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Posted on 27 Jan, 2017 in The Godfather: Peter Corris | 1 comment

The Godfather: Peter Corris on his El Dorado

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I got a phone call from my agent. This was unusual. Usually she emails me along these lines:

‘Dear Peter (we like to observe the formalities. ‘I’ve just processed a royalty from a set of your e-books. I’m sorry it’s so little but …’

I’ll reply thanking her and telling her that it’d pay a bill or two. But a phone call …

‘Peter,’ she said, sounding excited. ‘Your ship has come in.’

I didn’t know I had a vessel at sea. ‘What’s her name, the Marie Celeste?’

‘Very funny. I mean that I’ve had a contact from a film producer …’

‘Hold on,’ I said, ‘is this one of those producers who wants an option for peanuts but swears he can get Mel Gibson on board if we can kick in for his expenses …?’

‘Mel’s too old for Cliff,’ she said. ‘No, this is Randy Frost, who produced three films in the Blackout franchise and Blood in the Water.’

‘Never heard of them or him.’

‘Where have you been? He called from Hollywood. He’s got HBO and Google money. He’s offering five million for the rights to Hardy and he’s interested in a couple of the Browning books and one of the historical novels and his nephew Clint, who’s a documentary maker, wants to do a true crime thing for the History Channel about your book on Mad Dog Moxley* and …’

This is a daydream of course, but it indicates a certain disappointment I sometimes feel about my writing career. Wouldn’t it have been nice to get Cliff Hardy up on screen a few times? With Cate Blanchett in a cameo (all that could be afforded) as a femme fatale. To have made a rip-snorting Australian Western out of my novel Wimmera Gold (1994) with Anthony Mundine as a bare-knuckle prize-fighter and Hugo Weaving as a villain. To have captured the darkness of William Cyril Moxley and Depression-era Sydney on grainy black and white film?

It wasn’t to be: the local market is too small, there is too little money around, foreign competition is too great and my books have failed to achieve much international penetration.

I hasten to say that I’m not really complaining: to have made a living from writing for 40 years, to have never, as I not entirely playfully put it, had to go out to work for all that time and to have enjoyed writing, has been a boon and a privilege. But still …

* Mad Dog: William Cyril Moxley and the Moorebank Killings (2012)

1 Comment

  1. I’ve read all the Cliff Hardy novels and I’ve often thought it would be great to see Cliff’s cases on the screen – with settings in Glebe, Maroubra, Wollongong, Springwood, Ballina, the harbour side etc

    With no professional background in cinema studies, I have also enjoyed seeing leaps and bounds in Australian television series in recent year, with Janet King, Jack Irish etc I enjoyed the film ‘Mystery Road’ and it made me think that Jane Harper’s novel, ‘The Dry’ would also lend itself to the screen.

    I have at home a DVD of a television series of ‘Cloud Street’ and it is, in my view, an authentic and evocative treatment of Tim Winton’s novel.

    Series such as Rebus, Wallander etc work because the main character is attuned to the writer’s concept of character and place. When it does not happen – such as when that Scottish guy from ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ played Rebus – it can become a travesty and disaster.

    Cliff Hardy in the hands of the right director and actors (Guy Pearce?) could leave a worthy legacy but it’s not so much a matter of money as being on the money! Good luck and I hope the right person knocks at your door or phones!

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