Max Allan Collins Still Wants To Make ROAD TO PURGATORY

Author of Road To Perdition still trying to push through sequel to Sam Mendes' poetic 2002 gangster classic.

Sam Mendes' captivating and poetic 2002 gangster film Road to Perdition is a movie I watch five or six times a year, I have something of an unhealthy obsession with it. If I wake up in a bad mood when I arrive at my desk on a morning to start work and I can't really get into the mood to write something, I always trust this father & son morality tale to transport me to a different world and suddenly I've lost two hours of my life to it. And then I want to watch it again. Immediately. I probably shouldn't say this but sometimes I just switch my email off, the devil of 21st century work-life and get caught up in Conrad L. Hall's breathtaking cinematography, Mendes' quiet and beautifully dark direction, the laudatory and career best performance from Jude Law who has never been so compelling, Tom Hanks' damned soul Michael Sullivan trying to redeem the terrible live he's lead by leaving something beyond for his son even if that's just him breathing, Thomas Newman's evocative score, and just how alive such a movie about death and despicable men is. That haunting moment when Paul Newman's blue eyes are introduced on that colder than the Arctic day and talks about honour or the unforgettable way he bows out from cinema in the rain with so much dignity. This is cinema... As you can probably tell I truly admire Road to Perdition. Maybe it's because it's the gangster film from my generation, a movie I saw in the theatre as I wasn't alive in the James Cagney era, or when The Godfather or Once Upon A Time in America came out and I was too young for Goodfellas or Miller's Crossing. Road to Perdition is my gangster film, so when talk of a sequel rears it's head I always get a little nervous. However Max Allan Collins, the author of the original Road to Perdition graphic novel that became the film, has forever been the man behind attempts to make a sequel, so I suppose that counts for something. Collins has already long ago wrote the novel sequel 'Road to Purgatory' (and further follow-ups) about Michael Sullivan Jr. (Tom Hanks' son) who is just about the only person to have survived the original film which ended with all of John Connor's gangsters deceased. Ten years have passed in the story (and in real life it does get off the ground next year) and it takes the 30's gangster tale to a now post World War II setting. In a new interview with The Playlist, Collins says;
€œIt€™s ten year later and the basic idea is the son has gone to the early days war and basically become an Audie Murphy kind of figure, he is literally the first Medal of Honor winner of World War II. And he comes back, he€™s wounded and comes home, and was raised by an Italian family. No one knows who he really is. He was adopted and he becomes a hero within the Italian-American community in the Chicago are,€
In the novel Sullivan Jr is hired by Eliot Ness, the real life F.B.I. agent and of course Kevin Costner's character from the Untouchables;
€œAnd so he uses this to go undercover basically, to work for Frank Nitti to put himself into a position to take vengeance for his father€™s death.
The novel plays out that Sullivan is torn between F.B.I. and working for Nitti, who Stanley Tucci played in the original film and could return for a sequel;
And there€™s a novel sequel to that called €˜Roads To Paradise€™ and in November in the last book in the saga comes out€”as a graphic novel again€”called €˜Return To Perdition€™ and that takes us clear up into the early 1970s. And we€™re dealing by the third book€with the grandson of the character that was played by Tom Hanks.€
So what's the status on a proposed follow-up as of Oct 2011? Well the same as it's always been. No studio is interested without Sam Mendes directing and as Collins wants to make it himself for $25 million, no studio is wanting to put that kind of money into a first time director whose 10 years later sequel whose only cross-over actor is a supporting role for Tucci. So it's been at a cross-roads for the past few years. Collins says;
€œI€™ve got a screenplay that I wrote, and frankly what happened for a lot it was for years€I was holding out to direct, and I just couldn€™t get the job done. I couldn€™t get anybody to let me do it. If you€™re a guy like me who€™s directed a half million dollar movie and you say, €˜Yeah I€™m up for doing $25 million dollar movie,€™ they look at you askance, as they say. I get that,€ he explained. €œBasically there€™s two paths we€™ve been going down, one is to do it as a big budget movie and I would not be the director and the other would be to do it as more of an independent film in the $5-8 million dollar range in which case I might get to direct it. So this is still very much in the works.€
Collins clearly has a way he wants to specifically tell the sequel and is holding out for a studio to give him the chance to make it the way he wants but it sounds like unless he can get a star to attach himself (and I'm just throwing a name out there... Shia LaBeouf) then it doesn't look like the film is going to happen. Which is probably for the best. Gangster sequels like The Godfather Part II are rare and there's nothing with a Road To Perdition sequel that couldn't be done as an original film with completely different characters.

Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.