Posted on Friday, September 14th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
James Ellroy contributed to last year’s rather underseen Rampart, and fortunately for those who value his work, there are other adaptations of his novels brewing today. Ellroy is a continued object of desire for producers and directors, as his novels are killer depictions of LA and the occasionally vicious socio-political landscape of the US in general, and his characters are among the most sharply drawn in crime fiction.
Some of those characters, such as Dudley Smith, Ed Exley, and Buzz Meeks, were seen in LA Confidential (a tremendous book and film) and The Black Dahlia (a tremendous book, not so much on film). Those two novels are connected to White Jazz, which Joe Carnahan has wanted to film for years, and The Big Nowhere, which I Am Love director Luca Guadagnino is now signed to make. That announcement came down a few days back, and I mention it mostly because another Ellroy novel is now in development.
The author’s latest novel, Blood’s a Rover, has been opined by VS Entertainment for a film treatment. That’s great news, as more Ellroy is always welcome in my book, but it’s also a strange move as the novel is the third in a trilogy. More info follows.
Deadline had the break on Guadagnino, and now announces Blood’s a Rover, which Vincent Seiber will produce with Clark Peterson, who recently produced Atom Egoyan’s West Memphis Three film Devil’s Knot. Seiber is also working with Alex Proays to develop a film based on Philip K. Dick’s The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, which means he’s not quite a stranger to difficult novel to film adaptations. But Seiber seems to be relatively new as a producer, having just begun his Hollywood career with a PA credit on the first Narnia film. (Proves the old “be nice to every lowly guy on the crew, because eventually they’ll be your producer” rule.)
Those who’ve read Ellroy’s recent novel, however, will realize that a film based merely on this one novel might have to cut and change a few big things. Blood’s a Rover follows American Tabloid and The Cold Six Thousand, and as such continues Ellroy’s blistering odyssey through the violent evolution of American society and politics, from the Kennedy assassination to the Viet Nam War, the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King, and eventually stopping short of the Watergate scandal.
As the conclusion of Ellroy’s so-called “Underworld USA” trilogy, Blood’s a Rover features characters introduced in the previous two novels, such as the fictional Dwight Holly and Wayne Tedrow, Jr., as well as Ellroy’s particular depictions of Howard Hughes and J. Edgar Hoover and major mob figures that were in power in the ’60s and early ’70s. There’s a core story in the novel that can be told without including many of the ties from the previous two novels — it’s the closest of the three to a standalone story — but the tale of political machinations, mob influence, and illicit use of power would be more rich with all parts intact.
Still, many people, including Ellroy, thought L.A. Confidential was unfilmable, and that worked out just fine. I’m eager to see what creative names are tied to this one, and hope that we’ll eventually see the first two Underworld USA novels on screen in fine form, too.