Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lew Archer Back On The Big Screen

Laura K. Curtis has a piece up over at Criminal Element about the recent news that Warner Bothers has bought the rights to Ross Macdonald's classic PI Lew Archer. There's no word yet on director or stars, but Joel Silver is producing--which means this project could go either way. Let's hope Archer stays Archer and doesn't morph into Martin Riggs. That's not to crack on Riggs, you understand, just to say that the Archer novels are about psychology rather than pyrotechnics.

This news, of course, makes one think of the two Archer movies--HARPER and THE DROWNING POOL--that Paul Newman made in 1966 and 1975, respectively. Both films are neo-noir well worth seeing, and HARPER in particular is one of Newman's best films. He takes the classic PI and updated him, situating him in the roiling California of counterculture kooks and old fashioned greed and lies. I've never been a fan of Altman's deconstruction of the private eye movie, his adaptation of the Marlowe novel THE LONG GOODBYE, in part because I always thought HARPER was a more interesting way of dealing with the PI in a modern context.

Speaking of Philip Marlowe, this Lew Archer news also brought to mind the rumors a year or so ago that Clive Owen was gearing up to play Marlowe in a film to be directed by Frank Miller. Nothing ever came of that, but it is interesting to note that classic characters like Marlowe and Archer still have some social capital in Hollywood. Here's hoping something productive comes of this new Archer project.

For more on the history of the private dick flick, check out my post Gumshoe In Abeyance.


Tim Mayer said...

Good PI essay. Damn if I could never figure out the ending to NIGHT MOVES and people still argue about it.

grandoldmovies said...

Interesting news about Lew Archer & his creator Ross McDonald. McDonald seems to form a triumvirate with Hammett and Chandler of the detective fiction writers of the classic-pulp era of the 20s-30s-40s. As you note, good to know that they still create interest in films.