Ridley Scott’s next film, American Gangster (starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in the most anticipated act-off since De Niro and Pacino sat down for coffee at Kate Mantilini), is currently slated to open November 2, 2007. Later that month, the director of Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator will turn seventy-years-old. Somewhere on the set of Penetration (aka Body of Lies), Scott will probably celebrate this milestone by blowing out some candles, graciously thanking his cast and crew, and, a few minutes later, ordering everyone back to work so as not to fall behind schedule.

Earlier in his career, Scott was known as something of a plodder; between 1980 and 1999, he only made eight films – and most of those were box office disappointments. But since scoring a commercial and critical success with 2000’s Gladiator, Scott has kept up an impressive, almost movie-a-year clip, alternating between large scale logistical nightmares (Black Hawk Down and Kingdom of Heaven) and intimate character studies (Matchstick Men and A Good Year). If the work were suffering, I’d be worried that he’s merely keeping busy ala John Huston in his wildly up-and-down prime. But Ridley seems engaged each time out. And he’s also keeping himself sharp by cultivating fertile creative relationships with two of the best screenwriters going (William Monohan and Steven Zaillian).

So I say keep ‘em comin’! And it appears Ridley intends to do precisely that, as he’s just acquired Child 44, the non-sequel to Moon 44 based on a novel by Tom Rob Smith. Scheduled for publication in 2008, Child 44 is about a secret police officer in Stalin-controlled Russia who goes off the reservation to investigate a series of child slayings. Sounds interesting. Just don’t expect to see it on the big screen for another few years; after completing Penetration, the plan is for Scott to move right into the Monohan-scripted adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.