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Capone chats with Max Allan Collins about why he isn't in ROAD TO PERDITION!!!!

Hey folks, Harry here with a report by Capone about why he isn't in ROAD TO PERDITION. The mobster pulled strings to have his audience with the man behind the film and got results... doesn't Capone always get results? I think so. Here ya go....

Hey, Harry. Capone in Chicago here with a follow-up report on my busting a recent screening of ROAD TO PERDITION. As you could probably tell from me otherwise glowing review, I was a little disappointed that, although Al Capone is a huge force in the plot, he’s never actually seen on the screen. I was aware that Anthony LaPaglia shot at least one scene as Capone for the film, but for some reason the scene didn’t make the final cut. Low and behold, Max Allan Collins, author of the original graphic novel ROAD TO PERDITION, graciously sent me a couple of e-mails providing some insight into the missing Capone scene and a few other interesting points regards the film, the novelization of this film and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (both of which he wrote), the LONE WOLF AND CUB discussions in the Talk Back to my review, and working with Dreamworks. With his kind permission, I have compiled these comments here for you.


There used to be one substantial Capone scene in the film, and it was shot, with LaPaglia. I don't know why it was cut, but when I recently received the final galley proofs of the novelization I wrote (based on the screenplay based on my novel), that scene was missing...the result, rather awkwardly, is a two-page chapter in my novel!

A few other scenes were missing from the galleys, too -- interestingly, mostly scenes that had NOT been in my original graphic novel...presumably making the finished picture closer to the source.

I have not seen the film yet. I spent a long wonderful day on the set (with my wife Barb) and everyone was terrific to me -- particularly Richard and Dean Zanuck, Sam Mendes, Tom Hanks and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

The original graphic novel will be reiussed, in addition to my novelization.

Your favorable review was good news indeed.

Max Allan Collins

[At this point, I sent him another e-mail begging him to tell me more about the missing Capone scene.]

Hi Capone --

As in the graphic novel, the screenplay (in all its various drafts) made Nitti the focus, with Capone a menacing background figure who comes in essentially for a cameo (a couple in the novel, just one in the screenplay). I've long had an interest in Nitti, who was the centerpiece of my FRANK NITTI TRILOGY (the first three Nathan Heller novels: TRUE DETECTIVE, TRUE CRIME and THE MILLION-DOLLAR WOUND). The idea of the scene in the screenplay...again, as in my novel...was to show that Michael Sullivan's looting of Capone money from banks was squeezing the Chicago syndicate. Capone, in the missing scene, was suffering from the flu (in my novelization, I indicated it was his syphilis kicking in) and did a major rave-out, intimidating both Nitti and Rooney. Its omission is surprising to me, because it would be another Paul Newman scene and I would be surprised if LaPaglia didn't do a fine job. I have not seen the filmed version, but was given a few stills of that scene for my writing of the novelization.

Incidentally, the experience of writing the novelization was the only frustrating one for me, in what has otherwise been a dream come true. As you may know, I'm a leading writer of tie-ins and had done SAVING PRIVATE RYAN for DreamWorks -- their most successful movie novel. My method is to be faithful to the screenplay but flesh the novel out as if it were a REAL novel, with backstory, extended scenes, interior monologue, additional dialogue, etc. That was certainly the case with PRIVATE RYAN, which has been surprisingly well-received for a "mere" novelization, and even hit the NY Times bestseller list.

Anyway, I wrote what I consider to be one of my best novels in the novelization of PERDITION, staying religiously faithful to the screenplay even when it veered from my own original vision, and providing insights into the characters and situations that, frankly, only the originator could have managed. But, after the fact, DreamWorks licensing insisted that I cut my 90,000 word novel by some 40,000 words...and as of the last galleys (as I indicated) they have cut more, removing any scenes (even snippets of scenes) that have since hit the cutting room floor. Obviously, I consider this short-sighted to say the least, and I may be the only novelization writer who harbors the dream that someday a "director's cut" of my movie novel may be published.

But I must also say that, even in its truncated form, I am proud of the novelization and that it does still contain insights into the yarn that only I could bring...and should stand head and shoulders above most novelizations. Also, the original graphic novel WILL be reprinted.

