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The Last Words of Dutch Schultz: A Fiction in the Form of a Film Script [Paperback]

William S. Burroughs
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 115 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; 1st Arcade Paperback Ed edition (1 April 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559702117
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559702119
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 13.5 x 20.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,255,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Burroughs was born in St Louis, Missouri in 1914. Immensely influential among the Beat writers of the 1950s - notably Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg - he already had an underground reputation before the appearance of his first important book, 'Naked Lunch'. Originally published by the daring and influential Olympia Press (the original publishers of Henry Miller) in France in 1959, it aroused great controversy on publication and was not available in the US until 1962 and in the UK until 1964. The book was adapted for film by David Cronenberg in 1991.

Product Description


A fantastical film script of the notorious gangster's final twenty-four hours of hallucinations presents Schultz's two thousand last words spoken-acted against a background of the Palace Chop House, the hospital, and period stills.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is one of Burroughs' more fascinating works, a screenplay that's based upon the death of Dutch Schultz, an American gangster who met his end after being shot in the toilet of a bar - his last words were surreal and nonsensical, and Burroughs twists them even further to give them a brand new meaning and to suit his narrative purposes.

The screenplay was never turned in to a film - in fact, it was never supposed to be one - but it should be. The screenplay's well worth a read.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found the film script style difficult to read at first. But I persevered with it and I found it highly enjoyable. The script begins with a series of detailed, coherent explanations by Burroughs of the identities of various characters, how the film should be shot, etc. As the screenplay progresses, Burroughs' instructions becoming increasingly absurd and cryptic; at one point, Burroughs calls for Jack Diamond to appear as a motionless man in a chair who speaks without moving his lips, specifying that this should be achieved by the actor's dialogue being recorded into a cassette recorder which is then played behind the actor during filming.

Throughout the script, Burroughs calls for a peep booth-style 16mm sex loop --depicting a red haired young man having aggressive intercourse with a Spanish woman in a brass bed-- to be played at seemingly random intervals. I would highly recommend the script to anyone.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Only Uncle Bill could write this 27 Feb 2014
By Gabriel Valjan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In 1969, Burroughs offered up to readers what I think is a neglected masterpiece: The Last Words of Dutch Schultz with had the intriguing subtitle “A Fiction in the Form of a Film Script.” No film was ever made, though. His kinky humor is there in the script and so is the nightmare, but earlier reviewers had missed one crucial fact: Burroughs had used the last words of the gangster Arthur “Dutch” Flegenheimer verbatim, a mere 2,000 of them, which police stenographers had captured at his bedside after he had been shot at the Palace Chophouse in Newark in October, 1935. The cops had hoped to learn who had shot Dutch and his three colleagues. Tough guy to the end, Dutch was no rat.

There is a famous photo of Dutch face down at his table, which would lead any viewer to conclude that he was dead. Wrong. Dutch was shot in the men’s room and, not wanting to die on a bathroom floor, staggered out to his table, sat down, and requested someone call him an ambulance. That someone was Schultz’s bodyguard, “Lulu” Rosencrantz, who was mortally wounded, and like a scene out of a black comedy, the big man gets up off of the floor, had staggered over to the barkeep, who was hiding under the counter, and demands change for a quarter so he can use the phone for an ambulance. Dutch had a brandy and tipped the medic $10,000 to get the best care. Dutch would die two days later.

Burroughs took the transcript and crafted a narrative from Dutch’s humorous, stream-of-consciousness ramblings and moments of lucidity. There are cracks about dogs and navy beans. Sure, WSB provides the back-story of the Dutchman’s rise from thug to Emperor of Beer Suds and the Harlem Numbers Racket. We get the deal-making, back-stabbing power-plays, the rogue’s gallery of criminals, including Bo Weinberg, whom E.L. Doctorow would depict ready for his one-way swim in concrete shoes in the opening pages of Billy Bathgate. One expects to hear a dying man’s non-sequiturs, the cliché of the ‘life flashing before one’s eyes,’ but WSB goes beyond that. Way beyond.

The script layout is in two columns. Burroughs imagines what the audience should see, with instructions to the cameraman in the left column while, in the right column are Dutch’s actual words, at least for the hospital scenes. The left side of the page becomes a running commentary, a call-and-response interaction with the dialog on the right. The reader really gets a glimpse of WSB’s extraordinary command of cinematography. He frames each scene with a painter’s eye for detail. The dying man’s words are what they are from the official transcript, but the genius is in how Burroughs plays the forensic writer who fabricates scenes in a logical yet illogical, coherent yet incoherent mélange of sights, sounds, and utterances.

WSB creates a memorable character named The Whisperer, who speaks without moving his lips; he uses a tape recorder and his voice sounds like Dutch’s. He is Kafka creepy, uncanny. The Whisperer can also speak backwards. He looks like a “grey, anonymous corpse.” It is as if WSB had created a Marvel Comics character, but has him emerge from a drug-induced vision.

Photographs of Dutch Schultz litter the pages, including the dead Dutchman, the German-Jew who died Catholic, sins expunged with Last Rites, the wife in the hallway, father to one son, and millions supposedly locked away in a water-proof safe in the Catskills. It is dark, disturbing, and very gothic in the way only Uncle Bill could write it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Bill Lee meets Dutch Schultz in a deathbed fever dream 16 Nov 2013
By Craig Featherstone - Published on Amazon.com
For your consideration, William S. Burroughs, arguably the most controversial and experimental writer to rise from a mid-twentieth century ensemble of artistic malcontents. Those familiar with this book, "fiction in the form of a film script," likely cannot help but wonder what might have been (or, might still be?) for the film world.

In October of 1935, Arthur Flegenheimer, known in gangland as Dutch Schultz, generally considered New York's top racketeer, was gunned down by Charles Workman at the Palace Chop House in Newark, New Jersey. Also assassinated were three of his associates. Schultz was standing at a urinal when Workman barged in and shot him in the liver. Schultz somehow dragged himself to a table and sat there bleeding until paramedics arrived, whereupon he was taken to a hospital. He survived for nearly two days, his room guarded around the clock. A police stenographer was stationed at his bedside in the hope of learning anything incriminating, as well as discovering who had put the bullet in Schultz. However, what the stenographer recorded was Dutch's rambling delirium - fever-induced deathbed fantasies stemming from delinquent youth to his recent past. Dutch muttered a few thousand words of fragmented eccentricity before his final incoherent mumbles, and then he was dead.

Utilizing these peculiar last words, Burroughs has crafted his own vision of Dutch Schultz. He expands upon this actual account with an essentially linear fictional construct of Dutch's life, from childhood to his rise to Prohibition-era racketeering powerhouse. The text is written in screenplay format with careful attention to detail. Photographs of the real-life characters are included. An identification key at the end allows the reader to place picture with name. There are the occasional hallucinatory, surreal, and absurd passages for which Burroughs is known. Even obligatory junkies infuse the background in a handful of scenes.

The book is a relatively easy read, relative to the novel "Naked Lunch" and the“cut-up” technique Burroughs used in the creation of that heated masterpiece. Bolstered by a few experimental flourishes, the narrative is nonetheless accessible enough to appeal to a wide audience and is more approachable than many of his novels.
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