Best 1969 Adventures (4)
December 12, 2018
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1969 adventure novels. Happy (upcoming) 50th anniversary!
Elmore Leonard’s Jack Ryan crime adventure The Big Bounce.
Elmore Leonard’s first novels, published in the Fifties, were westerns. He wrote The Big Bounce, his first crime novel, in 1966, but couldn’t get it published until 1969, after it was adapted as the 1969 movie of the same title, starring Ryan O’Neal. When Jack Ryan, washed-up ballplayer and small-time thief, is hired as a Florida beach resort handyman, he’s quickly seduced by Nancy, a millionaire’s mistress who turns out to be something of a sociopath (or psychopath). Nancy wants Jack to steal a $50,000 payroll from her lover, and he goes along with the plan… which quickly gets complicated, of course. Nancy isn’t telling Jack everything; Jack, meanwhile, is being pursued by a couple of hoods to whom he owes money from his last caper. Readers who enjoy Leonard’s better-known novels, like Swag, Cat Chaser, Stick, LaBrava, and Get Shorty, may be disappointed by how unsympathetic our protagonists are, here; however, Leonard’s characteristic humor and laconic prose style are very much in evidence, as is his tendency to let his characters take the plot where they will — even at the risk of an ending that may not be entirely satisfying to most crime novel fans.
Fun facts: The Big Bounce was adapted a second time — as a comedy heist film — in 2004 by George Armitage. Like the 1969 version, it was a flop. The character Jack Ryan would return in Leonard’s 1977 book Unknown Man #89.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.