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It's About Friggin' Time

By TK Burton | Industry | September 30, 2009 |

By TK Burton | Industry | September 30, 2009 |

I was wondering when Hollywood was going to get around to adapting this.

Leonardo DiCaprio, in a somewhat surprising move, has just been cast as Travis McGee in 20th Century Fox’s The Deep Blue Goodbye. For those who don’t know, Travis McGee is the central character in a series of novels by John D. MacDonald. He’s a self-described beach bum, who lives on a houseboat called “The Busted Flush” (which is a seriously great name for a boat) in the Florida Keys. He works as a salvage expert, solves crimes and gets into adventures. Usually, there’s a woman involved. Sometimes, she can’t be trusted. Ah, detective fiction.

It’s unusual for two reasons — one, it’s a bit astray from the serious fare that DiCaprio’s been attached to recently. I’ve read a few of MacDonald’s novels (including this one, which is the first of the series), and while they’re relatively tough and hard-boiled, they’re still pretty whimsical affairs. McGee’s one of those protagonists with a strong moral code that usually gets bent around a bit, and inevitably has to make some difficult decisions that he gets conflicted about. As with much of the detective fiction set in Florida, there’s a good bit of environmental consciousness thrown in as well. He describes himself in the novel:

I am tall, and I gangle. I look like a loose-jointed, clumsy hundred and eighty. The man who takes a better look at the size of my wrists can make a more accurate guess. When I get up to two twelve I get nervous and hack it back on down to two oh five. As far as clumsiness and reflexes go, I have never had to use a flyswatter in my life. My combat expression is one of apologetic anxiety. I like them confident. My stance is mostly composed of elbows.

It’ll be nice to see DiCaprio take it on — honestly, when I heard they were making it into a film, there was a raw ball of panic in my gut, since I assumed they cast Matthew McConnaghy as McGee. It’s nice to be wrong sometimes.

In any event, the novel, originally published in 1964, is about McGee tracking down a psychotic ex-con and a fortune in World War II treasure. It’s highly entertaining stuff, and should make a great film. No word on a director yet, but Dana Stevens (For Love of the Game, City of Angels) is adapting the script.

TK Burton is the Editorial Director. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.