Roughly two dozen films emerged from Westlake’s novels or involved screenplay work by the man himself. But only two — 1967’s ‘Point Blank,’ based on the first novel he wrote under the pseudonym Richard Stark, and Westlake’s adaptation of Jim Thompson’s ‘The Grifters’ (1990) — are clear standouts. Both films, oddly, were done by British directors (John Boorman and Stephen Frears, respectively) well out of the Hollywood mainstream.
‘When you read the books, your superficial sense of them is that they’re totally movie-ready,’ said Terrence Rafferty, a veteran film critic who’s written for the New Yorker and GQ. But adaptations of Westlake’s work, he said, range mostly from not very good to the ‘train wreck’ that is 2001’s ‘What’s the Worst That Can Happen?’ and the ‘absolutely dreadful’ case of 1974’s ‘Bank Shot.’
In its entirety, this article is a good tribute to Donald E. Westlake, who died at age 75 on New Year’s Eve. I miss him already.