A letter from producer Les Alexander about the Parker movie

Les Alexander was Donald Westlake’s friend for 35 years and is a producer on the Parker film. He sent this e-mail to reader Dave, who posted it to the comments. Dave and I both thought it was worth a post of its it own.

Les has been kind enough to engage us hardcore Parker fans about the movie, so I would ask, please, no brickbats about the film in the comments if it’s something you’ve already said here or in the Yahoo group. He’s read it already and often responded. (People who haven’t yet commented, positive or negative, are welcome to.)

I have some thoughts of my own which I hope to sum up in a post for tomorrow. For now, I’ll let Mr. Alexander speak:

I love that there are DEW fans like you who care enough about his legacy that these discussions are even happening. Don’t judge the film by the trailer – designed by Film District – the studio – for one purpose only – and one which DEW would heartily approve of – getting people into the theaters.

I was fortunate to have known DEW for 35 years and had many a discussion about the difference between a good adaptation and a slavish translation. He said that when adapting The Grifters for Stephen Frears, what freed him to write the Oscar nominated script that he did was Frears telling him to forget the book. The book would always be there for anyone who wanted to read it. The movie would be judged as a work unto itself.

Don’t deprive yourself of the pleasure of enjoying a truly entertaining movie that works on many levels.

John McLaughlin (Black Swan) did a great adaptation of Flashfire which involved much pruning and many hard choices – and yes Parker’s crime spree is still there as is a line from Parker to Hardwicke that real pros don’t like killing civilians because it brings out the police in greater numbers.

Yes, Parker is a bit softer – as are the post-hiatus final novels. DEW at 70 was different and so is Parker. We chose Flashfire as a way of introducing people to the character without doing yet another copycat of the two previous movies. The story maintains many of the big beats that define Parker. He wants what is his – not a penny more – and when an agreement is broken Parker is relentless in making things right. He is not romantically involved with Leslie (Jennifer – in a stunningly good performance). He remains true to Claire.

DEW’s wife, son and Larry Block attended a private screening of the movie and thoroughly enjoyed it. Comments were that Don would have been delighted with the way the movie turned out and that by the end Jason had truly earned the right to be called Parker. I think this is Jason’s best performance since Bank Job. His Parker will not be as anyone imagined him. That’s the magic of books and radio. Much thought went into the choices made and Abby Westlake spent time on the set and with Taylor Hackford filling in details and missing pieces where needed.

If you can let go of the preconceptions there is a very good movie here that should bring DEW a big new audience of readers – who can then imagine for themselves who Parker really is.

The first credit after the last frame of the movie and the screen goes dark is

“Dedicated to the memory of Donald E. Westlake”