Monday, October 12, 2009

John J. Le Beau's "Collision of Evil"

John J. Le Beau served as a clandestine operations officer in the Central Intelligence Agency for over twenty-five years. Since January 2006, Dr. Le Beau has served as a Professor of National Security Studies in the College of International Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch, Germany.

Here he shares some casting ideas for a film adaptation of his debut novel, Collision of Evil:
Without doubt, the real star of Collision of Evil would be its setting – the strikingly tranquil pastoral terrain of the Bavarian Alps, the handsome old world city of Munich, and the colorful and gaudy Oktoberfest, the largest folk-festival on the planet. Filmed atmospherically on location, the movie would from the opening scene draw the audience into the enchanting world of Southern Germany and Austria, as a backdrop to lethal evil unleashed. As well, because an important part of the story takes place during the closing days of the Second World War, the setting would involve dramatic scenes from this violent era too.

The two main characters in Collision of Evil are a Bavarian police detective, Kommissar Franz Waldbaer, and a somewhat mysterious American named Robert Hirter, who is the brother of a man murdered in the alpine countryside. Hirter insists on taking an active hand in the murder investigation, much to the annoyance of the grumpy, go-it-alone rumpled detective. Their joint inquiries eventually establish that the events they are investigating are far more malignant and dangerous than a ‘mere’ murder.

The Hirter character calls for a relatively young, athletic and clearly American actor. Ben Affleck would be well cast in this role. The Kommissar Waldbaer character, on the other hand, requires an older man, perhaps in his fifties, heavy-set without being actually fat and with an expressive, ‘lived-in’ face. Alec Baldwin, if provided an indifferent haircut and a creased Bavarian jacket, might be able to inhabit this role convincingly, quietly conveying a sense of experience and gravitas to provide counterpoint to the more restless and impatient Affleck protagonist. Both actors would interact with one another throughout the film, moving along a trajectory from mutual dislike to grudging mutual respect as the investigation proceeds, revealing an intersection of evil past and evil present.

Apart from the two main characters, three supporting characters play important roles in plot development. A notable supporting character is Caroline O’Kendell, a young professional woman in the U.S. government and something of a romantic interest for Robert Hirter. Neve Campbell would be engaging in this role and would be able to give the character some flair. The character of Allen Chalmers, a black government chemist, is introduced later in the plot but is nonetheless an important role. James Avery would have the requisite sense of earnestness for this role. A final and colorful supporting character of consequence to the plot is an elderly but cogent German SS veteran, August Sedlmeyer. Hardy Krueger, who is German and has played in a number of Hollywood films, would be ideally cast.

Collision of Evil as a film would enjoy a fast pace and numerous setting changes and attempt to develop from the start a sense of believable menace and realistic story development. This is a film that would not require special effects but would rely on strong acting to build an atmosphere of drama. And, as noted at the outset, sensitive, on-location filming would be a key factor.
Learn more about the book and author at John J. Le Beau's website.

--Marshal Zeringue