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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.

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