Got some remake news to discuss, so let's get started…
ANOTHER MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS
Fox has announced that they're joining forces with Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions to produce a remake of their 1974 hit adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1934 novel Murder On The Orient Express.
For those who have lived in a cave the Christie novel follows Belgian master detective Hercule Poirot going from Istanbul to Calais on the legendary Orient Express. The train gets trapped in the snow in the Balkans, a shady businessman with a shadier past is brutally murdered, and Poirot has to sort through a gallery of exotic suspects to get to the truth.
As previously mentioned it was first produced in 1974, directed by Sidney Lumet and had an all-star cast led by Albert Finney in the role of Poirot, and was a commercial and critical success. A second modern-dress adaptation was done for CBS TV in 2001, with Alfred Molina as Poirot, but it wasn't very well received.
The most recent adaptation was in 2010 as part of the ITV/WGBH-TV Poirot TV series which has been running off and on since the early 1990s. This version starred British actor David Suchet as Poirot.
Now I think it's interesting that blockbuster mavens like Fox and Scott are interested in a period film that despite its large cast, takes place almost entirely on a train. That could make it an affordable production if they don't go all "A-List" on the casting.
Speaking of casting…
The role of Poirot is a very tricky one to translate to film. He's a very odd character, an eccentric, anal-retentive, obsessive compulsive, egocentric genius with a thick Belgian accent and a tendency to malapropism with a hyper-fastidious fashion sense that is considered old fashioned by 1934, that makes him easy to parody and hard to portray straight.
Albert Finney got an Oscar nomination for it, and Peter Ustinov played a popular, if less eccentric, variation of the character on the big and little screen, but it was David Suchet who came to define the role pulling off the appearance, mannerisms, and charm of the character without looking ridiculous.
Of course that's if the producers have any notion to take this project remotely faithfully. There is always a good chance that they'll cast Will Smith as rapping & ass kicking American detective "Hercules P" and change the Orient Express from a train to a spaceship full of aliens.
NAKED GUN REDUX?
Paramount has signed comic actor Ed Helms to star as Lieutenant Frank Drebin in a reboot of the absurdist comedy classic The Naked Gun, which itself was a reboot of the prematurely canceled TV series Police Squad.
Now I find it interesting that they cast the star of the Hangover movies for this reboot, which was the complete opposite strategy that made the original so successful.
People don't remember what it was like to see Leslie Nielsen, the original Frank Drebin, play that character. Before his roles in Airplane! and Police Squad/Naked Gun Nielsen was best known as a dramatic actor in movies and especially television. He played serious, if not downright sombre, authority figures like senior cops, doctors, or sinister criminals.
He was not known for doing silly things, in fact his image, forged by decades of TV guest spots, was the exact opposite. So seeing him engaging in all that silliness was a refreshing novelty. It gave him a second career as an international box office star at an age when most actors are considering retirement.
People expect Ed Helms to do silly things, that's his image. That means no real surprises from this film, which doesn't bode well for its success. Which is sad when they could have done a straight up police procedural parody under another name, and not have the shadow of Nielsen hanging over it.