Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Oh, Miss Jones!"

Going back to Monday's post, and my ideas for a Hollywood movie version of Rentaghost, I've had a few thoughts as how to translate another British comedy classic to the US big screen: Rising Damp. Now, I know that, technically, there already has been an attempt to adapt the series for the US - there was an unaired CBS pilot with Jack Weston in the Rigsby role entitled Steam Heat, made in the late 1970s - not to mention a UK film version in the early 1980s with most of the original cast, but I'm talking here about a 're-imagining'. You know what I mean - it's Hollywood's favourite buzz word: you take an old TV series or film, throw away everything that made it popular or distinctive, and instead produce a heap of shiny shit. But getting back to the point: Rising Damp - clearly, the key thing here would be the casting of Rigsby, the sad middle-aged sexually repressed and bigoted landlord. Obviously, the late Leonard Rossiter would be a hard act to follow, but I think I've got it cracked - Christopher Walken.

One of my favourite actors, Walken can make just about any character skin-crawlingly weird. His bizarre intonations and wild gaze have enlivened many a totally crap movie for me. Just imagining his delivery of the classic line "Oh, Miss Jones!", whilst drilling peep holes in his female lodger's walls so as to cop an eyeful of her getting dressed, sends shivers down my spine! Indeed, making Rigsby a full blown voyeuristic pervert, is, I feel, key to this re-imagining. Walken could spend his time sat in his musty basement, whacking off as he watches his tenants through hidden cameras. Add to this the fact that he is a traumatised ex-Vietnam veteran, and the recipe for hilarity is complete. You can just see the Christmas episode, where Rigsby forces Alan and Philip to sit around the kitchen table, wearing paper hats from the crackers, and play Russian Roulette. Or how about an episode where the delivery of a Chinese take away to Alan triggers a flashback to the My Lai massacre for Rigsby. Before you know it, Walken is hiding behind the sofa, wearing camouflage face paint and toting an M16, taking pot shots at anyone coming down the stairs, before trying to burn the house down. This one could really have legs!

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