After the deadly serious cinematic landscape of 2007, you’d think filmmakers might want to lighten up a bit. You know, give up some laffs. Boffo ones. Oh, screw that; leave the mirthmaking to Ben Stiller and the Wayans brothers. But when you’re a producer looking for some depressing, dire material to adapt, who you gonna call?

Faulkner, of course. William Faulkner.

The Hollywood Reporter says that Picture Entertainment and Plum Pictures have optioned Intruder in the Dust, one of Faulkner’s later novels (1948) and supposedly one of his most quickly written. The latter factoid only matters because the story was penned as a direct response to racism in the South, and the speed at which it was written leads a sort of urgency to Faulkner’s sometimes lugubrious stream of consciousness prose.

The novel focuses on Lucas Beauchamp, a black farmer (who also featured in the author’s previous novel, Go Down, Moses) accused of stabbing a white man in the back. He’s defended by black and white teenagers and a spinster from a long-established southern family.

The story was filmed right after publication; Clarence Brown’s flick is well-regarded; not enough to show up on DVD, but you can catch Robert Osborne waxing enthusiastic about it now and then on TCM. No creative staff has been announced for this pic yet; the rumor that Intruder will feature Ted Danson playing all roles should be aggressively cast in doubt.