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W.R.  Burnett
[1899-1982]


W.R. Burnett is between actor Edward G. Robinson and (person unknown)

Born 25 November 1899 in Springfield Ohio, William Ripley Burnett moved to Chicago in 1927, one of the two major turning points in his life, causing his deep interest in gangsters and resulting in the gangster and noir works for which he is primarily known. The second turning point was a visit to Tombstone, Arizona in 1930, where he met and talked with still-living witnesses to the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, resulting in his Western works. In all, he wrote 36 novels, 60 screenplays, 100 songs, 20 stageplays and dozens of short stories before his death 25 April 1982.

browse W.R. Burnett catalog at Amazon
W.R. Burnett credits [1931-1972] at Internet Movie Database
W.R. Burnett entry at Wikipedia

W.R. Burnett article by Martin Spellman ['Shots Online' Winter 2001]
British Film Institute W.R. Burnett screenings schedule [July 2000]
WM's W.R. Burnett fanpage
W.R. Burnett bibliography at Rara Avis



W.R. Burnett's 'Urban Trilogy'
"The Asphalt Jungle" [Knopf 1949] was filmed in 1950, then remade in 1958 as a cowboy
movie, "The Badlanders", and in 1972 as the 'blaxploitation' film "Cool Breeze".
"Little Men, Big World" [Knopf 1951] aired on 'Studio One' in 1952,
and "Vanity Row" [Knopf 1952] was filmed as "Accused of Murder" [1956]

Asphalt Jungle book   "The Asphalt Jungle" [Knopf 1949 novel]
Just out of prison, a legendary criminal recruits a safecracker, a driver, a financial backer, and a strong-arm man for a million-dollar burglary. At first the plan goes like clockwork, but little accidents accumulate and each partner proves to have his own fatal weakness.
Prion Books 7½x5 pb [9/99] out of print/used
Wm. Morrow pb [4/84] out of print/used
Asphalt Jungle poster   "The Asphalt Jungle" [M.G.M. May 1950]
Co-written & directed by John Huston; starring Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe, John McIntire, Marilyn Monroe & Anthony Caruso; Oscar nominated for Best Picture, Best Script, Best Cinematography & Best Supporting Actor [SJ]
Warner b&w DVD [7/2004] for $17.99
Turner Home Video b&w VHS [2/92] for $19.99
full credits from IMDb
27"x39" one-sheet poster available at AllPosters.com
screenplay: Southern IL Univ Press pb [1980] out of print/used
Badlanders  
"The Badlanders" [M.G.M. Sept 1958]
Two men released from Yuma Prison scheme to steal the gold from a mining town.
Directed by Delmer Daves; based on Burnett's "Asphalt Jungle" novel; starring Alan Ladd, Ernest Borgnine, Katy Jurado, Claire Kelly, Kent Smith & Nehemiah Persoff
Turner Home Video color VHS [5/99] for $14.95
full credits from IMDb
Cool Breeze   "Cool Breeze" [M.G.M. March 1972]
A group of Afro-American criminals meet in Los Angeles to rob a bank. Written & directed by Barry Pollack; starring Thalmus Rasulala, Judy Pace, Jim Watkins, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Sam Laws, Margaret Avery, Pam Grier, Stack Pierce & Raymond St. Jacques
video not available; full credits from IMDb
Little Men, Big World   "Little Men, Big World" [1951 novel]
A group of gangsters from a mid-sized city are getting squeezed out by their big city counterparts.
Bantam mass pb [1953] out of print/rare
Knopf hardcover [1951] out of print/used
Westinghouse Studio One [live telecast 1952]
Teleplay by Reginald Rose; starring Jack Palance, Shepperd Strudwick & Ray Walston
episode credits at IMDb

Accused of Murder poster   "Vanity Row" [Knopf 1952 novel]
A police lieutenant tries to prove the innocence of a nightclub singer accused of murder.
Knopf hardcover [1952] out of print/used
Pennant mass pb [1953] out of print/used
"Accused of Murder" [Republic Dec 1956]
Directed by Joseph Kane; script by Robert Creighton Williams, based on "Vanity Row"; starring David Brian, Vera Ralston, Sidney Blackmer, Virginia Grey, Warren Stevens, Lee Van Cleef, Barry Kelley, Richard Karlan, Frank Puglia, Elisha Cook Jr., Ian MacDonald & Greta Thyssen
video not available; full credits at IMDb



The High Sierra Movie Trilogy
"High Sierra" [Knopf 1940] was first filmed by Raoul Walsh in 1941, starring Humphrey Bogart as Roy Earle,
then remade eight years later as a cowboy movie (with the plot very much intact), and remade again in 1955
as "I Died a Thousand Times"

High Sierra book   "High Sierra" [Knopf 1940]
A gangster planning the robbery of a Nevada casino springs an experienced crook
from prison to lead the hold-up.