By the way, there has been some discussion on your site about LONE WOLF AND CUB and ROAD TO PERDITION. I am a big fan of LONE WOLF and, some years ago, wrote a lengthy article about the manga and the movies that has been published a number of times (I do a column for ASIAN CULT CINEMA magazine); a quote from the writer, Kazuo Koike, appears as an epigram at the front of the graphic novel. So PERDITION is openly, in part, an homage to LONE WOLF AND CUB...but hardly a "rip off," with major differences and key elements that have nothing to do with that great manga, in particular the historical material about John Looney (Rooney in the movie), the real-life Irish godfather of Rock Island, as well as the nature of the father/adolescent son relationship (as opposed to the father/infant relationship of LONE WOLF).

Thanks again. Is "Ain't It Cool News" aware that I am an indie filmmaker here in Iowa? My latest indie effort, REAL TIME: SIEGE AT LUCAS STREET MARKET is a Troma DVD...a low-budget crime thriller shot almost entirely on actual security cameras (also the first 100% multi-angle feature on DVD). An irony that only "Ain't It Cool" might savor is that I was negotiating rights to PERDITION with Richard Zanuck while simultaneously negotiating SIEGE distribution with Lloyd Kaufman.

Your interest is much appreciated.

Max Allan Collins

Readers Talkback
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  • April 26, 2002, 10:13 a.m. CST

    It seems like

    by SimianSidewalk

    It seems like Sam Mendes has problems with people knowing what is cut from his films. remember when the Screenplay to American Beauty was published it was missing the cut opening and closing scenes. Those scenes werent even on the dvd. This is the first time I ever heard of a novel being cut this way. I mean I just brought a used copy of the novelization to Friday the 13th part 3 and there were cut scenes and other stuff in there.

  • April 26, 2002, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Well, I for one savour the irony

    by Chilli Kramer

    of the Zanuck/ Kaufman thing. One the son of an old time big producer who is himself a big producer, the other a producer who admitted his product could be 'goat shit'. There's a huge contrast, and I'd like it if Max AC would write THAT story. But this one looks good too.

  • April 26, 2002, 10:50 a.m. CST


    by DannyOcean01

    They rape his novel simply because it doesn't fit with their film. It's not like this is some schmuck they've got to do an adaptation, this is the original author. You'd think they'd let him build on his original story because literature and cinema are two structually different mediums.

  • April 26, 2002, 12:42 p.m. CST

    I just brought a used copy of the novelization to Friday the 13t

    by Keyser195

    Where does one even find a used copy of the novelization of "Friday the 13th 3"? Man, fanboys are ridiculous sometimes.

  • April 26, 2002, 1:46 p.m. CST


    by twan_deeth_ree

    I personally don't understand the phenomenon. If you're going to see, or already have seen the movie, why would you want to read a book based on the movie? I can understand the other way around - wanting to see a movie that was based on a book you read. I don't know, maybe that's just me. Same with script reading. I just don't get it - JUST WATCH THE DAMN MOVIE. And reading the novelization of Friday the 13th part 3? I sure hope you're kidding. If you're going to read something, why waste your time on that tripe? You want to read the book version of a movie that is only watchable due to it's campy horror kill scenes? Please, tell me it's a joke. There are so many worthwhile authors out there dying or rolling over in their grave because you passed up their work in favor of that BS.

  • April 26, 2002, 1:56 p.m. CST

    It Was A Little Over A Year Ago When Buzz Jr. & I Last Ran Up Ag

    by Buzz Maverik

    I carried Jr. out of the wreckage of Royal Caymen's stilt house. A minute ago, it had been over the cliffs overlooking the Malibu Beach. Now it was in pieces, stretching into the tide. Junior was okay, even giggling, so I sat him down on some rubble and was about to start scrounging for a weapon when Hawaiian's voice said, "You two have a talent for survival." I looked up and found the whole gang forming a human corral around us: Spice, Jamaica, Aleutian and Sandwich. They had guns on the three surf punks I'd pressed ganged as back up. "It won't help you now, though," said Royal Caymen. As I put my hands up, I noticed Buzz Jr. putting a pacifier in his mouth. I said,"Yeah, but talent without hard work'll only get you so far. Put 'em together, you get a little farther, but what you really need is connections." "Maverik, whatever are you talking about?" Spice said. That was when the pitbulls roared scattershot out of the darkness, pouncing on the Islands. The surf punks staggered over to Buzz Jr. and me as we watched the carnage. "Where'd those fuckin' dogs come from?" said Razor, the alpha-surfer. Junior held up his binky. "We keep one of those silent whistles in Junior's pacifier for such emergencies. When Peckinpaugh, Hill, Woo and Quentin hear that, they know dinner is served."

