After NBC-TV failed a couple of years back to resurrect James Garner’s much-loved private-eye series, The Rockford Files, with Dermot Mulroney in the lead role, I’d hoped that Hollywood would have given up on trying to recapture the magic of Garner’s show with a different actor. But now comes this report from Deadline:
Universal Pictures has set David Levien and Brian Koppelman to write The Rockford Files, a feature adaptation of the memorable series that ran on NBC from 1974-80 and featured James Garner as the down-and-out private eye.Are you frickin’ kidding me? Vince Vaughn, that over-the-top actor who has made a name for himself portraying one clueless and obnoxious men after the next in inane romantic comedies? That Vince Vaughn? Somebody really thinks he deserves the role originated by the understated and consistently likable Garner?
The studio will develop the film as a star vehicle for Vince Vaughn to play Rockford, and Vaughn and Victoria Vaughn will produce through their Universal-based Wild West Picture Show Productions banner.
Sure, Vaughn might be able to dress down like gumshoe Jim Rockford, and pull off the self-interested demeanor Rockford presented. He might even learn a thing or two about racing a Pontiac Firebird through the streets of Los Angeles. But to rephrase Senator Lloyd Bentsen’s show-stopping putdown of Dan Quayle during their 1988 vice-presidential debate, “I knew Jim Rockford from six seasons of The Rockford Files. Jim Rockford was a welcome guest in my home every Friday night. Vince Vaughn, you’re no Jim Rockford.”
Why is it that Hollywood can’t seem to come up with anything resembling a new idea in the 21st century? Why is it that film studios insist on taking fondly remembered TV dramas--Starsky & Hutch, The Avengers, Charlie’s Angels, 21 Jump Street, I Spy, The Wild, Wild West--and turning them into utter crap on the big screen?
The Rockford Files is one of the best TV series ever put together, an excellent tribute to American fiction’s tradition of private-eyes tales and a brilliant showcase for one of our finest performers. Better that it remain a fond memory for people who watched its original run three and four decades ago, or buy it nowadays on DVD, than that it be subjected to the inevitable indignities of being “remade.”
(Hat tip to Joe Guglielmelli.)