In February’s Conde Nast Portfolio Amy Wallace wrote about last year’s decision by 20th Century Fox to rewrite Stephen Schiff‘s Money Never Sleeps, an allegedly sturdy Wall Street sequel with Michael Douglas again playing Gordon “greed is good” Gekko. Stephen Frears (The Queen) wanted to direct Schiff’s script and everything looked good.
But after last fall’s financial collapse Fox decided Schiff’s script “suddenly felt out of touch,” according to production co-prexy Alex Young, so they hired another writer, Allan Loeb (21), to make it more reflective of today’s meltdown vibe. Frears was no longer interested, but Wallace reports that Sleeps will roll sometime in the spring for release later this year. Why don’t I believe that?
Nor do I believe that Martin Scorsese will ever direct The Wolf of Wall Street, a drama about Wall Street skunk Jordan Belfort that Terence Winter has written drafts of.
Why? Because people don’t want to pay good money to see slick scoundrels revel in ill-gotten gains. The mood out there is clearly one of anger and revulsion at all the wheeler-dealers who got us into this mess. I therefore suspect that any portrayal of greedy thievery among young or middle-aged hotshots (a la Wall Street and Boiler Room) would be die of loneliness. Because the zeitgeist has reconstituted and the New Puritanism is upon us.
What might work, in terms of addressing the current anger and panic, is some kind of remake of Gregory La Cava‘s Gabriel Over The White House (1933). Some Came Running‘s Glenn Kenny reminded me of this morning, and the more I think about it the more here-and-now it sounds.
The story, based upon a book by Thomas Tweed and clearly focused on the crisis posed by the Great Depression, is a fascinating reflection of our current crisis. Just go to 1:20 in a speech given by President Judson Hammond (Walter Huston) and listen for a couple of minutes. The totalitarian powers that Hammond demands reflect what the Limbaugh crazies are afraid could happen today, and what some of us feel may be the only way out of the current malaise. We’ve got to get mad and forceful and slap down the righties and straighten this country out….or else.
The story is about Hammond, a fairly thoughtless and corrupt go-along politician upon his election, having a kind of religious revelation after getting into a car accident early in his term. A vision of the angel Gabriel comes to him and tells him to radically change tactics and proclaim himself a dictator in order to save the country from business-as-usual meandering. Describing himself as a kind of Jeffersonian fascist, Hammond comes off as an earnest and conscientious President who tackles unemployment, crime and the economy in the manner of of take-charge Abraham Lincoln. And then once Hammond has fulfilled his agenda and set the country on the road to recovery, he dies.
I spit on the idea of another bullshit Wall Street saga about bad guys in $2000 suits getting away with it until they don’t. But some kind of variation of Gabriel Over The White House….that speaks to me. It could connect if done right.