The Coen Brothers are among our most literary-minded modern filmmakers; their stylish dialogue and Swiss-watch plotting often feels as much of the printed page as the celluloid frame, and films like Blood Simple, Miller’s Crossing, and even The Big Lebowski wear their lit influences on their sleeves. But the Coens have done surprisingly few straight-up adaptations: there’s their Oscar-winning take on Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men, and 2010’s True Grit, and that’s about it. But Deadline is reporting they’ve been hired by Warner Brothers to write and possibly direct a film adaptation of Ross Macdonald’s 1966 crime novel Black Money, a match-up that sounds very promising indeed.
Macdonald—the non de plume of writer Kenneth Millar—was a master of hardboiled California crime stories, best known for his series concerning Lew Archer, a tough but honorable private eye. Two of those novels were adapted into the Paul Newman vehicles Harper (1966) and The Drowning Pool (1975), but aside from those films and a couple other Millar adaptations, his work hasn’t made it to the big screen all that often.
And while it’s certainly way too early to start casting, it’s worth noting that one of the few present-day actors with charisma and chops comparable to Newman is George Clooney, who just completed his third Coen Brothers movie, JUST SAYING.