Literature Gives Us Screen Gems and Screen Duds

I don’t watch many movies or much TV, but I’ve seen enough to have a sense of what it’s like when literature makes it to the screen.

Often, the results are at least a little disappointing. Great literature has a certain “voice” that’s not easy to capture on film, and some content usually has to be left out because of time constraints — even in a miniseries.

Plus there are inevitable revisions — graphic stuff might be sanitized, happier endings might be tacked on, and performers are usually better looking than the fictional characters they play (more on that third point when I mention Jane Eyre later).

In addition, the actress or actor playing a fictional character you love has also played roles in other movies, so it can be hard to suspend belief about the performer being that character.

Then there’s the fact that “seeing” something in one’s imagination (via the printed or eBook page) can be infinitely more interesting than seeing it depicted on a screen.

But sometimes movie or TV treatments of literature almost match the original literary work, or even surpass it. The screenplay writers might improve the weaker parts and/or distill a too-long work into its wonderful essence. Also, the acting and/or direction might be so spectacular that viewers get more than a great story.

Anyway, it’s time to for me to discuss several specific literature-inspired movies and miniseries (the BBC has aired plenty of the latter, with some of course based on Jane Austen novels). And I hope commenters with much more screen knowledge than I will name various other productions.

I recently saw To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time, and — while I missed some of Harper Lee’s earnest/humane/lyrical prose — the 1962 film mostly did justice to a novel in which there’s no justice for its African-American characters. The cinematography is evocative, and the acting terrific. Gregory Peck won an Oscar for his ultra-convincing portrayal of lawyer Atticus Finch, and Mary Badham as his young daughter Scout and Brock Peters as the doomed Tom Robinson are pretty darn good, too.

More great acting, from Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn and Hailee Steinfeld as Mattie Ross, helps make the Coen brothers’ True Grit movie almost as good as the Charles Portis novel. That 2010 film hewed more closely to Portis’ seriocomic western than the 1969 True Grit film starring John Wayne.

Acting also makes the 2002 movie The Hours — from Michael Cunningham’s novel — a pleasure to watch. Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, and Ed Harris are mesmerizing, and Nicole Kidman isn’t bad as Virginia Woolf.

There’s stellar acting, too, in the pioneering 1977 Roots miniseries — based on Alex Haley’s book — that brought a then-rare black drama to TV. LeVar Burton, Cicely Tyson, Maya Angelou, Ed Asner, and dozens of others!

And let’s go all the way back to 1933, when The Emperor Jones movie based on the Eugene O’Neill play featured a tour de force performance by Paul Robeson that still leaps off the screen eight decades later. (I realize turning a play into a movie is different than turning a novel into a film.)

But then there are cinematic disappointments, whether the letdown is moderate or severe. For instance, the 1955 East of Eden movie — while great in certain ways — leaves out a huge chunk of the novel as well as one of John Steinbeck’s most sublime character creations: the intellectual, compassionate Asian-American servant Lee, who is absolutely central to the book. One wonders if there was some racism in that decision — and in the casting of such movies as 1993’s The House of the Spirits that has so many non-Hispanic performers playing the crucial Hispanic roles in Isabel Allende’s novel.

Speaking of Steinbeck, the 1940 film The Grapes of Wrath starring Henry Fonda is mostly superb, but wrongly concludes in a more upbeat way than the novel. The 1949 movie A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court with Bing Crosby loses a lot by being significantly sunnier than Mark Twain’s novel, much of which takes a dim view of humanity and warfare. Bernard Malamud’s novel The Natural is grim and riveting, while the 1984 film version starring Robert Redford is unfortunately more of a gauzy, feel-good baseball tale with a happy ending that’s not in the book and doesn’t fit the story.

The 2002 movie treatment of The Count of Monte Cristo is serviceable while not viscerally capturing the magnificence of Alexandre Dumas’ page-turning revenge novel. But an obviously ill Richard Harris (who would die later that year) is brilliant as Edmond Dantes’ fellow prisoner Abbe Faria.

Harris is also Dumbledore in the first two of the eight Harry Potter films — a cinematic franchise of sustained excellence that features a who’s who of famous British thespians in memorable supporting roles. Yet a portion of the charm in J.K. Rowling’s novels isn’t quite there. Same with The Lord of the Rings movies — impressive and very exciting, but missing some of the intimacy and humor that’s almost as much a part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy as the epic stuff. Still, the Rings films and especially the Potter productions are pretty terrific.

The 1943 Jane Eyre film with Joan Fontaine as Jane and Orson Welles as Edward Rochester is quite good, but a big problem is the presence of…Fontaine and Welles. Both do admirable acting jobs, but are too good-looking for their roles. The soul-mate relationship Charlotte Bronte created was mostly based on an emotional and intellectual connection between plain Jane and not very handsome Rochester.

Yikes — I haven’t mentioned any Stephen King movies!

I’ll conclude by saying I just read Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son, a fascinating 2012 novel set in North Korea that takes an unsparingly look at that harsh country. Given the hacking of Sony due to The Interview movie, I doubt Johnson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book will soon be filmed…

What are some of your favorite movies based on literary works? And what are some lit-inspired films that disappointed you — and why?

