The New Lew…Archer, That Is: Ross Macdonald’s PI Hits the Big Screen

The Galton Case by Ross Macdonald
Diving in mid-series.
According to Deadline, Warner Brothers has negotiated the rights to Ross Macdonald’s classic hard-boiled P.I., Lew Archer in order to make a series of movies about him. They won’t be starting with the earliest novels, however, choosing instead to begin with The Galton Case, which falls a little later in the series.

Ross Macdonald was one of the true masters of the hard-boiled novel.  But that is not to say Lew Archer was monolithic and unchanging. There’s a wonderful article at The Thrilling Detective, in fact, detailing Archer’s growth through the series.  I’d highly recommend looking it over before grabbing up the Galton Case. Of course, I’d recommend reading the whole series back to back, but then, I usually do.

Paul Newman as Lew Harper
Word has it that Newman changed Archer to Harper because he thought H names were lucky.
The studio is saying they view the Archer movies as an “elevated noir franchise,” which sounds intriguing at least. True noirs in modern Hollywood are few and far between, and it would be nice to see what could be done to bring them back.

Joel Silver will be producing, but there’s no word yet on casting.  It probably won’t be worse than the disastrous idea of using Brian Keith, which resulted in a failed television series—Archer—in the mid-seventies, but it’s hard to imagine it being better than the big-screen movies starring Paul Newman. (Archer was on the small screen one other time, in a made for television movie starring Peter Graves. I never saw that one, but if I had to guess, I’d lay my money on it falling somewhere between Newman and Keith.)


Hat tip: @Tuphlos


  1. Jake Hinkson

    I think Harper is one of Newman’s most underrated roles. And, you know, I was going to write more about this, but sweet Jesus, I think I’m going to go watch Harper instead.

  2. Megan Frampton

    I’ve read most of the Macdonalds, I think, and Lew Archer is a fantastic character. As long as they keep him on the noir side of things, it’ll be good.

  3. kevin greenstreet

    It’ll take the right actor with solid chops. Although I thought Paul Newman did a dynamite job, MacDonald himself was less than satisfied with ANY of Hollywood’s rather feeble attempts of adapting his work to screen. It’ll take an A-list director as well, one with vision. Let’s hope it works out so a wider audience can can discover this excellent material.

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