  • April 26, 2002, 2:08 p.m. CST

    I Know What You Mean About Novelizations.

    by Buzz Maverik

    I don't read 'em any more myself, but when I was a kid and excited about a film and couldn't wait, I'd pounce on 'em. Old novelizations, like FRIDAY THE 13TH are now kind of cool, nostalgic and kitsch when you find 'em in a used bookstore or something. I don't blame good writers liked Max Allen Collins or Alan Dean Foster or A. Alan Allen for writing them, though. I'll bet the dough is good and the work is easy. I'd prefer that they leave the book the way Mr. Collins wrote it; I mean, you know those scenes are going to be in the DVD anyway. My nominations for best novelizations (all but one Spielberg associated films, oddly enough) are 1941 by Bob Gale (way better than the movie), THE GOONIES by George Gipe (Gipe was allowed to write in the first person with Mikey as narrator) and E.T. by William Kotzwinkle, just because he's great. I'm sure I'd include Collin's SAVING PRIVATE RYAN but like I said, I don't read novelizations any more. Also, STAR WARS by Alan Dean Foster...I mean George Lucas.

  • April 26, 2002, 2:42 p.m. CST

    jude law

    by DaveC

    does any know how big jude law's part is in the film. i saw him on stage in london on tuesday in a production of doctor faustus, he was playing the title role and was very good. If any one can help it'd be nice

  • April 26, 2002, 2:58 p.m. CST

    Max Allan Collins, you do too much...

    by Micmac

    Original graphic novels, novelizations, novels, Asian cinema columns, and indie films? And all from Iowa? I'm jealous of your time-management skills.

  • April 26, 2002, 3:12 p.m. CST

    by SimianSidewalk

    If your wondering where i found the Friday the 13th novelization it was in a bin of box for sale at my libary. It was a quater. Sue me. I wasted a quater on a book. If that makes be a fanboy so be it

  • April 26, 2002, 3:36 p.m. CST

    addition to prev. post

    by SimianSidewalk

    Just reread what I wrote and figured I didn't really get my point across. What I was trying to say was that a novelization of a horror movie is more faithful to what the script was than one to a film that is sure to be nominated for wawards. And it's written by the author of the original material the film is based on which means this is really what the author intends to be read. But Sam Mendes the director of the film must have decided that he didnt want the extra material in there. Why? reread my first post about the published version of the script to American Beauty. Every film novelization expect for the kiddie books comtains scenes cut from the film or written by the author. Why is this film different. That was what i was trying to say. And to the person who said why would i read tripe and hopes that's not all I read. Well I do read. For [=leasure. It doesn't matter if it's the unabridged version of Les Miserables, try reading thatbook, or the latest Michael Crichton, Stephen King or a film book.

  • April 26, 2002, 4:55 p.m. CST

    Someone stole my "Star Trek II" novelization...

    by Smilin'Jack Ruby

    ...out of my cubby box in junior high. I'm still not over it. The "Star Trek III" novelization (well, all the Trek movies novelizations) often added great stuff from the story that got cut from the movie or helped further explain shit.

  • April 26, 2002, 7:34 p.m. CST

    I Feel Yer Pain, Smilin' Jack. Somebody Stole My ANIMAL HOUS

    by Buzz Maverik

    It was even better than a novelization. It had the story, by Lampoon and ANIMAL HOUSE co-screenwriter Chris (Funniest Writer In The World) Miller but it also had Lampoon style comics, photos and killer painted illustrations.

  • April 26, 2002, 7:59 p.m. CST

    Well, this is all very interesting....

    by Jimmy Jazz

    But I want to know when MAC is going to bring back MS.TREE. Does anyone have any info on this? I heard there was going a Ms. Tree TV series, but that was nearly a decade ago. Personally I think a Ms. Tree film would be great, if they keep faithful to the source material. Lucy Lawless would be a perfect Michael Tree, at least physically.

