David Goodis

David Loeb Goodis (March 2, 1917 – January 7, 1967) was an American writer of crime fiction noted for his output of short stories and novels in the noir fiction genre. Born in Philadelphia, Goodis alternately resided there and in New York City and Hollywood during his professional years. According to critic Dennis Drabelle, "Despite his [university] education, a combination of ethnicity (Jewish) and temperament allowed him to empathize with outsiders: the working poor, the unjustly accused, fugitives, criminals."[1]

David Goodis
Goodis at an unknown date
Goodis at an unknown date
BornMarch 2, 1917
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DiedJanuary 7, 1967 (aged 49)
Pen nameDavid Crewe, Logan Claybourne, Lance Kermit, others
OccupationNovelist, screenwriter
NationalityUnited States
GenreNoir fiction, crime fiction
Elaine Astor (m. 1943–1946)


Early life

Goodis was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the oldest child of William Goodis and Mollie Halpern Goodis. William Goodis was a Russian-Jewish émigré born in 1882 who had arrived in America with his mother in 1890. David Goodis's mother, Mollie Halpern, was born in Pennsylvania also into a family of Russian-Jewish émigrés. In Philadelphia, Goodis's father co-owned a newspaper dealership and later went into the textile business as the William Goodis Company. A brother, Jerome, born in 1920, died of meningitis at age three. In 1922, another brother, Herbert, was born into the family.

Goodis attended Simon Gratz High School and was engaged in student affairs, editing the school newspaper, serving as student council president, and participating in athletics as a member of both the track and swim teams. He also had the distinction of being chosen valedictorian for the graduating class of 1935, delivering a speech entitled "Youth Looks at Peace". As a college student, he continued and expanded on the interests he had pursued as a high school student, contributing to the student newspaper as both writer and cartoonist. It was during this period that he purportedly tried his hand at novel writing with a book titled Ignited. The novel was never published, and no copy of it has been discovered. Goodis later claimed: "The title was prophetic. Eventually, I threw it into the furnace." [2] Goodis graduated from Temple University in 1938 with a degree in journalism.

Pulp magazines

While working at an advertising agency, Goodis started writing his first published novel, Retreat from Oblivion. After it was published by Dutton in 1939, Goodis moved to New York City, where he wrote under several pseudonyms for pulp magazines, including Battle Birds, Daredevil Aces, Dime Mystery, Horror Stories, Terror Tales and Western Tales, sometimes churning out 10,000 words a day. The first pulp story published under his own name, titled "Mistress of the White Slave King", appeared in Gangland Detective Stories (November 1939). Over a five-and-a-half-year period, according to some sources, he produced five million words for the pulp magazines. While the quantity of his output far eclipses that of his predecessors Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, unlike theirs, the vast majority of his pulp stories have never been reprinted.

Radio and screenplays

During the 1940s, Goodis scripted radio adventure serials, including Hop Harrigan, House of Mystery, and Superman. Novels he wrote during the early 1940s were rejected by publishers, but in 1942 he spent some time in Hollywood as one of the screenwriters on Universal's Destination Unknown. His big break came in 1946 when his novel Dark Passage was serialized in The Saturday Evening Post, published by Julian Messner, and filmed for Warner Bros. with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall heading the cast. Delmer Daves directed what is now regarded as a classic film noir, and a first edition of the 1946 hardcover is valued at more than $800.

Arriving in Hollywood, Goodis signed a six-year contract with Warner Brothers, working on story treatments and scripts. In 1947, Goodis wrote the script for The Unfaithful, a remake of Somerset Maugham's The Letter. Some of his scripts were never produced, such as Of Missing Persons and an adaptation of Raymond Chandler's The Lady in the Lake. Working with director Delmer Daves, he wrote a screen treatment for Up Till Now, a film which Daves described as "giving people a look at themselves and their [American] heritage". This film, too, was never made, but Goodis used some of its elements in his 1954 novel The Blonde on the Street Corner.[3]

Goodis is also credited with writing the screenplay to The Burglar, a 1957 film noir directed by Paul Wendkos that was based on his 1953 novel published by Lion Books. It was the only solely authored screenplay by him to be produced as a movie. It was remade in 1971 by Henri Verneuil as the French-Italian film Le Casse starring Omar Sharif and Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Marriage and divorce

Until recently, it was generally believed that Goodis never married. His friend Harold "Dutch" Silver said Goodis never spoke of a wife, and no wife was mentioned in Goodis's obituary. Attorney correspondence also repeatedly stated that Goodis never married.

