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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

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