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Robert Downey Jr. To Get Lawyerly As 'Perry Mason' In Big Screen Adaptation

by Kevin Jagernauth
October 5, 2011 4:01 AM
4 Comments
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'Mr. Ed' Also Headed To The Multiplex, Of Course



Some actors use their newfound fame and clout to try and get more adventurous, ambitious stories movies made. And then there's Robert Downey Jr. If you had said in the late 1990s that the actor would become the star of two major tentpoles and one of the biggest actors in the world, you would have been laughed at. But the actor has not only rebounded, but been given the kind of second chance that pretty much never happens and he's not gonna screw it up with some indie flick. He's already done enough of those those. While he's got the "Sherlock Holmes" and "Iron Man" movies bringing home the bacon, he's now got another franchise ready vehicle lined up to keep the green stuff rolling in.

Having been on TV long enough to be your grandparents and your parents favorite show, Variety reports that the long running "Perry Mason" is finally getting the big screen treatment with RDJ teaming with Warner Bros. to produce and develop it as a potential star vehicle. Based on the books by Erle Stanley Gardner, "Perry Mason" started on the big screen with a string of movies in the 1930s with Warren William as the famed defense attorney. But it was the long running '50s and '60s TV series starring Raymond Burr that launched "Perry Mason" into the stratosphere, and its popularity still stands as the show continues in syndication around the world. And it should be noted that decades after the TV series first ended, Burr reprised his role in a number of TV movies that also speaks to just how beloved the program was.

So, what are they going to do with this reboot? Well, just like the books, the movie will be set in 1930s Los Angeles with the familiar gallery of characters -- Mason's secretary Della Street, private investigator Paul Drake, and legal nemesis Hamilton Burger -- all to feature as well. We figure (and hope) it will be developed to be somewhat different than the explosion-y take on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle works. In short, we don't want Perry Mason to become a bare knuckle brawler. However, there is lots of room for RDJ to bring his trademark charm and make a livelier, but still respectful, version of the character. So while purists may whine, Raymond Burr had a helluva run and a new take would surely be welcome.

In related, TV-to-movie news, Fox 2000 is bringing "Mr. Ed" to big screen in a family film, proving that there is no rhyme or reason for why anything gets optioned except that it existed before and somebody watched it. A talking horse movie? Sure thing guys, whatever.

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4 Comments

  • wray | October 5, 2011 10:57 AMReply

    Something about RDJ playing Perry Mason rings true. This sounds kinda awesome. I just hope they don't use the Ozzy song in the trailer like Sabbath's 'Iron Man' was used in the Marvel trailer. A little too much on the nose for my taste.

  • Michele Martin | October 5, 2011 7:56 AMReply

    "He's not going to screw it up with some indie flick"...REALLY? Do you mean some terrible film such as, "The Kings Speech or " Black Swan"?...Yes, we must not screw it up with good material ,well written characters and innovative film making. I love his work, whether independent film or blockbuster .

  • Jeff | October 5, 2011 7:14 AMReply

    This could actually be a cool thing if they did it right. They should approach it in the same way that studios did the B-movie detective series of the 30s and 40s (Philo Vance et. al.). That means low budgets and quick schedules. As soon as these turn in to bloated tentpole movies, they'll be a waste. The Lincoln Lawyer had the right forumula.

    Downey should produce and star for little to nothing up front, and take a huge chunk of the back end. They could get one other solid name (to play the heavy or whatever) and fill in the rest of the cast with cheap, but good, character actors. Up-and-coming young directors would jump at the chance to work with RDJ, and Perry Mason movies certainly don't need to be stylistic tours de force. Brad Furman did journeyman work on The Lincoln Lawyer. Entertaining programmers like this help to fill the massive cinematic void in the February to May range.

  • d. rammlen | October 5, 2011 5:32 AMReply

    RDJ is really going out of his to squander all of that built up goodwill that i have towards him and his career. really? Perry Mason? who gives a shit?

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