However, research by Larry Withers[4] and Louis Boxer has produced a marriage license[5] for Goodis and Elaine Astor. It shows that they were married on October 7, 1943, by Rabbi Jacob Samuel Robins, Ph.D., at Ohev Shalom Congregation, 525 South Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles. According to a divorce decree[6] found in the attic of Philadelphia's City Hall, Astor received a divorce on January 18, 1946.

Withers is Astor's son by a later marriage. He learned about her marriage to Goodis only after her death in 1986 from a stroke.

Return to Philadelphia

In 1950, Goodis returned to Philadelphia, where he lived with his parents and his schizophrenic brother Herbert. At night, he prowled the underside of Philadelphia, hanging out in nightclubs and seedy bars, a milieu he depicted in his fiction. Cassidy's Girl (1951) sold over a million copies, and he continued to write for paperback publishers, notably Gold Medal. There was a renewed interest in his works when François Truffaut filmed his 1956 novel Down There as the acclaimed Shoot the Piano Player (1960).

Goodis died at 11:30 pm on January 7, 1967, at Albert Einstein Medical Center, Northern Division, not far from his home. He was 49. His death certificate[4] lists "cerebral vascular accident," meaning a stroke, as the cause of death. Days earlier, Goodis had been beaten while resisting a robbery. Some have attributed his death to his injuries. It is also said that he keeled over while shoveling snow. He was buried in Roosevelt Memorial Park in Pennsylvania.

The Fugitive and the lawsuit

In 1963, ABC television began airing the television show The Fugitive, the fictional story of Richard Kimble, a doctor wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife. In the plot, Kimble subsequently escapes and begins a long search for the "one-armed man", the person he believes to be the real killer.

Goodis stated that The Fugitive was based on his novel Dark Passage. In 1965, he sued United Artists-TV and ABC[7] for $500,000, alleging copyright infringement. His cousin's law firm, Goodis, Greenfield, Narin and Mann, represented him, and several groups supported him, including the Authors League of America, the Dramatists Guild, and the American Book Publishers Association. Coudert Brothers represented United Artists and ABC.

During a deposition on December 9, 1966, Goodis stated that The Saturday Evening Post had serialized Dark Passage, a fact that would become critical to the case.

One month later, Goodis was dead. After his death the lawsuit continued to wind its way through the courts.

The dispute did not so much concern whether the theme of Dark Passage had been used, but whether the book was in the public domain. In a victory for UA and ABC, the District Court held that Goodis had, in effect, "donated his work to the public domain" when he published it in The Saturday Evening Post without using a copyright notice that listed his name.

The Goodis estate appealed. In 1970, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed the lower court's decision and remanded the case for trial. The decision is reported at Goodis v. United Artists Television, Inc., 425 F.2d 397 (2nd Cir. 1970). The court wrote, "We unanimously conclude that where a magazine has purchased the right of first publication under circumstances which show that the author has no intention to donate his work to the public, copyright notice in the magazine's name is sufficient to obtain a valid copyright on behalf of the beneficial owner, the author or proprietor." (425 F.2d 398-399)

By then, Goodis's main beneficiary, his brother Herbert, was also dead. So in 1972, the Goodis estate agreed that the case now had only "nuisance value" and accepted $12,000 to settle the matter. Despite the significant difference between the initial claim and the final monetary settlement, the case is still regarded as a landmark decision in intellectual property rights and copyright law.


After his death, his work went out of print in the United States, but he remained a popular favorite in France. In 1987, Black Lizard began to reissue Goodis titles. In 2007, Hard Case Crime published a new edition of The Wounded and the Slain for the first time in more than 50 years. Also in 2007, Street of No Return and Nightfall were re-published by Millipede Press. His novel Down There was reprinted as part of American Noir of the 1950s in the Library of America. In March 2012, the Library of America published a selection of Goodis's novels under the title David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s.

Goodis has influenced contemporary crime fiction writers, notably Duane Swierczynski, and Ken Bruen. A character in Jean-Luc Godard's 1966 film Made in U.S.A. was named after Goodis. However, in Godard's 1972 film Tout va bien, the character Jacques (played by Yves Montand), a filmmaker, says he moved into making commercials as more "honest" work when, after May 1968, he was asked to direct a film based on a Goodis detective novel and decided he couldn't see himself making something so stupid.


