Travis McGee - script the movie series

Since ol’ Trav has come up in another thread, I will throw out this challenge I’ve been muddling over for a while.

There have been only two Travis McGee movies, a rather meh one made from Bright Orange for the Shroud and starring Rod Taylor, and a truly execrable attempt at spawning a TV series loosely based on The Empty Copper Sea and starring Sam Elliott. (The latter changed just about everything except McGee’s name.)

In recent years, Leonardo DiCaprio has expressed interest, as a devoted fan, in portraying McGee in one or more movies. My first reaction can be summed up as OH MY GOD NO YOU’VE GOT TO BE SHITTING ME PLEASE PLEASE TELL ME YOU’RE JOKING… but having studied him in recent films, as he’s aged into a more mature actor… I’m good with it. This is a project where sincere dedication to the source material and heavyweight H’wood clout could produce classics.

So… assume that Leo will do four and only four movies over the next ten to twelve years, aging through the role a little. Assume they will be “well done” on some level. Assume they will be period pieces, not modernized.

**What four stories make up the essential Travis McGee arc? **Feel free to rearrange the order, move stories to another appropriate time, cannibalize one story to strengthen another - pretty much anything except make up utterly new material or greatly change the elements.

I think the one essential story is Pale Gray for Guilt, virtually as-written, as either the leadoff or second story. That means the series has to close with The Lonely Silver Rain, mostly to close the Puss Killian arc… but another, stronger story could be grafted in place of the main storyline.

I think we have to write off the first four books, except maybe for some pillaged elements and backstory. A few would look like ripoffs of other movies - The Green Ripper in particular. The two books already filmed should be approached only with caution, and I don’t think we can get the Gretel Howard story in there.

But run with it, McGee fans… thumbnail the four movie scripts you’d like to see.

The four that stick in my mind in particular are

The Deep Blue Goodbye

Cinnamon Skin

The Scarlet Ruse

A Purple Place for Dying.

It has been too long since I have read the books for me to help much with this enjoyable exercise, but it seems to me that the opening line of Darker Than Amber needs to be used in a voice-over.

The context is McGee and Meyer fishing at night in a rowboat.

That’s another one I particularly liked!

Darker Than Amber is a good candidate. It might even be the story to drop into Lonely Silver Rain. (I just don’t think the core story in LSR will survive in the post-Miami Vice world; it seems weak and derivative even though it’s not.)

Purple Place for Dying is a *great *John D. book, but it’s one of the four he banged out trying to frame McGee and his world, and it has nothing to do with McGee-as-boat-bum. I wouldn’t mind seeing it shot on its own, with the main character redrafted away from being McGee. Same is true of Nightmare in Pink (too weak to use now) and Quick Red Fox, which could be used as a sequel to the reworked PPD but not as a McGee film. IMVHO.


[li] Darker Than Amber really sets up McGee, Meyer and their world, maybe around 1970s-ish.[/li][li] Pale Gray for Guilt is probably the best of the series, shows off what a crafty, cruel bastard McGee can be, and uses Meyer to his utmost. Also sets up the Puss Killian arc. Later 70s-ish.[/li][li] Cinnamon Skin gets in all the roaming-the-country stories and makes Meyer a more significant element. Early 80s-ish.[/li][li] Lonely Silver Rain - wrap the conclusion of the Killian arc and series (late 80s-ish) around a stronger story from an earlier book:[/li][LIST=1]
[li]Deep Blue Goodbye, rewritten around Viet Nam or Gulf War I?[/li][li]Deadly Shade of Gold, rewrite around elements used in prior films?[/li][li]Scarlet Ruse is a good fit, too.[/li][/ol]