  • April 26, 2002, 8:35 p.m. CST

    all this theft in the world...

    by kojiro

    and yet mysteriously, my Star Trek V novelization was never stolen. How could that be?

  • April 26, 2002, 10:57 p.m. CST

    This guy lives in my hometown, not far from my neighborhood...

    by Marek

    I see him often around town. He is a nice guy, he had the nicest dad who always supported me and my teammates in high school in Muscatine. Way to go Max.

  • April 27, 2002, 12:37 a.m. CST

    Rob MacGregor's novelization of Indiana Jones and the Last C

    by Osmosis Jones

    His original Indy novels mostly kick ass, too (the last one was kind of lame, though). Ah, 80's movie novelizations...

  • April 27, 2002, 8:46 p.m. CST

    Speaking of novelizations: "Superman II" - Miracle Monday

    by Oatu

    I could be mistaken on some of this, my memories are foggy on it, but I seem to recall when Superman II came out, there wasn't actually a tie-in novelization but instead a Superman novel entitled "Miracle Monday" - I do remember that novel being a GREAT book that would actually make a great Superman movie itself. It was written by Elliot S. Maggin, had all these cool-ass touches like Lex Luthor breaking out of prison when a guard made the mistake of giving him a ball-point pen. There was another one Maggin wrote before that when the original Superman came out, that again was different - "Last Son of Krypton" I think it was. But check out Miracle Monday if you get a chance anyways - a fantastic read!

  • April 28, 2002, 9:34 p.m. CST


    by TomVee

    The reason anyone reads novelizations of movies is to get a perspective, different or otherwise, on the movie itself. The fact is some novelizations are better than the movies on which they are based, especially when they are written by real pros like Collins. Novelizations also can enhance the viewing experience. They obviously played a larger role in the days before video, to help stir the memory of the movie or specific scenes within the movie. Even now, you can relive a favorite moment in a novelization without having to hunt for it on a video, or where the video may be absent for one reason or another. I have read a few, admittedly a goodly number of years ago. They often are aimed at a young audience, and as such they encourage reading. Anyone object to that?

  • April 28, 2002, 9:45 p.m. CST


    by TomVee

    The best novelization of a movie has to be 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. The movie was based on a short story by Arthur C. Clarke. Kubrick and Clarke fleshed that story out for the movie. The novelization, also by Clarke, explained many things that Kubrick was either sloppy about showing in the movie declined to even show. If you were around when 2001 first came out, reading the novelization was a must to fully understand the film. Especially the ending. By the way, Alan Dean Foster is about as good as it gets for novelizations. And let us not forget a very famous sci-fi author of the era (whose name momentarily escapes me) wrote most of the initial STAR TREK short stories that were based on the 1960s TV episodes. His versions were often better than the shows themselves, and made great paperback collections for young readers like myself at that time.

  • April 29, 2002, 6:49 a.m. CST

    Wasn't The Gonnies novelisation written by someone else?

    by Marty McSuperfly

    I also loved the Goonies novelisation. It was the first book I ever read that had the word 'shit' in it. I remember feeling like a really grown up eight year old when I read it! Also I believe it was James Kahn who wrote it, not George Gipe (I believe he wrote the Back to the Future novel.

  • June 18, 2002, 3:50 p.m. CST

    Quad Cities Reprazent!

    by SleazyG.

    Those of us who are comic geeks not only read MAC's MS. TREE series back in the day, but also remember a truly half-assed PUNISHER rip-off by the name of WILD DOG that was published by DC in the mid to late 80's. It was set in the Quad Cities, naturally, and it kinda stunk up the joint, looking back at it. I kept hoping for more than I got. Not even setting it up so we didn't know which one of four characters was actually Wild Dog helped. I know MAC is supposed to be a nice guy, and he's done some stuff I've liked, but let's face it: there's been some dreck too, and I've not read this adaptation, so we should all remember there might be a reason some segments were cut. Then again, he might be getting dicked. Maybe I'll hop up to the Evanston library and see what he has to say on the subject, offer my perspective on how he and Capone come off in an upcoming TB or Talkback League of @$$holes column.