The literary works of American author John D. MacDonald could be said to have a very specific tone. With published titles including The Executioners – from which the film Cape Fear was adapted – his stories conjure suspenseful, sinister atmospheres in hardboiled narratives. There are, then, few people better suited to adapt his work for film than Dennis Lehane – himself the noted author of original novels Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Shutter Island. The story he has adapted is A Deep Blue Good-by featuring the character of Travis McGee, and it is a project with franchise potential – particularly since it seems to have caught the eye of Christian Bale.
Travis McGee is a hard-nosed salvage consultant, who makes his living recovering stolen property – keeping half the value as his fee, with a view to funding an early retirement. In A Deep Blue Good-by, McGee finds himself on the trail of the powerful and evil Junior Allen, who is in the process of adding the titles serial rapist and murderer to his thievery-laden resume. Despite the popularity of his book series, the character of Travis McGee has only been subjected to two screen adaptations – once in the film Darker Than Amber in 1970 (played by Rod Taylor), and once in the TV movie Travis McGee in 1983 (played by Sam Elliott).
This new film adaptation is with Fox, and has James Mangold (The Wolverine, Walk The Line) attached to direct, since Paul Greengrass apparently walked away. Leonardo DiCaprio is on board as producer for Appian Way, along with Jennifer Davisson-Killoran (Out Of The Furnace) and Amy Robinson (Julie & Julia).
The real surprise here is the interest of Christian Bale. While the role of Travis McGee would be sought after in most circumstances, it is somewhat unexpected to see such a character pursued by the actor that, only four projects ago, was locked into the centre of Christopher Nolan’s massive Batman franchise. One can only assume that, for a cerebral actor such as Bale, the potential chance to really explore a complex character over the course of many movies is too great to pass up. That is certainly the case with Travis McGee, since A Deep Blue Good-by is the first title in a 21 novel series.
Buckle up – we may could be about to meet the character of Bale’s career.