“You thought I was dead--right?”
Leonard Gardner hasn’t been visible in Hollywood or the literary world since 1972, when he adapted his acclaimed novel, “Fat City,” for director John Huston. Other than doing some assignment work, such as revisions on “The Milagro Bean Field War,” he’s been living away from it all in Mill Valley, Calif. He said he’s been working on another novel, free-lance magazine pieces, and some original projects that haven’t worked out.
Now Gardner’s resurfaced with Skouras Pictures’ “Valentino Returns,” based on his 1965 short story, “Christ Has Returned to Earth and Preaches Here Nightly.”
His script, he said, is “built around the lives of some of the people I knew in the ‘50s--guys who spent all their time in cars, cruising and talking and dreaming of picking up some mythical, sexy woman. The twist of the story is that the main boy’s father is wilder than he was.”
Like “Fat City,” “Valentino Returns” is set in the Stockton of Gardner’s youth.
By the way, look for Gardner, 55, in his screen debut--playing Luke, a friend of the dad, who’s portrayed by Frederic Forrest.