Kensington/Zebra pb [11/87] out of print/used
Buccaneer hardcover [6/82] out of print/used
High Sierra one-sheet poster   "High Sierra" b&w movie [Warner Bros. Jan 1941]
Directed by Raoul Walsh; script by John Huston & W.R. Burnett; starring Humphrey Bogart, Ida Lupino, Alan Curtis, Arthur Kennedy, Joan Leslie, Henry Hull, Henry Travers, Cornel Wilde & Donald MacBride
Warner b&w keepcase DVD [10/2006] for $17.99
Warner b&w DVD [11/2003] for $17.99
Warner b&w VHS [3/2000] out of prodn/used
full credits from IMDb
screenplay & critical text [1979] Edited by Douglas Gomery
Univ WI Press 8½x5½ pb [10/79] for $24.95
Univ WI Press 9x6 hardcover [10/79] out of print/used

Colorado Territory Western feature starring Joel McCrea  "Colorado Territory" [Warner Bros. June 1949]
A remake as a cowboy movie of the Raoul Walsh & Humphrey Bogart film "High Sierra" [1941], with the plot very much intact. Filmed in California, Arizona, and near Gallup, New Mexico, with railroad footage filmed on the Durango & Silverton Railroad in Colorado; an outlaw is sprung from prison to lead the hold-up of a train. Directed by Raoul Walsh; written by Edmund H. North & John Twist, based on previous script & novel
"High Sierra" by W.R. Burnett; starring Joel McCrea, Virginia Mayo, Dorothy Malone, Henry Hull, John Archer & James Mitchell
Warner Bros. Archive Collxn b&w DVD-R [5/2009] for $19.93
full credits at IMDbmovie entry at Wikipedia

I Died a Thousand Times   "I Died a Thousand Times" [Warner Bros. Nov 1955]
Identical plot, lesser actors; the main difference is color photography.
Directed by Stuart Heisler, from a script by W.R. Burnett; starring Jack Palance, Shelley Winters, Lori Nelson, Lee Marvin, Pedro Gonzales-Gonzales, Lon Chaney Jr. & Earl Holliman
Warner color VHS [9/98] out of prodn/used
full credits from IMDb




Other Works by W.R. Burnett

"Little Caesar" [Doubleday 1929]
Little Caesar book   The story of a man who works his way up the ranks of the mob until he reaches its upper heights.
Carroll & Graf pb [7/86] out of print/used
Aeonian hardcover [10/85] for $20.95
Otto Penzler facsimile hardcover [7/96] for $39.95
Little Caesar poster   "Little Caesar" [First National Jan 1931]
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy;starring Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Glenda Farrell, Sidney Blackmer, Ralph Ince, Stanley Fields & Maurice Black; Oscar nomination for Best Script/Adaptation, listed National Film Registry 2000
Warner b&w VHS [5/97] for $19.98
full credits from IMDb


"Iron Man" [Dial Press 1930]


"Saint Johnson" [1930 Western]
Based on the Earp saga, using other names – famous lawman Frame 'Saint' Johnson and three friends
arrive in lawless Tombstone, and the town's leaders ask them to take jobs as marshals. After witnessing murders
by the ruthless Northrup gang, they accept. After further killings, the lawmen face down the gang at the O.K. Corral.

McVeagh/Dial hardcover [1930] out of print/rare

Law and Order 1932 movie poster   "Law and Order" feature film [Universal Feb 1932; Realart re-release 1950]
Directed by Edward L. Cahn; based on Burnett's 1930 novel "Saint Johnson"; starring Walter Huston, Harry Carey, Russell Hopton, Raymond Hatton, Ralph Ince, Harry Woods, Richard Alexander, Russell Simpson & Andy Devine; re-issued as "Guns A'Blazing" [1950]
video/DVD not available; full credits from IMDb
blue-red 11"x17" poster from Amazon for $9.99
blue-white 11"x17" poster from Amazon for $9.99


"Scarface: The Shame of A Nation"
Scarface 1932  "Scarface: The Shame of A Nation"
[United Artists March 1932; re-released 1979]

B&W version: The rise & fall of Italian ganglord Tony Camonte in Chicago, circa 1930
Directed by Howard Hawks & Richard Rosson; script by Ben Hecht, W.R. Burnett & others; starring Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, Osgood Perkins & George Raft; listed at Nat'l Film Registry (1994)
Universal b&w VHS [4/90] out of stock/used
full credits from IMDb

Scarface 1983  "Scarface" [Universal Dec 1983]
Color remake: The rise & fall of Cuban ganglord Tony Montana in 1980s Miami, Florida.
Directed by Brian De Palma; starring Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia & F. Murray Abraham
Universal widescreen color DVD [10/2006] 2 disks for $20.49
Universal color VHS [3/88] 2 tapes - out of stock/used
Universal widescreen VHS [2/2000] 2 tapes - out of stock/used
full credits from IMDb


"Dark Hazard" [Harper 1933]


