James Ellroy is pretty much the finest American crime novelist working today, a writer whose muscular, spare novels have long since gained him countless fans not just among lovers of the genre, but also more literary-minded readers. But in terms of screen adaptations, things have been more mixed. There was of course, “L.A. Confidential,” one of the finest American films of the 1990s, and Ellroy wrote the first draft of last year’s gripping cop drama “Rampart.” But other adaptations, from 1987’s James Woods vehicle “Cop” to Brian DePalma‘s atrocious “The Black Dahlia,” have been disappointing.
Now it looks like another picture’s brewing, this one from the director of one of the more acclaimed international films of the last few years. Deadline report that Luca Guadagnino, who made his mark around the world a few years back with the Tilda Swinton-starring “I Am Love,” and who recently signed with top U.S. agency UTA, is planning an adaptation of Ellroy’s “The Big Nowhere,” the second of the writer’s ‘L.A. Quartet,’ following on from “The Black Dahlia” and preceding “L.A. Confidential” (“White Jazz,” which Joe Carnahan nearly made with George Clooney and Chris Pine a few years back, completes the four).
Set in Los Angeles in 1950, against the backdrop of the famous Zoot Suit Riots, the plot follows Deputy Danny Upshaw as he tries to track down a serial sex murderer while also being forced against his will to expose Hollywood communists. Along the way, he also crosses paths with characters like ex-cop Buzz Meeks (a minor character in “L.A. Confidential”), LAPD lieutenant Mal Considine, and Ellroy’s greatest creation, monstrous police chief Dudley Smith.
There’s no word on a writer for the project, and it seems to be early days, but the film does a heavyweight behind it in the shape of “Harry Potter” producer David Heyman, whose Heyday Films are backing the project. It’s not going to be Guadagnino’s next concern, however, as he’s gearing up (after he completes documentary “Bertolucci on Bertolucci,” focusing on another great Italian director) to make his English-language debut on another project.
As rumored last year, the project is “A Bigger Splash,” a remake of Jacques Deray‘s 1969 film “La Piscine,” which starred Alain Delon, Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin, and focused on a couple who are vacationing in Southern France when their friend arrives with his 18 year-old daughter in tow, setting in motion shifting relationships and passions that ultimately turn deadly. StudioCanal are backing the project (Scott Free were also involved at some point, although it’s unclear if that’s still the case), with a screenplay by Dave Kajganavich, who’s behind the upcoming remakes of “The Stand” and “It.” Shooting will begin early next year, although we suspect that some of the names rumored in the past, like Jeremy Renner and Mia Wasikowska, probably aren’t in the mix for casting these days (although you never know…).
All in all, it’s a pretty exciting double-header for Guadagnino (who’s also producing David Gordon Green‘s “Suspiria” remake, which seemingly just got delayed again). Both sound intriguing, but we’re certainly more excited for “The Big Nowhere,” not just because we’re huge fans of the source material, but because it seems like more of a step forward for the director. Hopefully financing and casting firm up on that soon.