Shooting Scripts

From Pulp Western to Film


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About the Book

In their heyday, pulp westerns were one of America’s most popular forms of entertainment. Often selling for less than 50 cents, the paperback books introduced generations to the “exploits” of Billy the Kid and Jesse James, brought to life numerous villains (usually named “Black” something, e.g., Black Bart and Black Pete), and created a West that existed only in the minds of several talented writers. It was only natural that filmmakers would look to the pulps for stories, adapting many of the works for the big screen and shaping the Western film genre. The adaptations of seven of the pulps’ best writers—Ernest Haycox, Luke Short, Frank Gruber, Norman A. Fox, Louis L’Amour, Marvin H. Albert, and Clair Huffaker—are analyzed here. Insightful and humorous, the work looks at how the pulp novels and the movie adaptations reflected the times in which they were produced. It examines the clichés that became a part of the story: the rescue of the heroine, the gunfights, the evil banker or rancher ready to steal the land of the good, law-abiding citizens, and the harlot with a heart of gold. A critical examination of how the books were interpreted—or frequently misinterpreted—by filmmakers is included, along with commentary on the actors and directors who put the pulps on screen.

About the Author(s)

Writer, actor and comedian Bob Herzberg is the author of scholarly books and Western novels. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Bob Herzberg

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2005
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2173-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1

1. Ernest Haycox and the Grandeur of the West      9
2. Luke Short and Romance in the West      32
3. Frank Gruber and the Distortions of the West      58
4. Norman A. Fox and the Clichés of the West      84
5. Louis L’Amour: Nietzsche Goes West!      101
6. Marvin H. Albert and Violence in the West      133
7. Clair Huffaker and Hellraising in the West      153
8. Saddle Up: Other Unsung Heroes of the Written Page      188

Bibliography      190
Index      195

Book Reviews & Awards

“Detailed…excellent…fascinating…impossible to put down…fills a long-needed requirement…insightful…amusing…read and enjoy”—Wrangler’s Roost