Maybe one shouldn't compare the movie and book versions of a story. But sometimes that's inevetibable. And sometimes the movie actually improves on the book, ie. "In a Lonely Place." However, in the case of "Shoot the Piano Player," based on the book "Down There," by David Goodis, I can't say this is so. The look of the movie has that gritty noir feel, but all the time one feels as if they're watching the characters in a goldfish bowl ? from a great remove. You don't really get to know the characters or their motivations. In the book, this is much more clear and makes for a much more involving experience. Also, the addition of the character Fido (the piano player's younger brother) adds little to the story. In novel and movie we don't really get a great feel for why the waitress does what she does, but in the novel we get more of a feel for it and that does make a difference. It also makes a difference that we know more of the piano player's background, that he served with Merrill's Marauders in World War II, that, after losing his first wife, he went on a binge of anger and hate and fighting that finally led him to be the "docile" person he is when we meet him. This is little explained in the movie. Some of it's there, but much of it isn't and without it the character just seems a cypher. Read the book, watch the movie and decide for yourself.