Last we checked, an offer was out to Borat star Sacha Baron Cohen to star in a remake of the 1947 Danny Kaye comedy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. No update on that, but Fox has made advancements on the directorial front, entering into early negotiations with Gore Verbinski (The Pirates of the Caribbean) to helm. Steven Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness) will adapt James Thurber’s 1939 short story, in which the ordinary Mitty daydreams of heroics. When the script was in the hands of Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon), Mitty was a mega-store owner. More after the jump:
Now I didn’t want to be the one to bring it up, but Risky Business does point out that Verbinski coming on board increases the probability that Johnny Depp will assume the titular role. Including the Pirates trilogy and the March 2011 animated film Rango, Verbinski has worked without Depp only once in his last five films (the Nicolas Cage-starrer The Weatherman.)
It’s worth noting that the development of Secret Life has been a virtual carousel so far: in addition to Cohen, such notables as Jim Carrey, Owen Wilson, and Mike Myers have been attached to various iterations of the project, while the story has caught the eye of directors Steven Spielberg, Mark Waters, and Ron Howard. It is more than possible that Verbinski is just the latest to get in line for the capricious ride.
I like the project for Verbinski, though. From what I can tell, he’s a director whose taste/skills often exceeds his studio leash. From Jake’s Rango post-production visit, Verbinski sounds rejuvenated by the animated production — Mitty sounds like a natural follow-up with all its whimsy. I’m sure Disney made it difficult to say no to the paycheck of Pirates 4, and the budget issues he faced for a planned Bioshock adaptation must have been a discouraging first step outside the franchise. But it looks like Verbinski has landed on his feet, and I’m eager to see where they take him.
Here’s a synopsis for the 1947 movie:
Danny Kaye’s milquetoast Walter fantasizes distractedly about being heroic, whether a gunslinger, an Air Force pilot, or a riverboat gambler. His “Anatole of Paris” number, in which Walter fancies himself a French hat designer who, in the end, declares he hates women, is nothing short of brilliant. That number, like many of Kaye’s trademark patter deliveries, was penned by his wife, Sylvia Fine.
Kaye benefits from a wonderful supporting cast: Mayo; Boris Karloff as maniacal Dr. Hugo Hollingshead; Faye Bainter as Walter’s repressive but lively mother; Ann Rutherford as his suspicious fiancée Gertrude; and Gordon Jones as Tubby, who not only has designs on Gertrude, but provides the villain in Walter’s fantasies.