Sunday, March 30, 2003

Hitchcock's last film?

Screenwriter Larry Cohen has an article in the Los Angeles Times, discussing the long saga leading to his screenplay "Phone Booth" finally being made into a movie. This has for some years been one of those scripts with a reputation for being "the best script in Hollywood that hasn't actually been made into a movie", and I have been following its saga for a few years, as a variety of directors and stars have looked like making it. (It eventually ended up being made with Colin Farrell starring and Joel Schumacher directing, and is being released this week). What I did not know was that the film, which is set entirely in a phonebooth, was originally pitched to Alfred Hitchcock, but that Hitchcock had died before Cohen was anywhere near completing the script. (Hitchcock was apparently very keen on the idea, however).

One story that I had heard, but which I had thought was apocryphal, turns out to be true. Action director Michael Bay (Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbour) was at one point hired to direct the movie, and soon after this happened he called for a rewrite of the script, asking "How do we get this thing out of the phone booth?". He apparently wasn't attached to the movie for long after this.

From what I have heard, the movie is really good. Schumacher has made a few bad films, but is a perfectly capable director and has apparently has hit the mark with this one. (I suppose I should make the obvious point that a good script is at least as important as a good director). I am looking forward to seeing it. It's a good thing they have made it now, because I am not sure there will be many phone booths in five years time. Perhaps I should look at them as a remnant of that cold war world of Organisation Men, IBM, and AT&T in which Hitchcock's films worked so well.

Amusingly, screenwriter Cohen appears to have recognised this change in the world. His next movie to go into production is called Cellular. This apparently has a very similar plot (someone unexpectedly receives a phone call, and must stay on the phone to prevent something terrible happen) but in this case the consequences are played out with the phone being received on a cellular phone. Obviously this means that the location isn't fixed, so we get a very different movie).

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