Sam Raimi Directing Dennis Lehane's The Given Day
by Alex Billington
June 17, 2008
Spider-Man director Sam Raimi is definitely a busy guy. He's finishing up work on his horror throwback Drag Me to Hell and already has a Jack Ryan revival and No Man's Land lined up afterwards, if not eventually Spider-Man 4. Yet another film can be added to his schedule, this time an adaptation of a book. The Given Day is a novel written by Dennis Lehane, who also wrote Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone previously, about the historic strike in Boston in 1919. No screenwriter has been attached yet and Raimi will produce alongside of Josh Donen (The Quick and the Dead, The Great White Hype, Drag Me to Hell). Lehane's novel was described by fellow author Stewart O'Nan as "rollicking, brawling, gritty, political, and always completely absorbing, The Given Day is a rich and satisfying epic."
The Given Day is set in 1919 Boston, with the city in turmoil as soldiers are returning home from WWI, having brought back an epidemic of Spanish influenza. Attempts to unionize the police department have set the stage for a historic strike and two cops take center stage. The real life event as described by Wikipedia: During the summer of 1919, over 1100 members of the Boston Police Department went on strike. Boston fell prey to several riots as there were minimal law officers to maintain order in the city. Calvin Coolidge, then governor of Massachusetts, garnered national fame for quelling violence by almost entirely replacing the police force. The 1919 Boston Police Strike would ultimately set precedent for police unionization across the country. The book hits shelves on September 23rd later this year.
Despite its rather dainty cover, this book actually seems pretty incredible. "While it deals with many of the same themes as (Lehane's) earlier work, it is also his most ambitious book, tying events of a century ago to the subjects we struggle with today," Raimi said.
You should know that anything by Dennis Lehane is always brilliant ( Prayers for Rain, Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island) and in the hands of a great filmmaker can be adapted into a phenomenal film. Raimi's last adaptation of a novel, A Simple Plan, wasn't that great. I loved Gone Baby Gone and I just hope that he can turn Lehane's work into a brilliant film as well as Ben Affleck and Clint Eastwood before him. As everyone probably knows, I still have faith in Sam Raimi and still believe he is a great director. I'm very curious to see what he chooses in the near future: Spider-Man 4, Jack Ryan, or The Given Day?
No screenwriter yet? Raimi's biggest problem, besides loving little CG men, is not being able to read. Given the producer's experience producing... turds, I'd say there's little chance of this one working out. But who knows? Someone good could sign on to adapt.
Andrew Wickliffe on Jun 17, 2008
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