Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Slow News Day Pickings

• The big news today is that Leonardo DiCaprio is in line to play beach bum and “salvage consultant”-cum-sleuth Travis McGee in a film adaptation of John D. MacDonald’s first McGee novel, The Deep Blue Good-By (1964). That character has been interpreted twice before in two separate films: by Rod Taylor in Darker Than Amber (1970), and by the underappreciated Sam Elliott in Travis McGee, a 1983 teleflick (and series pilot) based on The Empty Copper Sea (1978). I liked Elliott--sans mustache--in the title role, and enjoyed seeing his wife, the lovely Katharine Ross (of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fame), as Travis’ latest love interest. Still, Travis McGee left much to be desired. Crimespree Cinema’s Jeremy Lynch is more than a little skeptical of DiCaprio’s ability to do better at filling McGee’s flip-flops (“I simply can’t see Leo as Travis McGee. Not in the slightest.”). But DiCaprio is a performer with a hell of a lot of range. And although he’s rather small and wiry to fit my image of MacDonald’s protagonist, he might just surprise everyone and make a decent McGee. And hey, he’s already got the eye squint he’ll need to withstand all that Florida sunshine.

• News that film director Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland over the weekend and may now be extradited to the States for raping a 13-year-old girl in California in 1977 has provoked pop-culture critic Jamie J. Weinman to look back at Chinatown (1974), which is probably Polanski’s best-known movie. His conclusion: “not only is it somewhat atypical of Polanski’s career, it’s also somewhat atypical of [screenwriter] Robert Towne’s career.”

• A team of researchers at Kansas State University decided to map out where the storied Seven Deadly Sins are most practiced in the United States. Greed scores highest in Southern California and the Northeast, but Wrath, Lust, and Pride are problems especially in the Bible-thumping South. Go figure. The map is here.

• At Hard-boiled Wonderland, author Craig McDonald (Rogue Males, Toros and Torsos) comments on Bruce Springsteen’s 1982 “crime-inflected ballad,” “Highway Patrolman.” Read his post here.

• Congratulations to Megan Abbott on her two new book deals.

• Stephen King wants to turn his 2005 Hard Case Crime novel, The Colorado Kid, into a TV series called Haven.
• If you haven’t done so, there’s still time to vote for who you think should win the 2009 ITV3 Bestseller Dagger Award. Nominated are Dick Francis, Alexander McCall Smith, Nicci French, Harlan Coben, and Martina Cole. Voting will remain open until Wednesday, October 21. Make your opinions known here.

• What sets British private eyes apart from their American cousins? Jim Stringer of the blog Do Some Damage puts that question to authors Ray Banks and Russel D. McLean.

• Today is the 79th birthday of author Colin Dexter, the creator of British Detective Chief Inspector Endeavour Morse and his onetime “sidekick,” Robbie Lewis, who is now the star of his own excellent TV series. Columnist, novelist, and sometime Rap Sheet contributor Mike Ripley passed on this news about Dexter’s birthday--along with a mention that today also happens to be his own birthday, though Ripley carefully refrained from telling which one.


MysterLynch said...

Mr. Lee came up with a great name: Viggo Mortenson.

J. Kingston Pierce said...

Do you mean to suggest that Viggo Mortenson would make a good Travis McGee? Hmm. Maybe. Any other ideas out there of somebody, besides Leonardo DiCaprio, who would do well in the role created by John D. MacDonald?

I'm willing to start the ball rolling with a suggestion of my own: Aaron Eckhart.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Somehow I always think Colin Dexter died when John Thaw did.