[Update: Both George Clooney and Angelina Jolie have denied any involvement]
It’s not every day that a picture goes into development based on a book that has not yet been released. It has been reported that a film version of the book The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe is in the works and that it will reportedly star Angelina Jolie as Marilyn Monroe and George Clooney as Frank Sinatra. Author Andrew O’Hagan made the announcement at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this weekend.
When one looks at the particulars of the novel in question tinsletown’s peaked interest begins to make sense. The book is told from the perspective of Monroe’s Maltese poodle “Mafia Honey” aka “Maf”. The pooch was given to Monroe by Sinatra and his name was likely a friendly jab at “Old Blue Eyes” and his legendary mafia ties. According to The Times review of the novel, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn “has a Disneyish charm.” The film will likely also take on a more lighthearted approach the subject matter; a tone similar to that of the trailer for the book, seen here:
There is not yet a director attached, but the film seems perfect for a (just slightly) satirical/darkly comedic look at well traveled and yet still gripping material. It lends itself to a fly on the wall, or in this case pup in the lap view of the rich, the famous and the notoriously notorious. Clooney and Jolie are in many ways “no brainer” casting picks as this generation’s most debonair and sexually smoldering stars respectively. We have seen Jolie beautifully pull off a Monroe-esque look in Life or Something Like It. Yet each of these leads has slight handicaps to overcome in portraying these icons. First, it is difficult enough to portray a figure that is so well known. Add to the mix that you yourself are explosively famous and a double bind is created in terms of suspension of disbelief. Also, while Clooney certainly possesses Sinatra’s charm, he does not have the street kid edge of “The Chairman.” And while Jolie has electric sexuality in spades, she does not as easily express the vulnerability that made Marilyn equal parts enthralling and tragic.
Naomi Watts is also set to star in another Monroe biopic entitled simply Blonde helmed by writer Andrew Dominik. Dominik also wrote and directed The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Blonde which is currently in pre-production is based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oats. Given the source material and talent attached to these projects the films are destined to be vastly divergent in tone. Still it is always risky to release two films based on similar subject matter at the same time; particularly when they are dealing with real world historical figures. Cases in point: Tombstone vs. Wyatt Earp; Capote vs. Infamous.
It has also been announced that Martin Scorsese will be directing an as yet uncast Frank Sinatra biopic.
What do you think of the films potential?