Two days ago, I wrote a rection piece about Ridley Scott’s being named director for an upcoming Alien prequel. Today, Variety is reporting that Steven Spielberg has chosen his next picture as director, an adaptation of the 1944 Mary Chase play, Harvey. Most audiences will remember the story from the 1950 film of the same name starring, quite memorably, Jimmy Stewart. So here we have next project decisions from two towering cinema institutions: Spielberg and Scott. You already know what I think about the whole Alien thing. What do I make of this? Glad you asked.
Any IMDb troll worth his or her salt knows that following Mr. Spielberg’s next film is a game so confusing and full of deceit that it is better to just sit and wait for announcement such as this one. For example, his Abraham Lincoln project has been in the works forever. I personally prefer it this way. For a director as formidable as him, I’d rather not know what he has coming down the pipe. It only adds to the whole “Spilebergian” mystique. But now we know the next film.
The question that must be asked is does the world really need another incarnation of Harvey? Probably not, but there also isn’t any reason why we shouldn’t have one, right? We’re content to watch so many other remakes and redos and reboots, what’s the big deal about one more? The biggest problem with a director making the wrong choice is that he only has a limited amount of years to make films; any missteps waste years in which better films could be made. So who is to say that this is the right or wrong choice? Well, Mr. Spielberg himself.
The biggest piece that I left out of the Ridley Scott article was that these A-list directors are in a position to make whatever they want. Where younger up and comers may get wedged into a particular project for the money or the connections, an established director can think long and hard about the projects he wants to take on. So while it is all well and good for us to comment from the sidelines, we should also be at least excited that these people see something in these projects that propels them into the director’s chair. Why is Mr. Spielberg taking on Harvey? Why is Mr. Scott rejoining the Alien franchise? Because they see something wonderful, and in time, that vision will be shared with us.
All that being said, I feel totally secure sitting here on my tuffet, eating my curds and whey, giving Spielberg the stink-eye (one eyebrow raised) and saying “Harvey? Really? Uhhhhhhhh-reeeeally?” That’s what separates the two of us. While I can blog my cynical thoughts away, he gets to wake up and make whatever the hell he wants. Good for you Steve, just please don’t cast Tom Hanks in the lead; your Frank Capra-Jimmy Stewart relationship has come far enough.