I’m writing just hours after the Academy Awards nominations were announced. Suddenly, the Oscars are more concerned with quotas than quality. Yet again, the majority are for films I haven’t seen. Of the nine up for Best Picture I saw just one, Martin Scorsese’s latest mob flick The Irishman, and I watched that disappointment on a streaming service.
I honestly can’t recall the last time I bought a ticket and sat in a theater.
I’m completely disenchanted with Hollywood. All it makes now are comic books, and I’m offended that Joker, the latest Batman spin-off, just copped one more nomination than Gone with the Wind did!!
Is there a better way to illustrate how far the art form has fallen?!
Amid endless sequels and superheroes, when imagination seems banned in Tinsel Town, here are a few ideas I’d pay to see:
The Theodore Roosevelt Story—how ‘bout the kind of old-fashioned bio-pic the studios used to make routinely? The life of our 26th President was epic, even though he died at 60. Edmund Morris’s magisterial three-volume biography is a perfect source for a screenwriter. It could easily yield a matching trio of movies. In addition to his political career Teddy was an author, a rancher, a big game hunter, an explorer and a war hero, so it/these could evoke cowboy pictures, the Indiana Jones flicks, and battle films.
Bonfire of the Vanities—This one is personal, as I appeared in the failed adaptation of that novel back in 1990. It’s a Dickensian saga of New York City in the 1980’s, full of rich characters and multiple plots, at times satiric, tragic, funny and even prophetic, but the film-makers made a hash out of it. This one begs for a do-over by a much better writer, director and cast. I’m available for a cameo.
Big River—Another one off my resume. It’s Huckleberry Finn set to music by Roger Miller, and it was a Broadway hit in 1985, winning seven Tony Awards including Best Musical. I toured in it for a year, playing the comic villain, “The King.” Never filmed, yet a perfect Disney project. As it’s one of the last pure book musicals it would harken back to the Golden Age, when New York successes always spawned Big Screen versions. Based on arguably the Great American Novel with a score that fits like a glove, its old-fashioned virtues would still work today. A movie could also add the only portion of Twain’s tale left out of the libretto; the feud sequence some think echoed the Civil War. Give me another bit part!
Lewis & Clark—Their expedition is a story that’s as thrilling as any adventure, and it’s all true. Indeed, a few twists in the journey’s record are even stranger than fiction. Some have called the pair’s two-year odyssey the Moon Landing of the 19th century, in that walking across the continent was as hard and dangerous as the Apollo program in our time. Never properly treated by Hollywood, and the scenery would be eye-popping. A subject tailor-made for an IMAX film.
Think of all the wonderful books, narratives, and people ignored by the Movies. Why do they only remake successes, when there are so many failures to correct? Why not revive genres that have disappeared like westerns, pure ghost stories and Hitchcock-esq suspense?
Hollywood has its work cut out if it ever wants a return to Glory.