Sam Spade TV series

It’s safe to say Scott Frank is having a moment right now. The acclaimed screenwriter and director has tons of terrific credits under his belt – Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Logan, Godless, and many more – but he’s reached new heights as the creator of The Queen’s Gambit, which appears to be one of Netflix’s most popular shows of the year. So as we wait to hear word about a potential second season of that chess drama, what’s next for Frank?

Quite a lot, actually – including a six-episode Sam Spade TV series, centering on the private investigator character who was famously played by Humphrey Bogart in the film noir classic The Maltese Falcon. This time, Spade will be played by Children of Men and Inside Man actor Clive Owen.

On a recent episode of The Watch podcast (via The Playlist), Frank revealed that one of his upcoming projects is not something he’ll direct himself. Instead, it’s an adaptation of Mary Doria Russell’s science fiction novel The Sparrow, which will be directed by Chernobyl helmer Johan Renck. That story sounds pretty wild – it’s about a Jesuit priest who goes on a mission to make first contact with an alien species, and then returns to Earth for a debriefing which explains how the trip went horribly wrong – but the project I’m most excited about features a new twist on a cinematic icon.

“I got the rights, through a couple wonderful producers, to the character of Sam Spade,” Frank explained, continuing:

“They called me and said, ‘Would you ever want to do something with it?’ and I said, ‘No, I don’t know what to do with Sam Spade. It feels a little retro to me, I don’t want to do it,’ and I hung up. The minute I hung up, I got an idea. I thought, wait, what if you do Sam Spade later in life, when he’s 60 years old? I thought, Let’s not have him be living in San Francisco anymore. He’s now an ex-pat living in the south of France…he’d gone over there to help some woman, who owned a winery, with a problem. He’d gone over professionally, fallen in love with her, she died of cancer, he inherited her winery, and now he’s living in Bozel, France. It’s 1963, the end of the Algerian War, so all these guys are coming back into the country and there’s all this sort of Muslim sociopolitical stuff happening. He’s in this little town, and the daughter of Sam Spade and [The Maltese Falcon character] Bridget O’Shaughnessy he has in a convent living nearby, and he doesn’t even know if it’s his daughter or not. It’s very complicated, but basically his past comes and finds him in this little town in the south of France.”

Frank revealed that they’re doing six episodes with Clive Owen in the lead role, and he’s co-writing the pilot script with Oz creator Tom Fantana.

As someone who loves The Maltese Falcon, is a fan of Scott Frank (especially his film noir projects, like The Lookout), and who thinks Clive Owen will absolutely kill it as an aged Sam Spade, this project sounds almost too good to be true. There’s no word yet where it will end up, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on this one in the days ahead.

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