Steven Spielberg’s next directorial effort will be an adaptation of Mary Chase’s award-winning play Harvey for Dreamworks and 20th Century Fox.

Harvey was originally made into an immensely popular (and classic) film starring Hollywood legend James Stewart in 1950. The play (and original film) follows Elwood P. Dowd (Stewart) and his friendship with a six-foot invisible rabbit.

Remakes are one thing. Remakes of classics are pretty much cinematic sacrilege and Harvey is probably one of James Stewart’s finest films (of which there are many), so it seems like a bizarre choice for Spielberg to remake such a whimsical film at this point of his career.

Spielberg supporters will no doubt say that this film will be an adaptation of Chase’s play, and not a remake of Stewart’s film, but I find it difficult to separate the concept from the classic.

It’s not the first time that Spielberg has gone down the remake route. In 1989 he directed Always with Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter, a film which was a remake of the 1943 film, A Guy Named Joe. While the Spielberg film is undoubtedly excellent,  A Guy Named Joe wasn’t as well known as Harvey is.

No cast has been set for the new film but I can only imagine that Tom Hanks will be top of Spielberg’s wish list. Hanks has often been compared to Stewart and their careers have also taken a similar trajectory – Stewart was well known for light comedies before he did his war service and when he returned to Hollywood he made a lot of dark and serious dramas, much like Hanks following his Philadelphia Oscar win.

Personally, I’d like Spielberg to try something different.

Maybe he could return to his old buddy Dreyfuss to star as Dowd, or cast Kevin Costner – another actor with a style similar to Stewart. Costner and Spielberg previously worked together on a Spielberg-directed episode of Amazing Stories. I feel that hiring Hanks would be lazy and safe casting and (as I said) I’d like this film to offer something different.

Harvey starts shooting in January 2010 and I’d imagine it’ll open before Christmas of that year so that it would be an awards contender. Spielberg’s next release will be a motion capture Tintin film entitled The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn starring Jamie Bell and Daniel Craig.

More news on Harvey when we have it.

So a Harvey remake – a good idea or a bad one?

Source: Variety