Legendary cult director Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop, Cockfighter), who hasn't made a movie in over 15 years, is returning with a vengeance in 2006 - he's got one film in production and another was just announced. The first, Trapped Ashes, is a horror anthology on which he is one of four segment directors. The second, however, is (I'm so, so sorry for what I'm about to say) the full Monte, if you will. According to Variety, Hellman has agreed to direct Desperados, a western about the Dalton gang, based on a novel of the same name by Ron Hansen. (Hansen, who also wrote the novel on which The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was based, is having a pretty big year himself.)

The screenplay, which will focus on "the exploits of the Dalton gang and the beautiful Eugenia Moore, who fell in love with Bob Dalton and helped the brothers rob trains", is currently being written by Charles Eastman; shooting is expected to begin this fall. Though no major studio is involved, the film's profile is raised substantially by the presence of a couple of guys named Paul Thomas Anderson and Martin Scorsese, who will be executive producing. Think they hold Hellman in high esteem?