  • Retreat from Oblivion (1939)
  • Dark Passage (1946)
  • Behold This Woman (1947)
  • Nightfall (1947) aka Convicted, The Dark Chase
  • Of Missing Persons (1950)
  • Cassidy's Girl (1951)
  • Of Tender Sin (1952)
  • Street of the Lost (1952)
  • The Burglar (1953)
  • The Moon in the Gutter (1953)
  • Black Friday (1954)
  • The Blonde on the Street Corner (1954)
  • Street of No Return (1954)
  • The Wounded and the Slain (1955)
  • Down There (1956) aka Shoot the Piano Player
  • Fire in the Flesh (1957)
  • Night Squad (1961)
  • Somebody's Done For (1967 ; alternate title : The Raving Beauty)


Although Goodis's novels were occasionally adapted by Hollywood, it was mainly French filmmakers (François Truffaut, René Clément, Jean-Jacques Beineix, ...) who were interested in his work.

The following is a list of adaptations in reverse chronological order.

  • A Professional Man (1995) – adapted as part of the second series of Showtime's Fallen Angels (aka Perfect Crimes).
  • Street of No Return – d. Samuel Fuller (1989)
  • Descente aux enfers – d. Francis Girod (1986) from The Wounded and the Slain
  • Rue barbare – d. Gilles Behat (1983) from Street of the Lost
  • The Moon in the Gutter (La Lune dans le Caniveau) – d. Jean-Jacques Beineix (1983)
  • And Hope to Die (original title La Course du lièvre à travers les champs) – d. René Clément (1972) from Black Friday and Raving Beauty
  • The Burglars (Le Casse) – d. Henri Verneuil (1972) from The Burglar
  • The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – episode: "An Out for Oscar" (broadcast April 5, 1963)
  • Bourbon Street Beat – episode: "False Identity" (broadcast May 23, 1960)
  • Shoot the Piano Player (Tirez sur la pianiste) – d. François Truffaut (1960) from Down There
  • The Burglar – d. Paul Wendkos (1956). Goodis wrote the screenplay from his own novel
  • Nightfall – d. Jacques Tourneur (1957)
  • Sección desaparecidos – d. Pierre Chenal (1956) from Of Missing Persons
  • Dark Passage – d. Delmer Daves (1947)
  • The Unfaithful – (1947)

A film adaptation of Cassidy's Girl was being developed by director Edward Holub in 2004.[8]

A filmography of works based on Goodis's novels is appended to Eddie Duggan's 1988 article Life's a Bitch: Paranoia and Sexuality in the novels of David Goodis.[9]


  1. ^ Drabelle, Dennis (May 24, 2012). "David Goodis's 'Five Noir Novels of the 1940s & 50s': Dark tales of losers". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 11, 2012.
  2. ^ Goodis, David (2012). Polito, Robert, ed. Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s & 50s. Library of America. p. 793. ISBN 978-1-59853-148-0.
  3. ^ Goodis, David (2012). Polito, Robert, ed. Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s & 50s. Library of America. p. 795. ISBN 978-1-59853-148-0.
  4. ^ a b Withers, Larry. "The Mysterious Elaine". Shooting pool with David Goodis. Archived from the original on February 28, 2012. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  5. ^ "Certificate of Marriage". Flickr.com. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  6. ^ "Divorce Decree". Flickr.com. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  7. ^ "The Fugitive". Shooting pool with David Goodis. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  8. ^ "Cassidy's Girl". cassidysgirl.com. Archived from the original on March 28, 2004.
  9. ^ Duggan, Eddie (1998). "Life's a bitch: paranoia and sexuality in the novels of David Goodis". Crimetime (2.1): 14–20 – via Academia.edu.
  • Garnier, Philippe (2013). David Goodis: a Life in Black and White. Black Pool Productions. ISBN 978-0615817507. (Originally published as Goodis, La Vie en Noir et Blanc. Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1984.)
  • Gertzman, Jay A (2018). Pulp According to David Goodis. Lutz, FL: Down & Out Books.

External links

And Hope to Die

And Hope to Die (French: La course du lièvre à travers les champs, Italian: La corsa della lepre attraverso i campi) is a 1972 French-Italian thriller-drama film directed by René Clément and starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Robert Ryan. It is loosely based on the novel Black Friday by David Goodis.

Black Lizard (publisher)

Black Lizard was an American book publisher. A division of the Creative Arts Book Company of Berkeley, California, Black Lizard specialized in reprinting forgotten crime fiction and noir fiction writers and novels originally released between the 1930s and the 1960s, many of which are now acknowledged as classics of their genres.

Dark Passage

Dark Passage (1946) is a crime novel by David Goodis. It was the basis for the 1947 film noir of the same name.

