For years, the prospect of David Fincher taking the reins of a dark neo-noir has dangled before the eyes of the filmmaker’s fans, never to materialize. If we all dare raise our hopes to gargantuan levels once more, there’s a chance that Fincher will be teaming up with the iconic crime novelist James Ellroy to develop a gritty period drama, with HBO as their destination of choice. This is the stuff black-and-white dreams are made of.
Understand this project is at the earliest stages imaginable, with almost nothing actually set in stone. Still, the conversations are happening, according to IndieWire, and they involve a “noir-ish crime show set in L.A., in a similar 1950s milieu.” Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential, based on Ellroy’s novel, is arguably the best of the modern noir movies, and doesn’t have too many worthy competitors on the big or small screen. Should Fincher finally break the mold on a hardboiled detective series, it almost automatically becomes L.A. Confidential’s most promising counterpart.
Fincher and Ellroy have known and admired each other for years. You may recall Brian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia was supposed to be a Fincher miniseries at one point. While that film came and went without turning a lot of heads, Fincher's next project was the horrifyingly fantastic Zodiac, for which Ellroy gave a guest DVD commentary.
To me, the director’s choice of projects throughout his career has been nearly spotless, and his recent shift in focus to television is extremely welcomed. With Netflix’s House of Cards less of an ongoing priority, he’s already working with HBO and Gone Girl novelist Gillian Flynn for the in-development series Utopia, which is based on the highly acclaimed British series of the same name. HBO was also the home of his proposed project Mind Hunter, an adaptation of the true crime novel that Charlize Theron was attached to as a producer.
Ellroy, meanwhile, remains as busy as ever. His latest novel, Perfidia, comes out on September 9, and takes readers back to for the first work in his second L.A. Quartet series. Hell, maybe that's what this project will turn into. His last trip into the screenwriting world was 2011’s crime drama Rampart.
While Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ excellent series Sleeper is already headed to the big screen with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon producing, how amazing would it be if Fincher and Ellroy took on Brubaker and Phillips’ Criminal series? Or even the more supernatural noir series Fatale? These guys’ comics need someone with Fincher’s eye putting them into live action, and there’s no better time than now.