Ross Macdonald’s immortal private investigator Lew Archer is apparently set to make a return to cinema screens. It has been announced that Warner Bros. and producer Joel Silver have bought the rights to The Galton Case, very much the turning point in the series (and which I reviewed here), with a view to starting a new franchise, which is good news for lovers of the hardboiled mystery genre onscreen.
The same studio first brought the character to the screen in the shape of Paul Newman in the 1966 adaptation of The Moving Target, the debut book in the series. However, the movie was re-titled Harper when the main character’s name was changed, though screenwriter William Goldman otherwise remained pretty faithful to the novel. The next book in the series was belatedly adapted some nine years later with Newman still in the role for The Drowning Pool (1975), by which time two other actors had played the role and kept the original name intact too …
In 1974 a pilot was made for a prospective TV series, with Peter Graves leading a very strong cast as Archer in an adaptation of The Underground Man, Macdonald 1972 bestseller.Adapted by Douglas Heyes and directed by Paul Wendkos, two of the best guys in the business at the time, this superior TV-Movie also featured Vera Miles, Jim Hutton, Jack Klugman, Judith Anderson and Celeste Holm.
The always well-informed Jeff Pierce of The Rap Sheet has some fascinating things to say about this pilot in a post from last year published as a tribute on Graves’ death and which is well worth reading – you can check it out here.
The pilot was retooled and the next year led to a very brief series, retitled Archer, with Brian Keith now in the title role – despite scripts by the likes of Leigh Brackett, it only lasted a woeful six episodes before being cancelled. What little of it that is generally available suggests that Keith, sporting an ill-fitting toupe, was not particularly well cast. It will be fascinating to see if this new project gets off the ground and who will be cast in the main role – would George Clooney be too much to hope for?
For further details, see the news item over at Deadline News.