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area โ€” unless youโ€™re replying to someone else. Also, please feel free to read through comments and reply to anyone you want; I love not only being in conversations, but also reading conversations in which I’m not involved!)

For three years of my Huffington Post literature blog, click here.

I’m also writing a literature-related book, but still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as Ann Landers and “Dear Abby,” and other notables such as Hillary Clinton, Coretta Scott King, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in New York City and Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

265 thoughts on “Literature Gives Us Screen Gems and Screen Duds

  1. I don’t have any specific examples, but it is hard to make a good movie from a novel that emphasizes psychology. Movies are very effective when it comes to plot, action, or dialogue but not when it comes to exploring a character’s inner life.

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  2. Another great post. Books to movies can be fraught with difficulties, which can include die-hard fans. But I think you’ve done really well to steer the post away from that and also write about the fact that some adaptations, while not 100 percent are still pretty good, or there’s an aspect of them, Like Monte Christo where there’s something that is spot on. Totally agree re East of Eden, oh and the upbeat ending on Grapes. Also Jane Eyre. I love when Welles first appears but equally a big chunk of me just thinks… yeah pure Hollywood, let’s not let the facts in the way of a good screen moment. Of course East of Eden is such a sprawling book. I guess that having Jimmy Dean available some bright executive maybe though…let’s just bin the first half. Wuthering Heights is another difficult one that way. but I always feel, well you are not going diss the Cathy/Heathcliff passion for the second half while I don’t know I can say the same for Eden. Prob better as a series.

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    • Thank you, Shehanne! Excellent comment, and glad you liked the post!

      You’re right that most movies based on novels don’t measure up to the novels, even as the films can still be quite good. And it can indeed help if a fictional work is turned into a series or miniseries rather than a one-off film.

      Hollywood just can’t stop itself from often casting people who are too good-looking for certain roles — not helped by the fact that most actresses and actors are good-looking. Sort of goes with the territory of that profession.

      Yes, with the “East of Eden” movie, having the charismatic James Dean available undoubtedly helped to skew things.

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  3. I like your post – but I do love my films as well as my books. Iโ€™ll admit my taste often leans somewhat towards popular culture so here are some books that for the most part I read sometime after seeing the movies. Essentially I really like both the book and the film, understanding at times the film sometimes strays a bit from the book.
    I especially love Bogart in the classic film version of Raymond Chandlerโ€™s The Big Sleep as much as the book.
    Get Shorty โ€“ book by Elmore Leonard
    Field of Dreams – Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella
    Apollo 13 โ€“ book by Jim Lovell & Jeffrey Kluger
    I only read the one book, The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, and liked it, but love the film series more. I like the updated use of technology in these thriller films.
    Spielbergโ€™s Lincoln, although based only on part of Doris Kearns Goodwinโ€™s excellent Team of Rivals โ€“ does it count when itโ€™s non-fiction?

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    • Thanks, VocareMentor, for your kind words and excellent comment!

      You’re absolutely right that some movies based on books — whether fiction or nonfiction — are terrific. It certainly doesn’t hurt when an actor like Humphrey Bogart is involved. ๐Ÿ™‚

      And it can be very interesting seeing the movie first and then reading the book. I don’t do that often, but when I have, it has been fascinating to notice what’s similar and what’s different. You mentioned reading “Shoeless Joe” after seeing “Field of Dreams” — I was struck by the mentions of J.D. Salinger in print but not on screen; apparently that reclusive author threatened to sue if included in the movie. I also read Jerzy Kosinski’s “Being There” after seeing the film, and thought the movie was better.

      Thanks, also, for the mentions of those others books and films. Movies based on nonfiction books could be a great blog post all its own!


      • I think that I read that upon publication, J.D. Salinger allowed Kinsella to use his name for the book of fiction only. In order to hopefully head off any possible legal action, when making the movie, the studio not only changed the characterโ€™s name but cast black actor James Earl Jones to further disassociate the character from Salinger. Indeed, the character of Terence Mann played by Mr. Jones is one of the most enjoyable parts of the movie.

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  4. Hi Dave … Wow, I’ve missed some good discussions! I completely agree with your comments about “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I can practically quote that book from memory by now, and I thought they did a fine job of bringing it to the screen; “To Kill a Mockingbird” is not only my favorite book, but one of my favorite movies. I also thought “Silence of the Lambs” was an excellent example of successfully bringing a book to the screen. In each case, the feel of the book and the most important elements of the book stayed true. As for disappointments, just about every Stephen King movie that has been made for the big screen has been a let-down compared to the book, but there are just too many twists and turns and details in his books for them to be successfully whittled down to a couple of hours. This is why Stephen King transfers very well to the television mini-series format — “Salem’s Lot”, “It”, and “The Stand” as examples. John Grisham’s “The Firm” was a huge disappointment for many of those who had read the book before seeing the movie. That book ended on a realistically dark note: the main character had lost everything, and he and his wife were pretty much going to be looking over their shoulders for the rest of their lives; it was a grim ending. The movie hinted at these things but in a way that seemed to suggest everything still might work out somewhere somehow because, after all, this is Tom Cruise! ๐Ÿ™‚ Another book, “The Great Gatsby” — my second favorite book of all time — apparently cannot make the transition for some reason. I think it may be that this is the kind of book where the reader comes away with his/her own little mind’s-eye movie, and although each reader’s interpretation is similar there are distinct differences. I don’t know if that even makes sense, but that’s my arm-chair analysis and I’m stickin’ to it, lol! I hope you’re having a wonderful year so far, Dave. Goodnight.

