Private Project

Elmore Leonard: "But Don't Try to Write"

Here’s best-selling author Rachel Howzell Hall: “Elmore Leonard’s novels more honestly represent America than any other novelist.” Elmore Leonard, the genre master. In a career spanning more than half-a-century, this mere genre master created an indelible and timeless America; an America as real as the London of Dickens, the Missouri of Twain, the Monterey of Steinbeck. Leonard explored the racism which has haunted America down all the days; his black characters rich, complex and full bodied. His women, good and bad, they aren’t victims; these are real women negotiating femaleness in a male-driven world. His cops, they’re trying to do the right thing in a murky and very gray America. Leonard’s working-class men and women, the American dream seemingly forever beyond their grip. The haves. The have-nots. Urban America. Rural America. America in the 19th Century. America in the 20th century. America in the 21st century. Like Ernest Hemingway, his mentor, Leonard crafted a singular style of story-telling. He has influenced more writers in America than any novelist in the last half-century. Includes 30 minutes of original, unreleased interview footage with Elmore Leonard.

  • John Mulholland
    Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen, Inside High Noon, Sergeant York: Of God & Country
  • John Mulholland
    Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen, Inside High Noon, Sergeant York: Of God & Country,
  • Richard Zampella
    Cooper & Heminmgway: The True Gen, Inside High Noon, Sergeant York: Of God & Country,
  • Campbell Scott
    Key Cast
    Campbell Scott is the son of American actor George C. Scott. He is an American actor, director, producer, and voice artist. He is known for his roles as George Tunner on The Sheltering Sky, Boris Kuester von Jurgens-Ratenicz on Royal Pains, Mark Usher on House of Cards, Joseph Tobin on Damages, and Richard Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, as well as numerous stage appearances.
  • Elmore Leonard
    Key Cast
    "On Camera Interview"
    Out Of Sight, Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, 3;10 To Yuma, Justified, Hombre, Stick, Valdez Is Coming, etc.
  • Mike Lupica
    Key Cast
    "On Camera Interview"
    NY Daily News Columnist, CBS Morning News, ESPN, CNN, MSNBC, Summer of ’98: When Homers Flew, Records Fell, and Baseball Reclaimed America, Heat, Autobiographies with Reggie Jackson and Bill Parcells
  • Graham Yost
    Key Cast
    "On Camera Interview"
    Sneaky Pete, Justified, Speed, The Americans, The Pacific, etc.
  • Neely Tucker
    Key Cast
    "On Camera Interview"
    Washington Post Journalist
  • Bridgett M. Davis
    Key Cast
    "On Camera Interview"
    The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers, Into The Go-Slow, Shifting Through Neutral, Naked Acts, etc.
  • Wendy Calhoun
    Key Cast
    "On Camera Interview"
    Empire, Station 19, Justified, Nashville, Revenge, etc.
  • Rachel Howzell Hall
    Key Cast
    "On Camera Interview"
    They All Fall Down, Land Of Shadows, Skies Of Ash, etc.
  • Stephen Prince
    Key Cast
    "On Camera Interview"
    Movies & Meaning, An Introduction to Film Genres, Screening Violence, Digital Visual Effects in Cinema, The Warrior's Camera, etc.
  • Otto Penzler
    Key Cast
    "On Camera Interview"
    Reel Murders: Stories That Inspired Great Crime Films, Big Book Of Jack The Ripper, etc.
  • Cheryl Dorsey
    Key Cast
    "On Camera Interview"
    MSNBC, CNN, U.S. Congress -- Criminal Justice Reformer, LAPD (Ret.)
  • James O. Born
    Key Cast
    "On Camera Interview"
    Silencer, The Big Finish, Under Cover of Daylight, Going Dark, etc.
  • Alphie McCourt
    Key Cast
    "On Camera Interview"
    A Long Stone's Throw, The Soulswimmer
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 34 minutes 22 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 21, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    500,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Official Selection: American Documentary and Animation Film Festival
    Palm Springs
    United States
    March 26, 2021
    North American Premiere
    Status as of 3/23/21: Official Selection
  • Official Selection: California Capital Documentary Film Festival
    United States
    October 16, 2021
    Official Selection
  • Official Selection: Studio City International Film
    North Hollywood California
    United States
    November 19, 2021
    Official Selection: Documentary Feature
  • Official Selection: Hollywood Independent Filmmaker Awards and Festival
    United States
    January 9, 2022
Director Biography - John Mulholland

JOHN MULHOLLAND is a filmmaker, writer and film historian. His latest documentaries, Elmore Leonard: But don’t try to write (narrated by Campbell Scott) and Inside High Noon (narrated by Matthew Rhys), aired on PBS Nationwide. Mulholland is also the author of Classic Film Chatter, a book series about notable film genres published by Cine Monde Classique. Politics in Film will be the first released. Colossal New York is publishing several of Mulholland’s graphic novels; among which: Tenderloin, which takes place during the Gilded Age of New York; Checkmate, a battle of the sexes thriller; and High Riviera, a romantic chase through the South of France. In addition,

Among some of Mulholland’s other documentaries: Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen, narrated by Sam Waterston, which explores the 20-year friendship between Gary Cooper and Ernest Hemingway; Sergeant York: Of God And Country, narrated by Liam Neeson; The Letters Of Vincent and Theo Van Gogh; On Macbeth; Eastern European Composers; and Liza Minnelli Reflecting. He has worked with such award-winning actors as Liam Neeson, Angela Lansbury, Morgan Freeman, Kirk Douglas, Frank Langella, Len Cariou, Leonard Nimoy, Estelle Parsons, Sam Waterston, Patricia Neal, and Charlton Heston; and such authors as Jim Harrison, George Plimpton, Elmore Leonard, Bridgett Davis, Stephen Prince, Jim Born, Rachel Howzell Hall, and Otto Penzler. Mulholland also served as host for the popular podcast, Icons Radio Hour, which covered Classic Hollywood.

Along with such notables as Ian McKellen, Mark Rylance, Derek Jacobi, Sandra Day O’Connor, John Paul Stevens, and a host of others, Mulholland is a signatory to the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt, which questions that the man known as William Shakespeare actually wrote the plays attributed to him.

Mulholland lives in New York City. He is in the early stages of research for his next documentary, on author Graham Greene. friendship between actor Gary Cooper and author Ernest Hemingway.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Elmore Leonard has long fascinated me. From his earliest work -- the westerns -- through his Detroit/South Florida-based novels of women and men involved in crime -- right up to his later work, exploring an America whose founding sins have continued to haunt it down all the days. He has been hailed (by the NY Times, among others) as the greatest crime novelist of all time. True this may be, but for me this sells him short. Elmore Leonard has influenced more writers in America than any author since Ernest Hemingway (Leonard's mentor). This documentary offered me a chance to explore Emore Leonard in all his literary breadth.