John Patton Ford Writing To Direct Netflix Drama On Union Spy Whose Hijacking Of Confederate Locomotive Hastened Civil War’s End

EXCLUSIVE: John Patton Ford is writing to direct an untitled film for Netflix with 21 Laps producing. Ford wrote and directed the Aubrey Plaza starrer Emily the Criminal.

The drama follows a mysterious Union spy named James Andrews who, along with infantry volunteers, stole a Confederate steam engine and planned to destroy the entire Confederacy’s supply line to end the war.

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Racing along at speeds up to 60 mph, they destroyed track to the main Southern supply route behind them and shut down communications by cutting telegraph lines, all to disrupt the Confederacy’s supply line. The six surviving raiders became the first to receive the Medal of Honor, awarded by Abraham Lincoln. The caper also would be the historical basis for Buster Keaton’s 1926 silent film The General.

Ford will write to direct the drama, which is based on his idea and is part of a package that includes Russell Bonds’ seminal Civil War book Stealing the General.

Shawn Levy, Dan Levine and Dan Cohen brought it to Netflix and will produce for 21 Laps. The company has Stranger Things with Netflix and the limited series All the Light We Cannot See, with Levy directing all the episodes in the adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book. The company is also producing the Halle Berry starrer Never Let Go for Lionsgate, the Netflix limited series The Perfect Couple with Nicole Kidman and Liev Schreiber and for Disney+ Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day starring Eva Longoria and George Lopez.

Patton, who next will direct the dark comedy Huntington for Studiocanal and Blueprint Pictures, is repped by CAA, Black Box Management and Yorn Levine Barnes. The book deal was brokered by Hotchkiss Daily & Associates.

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