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    • Great to hear from you, Pat, and welcome back! There HAS been a lot of interesting discussion here about literature turned into movies. Thanks for adding to that with your excellent, at times funny thoughts!

      One could definitely tell that the incredibly talented people involved with the “To Kill a Mockingbird” film cared deeply about getting it right.

      I agree about Stephen King films. Some have been better than others — “The Dead Zone” was more moving than I expected — but many were duds. “Christine” was one example of the latter. I’ve never seen “The Shawshank Redemption”; some comments here have said it’s superb. You’re right that King’s work is usually better suited for TV adaptations; I’ve heard, for instance, that “Under the Dome” is excellent.

      Your mention of “The Firm” (which I haven’t read or seen) is yet another example of movies often having happier endings that don’t realistically match what leads up to those endings in the novels they’re based on. Funny Tom Cruise reference by you!

      Yes, movie makers don’t do justice to the sublime “The Great Gatsby.” Thanks for your eloquent thoughts about that. As I mentioned elsewhere, perhaps it also has something to do with movies emphasizing the “glamor” in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel rather than the book’s deeper aspects, and not taking an ironic enough look at the materialism Fitzgerald depicted.


      • Now that you mention it, “The Dead-Zone” was very well-done, and it stayed true to the book, for all intents and purposes. “Carrie” is another example of an excellent book-to-screen transition (I’m speaking of the original with Sissy Spacek; I haven’t seen the remake). As for “The Great Gatsby”, I think you may have hit the nail on the head, Dave … there is so much irony in that story. As you say, the films always focus on the glamour and the materialism. It makes for very beautiful, very boring renditions time after time, in my opinion. Maybe it’s just too hard to capture the subtle complexities of quiet loneliness and heartache and desperation in that “anything goes” Roaring 20’s setting. I don’t know, and I have obviously given it some thought, lol. When I think of “The Great Gatsby” I think of that green harbor light across the bay, the one Gatsby stood and watched, knowing it was the light at the end of the dock of Daisy and her husband. That light is so much more than a light to Jay Gatsby. It’s his connection to Daisy every night, and It’s a tangible representation of the hope that drives Gatsy ever forward: as long as Daisy is in that house across the bay, there’s still the chance he can win her heart. The parties are for Daisy, to get Daisy’s attention, to impress Daisy, to someday entice Daisy over to Jay’s side of the bay. And when the parties end, he stands there watching that green light. So much of this story can be boiled down to the exhilaration and the torture that is evoked in this man by that simple light. I don’t think any movie version has ever captured that.

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        • I haven’t seen “Carrie” in ages, Pat, but also remember it being very good, as you note. And it helps to have an actress of Sissy Spacek’s talent. A shame she isn’t in more movies these days; I wonder if it’s the usual ageism/sexism when it comes to older actresses finding work.

          Thanks for your VERY eloquent reflections on the green light and Daisy essences of “The Great Gatsby” novel that filmmakers can’t seem to capture. And your phrase “very beautiful, very boring renditions” is exactly right. Maybe that novel needs an “indie” director to try to get it right.

          I’ve heard about a silent “Gatsby” movie from 1926. (I believe it’s now lost.) I wonder what that one was like?


          • I’ve heard about the silent one, too, and I’ve heard it was the best interpretation, but apparently it’s long gone. I would love to see it. An “indie” is a brilliant idea … oh, we can only hope!

            Yes, Sissy Spacek was so good in Carrie, so believable. She is such a wonderful actress. I, too, have wondered why we don’t see more of her. I wouldn’t be surprised if, as you suggest, it’s simply a case of not being able to find work due to her age … and Sissy Spacek is one of those rare actresses, like Amy Madigan, who has allowed herself to age naturally. I don’t think Hollywood knows what to do with a star with wrinkles. Sad.

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            • Interesting, Pat, that the black-and-white silent version may have been the best!

              I know many early films have been lost, but it’s a little surprising that one inspired by such a famous novel didn’t survive. Of course, “The Great Gatsby” wasn’t as famous then as it became later.

              Sometimes older actresses end up on TV, but I haven’t seen much of Sissy Spacek there, either. Very good point about how older actresses who don’t go the plastic-surgery route have an even bigger handicap. “I donโ€™t think Hollywood knows what to do with a star with wrinkles” — well said!

