In 1947, Humphrey Bogartand wife Lauren Bacall starred in the film adaptation of David Goodis‘s noir novel DARK PASSAGE (1946). The book also served as inspiration for the television series THE FUGITIVE (1963-1967) starring David Janssen.

David Goodis — who never achieved the status of fellow noir writers Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett — has been called “The Poet Laureate of the Bleak.” He died in 1967 at age 49.


With his work often out of print, the prestigious Library of America decided to solidify Goodis’s place as a top noir stylist by in 2012 issuing GOODIS: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s. The Library of America states as its mission “to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping in print, authoritative editions of America’s best and most significant writing.”

Here’s an example of Goodis‘s prose — the opening passage to his 1947 novel NIGHTFALL:

It was one of those hot, sticky nights that makes Manhattan show its age. There was something dreary and stagnant in the way all this syrupy heat refused to budge. It was anything but a night for labor, and Vanning stood up and walked away from the tilted drawing board. He brushed past a large metal box of water colors, heard the crash as the box hit the floor. That seemed to do it. That ended any inclination he might have had for finishing the job tonight.

Heat came into the room and settled itself on Vanning. He lit a cigarette. He told himself it was time for another drink. Walking to the window, he told himself to get away from the idea of liquor. The heat was stronger than the liquor.”