Last week, there was some brief buzz that director Steven Spielberg was possibly going to direct an adaptation of the Matt Helm espionage books. The stories quickly proved to be false, Spielberg is only going to produce a feature for Paramount. But now comes word from Variety, that Spielberg has committed to his film project- an adaptation of Mary Chase Pulitzer Prize-winning play Harvey.
Of course, the play had been brought to film once before, in the classic 1950 version which earned Jimmy Stewart an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Elwood P. Dowd, an eccentric man whose best friend was an invisible six-foot, eight-inches talking rabbit.
The press release indicates that the story has been updated for modern sensibilities and that has me a bit worried. While I’m sure that Spielberg will play to certain elements in the script, I’m hoping that there isn’t some post-modernistic take on Elwood’s mental illness. In the original, people thought he was nuts, but relatively harmless and let him go along his way. I can see where they may be a temptation to apply more modern psychiatric thinking to the story, but that would severely undercut it.
Spielberg has been circling many projects as his directorial follow up to last year’s Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Among those projects were a bio-pic of Abraham Lincoln, a dramatization of the trial of the Chicago 7 and an English-language remake of Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy which will star Will Smith. However, none of these projects are in a state that Spielberg thought was suitable to go in front of the cameras with.