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Exclusive: James Mangold Attached to ‘Le Cercle Rouge’ Remake

The director of The Wolverine will begin shooting a new version of the Jean-Pierre Melville classic next summer, says the film's producer.

 

We spoke with producer Arthur Sarkissian at the Television Critics Association press tour for CBS. Sarkissian is producing the TV series “Vegas” for the new fall season. When we asked about his upcoming movies, he announced a remake with an acclaimed director attached.

“I’m working on something called The Red Circle which is based on an old French movie by Jean-Pierre Melville, Le Cercle Rouge,” Sarkissian said. “It’s a remake of that movie. I’m going to shoot it in Hong Kong and Macau and Jim Mangold’s going to direct it next summer.”

That would make The Red Circle Mangold’s next film after The Wolverine. The Red Circle, as if we don’t know what that is. Le Cercle Rouge is only John Woo’s favorite movie. In fact, Woo was initially attached to the remake, and Sarkissian detailed the path to Mangold.

“The funny thing is that since I was involved with this project, which was in 2004, each director we signed on that ultimately did not work, their first initial was J. It was John Woo, Johnny To, John Hillcoat, and now of course I’m hoping that Jim will stay on.”

Melville’s Le Cercle Rouge is a classic French gangster movie. Alain Delon plays Corey, an ex-convict who robs the mob and teams up with a hitman. If remakes are going to happen, Mangold is a good choice, because he did 3:10 to Yuma real well, as Sarkissian reminds us.

“James to me is a guy’s director. He’s from the world of the old school of movies, The Getaway, The Wild Bunch. I see him in that world. He loves movies. 3:10 to Yuma to me was one of the best remakes ever. It’s very difficult to top an original and I think he did that absolutely beautifully because I don’t think the Glen Ford/Delmer Daves version worked as well as the one he did. He’s great with actors. He loves gangster movies. He loves action. He’s good.”

Moving the setting from France to Asia should not change the heart of the story, says Sarkissian, but it will change the look. “It’s all about character. I think we have a really great story. I think that world of Macau and Hong Kong is wonderful. I don’t think we’re going to have that stylized bent guns and all of that. I don’t want to make a stylistic movie. The style will be there. I just want to tell a good story. I just want to tell a very good gangster story. I love gangster movies.”

With all due respect to Melville, Sarkissian thinks he has a stronger script for his version.

“It’s dated. It’s just dated. The characters, if you see it, Alain Delon, Gian Maria Volante, Bourvil and Yves Montand were fantastic, but the story kind of doesn’t hold together. It falls apart and doesn’t make sense in certain areas. It’s basically pretty much the same storyline. It’s about a guy who’s in prison, who was put in prison by someone, he lost the love of his life to this gangster who put him away for five years and he comes out seeking revenge. He hooks up with this guy who’s a hitman to try and do damage to this gangster.”

Plus, the gangster movie is a Hollywood tradition, so it’s coming back home, even though it’s shooting abroad. “Jean-Pierre Melville actually took from the Cagney and Bogart movies. When Jean-Pierre Melville was directing gangster movies, he was really imitating American gangster movies. We’re basically taking his imitation to bring back to what we did.”

It’s too early for casting, but Sarkissian was pretty outspoken about the A-list actors he’d pursue for any of the roles. “You know what, I have a wish list. I swear it’s so fantastic but Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, I’ve got ‘em all in my head, I hope to God one of them [accepts.] Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Tom Hardy, they could all be fantastic either as the hitman or the Corey character.”

We’ll have more on The Red Circle after we walk the line through Copland every knight and day.