HOLLYWOOD NOTES: 30/8/01
Harry goes to Hollywood, Spike goes into musicals,
reports Nick Roddick.
HARRY HEíS HERE TO SPEAK IN
It used to be, all the studios saw when they acquired a
successful mainstream European film was the basic story - as in,
ĎDonít bother to release it, letís remake it, with
stars everyone has heard of, not just a bunch of people with
Three Men and a Baby - a retread of Coline Serreauís French
smash Trois hommes et un couffin - is possibly the most
successful. The trashcan of history, meanwhile, is full of
remakes that failed to capture the spirit, the success and often
even the vaguest inkling of what the European original had been
Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien (Harry Heís Here to Help)
is different. Dominik Mollís film, which premiered at Cannes
2000, has had a very successful subtitled release in the US
through Miramax. Amazing to relate, it also did rather well in
the UK, where any French film not directed by Claude Chabrol
usually struggles to make an impact. Germany likewise.
Now, however, Miramax is coming back for a second bite of the
cherry, with plans for Wes Craven to direct an English-language
version. The original, which tells the story of a psychotic
former schoolmate who turns up and prompts a troubled young
couple to discover their inner (murderous) selves, conjured up
memories of the Robert Walker character in Strangers on a Train.
Indeed, the film has been compared to Hitchcock (Brit critic
Alexander Walker declared it would have made Hitch ďgrind
his teeth with envyĒ), although the most likely echo is of
Patricia Highsmith, who wrote Strangers and whose stock has
always been high in France.
Even so, the film represents something of a departure for Craven,
whose most recent outings have been as director, producer or (as
in the case of Dracula 2000) general godfather of the horror
genre. Still, he did reveal his gentler side with that 1999
weepie, Music of the Heart.
The whole process of the Harry remake, mind you, is still at a
very early stage, without even a writer, let alone a cast,
AN ALL-SINGING SPIKE?
Heís made big studio biopics, gritty indie features,
documentaries and more or less everything else. But Spike Lee has
yet to make a musical. Well, that (as Iím sure you must have
guessed from the introduction) could be about to change, as the
director explores the possibility of bringing the Broadway hit,
Rent, to the big screen.
A very New York story (which may be why, unlike most Broadway
hits, it didnít quite duplicate its success abroad), Rent
tells the story of a group of young people living in and around a
NYC building, coping with all the things that young people in the
Big Apple have to cope with (which are much the same things as
young people everywhere cope with, generally rather less noisily
The film has been in development at Miramax, and Lee has yet to
commit to it. Itís not as though the director is a complete
stranger to the world of song and dance, however: after all, his
last feature, Bamboozled, was about vaudeville. But the thought
of him working with a choreographer on a big mainstream musical
number is an intriguing prospect.
Published August 30, 2001
Email this article
Harry, He is Here to Help
Spike Lee - set to make a musical