One of the best stories of early Hollywood has gotten a new lease on life.
Steve Barancik, who scripted John Dahl’s hit “The Last Seduction,” has been hired to rewrite a story that Barry Levinson has long wanted to direct called “Unholy City.”
It’s the true story of a wave of corruption in Hollywood during the 1930s that was uncovered by restaurateur Clifford Clinton, owner of the popular Clifton’s cafeterias chain, where the motto during the Depression was “Eat what you want, pay what you feel like.” The scandal led to Mayor Frank Shore being ousted from office.
Barancik’s deal was made by agent Brad Gross. The film’s being produced by Mark Johnson and Gail Mutrux and supervised by TriStar’s Kevin Misher.
According to Mutrux, the film will center around Clinton, a puritanical reformist, and his relationship with a grizzled private detective named Harry Raymond, who was hired to investigate corruption. “Clinton, who came from a missionary background, was shocked to find widespread prostitution and gambling in Los Angeles, and soon he started a radio show, urging listeners that the whore-houses should be closed,” says Mutrux.
The case took a dramatic turn when Raymond was killed in a car explosion. Soon the mayor’s brother was implicated in the scandal. The murder was apparently authorized by City Hall and carried out by the intelligence squad of the Los Angeles Police Dept., Mutrux says.
Levinson would still like to direct the film, but it hasn’t been an easy adaptation, as both William Goldman and Pete Dexter have already turned in script drafts.