Dark Passage (film)

Dark Passage is a 1947 American crime drama film directed by Delmer Daves and starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The film is based on the novel of the same title by David Goodis. It was the third of four films real-life couple Bacall and Bogart made together.For its initial scenes, the film was shot subjectively from the male lead's point of view to avoid showing the face of Vincent Parry (Bogart), prior to the point in the story at which he undergoes plastic surgery to change his appearance. In those scenes shot from other perspectives, the camera positioned so that the field of view does not include his face. The story follows Vincent's attempt to hide from the law and clear his name of murder.

Descente aux enfers

Descente aux enfers (Descent into Hell) is a 1986 French film directed by Francis Girod. Based on the 1955 novel 'The Wounded and the Slain' by David Goodis, it is a psychological thriller set under the sun and heat of the Caribbean. A married couple, she (Sophie Marceau) with a dark secret in her past and he (Claude Brasseur), an author suffering from both writer's block and alcoholism, undergo experiences which strain their relationship to breaking point but in the end, though each will have to live with the consequences, they are reunited.

Hop Harrigan

Hop Harrigan (also known as The Guardian Angel and Black Lamp) first appeared in All American Comics #1 created by Jon Blummer (Fighting Yank, Little Boy Blue) as one of the first successful aviation heroes in comic history (Hop appeared after Tailspin Tommy, Barney Baxter, Connie Kurridge and others). Hop Harrigan was technically not a true superhero (as he had no costume or special powers) though he did meet the Justice Society of America in All-Star Comics #8, and he did eventually become a superhero from All American Comics #25 (April 1941) to #28 (July) as the costumed Guardian Angel.

List of Harlequin Romance novels released in 1954

This is a list of Harlequin Romance novels released in 1954.

Logan, Philadelphia

Logan is a neighborhood in the upper North Philadelphia section of the city of Philadelphia, in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. Majority of the neighborhood falls within the 19141 zip code, but some of it falls within 19140 (Hunting Park ZIP Code). The neighborhood is sometimes confused with the Olney neighborhood of Philadelphia. Olney Avenue extends from both the Olney and Logan neighborhoods of the city. The Olney Transportation Center is located in Logan.

Made in U.S.A (1966 film)

Made in U.S.A is a 1966 French film directed by Jean-Luc Godard that stars Anna Karina, Jean-Pierre Léaud, László Szabó, and Yves Afonso. It was inspired by the Howard Hawks film The Big Sleep and unofficially based on the novel The Jugger, by Richard Stark (a.k.a. Donald E. Westlake). Because neither Godard nor the producer paid the book's adaptation rights and following legal action by Westlake, the film was long unavailable in the United States. The film had its U.S. premiere on April 1, 2009 (three months after Westlake's death) at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco in a newly restored print distributed by Rialto Pictures. Criterion released the film on DVD in July 2009.

Moon in the Gutter

The Moon in the Gutter (French: La Lune dans le caniveau) is a 1983 French drama film directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix. It was entered into the 1983 Cannes Film Festival.Although it immediately followed Beineix's big, commercial success Diva and featured two very big stars, Gérard Depardieu and Nastassja Kinski, The Moon in the Gutter was not well received by critics or audiences and failed at the box office with only 625,000 admissions in France. Its vivid visual style was noted by critics. It preceded a much better-appreciated cult success from the same director, known in the US and UK as Betty Blue.

The film was based on a pulp-noir novel of the same name, written by David Goodis, but it was transferred in the film script from the docksides of Philadelphia to Marseille.

La Lune dans le caniveau, according to AllMovie, " received uneven reviews on its initial release". It won a French Cesar Award for its production design.

Nightfall (1957 film)

Nightfall is an American film noir directed in 1957 by Jacques Tourneur and written by Stirling Silliphant. It features Aldo Ray, Brian Keith, and Anne Bancroft.

The low-budget film is remembered today for camera work by cinematographer Burnett Guffey. It uses flashbacks as a device to tell the story, which was based on a 1947 novel by David Goodis.

Noir fiction

Noir fiction (or roman noir) is a literary genre closely related to hardboiled genre, with a distinction that the protagonist is not a detective, but instead either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator. Other common characteristics include a self-destructive protagonist. A typical protagonist of noir fiction is dealing with the legal, political or other system, which is no less corrupt than the perpetrator, by whom the protagonist is either victimized and/or has to victimize others on a daily basis, leading to a lose-lose situation.

Shoot the Piano Player

Shoot the Piano Player (French: Tirez sur le pianiste; UK title: Shoot the Pianist) is a 1960 French New Wave crime drama film directed by François Truffaut and starring Charles Aznavour as the titular pianist. It is based on the novel Down There by David Goodis.