              Meanwhile, many actors get to play “leading man” roles well after age 50, often paired with much younger actresses. When it comes to sexism, racism, etc., “liberal” Hollywood isn’t always so liberal.


              • Dave, I like your comment about the “leading man roles well after age 50”. Everybody always references Sean Connery — “he’s a millions years old and he still gets the girl” …a bit of an exaggeration, but a lot of truth to that statement. To be fair to the men, they’ve had to go the plastic surgery/botox route, too … George Clooney definitely hasn’t aged naturally, and Brad Pitt’s chronological age and his smooth face are slightly out of sync ๐Ÿ™‚ You’re right, Dave — Hollywood isn’t nearly as liberal as it likes to believe itself to be. In fact, Hollywood is pretty hypocritical.

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                • Sadly true, Pat. Sean Connery and George Clooney have frequently been paired with much younger actresses, as have Clint Eastwood, the late Paul Newman, and many other actors. I hadn’t thought about aging male movie stars getting plastic surgery, too; thanks for bringing up that interesting fact. For some reason (probably sexism is part of it), the media doesn’t talk about that as much as it does with female movie stars such as Renee Zellweger, Meg Ryan, etc.

                  Great comment! And, yes, Hollywood is often SO hypocritical.


            • Sissy Spacek was fantastic in Carrie. Her performance caused a variety of emotions to stir in me. I was empathetic, scared, angry at her tormentors/bullies, and sad all at the same time. There are very few actors/actresses who can bring out that level of emotion.

              I will never understand this obsession with looking young. Some of the most beautiful and graceful people I’ve ever seen are 50+. What I find ridiculous is people who have plastic surgery, and it’s obvious they’ve had plastic surgery. There is nothing attractive about going around town with a frozen-looking face and a knifed-up body.

              BTW, I saw the Carrie remake. Believe me, you’re not missing anything special.

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              • Sissy Spacek’s acting in various vehicles IS exceptional, Ana, and that was an exceptional description by you of her “Carrie” performance.

                It’s great that Spacek — and certain other movie stars, such as Frances McDormand — have resisted the plastic-surgery pressure. As you say, aging naturally is best, while some celebrities who’ve had work done look just plain weird.


                • Gotta give props to Piper Laurie too for her role as Carrie’s mother. She scared me.

                  Altering your appearance temporarily is ok. Wearing make-up, getting nails done, and different hair cuts and styles are perfectly normal. The problem comes in when people start going under the knife and/or receiving injections to change their bodies. That is doing permanent damage.

                  Silver and salt & pepper hair are attractive. Natural feminine beauty and rugged good looks are attractive. Having the skin on your face pulled back to the point where you’re looking like a lion is not attractive.

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                  • Agree completely Ana….latest example is Renรฉe Zellweger very popular actor although I was never a fan of is her choice but she is totally unrecognizable. That is the trend in Hollywood particularly in soaps and the actors loses their facial expressions by doing that.

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                    • That is a brutal unforgiving business, being in Hollywood (and being a celebrity period). The pressure to look young at all costs is so high. Kenny Rogers is another example of plastic surgery gone wrong. He’s had some procedures done to smooth the wrinkles around his eyes…but that skin is TOO smooth. He’s, what, almost 80??? It’s unrealistic to think that an 80 year old man would not have wrinkles; cosmetic procedures to remove wrinkles from someone of that advanced age is nonsense.

                      This mentality is poisoning our youth, especially our girls. They spend their younger years trying to look older, then spend their older years trying to look younger.

                      I personally welcome my 50+ years. I know that I will be just as fabulous at that stage in my life as I am right now. LOL.

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                  • Very well said, Ana, about changing one’s physical look permanently vs. temporarily. And Piper Laurie WAS scary as the mother in “Carrie.”

                    Interesting, jhNY. I suppose that might have happened.

                    Of course, if someone has a major physical issue not related to aging, plastic surgery can be helpful. I have no idea if that was the case with Spacek, or whether she was just trying to make herself more “Hollywood-ready.”


                • Very interesting topic and conversation going on here Dave…so many actors say they never gotten anything done ever continues to look younger. it goes for both the sexes. I only see Judy Dench , or Maggie Smith and a few others shows up with wrinkles and all and gets meaty roles are much sought after.

                  Those who are saying not getting anything done are telling some ” white lies”…why do they who really knows…lol…

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                  • I agree, bebe — definitely interesting!

                    I wonder if English actresses of “a certain age” (such as Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, and Helen Mirren) are less likely to get plastic surgery than American actresses? While it’s hard to generalize, there seems to be somewhat more emphasis on “looks” in U.S. acting and more emphasis on skill in English acting — with older English performers seeming to get plenty of meaty roles, while mixing movies, TV, and the stage.

                    And, yes, few performers seem to admit getting work done, though it’s often obvious!


                    • No necessarily there is Annette Bening and so many other American Actors..I remember in Frsh Air the director of Annette Bening was looking for someone without any work done and Annette was her choice. She was great in that movie Dave a few years ago and was nominated for Oscar.

