I’ve always said that the greatest movie ever made is The Deer Hunter. And it’s no secret that I experience the most insane dreams possible.
So last night, I dreamt that The Deer Hunter was never produced at all and instead, in its place, the original script titled The Man Who Came to Play was made. I know nothing of this apparently “spec” script, other than it involves friends going to Las Vegas to play Russian Roulette. Michael Cimino and Deric Washburn later repurposed this screenplay into The Deer Hunter, switching out Vegas for Vietnam.
In fact, as far as I know, only the Russian Roulette scenes survived in the final draft from the original treatment. There’s no telling what The Man Who Came To Play would have looked like, but if my dream is any indication, it would have fit in well with the dark 70s canon.
This script, written by Louis A Garfinkle and soap opera actor Quinn Redeker, is apparently for sale online. There’s no telling how much it costs and I couldn’t find any of its story details, but my main question is why did this friend or friends go to Vegas to play Russian Roulette?
Did they do it willfully?
Were they coerced?!
I understand why Cimino and Washburn repurposed it. It made sense for the time and it absolutely worked. But I like to play this game of “what if”. Nowadays, I find the original concept to be far more darker and nihilistic, especially if the friends were written to be Vietnam vets.
I can’t help but think that The Man Who Came To Play would have made a terrific spiritual sequel to Taxi Driver. Think about it: Bobby DeNiro as Travis Bickle. We’ll pretend that the ending to Taxi Driver wasn’t the dying dream of a mass shooter. Instead, Bickle survives and goes to Vegas where’s he’s once again disgusted with the crime and decadence of Sin City. One way or another, he finds himself reliving the nightmares of Vietnam; he begins entertaining depraved businessmen by hitting the underground Russian Roulette circuit.
I see a lot of Paul Schrader’s “God’s lonely man” in Garfinkle and Redeker’s concept. But oh well. We got The Deer Hunter instead and we should all be thankful for that.
But if anyone knows anything about this script, please reach out to me.