Posted on Thursday, November 18th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
Let’s get this out of the way first: Joel and Ethan Coen have not written a film based on the Marvel Comics character Gambit. They have, however, scripted a remake of a 1966 romantic heist movie that originally starred Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine.
News that the script was still kicking around in development came out back in January of this year, and in April it was a possible project on the docket for director Doug Liman. But he passed (he’ll make All You Need Is Kill instead) and now the directorial duties fall to Michael Hoffman, who last made The Last Station.
Deadline says the picture is set to shoot in London in May, but the film isn’t yet cast. The original had a thief attempting to rob a millionaire with the assistance of a waitress who looks just like the target’s late wife.
There are very few Coen-scripted projects that aren’t also directed by the brothers. The most (in)famous is Crimewave, which their university classmate and friend Sam Raimi directed. (He also co-wrote and directed second unit work on the Coens’ The Hudsucker Proxy, remember.) The Coens also make a rare cameo appearance in that movie, which has been mostly out of print for many years. And then there’s The Naked Man, directed by frequent Coen storyboard artist J. Todd Anderson, and co-written by him and Ethan Coen.
So Gambit is something of an occasion. What will Mr. Hoffman do with it? I can’t wait to find out. He’s not my ideal directorial choice, as much of his work tends to be adult-oriented prestige drama or comedy that doesn’t quite manage to prize liveliness over other qualities. (Thinking here of films like Restoration and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.) Though sometimes, as with The Last Station, he elicits (or allows) performances that really stand out. Hoping for that with Gambit; we’ll keep an eye on casting breaks.
Here’s the full recap of the original version of Gambit:
Ideal and reality clash in this humorous tale of the heist that could have been. As scheming career cat burglar Harry Dean (Michael Cane) prepares to steal a priceless statue from the world’s richest man, he seeks out the assistance of Eurasian showgirl Suzy Chang (Shirley MacLaine). Though the likable rogue’s plan seems foolproof as he conveys the details to his partner Ram (Robert C. Carmel), the execution proves a detailed study in Murphy’s Law. Constantly reinventing the plan as his originally ideal spirals ever more out of control, it seems as if Harry’s heist is destined to fail.