                      I came to the middle of conversation without reading much ๐Ÿ™‚

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                    • Very true, bebe — many American actresses do seem to look their age, and Annette Bening is a great example. But I still wonder if plastic surgery is used more in Hollywood than in Britain. ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • Hey Pat, if you haven’t yet seen Under the Dome, don’t. PLEASE don’t. I agree that they make a mess out of King adaptations. I also agree the miniseries are better than the movies (particularly The Stand) but Under the Dome is NOTHING like the book. And I personally think it’s an awful show as well as that. Was a great book though.

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  5. I watched the rest of Where Eagles Dare last night. It wasn’t as bad as I originally thought it would be. The explosions, shootings, and gobs of fake blood were over the top, some of the historical inaccuracies were puzzling (book/movie is set in WWII), but overall it was ok. Book is still better. Kudos to the individual(s) who produced/composed the score though. Very nice music.

    I didn’t realise just how many Alistair MacLean books were turned into movies. Out of all the titles that were recommended to me, the one I’m looking forward to seeing the most is Breakheart Pass. Not only does it star Charles Bronson (one of the coolest actors ever), but it was set in the old West, with parts of it filmed here in the Pacific Northwest.

    One of the things MacLean is known for is close attention to details in his chosen geographic settings. Whether a book is set in the Alps, Caribbean, Eastern Europe, or the Arctic, you as the reader feel as if you’re in that location. It’s no secret that I enjoy Old West culture; I anticipate lots of detailed and vivid images of western landscapes in Breakheart Pass…both the movie and book.

    I downloaded the book to my Kindle and ordered the DVD from Amazon. I’ll start reading it sometime next week. I don’t know though…Charles Bronson’s legendary coolness, swagger, and commanding on-screen presence might cause me to watch the movie before reading the book. That could present a problem because after watching Breakheart Pass, I’m gonna slide right into the Death Wish films (but the Death Wish series is based on the book, so that makes it ok. Once you get caught up in Paul Kersey, it’s hard to leave him. LOL). Have a good weekend, Dave.

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    • “Where Eagles Dare” sounds like a mixed bag of a movie, Ana. Loved your description of it! (“Gobs of fake blood” — very droll. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

      I see online that the film was made in 1968. Quite a year for movies inspired by literature: “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Charley,” etc. And quite a year for movies with original screenplays, like the “immortal” classic “Night of the Living Dead.” My favorite zombie flick.

      Some authors are just “cinematic,” as Alistair MacLean seems to have been.

      Charles Bronson! Can I have never seen even one of his movies? But I certainly know OF him, and about his screen persona.

      Have a good weekend, too!


      • Good morning, bebe! Hope you enjoy your class.

        I just finished the third Millennium novel yesterday. What a trilogy! So riveting that I couldn’t stop reading. In addition to the great plots and great characters (Lisbeth Salander, Mikael Blomkvist, etc.), I loved the way Stieg Larsson took on the BIG targets: corrupt government, corrupt police, corrupt corporations, etc. VERY glad you recommended the books — thanks!

        I just started Lee Child’s “61 Hours,” and I can see that Jack Reacher is a fantastic character. Very compelling novel, too — and it would have fit in quite well with that recent discussion of weather in literature. Brrrr. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Good morning to you, too, Ana! Later this month: Alistair MacLean! I look forward to reading him for the first time.


        • Great you finished the Millennium Trilogy Dave…and started on Jack Reacher…my favorite hero of modern days. I also give credit to the person who translated Stieg Larsson`s books , very good job indeed !

          I am cooking at this moment might be expecting guests coming week or next just giving myself some head start of some vegetables. if necessary i might freeze them.

          TV has Phantom of the Opera going on..wonderful it..

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          • Haunting music, bebe. Thanks for linking to it! The Phantom was certainly a memorable character in the musical and the original Gaston Leroux novel. I haven’t seen the movie, but I hope it was good.

            I agree that the Swedish-to-English translation of the tremendous Millennium books is excellent. And I agree — Jack Reacher seems to be a VERY impressive character creation (from my still-early experience; I’m about a third of the way through “61 Hours”).

            Good luck with the cooking!


        • I have a rule where I will not read 3 books consecutively by the same author. Very hard to adhere to that rule because I so want to take another Alistair MacLean book off my shelf.

          After listening to the Zombies the other day at the doctor’s office, I suddenly had the desire to hear British Invasion music all weekend. While getting everything ready for the work week, I had great tunes playing in the house. Nothing can top listening to To Sir, With Love while doing laundry (love the movie, but Lulu’s vocals on the song still give me chills).

          Hey Jude is playing as I type *turns up the volume so you can hear it*. Don’t start dancing, Dave. Ok, you can dance a little bit, but don’t get carried away. Save your energy for the U2 concert…leave the dancing and jamming to me and bebe. LOL.

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          • I hear you, Ana, about your three-consecutive rule, and how hard it can be to adhere to it sometimes. Occasionally I’ll break that if I’m reading something like a trilogy, but it’s great to constantly diversify one’s reading. For instance, after reading a lot of recent fiction during the past few weeks (Stieg Larsson and Lee Child), I’m going to make sure I take a couple of 19th-century novels out of the library next time (in addition to Alistair MacLean).

