Thursday, June 28, 2007

Spike Lee: Not Doing "The Old Okey-Doke Thing"

Spike Lee: Not Doing "The Old Okey-Doke Thing"

So it seems as though noted film director Spike Lee is on the verge of helming his first Broadway show. No matter that by his own admission he's never worked on the stage. According to The New York Times, he can't even remember the last time he took in live theatre.

But Lee has been tapped to direct a "revival" -- no, wait! a new incarnation -- of Stalag 17 at the behest of the wartime play's original producer Michael Abbott, who says, "I wanted something a little more exciting...I don’t want anyone to say it’s a revival. It’s really not a revival, it’s a new production.”

While I've never seen a stage version of the play by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski, the Academy Award-winning Best Picture of 1953 is one of my all-time favorite films. Helmed by Billy Wilder -- arguably one of the best film directors ever -- the motion picture provided one of the first truly humorous depictions of World War II, telling the story of prisoners-of-war held captive by the Germans. On stage, José Ferrer took home a Tony for directing Stalag 17 through 472 Broadway performances beginning in 1951.

For his part, Lee vows to do the right thing. He's already been working with Abbott and Bevan on the new effort (Trzcinski passed away in 1996), and he tells The New York Times' Campbell Robertson, "I just don’t want to do the old okey-doke thing, dust off some old piece and make a revival...If I’m going to make this venture, this debut to the stage, I have to try to come up with some things that are going to make it interesting for me."

Sounds intriguing to me.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 28 June, 2007, Anonymous Esther said...

Well, this is definitely intriguing! I've never seen the movie, so I guess I'll have to rent it now!

It's kind of a surprising choice for Spike Lee. I'd have expected him to do something more contemporary, or maybe even a stage version of one of his movies, like Do The Right Thing. But apparently he also loves the movies of Billy Wilder and wanted to do a play that involved a wartime theme.

I liked a lot of Spike's earlier movies, but I have to admit that I haven't found much of his recent work to be a must-see. Still, I thought Inside Man was pretty good.

But I imagine that putting on a play and making a movie are pretty different, and since he can't remember the last time he took in live theatre, I'm not sure how this is going to work out. Maybe it'll be a good thing, he'll bring a fresh perspective.

It is kind of hard to believe, though. If I lived in New York, I'd be out seeing something at least once a week. To have so much available practically at your doorstep and not take advantage of it is such a shame.

At 28 June, 2007, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

"Stalag 17" is a great movie, and for the uninitiated, if you're reminded of "Hogan's Heroes," well, you're forgiven!

It is rather surprising that Lee can't recall the last time he saw something on stage. Maybe he's spent too many of his off-hours watching basketball. He's a die-hard fan.


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