May 26, 2009

Matt Helm Movie Update

A story in The Hollywood Reporter in April with big news about the latest attempt to bring Donald Hamilton's Matt Helm back to the big screen somehow escaped my attention at the time. The story was about producer Bobby Cohen being hired as president of Kurtzman/Orci Productions. And, yes, that means that Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the script masterminds behind the excellent Star Trek reboot that's currently raking in the dollars, are now officially producing Matt Helm! But the Star Trek scribes aren't writing it. Those duties fall to screenwriting heavyweight Paul Attanasio. All involved have impressive spy CVs already. Kurtzman and Orci wrote for and executive produced the 1800s-set Bruce Campbell tongue-in-cheek spy series Jack of All Trades early in their careers, then went on to write and produce on Alias, one of the best spy series of the modern era. They also wrote Mission: Impossible III. (That's the good one.) Attanasio co-wrote the screenplay for the most recent Jack Ryan movie, The Sum of All Fears, and also penned the infinitely superior Steven Soderbergh film The Good German, an underrated black and white tale of espionage and intrigue in postwar Berlin. So, in my opinion, Matt Helm appears to be in good hands. Attanasio moderated a panel with Kurtzman and Orci at the WGA tonight in Beverly Hills, and all three confirmed their involvement in the Matt Helm movie afterwards. The target date is Summer 2010, and they're aiming for a tone somewhere between Dean Martin's goofy spoofs and Donald Hamilton's gritty novels, but leaning more toward the latter. Serious, but fun.


Delmo said...

If this is on the level and actually makes it to the finish line, maybe Don Hamilton's final Matt Helm novel can see print posthumously.

Bruce said...

Let's just hope they pick someone good to play Helm and not some flavour of the month. We need someone who can be as cold as the helm in the books.

Also maybe this means the reissuing of the whole series with uniform covers.

Delmo said...

Re-releasing the whole run would be a cool dividend of a new Helm movie.

FFJ said...

This is great news.

Hopefully we will see all Donald Hamilton novels back in print and at leading bookstores.

It is just sad Hamilton's talent and the great character he has in Matt Helm is lost to readers.

Literature of course is reduced today to hype and marketing gigs - it is no longer about the story, it is how a p**p sells it.

Anonymous said...

That sentence about wanting to include Dean Martin style goofiness is just disappointing.

A hard-boiled pulp fiction, reduced to a joke, an insulting jab at not only the genius of Donald Hamilton but also to the gritty character of our American spy-hero Matt Helm.

If they indeed go through with it and make a spoof, a parody of Bond as Dean Martin movies were - it would kill the Matt Helm novels forever.

It is pathetic that Hollywood can have such blind bumbling buffoons who can't see a great story when it is obvious and already established in fans worldwide - its like finding gold and deciding to make toilet paper out of it.


Hard-boiled fiction deserves a gritty edgy movie.

There are still WW-II movies being made and there is still scope to make a thrilling spy movie out of those Helm missions.

But I won't have my hopes set too high.

Why can't these nuts go remake "Our Man Flint" instead of ruining some fantastic author's life's work ???