Irish director Neil Jordan, currently filming The Gambler with Nick Nolte, in France, recently beat off stiff competition for the film rights to Peter Carey’s best-seller The True Story of the Kelly Gang.
In the novel, Carey, an Australian who won the Booker Prize for Oscar and Lucinda, gives a first person account of his country’y most powerful legend, Ned Kelly, the son of dirt poor Irish immigrants who, to most Australians, was a scapegoat and patriot persecuted by “English” landlords and their agents.
Unjustly charged with crimes he did not commit, Kelly was forced into a life as a highwayman. With his brothers and two friends, Kelly eluded a massive police manhunt for 20 months, living by his wits and strong heart, supplementing his bushwhacking skills and ingenious bank robberies until he was captured and hanged in 1880.
Mel Gusow writing in the New York Times says, “The book is an Australian western, and on another level it is a search for the roots of the nation’s character.” ♦