Per Deadline, James Mangold has signed on to direct a biopic of legendary silent comedian Buster Keaton.
The film is in development at 20th Century Studios, and will be based on the book Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase by Marion Meade. Executives have reportedly made this project a top priority as they meet with writers to adapt the book.
An icon of American cinema, Keaton was a pioneer in the the early days of silent movies and to this day is considered one of the greatest physical comedians in film history. His stunt work on such classics like The General and Sherlock Jr. are still considered some of the more impressive set pieces to be undertaken, and still hold up today.
He descended into alcoholism in the late 1930s after a divorce and a loss of artistic independence by signing with MGM, but recovered in the 1940s, remarrying and became an honoured comedic performer for the rest of his life, earning an Academy Honorary Award in 1959.
Considering his status as one of the founding figures in film history, it’s a surprise Keaton’s life hasn’t been the subject of a biopic already.
Mangold seems like a good fit here, as he already has biopic experience with 2005’s Johnny Cash film Walk The Line, and is also comfortable with elaborate set pieces from films such as Logan, 3:10 To Yuma, and The Wolverine.
This project also keeps Mangold in the Disney and 20th Century Studios family, where he currently has a first-look deal. He’s currently winding down filming on Indiana Jones 5, having been tapped by Steven Spielberg himself to take over.
We’ll wait to hear more news on the biopic, including whether it will cover Keaton’s entire life or just a smaller part of it. With Mangold at the helm we can reasonably hope for something great, but even if all the movie ends up doing is introducing a new generation to the magic of Sherlock Jr., it will have been worth it.