Pulp On the Silver Screen

Pulp fiction writers spawned and impacted entire genres of cinema including hardboiled detective films, westerns, sci-fi, and horror flicks.

Early on, the pulp All-Story Magazine featured the exotic story of a jungle boy named Tarzan. Since October 1912, he's been in more than 40 movies, and the author, Edgar Rice Burroughs, became the most popular writer in America.

Burroughs inspired one pulp fan to write his own far-out tales: Gene Roddenberry created Star Trek. And speaking of sci-fi, Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451) began as a pulp science fiction writer. So did the founder of scientology, L. Ron Hubbard.

Out west, the swashbuckling Zorro debuted in the pulp magazine All-Story Weekly in 1919. John Wayne became a star in John Ford's film Stagecoach, based on a western pulp story.

Providence's pulp magazine writer H.P. Lovecraft became the godfather of the modern horror genre. He inspired movies like Alien, The Thing, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Lovecraft corresponded with hundreds of other authors. One of the writers he encouraged was Robert Bloch, who later wrote Psycho.

Most visibly, film noir evolved almost directly out of the pulps. The biggest crime pulp magazine of the day, Black Mask, serialized Dashiell Hammett's classic hardboiled novel The Maltese Falcon from September 1929 to January 1930. Hammett published the entire story as a novel in 1930 and it was turned into a movie three different times between 1931 and 1941. Humphrey Bogart immortalized the character of Sam Spade, Hammett's wisecracking gumshoe, in John Huston's 1941 version of the film. Today, the movie is one of the earliest film noir classics.

Hammett moved to Hollywood in the 1930s and became a successful scriptwriter along with two other big crime pulpsters. Raymond Chandler and James Cain wrote legendary pulp stories that became film noir classics including The Big Sleep, The Long Goodbye, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and Double Indemnity.

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