Adaptations of James Ellroy’s THE BIG NOWHERE and BLOOD’S A ROVER in Development

     September 14, 2012


According to Deadline, adaptations of James Ellroy‘s crime novels The Big Nowhere and Blood’s a Rover are both in development.  It’s worth noting that both books are part of their own series, neither is the first book in that series.  The Big Nowhere is the second part in “The L.A. Quartet”, which spans from the mid-1940s to the late 1950s.  Blood’s a Rover is set in the 1960s-70s, and closes out the “Underworld USA Trilogy”.

Hit the jump for more.

the-big-nowhere-book-coverAccording to Deadline, director Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) is in talks to adapt The Big Nowhere.  The book is a murder mystery set in 1950, and follows three characters: ambitious young deputy Danny Upshaw, ambitious LAPD lieutenant Malcolm “Mal” Considine, and disgraced former cop-turned-bagman Turner “Buzz” Meeks.  The L.A. Quartet shares characters and setting, and The Big Nowhere follows The Black Dahlia, and is followed by L.A. Confidential, and White JazzNowhere is a great book, and it’s ridiculously dark (as is the rest of the series).  As far as the ease of adapting it, structurally it’s not as difficult as L.A. Confidential, and that movie turned out better than the book (the book isn’t bad, but it gets unwieldy and sprawls to the point where you’re too busy trying to remember all the players rather than being caught up in the gritty narrative).  The Big Nowhere is still a bit of a sprawl to get three stories condensed into a two-hour flick, but the book moves at a nice even clip as it methodically switches between the three plotlines before skillfully weaving them together.

bloods-a-rover-book-cover-1Unfortunately, I can’t speak with such specificity regarding Blood’s a Rover since I haven’t read it yet.  Here’s the official synopsis of the book:

Summer, 1968. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy are dead. The assassination conspiracies have begun to unravel. A dirty-tricks squad is getting ready to deploy at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Black militants are warring in southside L.A. The Feds are concocting draconian countermeasures. And fate has placed three men at the vortex of History.

Dwight Holly is J. Edgar Hoover’s pet strong-arm goon, implementing Hoover’s racist designs and obsessed with a leftist shadow figure named Joan Rosen Klein. Wayne Tedrow—ex-cop and heroin runner—is building a mob gambling mecca in the Dominican Republic and quickly becoming radicalized. Don Crutchfield is a window-peeping kid private-eye within tantalizing reach of right-wing assassins, left-wing revolutionaries and the powermongers of an incendiary era. Their lives collide in pursuit of the Red Goddess Joan—and each of them will pay “a dear and savage price to live History.”

Political noir as only James Ellroy can write it—our recent past razed and fully reconstructed—Blood’s A Rover is a novel of astonishing depth and scope, a massive tale of corruption and retribution, of ideals at war and the extremity of love. It is the largest and greatest work of fiction from an American master. [Amazon]

According to Deadline, Vincent Sieber’s VS Entertainment has acquired screen rights to the novel.  Blood’s a Rover follows American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand, but I’m not sure if the plot is dependent on those novels.  L.A. Confidential repurposes characters from The Big Nowhere, so it’s possible the adaptation of Blood’s a Rover will work the same way since it’s jumping to the final installment of an unofficial trilogy.

Speaking about the acquisition, Ellroy said:

“My most recent novel is — not surprisingly — also my best. The story is no less than the psychic inventory of America from 1968 to 1972. I have no doubt that [producer] Clark Peterson and Vincent Sieber will fashion a splendid motion picture from this noir epic.”

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  • Mike

    The Underworld Trilogy is WAY more cohesive and dependent on the other books than the LA Quartet. The LA Quartet shares some minor characters and White Jazz and LA Confidential both have the Guy Pearce character. The books can all be adapted separately without much problem. But Blood’s A Rover? Bad idea. Major characters spread across all three of those books. The whole trilogy is about the late 50s to early 70s and the utter turmoil going on in the world, specifically how a small group of characters where the behind the scenes string pullers of that turmoil.

  • Mitch

    LA Confidential, as a film, turned out better than the book?. Really, Goldberg?
    If memory serves me, one of the main protagonists of The Big Nowhere, Buzz Meeks, who is sensational in that story and carried over into LA Confidential where he goes down hard, and I mean hard, in the opening of the book, was reduced to a minor character in the film; an overweight chauffeur who ends his days as a decomposing corpse benath a house; a nobody. Hardly the Turner Meeks I remember from both those stories. And there is a whole section to do with a serial killer connected to the early days of Hollywood and Exley’s father that is completey missing from the story. Time is also compressed in the film considerably, to the story’s detriment as far as I’m concerned. The book is tight rather than sprawling. Perhaps, as is evidenced in many of your film reviews, you just don’t have the attention span to keep a more complex story clear in your mind.
    As a comment from Ellroy might explain, when congratulated on the film LA Confidential by two mature ladies, he said: “Have you read the book” and then, when they answered in the negative he said, “Then what the fuck use are you to me”.

    • Rick Ross

      Books and films are different mediums to tell the same story.

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