Timothy Hutton’s in a movie called The Ghost Writer. This is a big deal because I’m in love with Timothy Hutton. OK, so really I’m in love with Archie Goodwin, the character he played in the Nero Wolfe series. Archie’s a wiseass, a snappy dresser, intelligent eyes in a believeable face. Archie’s Mr Wolfe’s right-hand man, he’s the administrator, the go-to guy who calls up the troops – Saul, Benny, Lon et al – and tells them succinctly what they need to know to get the job done. He weaves in and out of classy high-society and has a healthy relationship with the cops and capos alike.
I saw the trailer for The Ghost Writer on The Guardian, wasted the first few minutes remembering that I had read this book of political intrigue and murder – it’s a cracker – seeing and admiring Ewan McGregor’s spot on take on the main hero and being surprised by James’ Belushi’s convincing turn as the decision-making publisher. I was just comparing the film version of the wishy-washy old-school UK publisher and the written version when the camera flashed on Timothy. When it turned out that that was it for Timothy Hutton in the movie, I felt cheated.
Other great movies from great books have to start with the actioners: The Patrick O’Brian series of novels about adventures on the high seas are amazingly engaging historical stories that appeal to all ages. I thought that Master and Commander and The Far Side of the World were two separate books that were amalgamated in one movie until I checked the listings on Amazon. Peter Weir the director was the magic meister who brought it all home perfectly. Russell Crowe and whasisname, (Jennifer Connelly’s husband, good-looking, starred with Russell in A Beautiful Mind too), were a terrific piece of casting. The adventure was thrillingly told and its appeal stretches to everyone with a heart and a sensitive pulse, from those who like the excitement of physical adventure stories to anyone with 10 or 11-year-old boys of their own. (Paul Bettany, was the Irish scientist, the captain’s best friend and counterfoil to the captain’s primary role in His Majesty’s Navy.)