"The Whole Town's Talking" [Feb 1935 movie]
Co-produced & directed by John Ford [1894-1973]; based on the story "Jail Breaker" by W.R. Burnett; starring Edward G. Robinson {dual role}, Jean Arthur & Arthur Hohl; full credits from IMDb


"Wild West Days" 13-chapter serial [Universal July 1937]
Wild West Days serial 1937 - poster for chapter 4  Retired lawman Kentucky Wade and his three pals ride into Brimstone to help Larry & Lucy keep their ranch (and secret gold mine) from the corrupt newspaper editor, who has already framed Larry for murder. Chapter titles: 1. Death Rides the Range; 2. The Redskins' Revenge; 3. The Brink of Doom; 4. The Indians Are Coming; 5. The Leap For Life; 6. Death Stalks The Plains; 7. Six Gun Law; 8. The Gold Stampede; 9. Walls of Fire; 10. The Circle of Doom; 11. The Thundering Herd; 12. Rustlers and Redskins; 13. The Rustlers' Roundup
Directed by Ford Beebe & Clifford Smith; based on characters in the novel "Saint Johnson" by W.R. Burnett; starring Johnny Mack Brown, George Shelley, Frank Yaconelli, Bob Kortman, Lynn Gilbert, Russell Simpson, Walter Miller, Frank McGlynn Jr., Chief Thunderbird, Iron Eyes Cody & Chief Thundercloud
DVD/Blu-ray not available • V.C.I./F.F.I. b&w VHS [10/95] 2 tapes - out of prodn/used
full credits at IMDbmovie entry at Wikipedia


"King of the Underworld" [1939 movie]


"Dark Command" [Republic Pictures April 1940]
Directed by Raoul Walsh; based on the Western novel by W.R. Burnett; starring John Wayne, Walter Pidgeon,
Claire Trevor, Roy Rogers, George 'Gabby' Hayes, Porter Hall & Marjorie Main; Oscar nomination for
Best Original Score (Victor Young); full credits from IMDb


"This Gun For Hire" [Paramount May 1942]
This Gun For Hire poster  A kindly hitman is paid off in 'hot' money, and flees on a train, where he meets the undercover girlfriend of his cop pursuer. Directed by Frank Tuttle; script by Albert Maltz & W.R. Burnett from Graham Greene's 1936 novel; starring Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake, Robert Preston, Laird Cregar, Tully Marshall, Roger Imhof & Frank Ferguson
available on DVD & VHS {used}; full credits from IMDb

blonde 11"x17" poster available at AllPosters.com
red-blue 11"x17" poster available at AllPosters.com
French 11"x17" poster available at AllPosters.com


"I Wasn't Born Yesterday"
[original title; Knopf 1943]
I Wasn't Born Yesterday   Kensington pb [2/88] out of print/used
World Publng hardcover [1945] out of print/used
Knopf hardcover [1943] out of print/used
Nobody Lives Forever   "Nobody Lives Forever" feature film [First National Nov 1946]
An ex-G.I. drawn into a scheme to con a rich young widow finds himself falling in love with her. Directed by Jean Negulesco; script by W.R. Burnett based on his novel; starring John Garfield, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Walter Brennan, Faye Emerson, George Coulouris, George Tobias, Robert Shayne, Richard Gaines & James Flavin
video not available; full credits from IMDb


"Vendetta" [California Pictures Dec 1950]
Vendetta movie starring Faith Domergue  A Sicilian girl pushes her brother to kill the man who murdered their father. Filming was much troubled; Howard asked Preston Sturges to fire Max Ophüls and take over, then fired Sturges; principal filming was in 1946, with re-filming in 1946-47, then re-editing and eventual release in late 1950. The film was a major critical & box-office disaster. Mis-produced by Howard Hughes; directed by Max Ophüls {fired}, Preston Sturges {fired}, Stuart Heisler & Mel Ferrer; adapted by W.R. Burnett {also given credit as producer}, Peter O'Crotty & Preston Sturges, based on the 1840 novel "Columba" by Prosper Mérimée; starring Faith Domergue {Howard's then-protégée}, George Dolenz, Donald Buka, Joseph Calleia, Robert Warwick, Hugo Haas, Hillary Brooke & Nigel Bruce
VHS/DVD/Blu-ray not available • full credits at IMDb


"Adobe Walls" [Knopf 1953]
"Captain Lightfoot" [Knopf 1954]


"Screen Directors Playhouse: Rookie of The Year" [NBC-TV Dec 1955
Co-produced by Hal Roach & Hal Roach, Jr.; directed by John Ford; written by Frank S. Nugent, based on a story
by W.R. Burnett; starring John Wayne, Vera Miles, Ward Bond, James Gleason & Patrick Wayne;
video/DVD not available; episode credits at IMDb



"Bitter Ground" [Knopf 1957]
"Sergeants 3" [1962 movie]
"The Great Escape" [1963 movie]
"Goodbye Chicago" [St. Martin 1981]



W.R. Burnett holding a 'tommy gun'

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