Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Good news for Travis McGee fans?

It's one of those funny things in life, that sometime when you hear about something for the first time (or the first time in a while), you often starting noticing things relating to the topic seemingly again and again in quick succession, all around (and I'm not just talking about the fact that in this Internet day and age, the identical press release-style stories are posted and re-posted everywhere).

Two of my very first 9mm interviewees, Lee Child and Jack Kerley, both highly recommended the Travis McGee crime novels by John D. MacDonald (pictured) as some of the best examples of the genre, ever. Child said: "There’s a lot of series of which I read every instalment - the best ever was probably the Travis McGee ... Twenty-one books long, set in Florida. And it’s just a great… you have your favourites amongst the 21, but there’s no weak ones, it’s just a very good series."

I'd heard of McGee as a famous detective, but had never read any of the books - so added MacDonald to my list of 'classic legends of the genre' that I need to get around to sooner rather than later (others on the American part of that list include Joseph Wambaugh, Ed McBain, Ross Macdonald, Sarah Paretsky, and Robert B. Parker, amongst others).

Then, I discovered in the past few days that Hollywood actually has some wheels in motion to bring the McGee books to the big screen. Earlier this month it was reported in a number of film-related publications that acclaimed director Oliver Stone is coming on board to develop (and potentially direct) a film entitled Travis McGee, with Leonardo DiCaprio signed up to star as the houseboat residing 'beach bum' of a detective.

The film will reportedly be based upon the first of the McGee novels, THE DEEP BLUE GOODBYE, in which McGee is searching for World War II treasure. The screenplay will be adapted by Dana Stevens, a former actress probably best known for penning the City of Angels film script, and creating the TV series What About Brian? Although for me personally, what stands out for me from her resume was the fact she wrote the screenplay for For Love of the Game, one of my favourite 'under-rated' sports movies.

So, what do you think of the idea of bringing MacDonald's acclaimed work to the big screen? Can you envisage Leonardo DiCaprio as a great Travis McGee? Have you read any of MacDonald's books? What do you think of them? Does the Stone-DiCaprio-Stevens combo have you excited, worried, or indifferent? Thoughts and comments welcome.

14 comments:

  1. Craig - I admit, I'm always a bit wary of great novels being brought to the screen. It takes skill to do that well. Still, I think it has real potential. Not sure of DiCaprio as McGee, though. That's just not how I picture McGee...

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  2. I don't trust Hollywood not to screw it up. Please read Deep Blue Goodby before seeing whatever car crash H'wood makes of it.

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  3. I'm with Margot. I love the idea that Travis McGee might be making a come-back but don't see DiCaprio in the role. A good bit of the McGee stories are introspective, with McGee musing about economics, the environment, the decline of civility, etc. so I'm curious how well they can bring that to the screen.

    I wouldn't characterize The Deep Blue Goodbye as a search for WWII treasure. It is more McGee taking down a psychopath while recovering some jewels the father of a horribly wronged women brought back from the war and trying to help her regain self-respect.

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  4. I've read several of Macdonald's novels, but not his "Travis McGee" works. I know Macdonald as an SF writer of several thought-provoking works. I also have a collection of his short works, but right now I remember nothing about them.

    I still have two of his SF novels and the short story collection; perhaps it's time to dust them off. It's been centuries, or decades at least since I've read them.

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  5. EVERYONE should read the Travis McGee series, which describes (among other things)the deterioration of Florida's natural beauty over a 20 year period. Everyone has a favourite and the only duff one (I think) is "Green Ripper" though other people love it. MacDonald was prolific and professional, truly "The Boss" of crime writing in his day although often looked down upon because most of his books appeared as paperback originals, except in England where he was published in hardback - something he was supposed to have been particularly proud of.
    Rod Taylor was sadly miscast in the film version of "Darker than Amber" and I too fear that Hollywood will cock it up again.

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  6. As much as I'd love for there to be a new McGee movie, Di Caprio isn't the guy for it. Not a bad actor, but that baby face and reedy voice of his would drive me nuts. He's not tough enough, hasn't the presence. Who then? He's too old, but Jeff Bridges would have been perfect. Same for Nick Nolte. And Eastwood is way too old. You see where I'm going. That leaves Josh Brolin, Liam Neeson (almost too old), Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Christian Bale etc. And why couldn't Trav be black, if it's not done to period? Will Smith or Denzel W. I mean, Trav was an ex pro footballer! I'm a big Trav and MacDonald fan, I even have a Travis blog, check it out:
    http://drmar120.wordpress.com/
    My faves are Blue, Gray, Lavender, Copper and Silver. The only one I really dislike is Crimson, which is even nastier than Green. MacDonald is America's Simenon and I urge any crime fiction fan who hasn't read him to get going and do it!

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  7. I picked up an Omnibus of 3 Travis McGee books at a library charity booksale on the weekend, so I'm really looking forward to getting to read what so many people have recommended to me. Also got a collection of John D. Macdonald's short stories.

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  8. "Nightmare In Pink" is one of my favorites. Parts of the story would feel VERY contemporary.

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  9. I loved Green! Also I'm VERY fond of his non-McGee, although I've yet to find any of his SF. His short stories are hauntingly awesome.
    DiCaprio sucks as McGee, it's not personal. He's just not Trav. I agree with the above, Josh Brolin would make a nice McGee with a dye job and a tan.

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  10. Mark Valley would be the ultimate Travis McGee casting. Meyer is the hard part. Treet Williams? ...although he'd have to play a very subtle erudite self effacing sort of warmth/humor.

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  11. PLEASE do not let Leo near that role. He has the acting chops no doubt, but not a chance he pulls off the right Mcgee.

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  12. In studying the Lew Archer novels of Ross Macdonald I’ve tried to identify certain characteristics, themes, motifs, images – call them what you like – that crop up frequently throughout the various books. I don’t claim that the following are particularly important or have any special significance or meaning; nor do I say this is a comprehensive list. They are simply some things I’ve noticed in more than one of the novels.
    http://postmoderndeconstructionmadhouse.blogspot.com/2014/12/ross-macdonald-characteristics-of.html#.VK4hrNKUeRZ

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    1. Here’s a quote about John D. Macdonald that I often see bouncing around the web (I hesitate to quote from Wikipeida, which we all know is generally stuff we can wipe our asses with, but this seems legit). “Macdonald is by any standards a better writer than Saul Bellow, only Macdonald writes thrillers and Bellow is a human heart chap, so guess who wears the top grade laurels?” That’s from Kingsley Amis.
      http://postmoderndeconstructionmadhouse.blogspot.com/2015/01/john-d-macdonald-look-at-some-aspects.html#.VNHn89L

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  13. Here’s a quote about John D. Macdonald that I often see bouncing around the web (I hesitate to quote from Wikipeida, which we all know is generally stuff we can wipe our asses with, but this seems legit). “Macdonald is by any standards a better writer than Saul Bellow, only Macdonald writes thrillers and Bellow is a human heart chap, so guess who wears the top grade laurels?” That’s from Kingsley Amis.
    http://postmoderndeconstructionmadhouse.blogspot.com/2015/01/john-d-macdonald-look-at-some-aspects.html#.VNHn89L

    ReplyDelete