Those who remember the original, 1968-1970 action-adventure show starring Robert Wagner as burglar-turned-government agent Alexander Mundy are right to cringe at the prospect of seeing Smith chew up the same role for Universal Pictures. Although he can certainly turn in some good performances (I’m thinking of his work in Six Degrees of Separation  and Ali ), Smith doesn’t have the understated “cool” to step into the shoes of Wagner, an actor seemingly birthed to fill out a tuxedo and convertible sports car. Though Mundy was an inveterate playboy with a criminal streak wider than Cleveland, he came off as a charming rogue. Smith’s interpretation of the part is likely to be more slapstick than suave.
Variety says that the prospect of a Thief remake has been bouncing around Hollywood for the last decade, with the project once slated to feature Michael Douglas in the lead. He’d have inhabited the role more easily, though Hugh Jackman might have been another good choice, maybe with ex-Man from U.N.C.L.E. star Robert Vaughn replacing Malachi Throne as Mundy’s “handler,” Noah Bain.
Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?
But seriously, after Bewitched, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Dukes of Hazzard, I Spy, McHale’s Navy, Scooby-Do, and Starsky and Hutch, how many more times can U.S. filmmakers drain the well of TV history for their future big-budget projects? Can’t Hollywood come up with any new ideas anymore?
* * *By the way, Wild, Wild West fans should note that the complete first season of the original Robert Conrad-Ross Martin series is set for release in DVD format in early June. I’m already whistling the show’s memorable theme song in anticipation.
READ MORE: “The Five: Shows That Should Never Be on the Big Screen,” by Bob Sassone (TV Squad).