David Goodis rode a bumpy rocket to hell. Fresh out of college, he published his first novel in 1939. Universal threw him a wad of cash to pen a screenplay, and magazines queued up to run his fatalistic crime fiction. Dark Passage, serialized in The Saturday Evening Post and adapted into a crackling Humphrey Bogart movie, solidified his status among pulp fiction aficionados. But Goodis soon hopped or fell off the Hollywood gravy train, sequestering himself in his native Philadelphia to write and drink (not always in that order). Although his stories continued to be turned into dark, nihilistic films, they no longer attracted A-list talent. On Sept. 27 and 28, The Best of Columbia Noir nears the end of its two-week run with a searing double shot of Goodis circa 1957. The Burglar is a good deal warmer than your usual dishonor-among-thieves yarn, thanks to the presence of Martha Vickers and Jayne Mansfield, while Nightfall stars B-movie icon Aldo Ray (namesake of Inglourious Basterds Lieutenant Aldo Raine) dodging cops and gunmen as the sun goes down on his meager aspirations. Goodis slid downhill, too, dead of cirrhosis at 49. His reputation is secure these days, the little comfort it affords his soul.
Sept. 17-30, 2009