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
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