There’s stuff you know and stuff you know.

Charles Bukowski was a pal….

Nah, that’s BS. He was a pen pal, a mentor. I knew the guy. I wrote a play that made National Public Radio. He came to see the production in L.A. about a year before he died. Check out his last book of letters, Reach For The Sun,  you’ll find a half-dozen of his letters to me. Or you can read the whole series here.

When he died in ’94 I went out to the graveyard to see his modest tombstone. The inscription reads: DON’T TRY. Think on it…


It’s been a long while since I read Barfly, the Movie. To my knowledge it’s the only screenplay Bukowski wrote. There’s not all that much online about Bukowski and the movies. I remember asking him what his favorite movie was and he said– if I remember correctly– Alien. Never saw Hank as a Sci-Fi guy…go figure.

His book Hollywood, about the making of Barfly, is better than Barfly itself. Great read. The trials and travails of the attempts to make Barfly. Behind-the-scenes stories are many, including one about Barbet Schroeder, the director, taking a gun into a producer’s office to collect on a promised payment.

There’s some debate on whether Hank liked Mickey Rourke in the lead role. He was initially wanting Sean Penn for the role, but later wrote about Rourke:  “[…]Part of my luck was the actor who played Henry Chinaski. Mickey Rourke stayed with the dialogue to the word and the sound intended. What surprised me was that he added another dimension to the character, in spirit. Mickey appeared to really love his role, and yet without exaggeration he added his own flavor, his zest, his madness, his gamble to Henry Chinaski without destroying the intent or the meaning of the character. To add spirit to spirit can be dangerous but not in the hands of a damned good actor. Without distorting, he added, and I was very pleased with the love and understanding he lent to the role of the BARFLY”.WIKI

This was a “small” movie, flawed in every way, but it didn’t do too badly at the award stand…


I’d take a Palme d’Or nomination for my first film, wouldn’t you?

We’ll get back to Barfly in a moment, but did you hear that James Franco was working on Ham On Rye?

Yep. That’s coming out. Some controversy too…what else would you expect from James Franco? He’s hip/cool/trendy enough to make Sundance every year. I don’t think Hank would like the guy, but what do I know? They didn’t exactly come banging down my door to do the adaptation on this one.

While we’re at it, they’re doing his novel Women too.

Checking his IMDB page, I count 40 credits. Other than The Bard, can you name another poet with more movie adaptations of his work?

What would Hank think of his novels selling for six-figures (or is it more now?) I’m guessing he’d shrug and head to Hollywood Park. I tried for many years to get his secret system for picking horses but he never gave it up. Good for Hank and Linda Lee, his wife, in this new Chinaski movie frenzy.

Here’s some good Bukowski stuff I found… Enjoy!


  • FACTOTUM: Trailer

  • BORN INTO THIS: Trailer

  • BARFLY: Fight Scene.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *