Lately I’ve read that the American remake of (2000 / French) Strangers- On – A – Train – while on vacation- thriller, WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY, has been re-activated — which brings back a (hopefully amusing) story about how the film business can works:
11-12 years ago, a short time after the original WITH A FRIEND LIKE HARRY first played in the the United States, I got a late call from a successful screenwriter pal -at that moment in LA -who asked me if I’d seen the movie.
HIM: There’s a courier from Maramax bringing a VHS to your house.
ME: OK.. What’s up?
HIM: I’m supposed to pitch them my American re-write at 10 tomorrow morning NY. It’s hot. They’ve got Wes Craven attached. I’m going to be on the plane all night. I don’t like to write in flight so I need some help with the changes. Can you watch the movie as soon as it gets there?
ME: ..It’s kind of late.
HIM: 300 bucks
ME: Ahh right.
The courier arrives at my door.
I’m watching the movie. (probably drinking something)
Fade out – fade in: I’m back on phone w/ successful screenwriter:
ME: ..So I thought it was pretty good. Did you watch it?
ME: So what did you think?
HIM: I thought it was pretty good.
ME: So what do you think needs to be changed?
HIM: Nothing. It was pretty good.
HIM: Listen, Ray, we gotta change some things – that’s what they’re paying for – my agent says gig is like, like 200k, just for the 1st draft!
ME: OK.. so you want me to change some stuff ?
HIM: Yeah. Just go in there and change a bunch of things around .. but still make sure it’s still good or don’t make it much worse.
I can’t remember much of anything of what went on in the original movie, much less what I did to it that night but the next morning my buddy stopped by to pick up my treatment, gave it a fast read @ the corner coffee shop, handed me some bills and seemed happy as he rushed off. As far as I know, an hour later, he pitched exactly what I gave him. I don’t think he actually got the gig in (he was up against a bunch of other A-listers) – or – since my pal was always working on 3-4 things at once .. maybe he did and never bothered to mention it again(?) — and so just maybe my “re-conception” of the film, which took not much longer to create than it took to actually watch the film, has remained intact and is what they’re working with to this day ?? .. Should I find the notion funny or sad?
ME: I don’t know.