Although based on the original 1963 Walter Tevis novel, Showtime’s The Man Who Fell To Earth series feels more like John Carpenter‘s Starman than a revisiting of Nicolas Roeg’s same titled 1976 film. The newbie is too emotional — I can sense that much. I’m intrigued by the idea of Bill Nighy playing the original David Bowie character, Thomas Jerome Newton, but where can they go with this? I don’t trust this. I can feel trouble.
Imagine that 1973’s The Sting, which earned the 2022 equivalent of over a billion dollars and won seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture), had never been made, and that David Ward‘s genius-level screenplay has been crafted by some young present-day hotshot.
Would it be produced by one of the studios, or by Netflix or Amazon or some other deep-pocket streamer?
A 2022 version of The Sting might get made, sure, but what are the odds that Ward’s original screenplay — a perfect Swiss watch, flawless of its kind, an Oscar-awarded jewel — would be filmed without significant changes?
My gut tells me that the rough-and-tumble social realism would be jettisoned. And that the casting would be subject to the usual presentism standards, meaning that one of the two male leads, Paul Newman‘s Henry Gondorff and Robert Redford‘s Johnny Hooker in the original film, would probably have to be played by an actor of color.
Yes, even though it’s set in 1934 Chicago, when racism was as common as dirt and factory soot and Robert Shaw‘s Doyle Lonnegan, a tough, old-school Irish mobster, would’ve never trusted a non-white hustler with any amount of his betting money. As Luther Coleman (Robert Earl Jones) confesses to Hooker in Act One of the film, “Ain’t no rich boy gonna trust a hungry [racial epithet] enough to be conned.”
Am I wrong? Would any producer or distributor have the stones to produce The Sting as is, or would they be obliged to make certain changes so as not to be frowned upon by progressives? It’s a fair question, surely.
I cant find any YouTube excerpts from Johnny Mandel‘s mournful, low-key score for The Last Detail (’73), so I shot the outdoor picnic scene from Act Three. The tone of sadness and resignation…God! This isn’t music that instructs you what to feel but is sitting right beside the viewer, experiencing the same journey in exact synchronicity.
I was going to ignore Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin‘s Dog (UA releasing, 2.18). I love dogs but movies looking to “get” me with emotionally simplistic strategies…later. Then I was told that Dog has an anti-woke streak, and I said “really?” Because you’d never know this from reading the reviews — not the slightest mention of any left-skewing political-cultural attitude. Then I stumbled upon Kyle Smith‘s National Review assessment (2.18), and lo and behold…
“The politically asymmetrical nature of which Americans dismiss veterans is not lost on Carolin and Tatum, and much of the movie amounts to walking a gauntlet through the craziness of Progressive America.
“When Briggs (Tatum) leaves Lulu the dog in a cool, safe car at night, an animal-rights twerp seeks to break a window with a rock to let in some air, until Briggs advises him why this would be a bad idea. ‘Of course you threaten violence, you redneck!’ says the self-appointed animal savior. ‘You’re the one with a rock!’ replies Briggs, and the scene is a wonderful distillation of 2020s progressive mania.
“Briggs (Tatum) goes to a bar to try to pick up a date, but instead he gets an earful from every young wokette: ‘So at what point did you realize you were just a pawn of Big Oil?’ asks one.
“In San Francisco Briggs gets arrested for a hate crime because the dog attacks a Muslim. The cop who processes him, played with impeccably unearned arrogance by the excellent Bill Burr, brags that he, too, served, but it turns out that he was…an M.P. Briggs clearly thinks of these guys as the hall monitors of the military, practically the Hillary Clinton Brigades. “Oh, you were an M.P.?” he says nonchalantly.
Tatum, who in 2017 starred in a hilarious Amazon Prime series, Comrade Detective, that did to Communism what Lulu does to Taliban fighters, gives off a strong sense that he’s turning right these days, at least culturally speaking.
“In a recent interview, he chafed at the suggestion that he was making a movie for middle America. ‘I would not call myself a liberal. I would not call myself a Republican or a Democrat. I’m not political,”’ Tatum told the Associated Press. ‘I do believe that the stereotypes and the generalizations can get us in trouble.
Roughly two months ago a very early draft of Eric Roth‘s screenplay for Killers of the Flower Moon (dated 2.20.17,...More »