In the tradition of Ode to Billy Joe, The Coward of the County, Take This Job and Shove It, The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia and Harper Valley P.T.A. comes Bad, Bad Leroy Brown: The Movie!
It’s kind of surprising that none of Jim Croce’s character songs were ever turned into films during the 1970s, but thirty-five years after his most famous tune hit number one on the charts, producer Warren Zide (whom I’ve worked for) is going to see about turning “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” into an action-comedy franchise. Zide, who’s had a little success using song titles as franchise starters (e.g. American Pie), secured the rights by cold-calling Croce’s family. According to Croce’s widow, they’ve always wanted to do a big-screen version of one of Croce’s songs, so they happily struck a deal with Zide.
Re-reading the lyrics, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” is essentially a less violent version of the “Stag O Lee” story (which became a huge hit for Lloyd Price in 1954 as “Stagger Lee”). The way Croce tells it, Leroy is all reputation until he makes eyes at another man’s girl; a fight ensues, and Leroy winds up looking like “a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone”.
I love cocky action film protagonists with way overdrawn “badass” accounts (see Burton, Jack), so I’m hoping Zide sticks with the deflating aspects of Croce’s tune. It’s always more fun when the hero walks into every fight with an eighty-percent chance of taking a beating.