Sunday, April 15, 2007

John Nadler's "A Perfect Hell"

John Nadler's most recent book is A Perfect Hell: The True Story of the Black Devils, the Forefathers of the Special Forces.

Here's who he would cast in the movie or miniseries version of the book:
Many novelists today plan for movie adaptations even before they begin writing. Michael Crichton constructs his potboilers in the standard three-act cinematic structure. As a result, some of his novels read like fast-paced, slightly wordy screenplays.

When writing A Perfect Hell I too fantasized about a big-screen (even small-screen) version. Not without precedent. My book is based on the WWII exploits of the Black Devils, a legendary commando outfit. An earlier popular history of this unit was The Devil's Brigade, which became a classic 1960s war movie starring William Holden and Cliff Robertson.

Both men were class acts, utterly irreplaceable. But whom would I pick for a 2007 re-make? The leader of the Black Devil's (played by Holden in the original) was an extraordinary WWII commander named Robert T. Frederick. Although fearless and aggressive, Frederick had a refined, reserved, almost aristocrat quality to him that was not really consistent with Holden's robustness. I once thought George Clooney would make a great Colonel Frederick (because I like George), but if I had my druthers I would cast Guy Pearce (Memento, LA Confidential) because of his understated intensity.

A Perfect Hell is also the story of a lifelong friendship between two frontline soldiers: Joe Glass and Lorin Waling. My gut feeling is that both actors would have to be new discoveries: for the big-hearted Glass, a 19-year-old version of Adrien Brody (Hollywoodland), another fierce and flexible actor with a fascinatingly asymmetrical face. For Waling, a waif who comes of age on the front lines, I would cast Daniel (Harry Potter) Radcliffe in his first adult non-wizard role. For their girlfriends and wives: two down-to-earth beauties, Elisha Cuthbert (Kim on 24) and Canadian actress Sarah Polley.

Lastly, instead of a movie, I'd make a mini-series, and I'd spend as much of the budget as possible on a screenwriter and cinematographer. I'd shoot the movie on location in Montana (where the commando unit was born), and I'd cast the surviving Black Devils and their children in cameo appearances.
Read the prologue to the Canadian edition of A Perfect Hell and the prologue to the US edition.

Visit Nadler's official website and Contemporary Nomad, a group blog.

The Page 69 Test: A Perfect Hell.

--Marshal Zeringue