Dark City Director Adapting Heinlein’s The Unpleasant Profession Of Jonathan Hoag

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Director Alex Proyas has had a hit-or-miss history when it comes to genre projects. The Crow and Dark City are both legitimate cult classics. I, Robot and Knowing, however… More recently, Proyas has been attached to several ill-fated projects, including Dracula Year Zero and Paradise Lost. Hopefully he’ll have better luck with his latest endeavor, directing a big-screen version of Robert Heinlein’s 1942 novella, The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag.

If the film actually does make it to screen, things will have come full circle for Proyas in a way. According to Deadline, the novella actually inspired Proyas’ mind-bending Dark City. Jonathan Hoag tells the story of a man who has no memory of how he spends his daylight hours. After discovering a red substance – possibly blood – under his fingernails one night, he hires a pair of detectives to investigate him and hopefully reveal the truth about just what he does during the day.

As much as I love the works of Phillip K. Dick, I wish Hollywood would broaden their horizons when it comes to science fiction source material, and Heinlein’s oeuvre would be a great place to start. While there have been movie versions of a few of Heinlein’s books over the years, including Paul Verhoeven’s satirical Starship Troopers, there are still tons of his books that would make amazing films (and let’s face it, the Starship Troopers movie wasn’t exactly a faithful adaptation.) I would personally give my left arm to see movie versions of some of Heinlein’s “juvenile” novels. Raiding my dad’s old paperback copies of books like Red Planet, Citizen of the Galaxy, and Have Space Suit, Will Travel took up a significant chunk of my adolescent reading time, and any one of them would make for a great all-ages adventure flick.

In the meantime, there’s supposedly a Starship Troopers reboot in the works, one which will hopefully do a better job translating Heinlein’s excellent novel to the screen. And hell, isn’t it about time somebody made a Stranger in a Strange Land movie?


  1. Some good comments there… you’d need some creative casting to pull a few of them off though… How about Betty White as… The Mother Thing 🙂

  2. Geoff says:

    This is one of my favorite novellas. If he does do it, I really, really hope he gets it right.

  3. Codyhenrytrombone says:

    Is that Bret Spiner? 

  4. Bob Rose Jr. says:

    I’d like to see more Heinlein too. My understanding is that director Nicholas Roeg tried to film “Stranger In a Strange Land” back in the 70’s as a vehicle for David Bowie, but had to settle on Walter Tevis’ “The Man Who Fell To Earth” instead. I’d also like to see Heinlein’s “Friday” and “Starman Jones” made too. 

  5. Rhonfea says:

    The first science fiction I ever read was Glory Road. I am surprised that no one has filmed it yet. Glory Road has everything a block buster needs; a charming hero, action, romance, humor and interesting monsters. 

  6. You missed George Pal’s 1950 “Destination Moon” based on “The Man Who Sold The Moon” (that’s okay, so did everyone else) but more recently “The Puppet Masters” with Donald Sutherland, which was actually in my opinion pretty close to the spirit of the novel.  

    However, in general I agree, Heinlein has been woefully overlooked as a source for films.  Like  Rhonfea, I can see “Glory Road” as a good choice.  I’d suggest “Magic, Inc.” (HBO’s “Cast A Deadly Spell” came close, there.)

    Unfortunately a lot of his earlier (and I think, better) works suffer from dated science–an inhabitable Venus, for example.