Harrison Ford must have had a good time riding and shooting for “Cowboys and Aliens,” because he’s signed to play Wyatt Earp in an adaptation of “Black Hats,” a Max Allan Collins novel.
Collins also wrote “Road To Perdition,” and he’s a damn fine comic and prose writer. Pulpy and smart, he’s got a knack for hooks. He knows how to set up a good game of “what if?”, and in this case, Wyatt Earp shows up in New York in the ’20s to check in on the son of Doc Holliday, only to end up butting heads with a young Al Capone who is leaning on Holliday’s son’s speakeasy.
My review of “Cowboys and Aliens” isn’t ready to be published quite yet, but since both Variety and the Reporter have published and other people are starting to show up on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s a safe bet I’ll be jumping into the mix sooner rather than later.
What I will say for now is that Harrison Ford is going to walk away from this with a lot of rekindled fans. He’s present in a way he hasn’t been in a lot of recent work. He makes one of the best entrances of the year, and he carries himself with an authenticity that really helps focus the supporting cast around him. He sets a tone that is real without winking, but that has room to be funny occasionally.
He’s got a very particular gift, something that he’s had since “Star Wars” and “Grafitti,” this ability to take a single gesture or a little thing, a bit of business, and turn it into a huge audience moment. Nicholson’s a guy who understands this sort of thing, who can do it when he’s got the right script. Harrison’s had some great scripts he didn’t understand in the past, and he’s even confessed that he stopped reading this the first time before the aliens showed up, confused and unimpressed. It was only after meeting with Favreau that he went back and read to the point where it made sense for him suddenly. He’s an anchor in the film in terms of tone, and I’m guessing Favreau must have felt like a lottery winner getting this particular version of the star showing up for the movie.
Borys Kit broke the story, and reported that Kurt Johnstad will write the adaptation, I assume once he finishes writing the sequel to “300,” which he also wrote. They’re working in Bat Masterson, Earp’s real-life time as a private detective, and all sorts of real American history. It’s a good find by Basil Iwanyk and Jason Netter, the producers, but it’s a fantastic marriage of star and role and timing. I think “Cowboys and Aliens” is going to be good for him, no matter what happens with the movie, so these guys may be able to ride some goodwill into production soon if they nail the script down and get the right filmmaker onboard.
We’ll keep an eye open for “Black Hats,” and we’ll make sure to report as details develop.
“Cowboys and Aliens” opens everywhere on Friday.