Review: David Goodis…To A Pulp DVD

STUDIO: On Air Video ( | DIRECTOR: Larry Withers
RELEASE DATE: 2/5/2010 | PRICE: DVD $19.99
BONUSES: featurettes, interviews
SPECS: NR | 76 min. | Documentary | fullscreen | Dolby Digital mono

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Like Jerry Lewis, David Goodis is an American artist better appreciated in France. The Philadelphia-born Goodis was the noir novelist and sometime screenwriter whose work was behind such films as the Humphrey Bogart-starrer Dark Passage, Francois Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player, Jean-Jacques Beiniex’s The Moon in the Gutter, and the cult thriller The Burglar with Jayne Mansfield. In addition to his extensive credits as a novelist, Goodis led a mysterious life, which is the focus of David Goodis…To A Pulp, a fascinating documentary that tries to solve some of the questions about Goodis that have remained unanswered for years.

Writer/director Larry Withers, who discovered that his mother was once married to Goodis, uses archival footage, interviews, dramatizations and visits to some of the writer’s old haunts to delve into Goodis’s sometimes sordid world, which often plays out like one of his novels. It’s a story of heavy drinking, lots of carousing, femme fatales, a controversial lawsuit (he contended the hit TV show The Fugitive was based on one of his stories) and a death at age 50 after a fight he was involved in while resisting a robbery.

Fans of literary and film noir will have a keen interest in David Goodis…To A Pulp as many of his books have been re-published over the last few years. In fact, the documentary is so intriguing it could easily spurn viewers to pick up a Goodis book or Goodis-inspired film and appreciate his nihilistic world that’s populated by rat-tat-tat dialogue, violence, and sexual fetishism.


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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.