Elmore Leonard + John Travolta = Get Shorty’s Chili Palmer

22 Aug

Elmore Leonard’s dialogue told you everything you needed to know about a character. He did it in as short a prose style as necessary. To him, less was definitely more. I already knew Chili Palmer – I knew how he walked, how he talked, and how he looked you in the eyes. So when I saw him in the big screen version of Get Shorty personified by John Travolta, I was already along for the ride. 

Post.ElmoreLeonard.getshorty.8.22.13Get Shorty tells the story of a loan shark in Miami, Chili Palmer, who goes to Hollywood to collect a debt and ends up a movie producer. Hey, he figures, it takes the same skills he already has as a mobster. Who knew? Chili’s talk is straight, no bullshit. And he knows his movies. Here are some of Chili’s bon mots:

“Rough business, this movie business. I’m gonna have to go back to loan-sharking just to take a rest.”

“That was ‘Rio Bravo.’ Robert Mitchum played the drunk in ‘El Dorado.’ Dean Martin played the drunk in ‘Rio Bravo.’ Basically, it was the same part. Now John Wayne, he did the same in both. He played John Wayne.”

“Look at me.”

“I’m the guy who’s telling you the way it is.”

“I got an idea for a movie.”

“They always pay.”

“Going into the movie business. I’m thinking about producing … I don’t think the producer has to know much.”

“Look at me. What I’m thinking is, ‘You’re mine’ … But what I’m not doing is feeling anything about it one way or the other. You understand? You’re not a person to me, you’re a name in my collection book, a guy owes me money, that’s all.”

“You know, Welles didn’t even want to do this movie. But he had some studio contract he couldn’t get out of. Sometimes you do your best work when you got a gun to your head.”


Chili Palmer’s quotes from Get Shorty: imdb

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