            “To Sir With Love” IS an excellent song, and holds up well after all those decades. And it’s hard to go wrong with “The British Invasion”; I still enjoy listening to The Who a few times a month. While noodling around YouTube the other day, I also stumbled upon “I’ll Never Find Another You” by The Seekers, and that has held up well, too, after 50 years. I guess that was more “The Australian Invasion” — albeit a very small invasion. ๐Ÿ™‚

            “Hey Jude”! I still have the 45 rpm vinyl single with the green apple on it. U2? Can’t wait! Did you see the news item the other day that Bono might not be able to play the guitar again after his Central Park bike accident? ๐Ÿ˜ฆ He of course doesn’t play it in concert much, but apparently he strums/plucks at one while composing music.


            • He kind of reminds me of Robert Louis Stevenson. Both were Scots and masters of adventure and adventure-writing.

              I read that about Bono. If it gets too crucial, I predict that a stand-in, maybe The Edge’s tech Dallas Shoo, will fill-in Bono’s missing chords. It’s happened before in U2. Stuart Morgan was Adam’s tech, and he temporarily replaced him not just in the studio, but during Australian concerts during the Zoo TV tour. U2 has highly talented techs; I’m sure the tour and maybe another album in 2016-2017 year will proceed.

              When are going to hand over those 45s already? Sheesh…

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              • Being compared to Robert Louis Stevenson is high praise, Ana! I might have mentioned this before, but I think Stevenson’s last novel, “Weir of Hermiston,” might have been his best if he had finished it before his death. It’s like he clicked into another (even better) writing gear.

                As you say, U2 will surely compensate for whatever Bono can’t do with the guitar. Guitar techs can be excellent. In the 10,000 Maniacs band, for instance, guitar tech Jeff Erickson stepped in for Robert Buck after the latter’s 2000 death. He’s not as amazing a guitarist, but is very good and really does approximate Buck’s sound when necessary.

                As for those 45’s — LOL! It’s a little hard flinging them like Frisbees from the East Coast to the West Coast… ๐Ÿ™‚


      • *blushes* Thank you for the compliment. I took this on my birthday weekend.

        Pretty soon it will be time for the Tai Chi groups here to congregate in the park again. I like to see them perform their movements while I’m out walking or jogging. It looks like fun and very therapeutic.

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        • That is a lively vibrant picture, also looked at your page…so nicely arranged with the books at the top so many of my favorites being there. I don`t have a twitter account keep my on line activity minimum after that awful HP deal.

          I wrote to Dave yesterday and my post vanished..i will write again.
          I am not into organized religion so not a church / temple goer on Sundays and I know Dave is an atheist.

          My Sunday tai chi is amazing the teacher is a psychiatrist in profession plus teaches in an University.
          Sunday sessions are so beautiful…we have it at the Park in spring through October. now it is inside the club. He talks through the whole one hour and it is simply awesome. Every time I come of it feel rejuvenated.

          Two of his students now instructors are on Wednesdays and Fridays.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I did the reverse; gave up Facebook-posting in favour of Twitter and Instagram. I play the Candy Saga game on FB every now and then, but that’s about it. No posts, no pics.

            That class sounds lovely. I remember this center in Memphis that my mother and older sister used to visit that offered Tai Chi and Chinese language courses.

            I’m always looking to try new things, or re-introduce myself to activities I haven’t done in a long time. Sounds like you are really benefiting from those classes. Good for you:)

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            • Actually I do FB quite a bit strictly with my family and with very close friends. There I share pictures and all..yes i know there is danger in all online activities. But these are the folks i really know in their real names. Obviously none from HP and other places.

              As I am typing looking through my window..the sun has set and it is a beautiful reddish orange glow in the sky.

              I am expecting guests from Thursday on..and the temperature is bitter cold. Now I am thinking what to fix..went grocery several times. ๐Ÿ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

              • You’re smart. Social media doesn’t have to be TOO social. A certain level of privacy is expected. I’m cautious about what I put on Twitter because there are not many privacy controls. Instagram is different; more control plus the people I follow are family and close family friends. That’s where I do the most sharing because my African and Portuguese fam enjoy seeing updated pictures. I see my Canadian fam quite often, so pics are not really necessary for them. For my maternal relatives, pics are very necessary.

                I am officially ready for winter to be over. I’m ready for my city to turn clean and green as it does every summer after a brutal winter. It’s not too early though to get the seeds, plants, and potting soil ready for the spring. Some stores are already stocking their supplies.

                Liked by 1 person

                • I am very close to my family and relatives and all are away in different places in the World and that`s why I use FB makes it so handy and is a easy tool for all.

                  Oh it is going to be -5 tonight and three days in a ridiculous so spring is a distant thought now. I have a couple of little green ferns in small pots they look so green and beautiful near my windows.

