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Watch: James Franco’s 32-Minute Test Reel For Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Blood Meridian’ With Dave Franco, Luke Perry & More

Watch: James Franco's 32-Minute Test Reel For Cormac McCarthy's 'Blood Meridian' With Dave Franco, Luke Perry & More

At this point, James Franco can only be described as James Franco-esque: he writes books, writes reviews, does art installations and occasionally does some movies—both in front of and behind the camera. You may remember that back in 2011 Franco was circling an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s iconic novel “Blood Meridian” and shot some test footage as a proof-of-concept to get the rights to the novel. Now, in advance of the release of Franco’s adaptation of a different McCarthy novel “Child of God,” the actor-cum-director (among other things) has released that test reel for all to see.

The test sequence lasts nearly a half hour and stars Scott GlennLuke Perry as Tobin and Glanton, respectively, alongside Mark Pellegrino as the Judge and Dave Franco. The test centers on the portion of the novel where “Tobin recounts how the Glanton gang met the Judge.” And, writing for Vice, Franco is honest about the difficulty of the endeavor. “In some ways ‘Blood’ seems un-filmable. It is almost Biblical in its prose. His terse prose utilizes vocabulary only found in the crannies of annals of the Old West and the specialized spheres of working men. He captures the slang of forgotten peoples so deftly, it’s as if they were his barroom friends,” he said.

While we can see what Franco was trying to achieve, I’m not too sold on his take on the notoriously un-filmable novel. Maybe we can get Ridley Scott back into the mix? Watch Franco’s test footage for “Blood Meridian” below.

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Michael Schuler

Unfortunate casting. Pellegrino plays the Judge as though he is Colonel Kurtz and Dave Franco is ten to fifteen years too old.


I'm not sure if it's the budget, or the fact that in the background at a few points you can see roads and powerlines, or that the Judge is 5' 10" when he should be 6' 6". But this blows. Far too slow for a fast-paced sequence. Tobin is well cast but his prose doesn't sound natural at all…


People calling for Ridley Scott or Michael Mann to direct anything by McCormac should have their heads checked for bugs or cancer. They are at best commercial directors, with no soul or emotion whatsoever in their movies. Making money? Yes! Making good movies? Nah. Just average. Making movies is so much more then slow-mo(usually overused by both directors on any movie they've made. actually I'm pretty sure if you played Ridley's movies in real time they wouldn't last more then half an hour!) and tons of flash and bang, being cover for what appears to be a good story being destroyed by "cool" movie tricks and camera theatrics. Leave them directing commercials and selling products, the only thing they got talent for.


This rises to the level of a high school film project. I'd rather the movie never be made than have it bastardized like this.


Franco somehow makes the most exciting, dynamic chapter in the book into something terribly boring, pointless, and topical.


Werner Herzog narration.. Haha that's a funny thought :))))


John Hillcoat should be doing this.. We don't need any more Cormac McCarthy novels decimated..


What happened to Todd Field???


I don't think the Judge is scary enough.


There is only one director worthy of this novel: Werner Herzog.


Terrible. This is outrageously bad. A movie adaptation or mini-series is possible, but not by these guys. No way, no how. Unless you want an even bigger flop than the Counselor.

Brian McInnis

James Franco is the most incompetent body of matter that has ever existed.

Brian McInnis

Franco is beggaring belief. This is worse than cancer.

Greg Bell

I don't think this is Franco's fault. I am now convinced this movie cannot be made. First of all, it would be 40 hours long. Second of all, the imagery of the book doesn't translate into reality. Do not make this.


An HBO miniseries directed by the Cohen Brothers would probably be one of the few scenarios to do the novel justice. I don't think Ridley Scott should be allowed anywhere near any Cormac McCarthy prose after The Counselor…


My eyes have seen things that are un-seenable. Please!
Somebody should stop him .


I'd rather see Todd Field bring it to life than Franco or Scott.


I applaud Franco for even trying. I doubt Ridley Scott would be the best director for an eventual adaptation (which Sir Ridley would be get behind the lens?), and Franco's was only a test (short on the vision-thing, more literal in adapting Cormac McCarthy's prose and the ex-priest, Tobin's monologue about the first meeting with the Judge and how he saved the Glanton Gang's asses with ersatz gunpowder (and the slow wait for it to be ready to use).

An unfilmable novel probably shouldn't be filmed so literally, and should invite McCarthy's use of the poetic voice in its visual sensibility (ala Malick, John Hillcoat (should he want to attempt a more esoteric C.McC novel) or Andrew Dominic's recent "Jesse James" approach).

I liked Pellegrino as The Judge, though I always imagined the judge more white… albino perhaps, but more heavyset as well. Perry looked fine as Glanton, but I imagined Glanton as more grizzled looking… again, I chalk it up to it being a test run (as the lack of decent foley, overlapping dialogue/ADR and atmospheric music (in the right places) attest). Scott Glenn was near perfect looking (and sounding) as the ex-priest, Tobin… then again, that role would be ripe for so many fine actors.

Rod mentioned Milch and Mann, but not sure if that's the right mix… Milch is almost too coarse for material that is already quite harsh and violent, while Mann is may be too pop, and perhaps not philosophical enough to tackle McCarthy's point of view. Walter Hill could have done this back in the day, and hopefully without much cheese as he's prone to, but ultimately, maybe a women director should give it a go… Kathryn Bigelow perhaps, or Kelly Reichardt.


this sucks so hard

Nicolas Windick Reeperbahn

Watching a Franco movie is like watching Rembrandt dry.


i would love to see Blood Meridian as a 10-part series for HBO run by a director/showrunner duo with talent. this would have been the perfect project for Milch & Mann, imo.


this james franco nonsense is getting out of hand.
everything about him is 'pseudo intellectual'

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