Spielberg for Matt Helm
Steven Spielberg is producing a film version of Matt Helm, not the comedy version that Dean Martin once played, but a serious adaptation of the original novels from Donald Hamilton, some twenty seven in all. While he's producing the speculation has begun that he might also direct.
That sparked something off in my head, is this the film that Robert Luketic was once directing from a script by Derek Haas and Michael Brandt?
Back in December of 2006 I wrote about Robert Luketic being attached to direct a script from Derek Haas and Michael Brandt who together have such names as Wanted, 3:10 to Yuma and 2 Fast 2 Furious. The script was based on a book by Donald Hamilton called Death of a Citizen (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com), the first in a series of novels about a spy called Matt Helm who is forced out of retirement by the agency for whom he was a Nazi spy hunter and killer during World War II.
The series of novels, and this first one, get a lot of praise and it was Dean Martin who took a comic version of the character to the cinema screen in four films, The Silencers, Murderers' Row, The Ambushers and The Wrecking Crew.
They were all comedy films, and great ones that really showed what a cool actor Dean Martin was, but the novels have no comedy in them, they're all about spies and the thriller.
Again in September of 2007 the pre-strike schedule release warned of its coming with nothing more than the title:
PROPOSAL, THE Director: Robert Luketic
Now the Variety article tells us that Steven Spielberg is producing the film that Paul Attanasio has rewritten, Attanasio carries Disclosure, Donnie Brasco, Sphere, Homicide: Life on the Street, The Sum of All Fears, The Good German and the upcoming The Fighter to his name. Could this be the same Matt Helm film as the previous Untitled Matt Helm Project which is now giving a 404?
The article goes on to discuss the politics behind why he might, or might not, direct. For me though it's simple. He's producing, it's a potentially huge spy thriller series, and it makes sense to go with a big, well established director to start the series and set the tone, the style, and the takings.