James Myers Thompson (September 27, 1906 April 7, 1977) was an American author and screenwriter, known for his pulp crime fiction.
Thompson wrote more than 30 novels, the majority of which were original paperback publications by pulp fiction houses, from the late 1940s through mid-1950s. Despite some positive critical notice, notably by Anthony Boucher in The New York Times, Thompson was little recognized in his lifetime. Only after his death did Thompson's literary stature grow, when in the late 1980s, several novels were re-published in the Black Lizard series of re-discovered crime fiction.
Thompson's writing culminated in a few of his best-regarded works: The Killer Inside Me, Savage Night, A Hell of a Woman and Pop. 1280. In these works, Thompson turned the derided pulp genre into literature and art, featuring unreliable narrators, odd structure, and surrealism. A number of Thompson's books became popular films, including The Getaway and The Grifters.
- Now and on Earth
- Heed the Thunder
- Nothing More Than Murder
- The Killer Inside Me
- Cropper's Cabin
- The Alcoholics
- Savage Night
- Bad Boy
- The Criminal
- The Nothing Man
- The Golden Gizmo
- A Swell-Looking Babe
- A Hell of a Woman
- After Dark, My Sweet
- The Kill-Off
- Wild Town
- The Getaway
- The Transgressors
- The Grifters
- Pop. 1280
- Texas by the Tail
- South of Heaven
- The Undefeated
- Nothing But a Man
- Child of Rage
- King Blood
- The Rip-Off
Adaptations of Thompson novels
- The Getaway — 1972 film starring Steve McQueen
- Série noire — 1979 French film that adapted A Hell of a Woman, starring Patrick Dewaere
- Coup de Torchon — 1981 French film that adapted Pop. 1280, with a setting update from the pre-WWI American South to 1938 French West Africa
- After Dark, My Sweet — 1990 adaptation of Thompson's novel that has a place on the Roger Ebert: Great Movies List.
- The Grifters — 1990 film
- The Killer Inside Me — 2010 film starring Casey Affleck as a sociopathic murderer small-town sheriff
Tropes associated with Thompson and his work
- Added Alliterative Appeal: Novelist Geoffery O'Brien dubbed him the Dimestore Dostoevsky.
- The Alcoholic: Thompson wrote a novel called The Alcoholics, and was definitely one himself.
- The Cameo: His sole acting credit is a brief appearance as Judge Grayle in Farewell, My Lovely.
- Dead Artists Are Better: Thompson got a little notice during his lifetime, but is now considered one of the most unique voices in hardboiled crime fiction.
- The Film of the Book: A number of times, with The Getaway, The Killer Inside Me, and Pop. 1280 each being adapted twice.
- Missing Episode: The novella Lunatic at Large, only a few pages of which have been located.