Although Elmore Leonard, the acclaimed crime novelist who died Aug. 20 at age 87, said most of Hollywood’s attempts to translate his prose to the big screen failed, he really enjoyed three 1990s efforts, by directors Barry Sonnenfeld (“Get Shorty”), Steven Soderbergh (“Out of Sight”) and Quentin Tarantino (“Jackie Brown”). In 2012, he told the AP that his all-time favorite adaptation was 1997’s “Jackie Brown,” which was based on the novel “Rum Punch.” When Tarantino called to ask for guidance ahead of filming, Leonard remembered saying, “Do what you want. I like your work.”
MOVIE: “Jackie Brown” (1997)
ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS: Best Supporting Actor (Robert Forster).
STORYLINE: A flight attendant (Pam Grier) becomes a key figure in a plot between the police and an arms dealer (Samuel L. Jackson).
NOTES: Oscar nominee Forster plays Max Cherry, a world-weary bail bondsman who becomes involved in a plan with Jackie Brown (Grier) to steal money from arms dealer Ordell Robbie (Jackson).
TRIVIA: Crime partners Louis Gara (Robert De Niro) and Ordell Robbie (Jackson) first appeared in the Leonard novel “The Switch.” At age 15, director Quentin Tarantino was arrested for shoplifting the book, his one brush with “real” crime. In “The Switch,” Louis and Ordell kidnap a millionaire’s wife, only to discover he doesn’t want her back, a plot that was used in the movie “Ruthless People” (1986). In the novel’s sequel, “Rum Punch,” Louis and Ordell complain that the movie producers stole their idea (without mentioning the movie by name).