Redford will reportedly play a former Weather Underground militant (in the tradition of Bill Ayres, Bernardine Dohrn or Mark Rudd) wanted by the FBI for a 30-year-old bank job who is forced to abandon his daughter and go on the lam when a young reporter (Shia LaBeouf) outs him. As he “evades a manhunt and seeks out old comrades,” according to a Publisher’s Weekly synopsis, we meet “a sprawling cast of drug dealers, bomb-planting radicals turned leftist academics, Vietnam vets, FBI agents and Republicans who collectively ponder the legacy of the ’60s.”
Another movie about boomers looking back at the ’60s? Okay, maybe this can work. Let’s not pre-judge. But two issues need solving.
Problem #1: The radical left bombings and bank-robbings happened in the early ’70s, so for Redford’s character to still be hiding his identity in 2012 (or whenever the movie comes out) he would have had to be living under a false identity for 40 years. That’s too many decades. Redford and Dobbs would have to back-date the film to the 2000 or thereabouts, if not the mid to late ’90s.
Problem #2: I can’t believe Redford as an ex-radical. He was edgy and watchful but never that angry in his youth. I believed him right away as Bob Woodward in All The President’s Men, as Bill McKay in The Candidate and as the book-reading CIA agent in Three Days of the Condor. But never as an ex-bank-robbing radical. No way. Not Bob.
In “St. George and the Godfather,” Norman Mailer wrote a line about Miami cops chasing protestors with nightsticks and other guys running alongside the action (i.e., not really in the heat of it) “like Robert Redford,” or words to that effect.
I love that Mike Nichols story about casting The Graduate, and about telling Redford that he just couldn’t buy him as the solemnly resentful, sexually inexperienced Benjamin Braddock. “Be honest,” Nichols said to Redford. “Have you ever struck out with a girl?” Redford said, “Whaddaya mean?”