Donald Westlake, the prolific author and father of “John Dortmunder,” the character played by Robert Redford in The Hot Rock, and “Walker,” the money-reclaiming payback machine played by Lee Marvin in Point Blank, died Wednesday night on his way to a New Year’s Eve dinner in Mexico.
The finest film based on a Westlake crime novel was John Flynn‘s The Outfit (’73), which I’ve written about over and over for not being available on DVD. Warner Home Video has the rights. Will they please remaster and issue a no-frills DVD…please? It’s a genuine B-movie gem, as lean and hard-boiled as they come. (Except for the ending.) It stars Robert Duvall as Macklin, an ex-con of fee words, and Robert Ryan as a sinister-silky gangster. The costars are Karen Black, Joe Don Baker, Timothy Carey, Richard Jaeckel, Joanna Cassidy and Sheree North.
A die-hard user of manual typewriters (he reportedly couldn’t stand the sound of the humming IBM Selectrics, and probably never even looked at a Mac Powerbook), Westlake was 75 years old. His final novel, “Get Real,” comes out in April.
Yeah, yeah, I know — “Walker” wasn’t the name Westlake chose. His literary character was called Parker. I like Walker better.