel Film Adaptation
1953 The Bounty Hunters
1954 The Law at Randado 1990 - Border Shootout
1956 Escape from Five Shadows
1959 Last Stand at Saber River 1997 - Last Stand at Saber River
1961 Hombre 1967 - Hombre
1969 The Big Bounce 1969 - The Big Bounce </br> 2004 - The Big Bounce
The Moonshine War 1970 - The Moonshine War
1970 Valdez Is Coming 1971 - Valdez Is Coming
1972 Forty Lashes Less One
1974 Mr. Majestyk 1974 - Mr. Majestyk
52 Pick-Up 1984 - The Ambassador </br> 1986 - 52 Pick-Up
1976 Swag
1977 Unknown Man No. 89
The Hunted
1978 The Switch
1979 Gunsights
1980 City Primeval
Gold Coast 1997 TV film
1981 Split Images 1992 TV movie
1982 Cat Chaser 1989 - Cat Chaser
1983 Stick 1985 - Stick
LaBrava </br>Edgar Award, Best Novel (1984)
1985 Glitz 1988 TV film
1987 Bandits
Touch 1997 film
1988 Freaky Deaky
1989 Killshot 2008 - Killshot
1990 Get Shorty 1995 - Get Shorty
1991 Maximum Bob 1998 TV series
1992 Rum Punch 1997 - Jackie Brown
1993 Pronto 1997 TV film
1995 Riding the Rap
1996 Out of Sight 1998 - Out of Sight </br> 2003 - TV series Karen Sisco
Naked Came the Manatee </br>(One chapter of serial novel)
1998 Cuba Libre
Tonto Woman </br>(One chapter of serial novel)
1999 Be Cool 2005 - Be Cool
2000 Pagan Babies
2001 Fire in the Hole 2010 - TV series Justified
2002 When the Women Come Out to Dance </br>Anthology (includes Fire in the Hole)
Tishomingo Blues
2004 A Coyote's in the House
2004 Mr. Paradise
2005 The Hot Kid
2006 Comfort to the Enemy </br>Published serially in New York Times</br> (Chapters can be downloaded at www.elmoreleonard.com)
2007 Up in Honey's Room
2009 Road Dogs
2010 Djibouti
2012 Raylan


Year Title Director Co-writers
1970 The Moonshine War Richard Quine
1972 Joe Kidd John Sturges
1974 Mr. Majestyk Richard Fleischer
1980 High Noon, Part II (TV) Jerry Jameson
1985 Stick Burt Reynolds Joseph Stinson
1986 52 Pick-Up John Frankenheimer John Steppling
1987 The Rosary Murders Fred Walton William X. Kienzle & Fred Walton
Desperado (TV series) Virgil W. Vogel
1989 Cat Chaser Abel Ferrara James Borelli


Year Story Film Adaptation
1953 Three-Ten to Yuma 1957 - 3:10 to Yuma </br> 2007 - 3:10 to Yuma
1955 The Captives 1957 - The Tall T

Also wrote a short story in the anthology Murderers' Row edited by Otto Penzler (2001) (back story for Tishomingo Blues)


  • 10 Rules of Writing (2007)
  • Foreword to Walter Mirisch's book I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History

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