                  Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Dave, just stopping by to wish you a happy new year and many, many more posts for all of us! On-topic: saw HOBBIT part III in the cinema this week – brilliant Jackson-ified Tolkien that made me want to read the book all over again. They haven’t turned the Silmarillion into a movie though, I wonder if that’s the next Tolkien trick. This last book might be improved by a movie – the others, as you and your commenters have pointed out, a movie really is a different beast from a book. “JANE EYRE”: I’m still listening, in short installments, to the wonderful reading by Juliet Stephenson (on โ€” perhaps then I will watch one of the movies. The last years we have enjoyed watching “LOST IN AUSTEN”, a British play on Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: highly recommended, beautifully rendered crossing of our modern world and Georgian England. Have a great year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for stopping by, Marcus — and a Happy New Year to you, too! I plan to continue to write a post a week in 2015 (as much as I’m able to), and I look forward to more expert comments from you!

      I saw all three “Lord of the Rings” movies, but none of “The Hobbit” ones. I guess I was sort of miffed at the way a not-that-long novel was split in three to make maximum money. But if you say the film was great, maybe I should rethink my view.

      “Jane Eyre” — such a stellar novel. And “Lost in Austen” sounds excellent, with a rhyming title that can’t be beat!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I do recommend the “Hobbit” trilogy as much (if not more) than LOTR. It is, however, much more tragic, steeped in sadness. Less glorious than LOTR and more ominous. More focused, with an ensemble centered on the hobbit and, it seems to me, a different, broodier, darker view of evil. I don’t know how close to the water you’ve built your wigwam but I dare say you’ll cry at some point during this epic film.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I did love “The Hobbit” novel, which I’ve read at least three times. So I will keep in mind the movies you so greatly described, Marcus. (We got a retro-yet-new DVD player for the household for Christmas…)

          Crying at films — I’ve done it. ๐Ÿ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Of all the great directors that tried to marry literature and cinema I think the prize for most interesting and eclectic would go to John Huston. From classics like The Red Badge of Courage and Moby Dick to cult favorites such as Under the Volcano and Wise Blood Mr. Huston has made a career of transposing the library to film. His final work was a labor of love starring his daughter Angelica in James Joyce’s perfect short story The Dead. Having seen it when first released I thought it unfortunately flat , it seemed so intent on being faithful to the book that it felt more like a shadow than a work of art. On the other hand his The Man Who Would Be King stayed true to Rudyard Kipling’s wonderful adventure story and is an absolute blast. Casting has much to do with this Sean Connery and Michael Caine could probably make a film version of an Algebra textbook interesting and fun to watch .Reading the excellent comments throughout this thread it occurs to me that there are no real rules or parameters for bringing the written word to the big screen. I think the key to it all may be the need for open mindedness and lack of snobbery on the part of both the audience and the artists….. And of course a big Happy New Year to all here in Dave’s place ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • You started off 2015 with a terrific comment, Donny! Happy New Year to you, too, and everyone else reading this!

      I hadn’t thought of it until you mentioned it, but John Huston was indeed associated with turning a number of memorable literary works into film. Coincidentally, I read a Facebook item yesterday about the “Moby-Dick” movie. The great Ray Bradbury was hired to write the screenplay, but was having trouble with it — partly because he was used to writing his own stuff. Then Bradbury did some mental gymnastics and made believe he was Herman Melville, and knocked out a working draft of the script in one eight-hour frenzy of writing, according to the article I read.

      Speaking of literature and the Huston family, John’s father Walter starred in the film based on Sinclair Lewis’ “Dodsworth,” as you undoubtedly know.

      Thanks again for the interesting reading about John Huston in particular and books to movies in general.


  8. Hey Dave: This is probably the last comment I’ll add to your blog this year and so I want to say that I am so happy that you’ve resurfaced here after the HP wasteland experience. I look forward to your weekly ruminations on fascinating literary topics. Although we are all communicating remotely, this feels like the most interesting and stimulating ‘Literature and All Things Remotely Literary (and even a few that aren’t)’ seminar/discussion I’ve ever experienced. You are the facilitator and throw out–what I hesitate calling a lecture as a literature professor would give–rather, a topic that you set spinning off into the blogosphere for any of us to throw something onto it that will alter its orbit, kind of an improvisational literary dance. Most of the time I find I have something to add to the mix even if I don’t initially think I have anything relevant to contribute. I just need to sit with it for a while until my brain starts percolating with a response. I look forward to an exciting and stimulating new year in 2015 full of regular gatherings like we have in this ‘conference room’. Have a happy, stimulating and prosperous new year, Dave and all the rest of my fellow participants!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your comment, bobess48! What a way to end the year, reading something so nice and so elegantly stated. ๐Ÿ™‚ I greatly appreciate it!

      And thank YOU for participating in, and adding so much to, these wonderful conversations. You and others here are so knowledgeable about literature and other topics, and friendly to boot. Not to mention humorous when you want to be.

      It’s nice having these discussions here rather than at HP, because we can have them in “real time” — with comments appearing as soon as they’re written and not being moderated to death.

