After briefly entertaining the prospect of becoming a professional tennis star, Horace McCoy pursued a short acting career, then headed to the Southwest, where he worked as a newspaper journalist. Inspired by W. R. Burnett's crime novel Little Caesar, McCoy switched to writing hard-boiled detective fiction. In Hollywood from 1933, he wrote or co-wrote several entertaining (if unmemorable) programmers. By the 1950s, he was typed as a specialist in "outdoor" melodramas like Dangerous Mission (1954) and A Rage at Dawn (1955). Horace McCoy is best-remembered as the author of the unrelentingly pessimistic Depression-era novel They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, which, after several false starts, was finally filmed in 1969 thirty-four years after its publication, and fourteen years after McCoy's death.