Mimi Leder seems to at least be on parole from Director Jail. She spent a good eight years in the hoosegow, charged with capital crimes including Pay It Forward and The Peacemaker. The 21st century has seen her working in a lot of television, the Director Jail version of stamping license plates. But now she’s out of the joint and has one movie, a crime film called The Code starring The Late Morgan Freeman, ready for release and is looking for his next project.
And it seems like she’s looking to go right back into Director Jail, as the movie she wants to make is about Woody Guthrie as a Merchant Marine in WWII. The film, Remember Their Names, will be based on Jim Longhi’s book Woody, Cisco and Me, which is a memoir about Longhi’s time in the Merchant Marines alongside Woody and fellow folksinger Cisco Houston. Woody tried to get out of the service in WWII and pleaded to become a USO singer, as he thought his songs could do more good for the cause that way, but when he was denied Cisco, a frequent collaborator and friend, got him on a boat. They sailed from America to Siciliy to Normandy, and Woody, who was a dish washer on board, sang for the men very often.
I love Woody Guthrie; to me he is one of the greatest Americans of the 20th century. I love the idea that someone is making another Woody movie (Bound for Glory was the only other Woody movie I can think of, and that came out in 1975. Also, I hate it, despire the fact that it has the one-two punch of being about Woody and being directed by Hal Ashby, one of my favorite filmmakers), I just wonder if anyone else will want to see a movie about folk singers on a boat not having any real adventures (there were some torpedo incidents, but no fighting as far as I know). Kudos to Leder for risking her newfound freedom on this one.
Behind every great book adaptation is a forgettable first try. — By Ryan Covey