I wrote this e-mail to Max Allan Collins:
"but there is a strong prejudice against noir period movies, particularly noir period detective movies. Even L.A. Confidential didn't do great guns at the box office, and the occasional Mullholland Falls and The Two Jakes have flopped (though I'm one of a minority who loved the latter film)"
Sad to say, the private eye film has indeed largely disappeared. This would not bode well for a Ms. Tree movie. Off the top of my head, Devil in a Blue Dress, (well, based on hard-boiled detective fiction), Heaven's Prisoners, V.I. Warshawski, Big Sleep, Eight Millon Ways to Die, and the remake of I, The Jury did not produce sequels. In the Electric Mist went straight to dvd. Gone, Baby, Gone serves as an exception; we can only to see if it revives interest in the genre.
Actually, R-rated films in general have become somewhat more scarce of late. I posted a thread on a board about this, but it seems that the seeds of Star Wars have started pushing out other genres. It seems that Star Wars desensitized people for a Superman movie; as Ken Begg wrote "if people could believe in Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, why not Superman?". I remember reading your interview in Amazing Heroes#119 where you said that you did not expect too many epic science fiction or fantasy adventure films would do well. While at the time this seemed an accurate prognosis (AH#119 came out the same year as Superman IV: The Quest For Peace), in the years since many stars of R-rated adventure films have entered tough times, and few new players have replaced them.
Somebody mentioned on wikipedia the 1997 film version of The Saint with Val Kilmer. Many people found it peculiar that in this film, the Saint
never takes a life, even though the print version of the Saint, not to
mention many contemporary thriller roles (such as those played by Mel
Gibson, Van Damme, and Bruce Willis) had no such qualms. Well, it turns
out that the need for a PG-13 rating will probably cause more of this
The tide has too some degree turned against R-rated
adventure films. It took decades for the implications of the success of Star Wars to come clear, but PG to PG-13 films have a distinct
advantage over R-rated films in terms of allowing a family audience.
Another problem for R-rated adventure films; many of the prominent performers from the 1970's and 1980's have faced serious problems:
Steven Seagal: not longer as fit and agile
Chuck Norris: eleven years the senior of Seagal, and while still fit for a man of his age, has seemed to focus more on his family life
JCVD: well publicized substance abuse and family problems
Charles Bronson: deceased
Clint Eastwood: has moved on to other projects and directing
Stallone: substance abuse HGH, noticeably aged and weathered (actually, Stallone's Rocky films never received R-ratings)
Schwarzenegger: exit strategy of moving on to politics
Bruce Willis: actually moved on to other genres; note that the last Die Hard went PG-13
The collapse of Cannon also had a negative impact on Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson.
Note that some of the above performers such as Seagal, Stallone and Van Damme now see their films going to straight to DVD. I can think of few recent R-rated adventure film stars who first became famous in the last few years. Jason Stratham serves as the only possible exception I can think of, but even has largely made PG-13 films. Mark Wahlberg has so far only starred in one film as Bob Lee Swagger from the Stephen Hunter novels. Vin Diesel and the Rock have done Disney family films, which seems to vitiate them as replacements for Stallone and Schwarzenegger (though all of Stallone's boxing films never had R-ratings, I should note).
Possibly the decline of the Republican Party has
something to do with this. Since 1979, about 20 of the last 30 years
had Republican administrations, including three consecutive
administrations from 1981 to 1993. However, with the collapse of the
Warsaw Pact, the Republican Party, despite having achieved its goal,
ironically removed a prime source of its continued legitimacy. The
subsequent Republican administration following the collapse of the
Warsaw Pact did not coincide with many new R-rated adventure films.
Possibly, this has to do with the more complex aspects of the "war on
terror". Instead of dealing with large countries with recognizable
armies, people deal with small networks of foes without uniforms.
Cultural sensitivity emerges as more of an issue. I can imagine that
any films based on the Mitch Rapp novels by Vince Flynn (often
featuring Al-Quaeda style terorrist networks) will get subjected to A
Sum of All Fears style revision.
Even Gold Eagle, when it lost
the Destroyer series, departed from past strategy and introduced the
Rogue Angel series, featuring a female protagonist and less topcial
material (i.e., she does not battle terrorists, near as I can tell).
A web acquaintance of mine notes that:
With the exception of Statham I can't think of many actors who specialise in action films at the moment. Most seem to make a mix of romantic comedies, dramas and action movies. Matthew McConaughy is just as likely to make a sequel to Sahara for his next movie as he is to make a rom com.
Even Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Vin Diesel have made Disney family films
I think part of the problem is the fact that Hollywood is openly critical of the War on Terror and its incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan so we get movies like Lions for Lambs and Stop Loss and Rendition.
I honestly thought that after 9/11 we might have seen a rebirth of the
action novel/movies with terrorist hunters but that never really
Most new book series started since the 1990's have failed to go beyond three books
Black Ops (Kasner) 3 books,
Code Name (Johnstone) 5 books,
Home Team (Chalker & Dockery) 3 books,
Black Ops (Johnstone) 1 book,
Stark (Johnstone) 2 books,
Border War (Johnstone) 2 books
Superhawks (Maloney) 4 books
. Eagle One Media said they had some interest in Chet Cunningham's Penetrator series, but I e-mailed and they said they had dropped it. Farmhouse Films of Roslindale, MA has gotten permission from Cunningham, but the trailer they had up does not indicate an unironic adaptation.
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