EXCLUSIVE: A group of top-drawer London investors – judges, barristers and the like – have put together a £250,000 script fund to develop several World War II pics to take to the market at Cannes. Alastair Maclean-Clark, producer of the Bronte biopic I wrote about a few weeks ago, is running Third Bar with former Merrill Lynch banker Nick Goodson. The company’s just about to go out and raise more cash. Maclean-Clark, who at one point had a first-look deal with Disney in the UK for horror movies, has a track record in raising money through the Enterprise Investment Scheme. He raised £18 million over a seven-period through the EIS, including money for BBC Films.
Among the planned pics… Northern Ireland Screen, the local film commission, is backing a biopic of Paddy Mayne, the County Down-born soldier who helped found the SAS, the British equivalent of Delta Force. Mayne became one of the most highly-decorated British soldiers of the war, despite his insubordination towards officers.
The Shetland Bus tells the story of Leif Larsen, who became the most highly-decorated naval officer during the conflict. Larsen ran a ferry between the Shetland Isles of Scotland and the port of Bergen, helping Jews escape from Norway. TV writer Keith Lindsay is penning this one.
But Fall of Eagles sounds like the most interesting project. Richard Crawford, co-writer of period romp The Abduction Club, has written the screenplay. People have been telling me I’m too much of a cheerleader for projects, but this one does sound like a doozy: a non-fiction Guns of Navarone. In 1943 German army officer Otto Skorzeny led a raid to rescue Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who was being held prisoner at the summit of Italy’s highest mountain. Skorzeny swooped in by glider. His soldiers stormed the isolated mountaintop hotel, where Il Duce was imprisoned, and delivered him back to Hitler at his Wolf’s Lair on the Eastern Front. Valkyrie notwithstanding, I wonder if the public’s ready for a movie with a sympathetic Nazi.