After recently watching James Cagney in the 1931 film, The Public Enemy, I was inspired to begin work on a new short story. It was one of the film’s most famous scenes and lines uttered by the actor that caught my attention. Badly shot after a shootout, Cagney as Tom Powers, comes out of a storefront carrying two guns. He staggers down a rainy dark street. Just before dying and falling to the ground, he mumbles his famous line, “I ain’t so tough.”
My story deals with a small time local hood on the run from the cops, after catching his girlfriend in bed with another guy, and shooting them both. At this point in time those famous last words are the title of my story, but that could change as the tales evolves. Inspiration can come from anywhere.
Below is the famous scene from The Public Enemy.
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With Moe Prager, author Reed Farrel Coleman has created one of the great modern day P.I.’s. Like many private dicks, Prager is a former cop. His career ended due to a freak accident that occurred during the days the city was in lock down and hunting for Son of Sam. Unlike most fictional P.I.’s we meet Moe is not walking the mean streets twenty-four seven. But he is smart and tenacious.
There are so many things to like in this book: characters are well developed, the writing is sharp and direct and the landscape descriptively detailed. Coleman knows New York City. You feel it in his writing. The narrative is smart, fast moving with plenty of twists.
The James Deans is a gritty and relentless tale, and though it’s only May, I know this book will be on my top ten list.
For those who have seen Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, you will remember “Devil’s Tower” as one the film’s locations. Photographed it back in 2012.