Watch Now: STRAIGHT TIME
In 1978, Edward Bunker’s debut novel No Beast So Fierce was turned into a script penned by Alvin Sargent, Jeffrey Boam and Bunker himself, with uncredited writing work done by Michael Mann. The adaptation, named Straight Time, follows L.A. thief Max Dembo who, upon finishing his six-year prison sentence, gets out on parole and tries to live a crime-free life. Thanks to his crude parole officer purposefully sabotaging him, Dembo fails at his initial attempt and resorts to his old ways. In this gritty and intelligent neo-noir, Dustin Hoffman plays the lead role to a tee, with Theresa Russell, Harry Dean Stanton and the aforementioned Edward Bunker himself appearing in supporting roles.
Hoffman was also initially set to direct the crime film, but ended up doing the job for a single day. The studio was worried that the actor-director would not be able to finish the shoot in time, seeing as how he did not manage to film anything by the end of his first day. Hoffman was then replaced by the late Belgian-born filmmaker Ulu Grosbard. Although he turned out not to be a perfect fit for the directing job, Hoffman’s portrayal of the ex-con is raw and multi-layered, as he finds himself following the path of least resistance by gravitating towards the only lifestyle he has ever known.