Simon Gratz High School

Simon Gratz High School is a secondary school in Philadelphia. An inner-city school, it is perhaps best known for its famous alumni (listed below). Originally a public school directly operated by the School District of Philadelphia, Gratz has been operated as a charter school by Mastery Charter since September 2011. Students from the previous public school's enrollment area are eligible to attend. It is the fifth Philadelphia high school operated by Mastery.

Situated at the southeast corner of the intersection of 18th St. & Hunting Park Ave., its address is 1798 Hunting Park Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19140.

In 2012, the school was removed from the Persistently Dangerous Schools List while under the new management of Mastery Charter Schools.

Street of No Return

Street of No Return is a 1989 crime film directed by Samuel Fuller and starring Keith Carradine and Valentina Vargas. It is based on the 1954 novel with the same title written by David Goodis.

Temple Beth-El (Great Neck, New York)

For other synagogues called Beth El, see Temple Beth-El (disambiguation).Temple Beth-El is a Reform synagogue at 5 Old Mill Road in Great Neck, New York. Founded in 1928, it is the oldest synagogue in Great Neck.As of 2009, it had a membership of 875 families. Since 2009, the senior rabbis have been a married couple: Meir and Tara Feldman,. Their cantor is Vladimir Lapin, and their assistant rabbi is Elle Muhlbaum. Their cantor emeritus is Lisa Hest.The temple was founded in 1928 when 86 organizing members began meeting at local church. Rabbi David Goodis served as the congregation's first rabbi, but was in that role only briefly before he died in 1930. His successor, Rabbi Jacob Phillip Rudin, served for four decades establishing the temple as one of the most prominent synagogues in the United States. The temple erected its original building on Old Mill Road in 1932. The temple began an adult study program that later became a Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion extension program. The building expanded in 1950, and again in 1970. Rabbi Rudin retired in 1971; Rabbi Jerome Davidson, who had been assistant rabbi since 1958, took over and served as senior rabbi until 2007. Rabbi Davidson's son, Rabbi Joshua Davidson, born in the Great Neck congregation, went on to lead Congregation Emanu-El of New York.Some members of the congregation left in 1940 to form a Conservative synagogue, Temple Israel of Great Neck, which was led for many years by the prominent rabbi Mordecai Waxman. A Reform spinoff, Temple Emanuel of Great Neck, formed in 1953.The original Temple building was enlarged three times during the past 60 years. It went through drastic renovation due to a fire that damaged some of the property. Since the fire, Temple Beth-El has continued to go through renovations.

In 1994 the congregation hired Karen Bender as an assistant rabbi. Bender was openly lesbian, and when she and her life partner decided to celebrate a commitment ceremony in California, Davidson agreed to officiate at a blessing ceremony at Temple Beth-el. Controversy within the congregation over this decision led to Davidson's well-publicized decision not only to continue to officiate for gay unions, but also to begin officiating at interfaith weddings and to push for the Reform rabbinate to pursue means of Jewish support for mixed marriages.Temple Beth-El of Great Neck has a rich cantorial tradition. Cantors that have served at the temple include: John P. Hardt, Robert Harmon, and Barbara Ostfeld, the first woman to be ordained a cantor. Additionally, Temple Beth-El of Great Neck's Early Childhood Education Center (led by Director Vicky Perler for 25 years) is one of the premiere pre-schools on the Northern Shore of Long Island. It is one of the few NAEYC-certified childhood centers in the area.

The Burglar

The Burglar is a 1957 crime thriller film noir released by Columbia Pictures, based on the 1953 novel of the same name by David Goodis (who also wrote the script). The picture stars Dan Duryea in the titular role and Jayne Mansfield. The movie was directed by Paul Wendkos, who would later go on to helm the pilot for the original Hawaii Five-O TV series.

The Burglars

Le Casse (US title: The Burglars) is a 1971 movie directed by French director Henri Verneuil, starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Omar Sharif, Dyan Cannon and Robert Hossein. It is based on the 1953 novel by David Goodis and revolves around a team of four burglars chased by a corrupt policeman in Athens. It's a remake of the 1957 film The Burglar with Jayne Mansfield.

The movie is known for its spectacular car chase and Belmondo's incredible fall from a construction truck down a steep, rocky hillside. The movie was shot twice, once in French and once in English, by the same cast.

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard

Vintage Crime/Black Lizard is the corporate amalgamation of Random House's Vintage Crime, and Random House's 1990 acquisition, Black Lizard, a major publisher of classic crime fiction.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.