      Have a great New Year’s, too, and I look forward to talking with you in 2015!


    • Welcome back, Eric! We all missed your comments the past few weeks.

      I’ve never seen that “Moby-Dick” movie (which, if I’m remembering correctly, had a screenplay by the great Ray Bradbury). I’m glad it had the same ending as Herman Melville’s novel — because it was one of the most memorable conclusions in literature, and because it totally made sense in the context of that amazing book.

      Happy New Year to you, too!


  9. I’ve always been impressed by Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “Jurassic Park.” A wonderful job making the characters from the pages really come to life on screen. Even in the silent film era books were being adapted Lon Chaney’s Quasimodo is still the best version of that character, even if the movie didn’t do a great adaptation.

    The worst adaptation I can recall seeing was the Ben Affleck version of “The Sum of All Fears” as hard as the book was to read the movie was harder to watch.

    Of course we can go the other way as well. It can be hard to turn a film into a novel. The best example of this is the Star Wars franchise. The films were novelized by different writers each time. “The Return of the Jedi” is a fairly bland book but “The Clone Wars” novelization out shines the movie by a wide margin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting, GL, about movies being turned into novels. I know that’s sometimes done with TV shows, too. I’m embarrassed to say that I have a vague memory of reading a “Gomer Pyle” novel. But I’m not embarrassed to say that I own a paperback collection of “Twilight Zone” short stories that I think are fleshed-out version of the TV scripts.

      I haven’t read or seen “Jurassic Park” or “The Sum of All Fears.” Sounds like one was a book-to-film success story and one wasn’t!

      Thanks for chiming in with your very extensive literary expertise.


  10. The Harry Potter series succeeded on film spectacularly because the folks in charge of making the movies recognized the central challenge– satisfying readers of the books, who were legion, so that from that knot of early and impassioned commenters, momentum toward an even larger fanbase might commence. Having hewed so closely to the source material, they achieved their goal. Most of the time, other considerations dominate the process of making films out of books, and the results are not nearly so pleasing.

    And often, the worst way to prepare to enjoy the film version is: read the book. But here, in my experience is an exception, and one not widely loved: Mike Nichol’s film of Catch 22. I came to the film after the book, and thought it captured the essence of the book remarkably well– but I doubted, while in the theater, if anyone could have made much of it without the book under his belt.

    I have a pet theory: that some of the best movies out of books come from lesser properties– stories that have been IMPROVED by the process of screenwriting, direction, etc. The 1940’s film of RL Stevenson’s The Bodysnatchers adds a plotline or two and gives the chief provider of corpses, played excellently by Karloff, more lines and centrality, and the result is a better movie than would have been, had the makes of the movie followed Stevenson more closely. (Please note– I’m not quite saying the movie is better than its source; I am saying the changes made it a better movie). Also, The Island of Lost Souls, starring Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi. I came to novel, HG Wells’ The Island of Dr Moreau, after the movie, and though the start of the Wells work is great, the story as a whole ends abruptly and does not delve so explicitly or lengthily into some of the themes the movie addresses. In this case, I think the movie is better than its source.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jhNY, what you said about the “Harry Potter” films — and why they succeeded so spectacularly — makes a LOT of sense. Thanks for articulating that.

      Also, interesting and true what you observed about having to read certain novels first in order to fully understand the movie versions. Certainly not the case with every book made into a film, but…

      Excellent insight in your third paragraph, too. If a novel is pretty darn close to perfect, it’s hard for a film to improve upon that. In addition to the examples you gave, I would add “Being There” as another example of a movie improving a book — in that case the Jerzy Kosinski novella.


  11. Great column. My niece had the same complain about a recent remake of Jane Eyre that you did about the movie — the leads were WAY too good-looking to be credible. I’ve avoided all the Lord of the Rings books because I don’t want the images I see on the screen to undermine the way I see those characters in my mind’s eye. On the other hand, I LOVE Sherlock, which is a modern day remake of the Sherlock Holmes stories I loved as a kid. It’s not better, but it’s just as good in its own way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Roz, for the kind words and excellent comment!

      “I donโ€™t want the images I see on the screen to undermine the way I see those characters in my mindโ€™s eye” — well said, and such an important point. Though I’ve watched and enjoyed a number of based-on-novels movies, I’ve avoided certain other ones for that very reason.

      Virtually all the “Jane Eyre” movies keep making the same too-good-looking mistake, but one person in this comments section did mention a 1983 TV production in which Zelah Clarke as Jane actually looked kind of plain. Hooray! But that same production had Timothy Dalton as a too-handsome Rochester.

      I haven’t seen “Sherlock,” but I’ve heard great things about it — and love the idea of remaking/updating classic literature (if it’s done right). As you might have also seen in the comments section here, some of us got into a debate about the possible plan for a black James Bond — something I’m in a favor of.


  12. Dave normally I try not to watch movie from a book I love , “Of Mice and Men” never wanted to watch the movie but of course there are exceptions like GWTW, all Jane Austen`s books were made into your first one should be ” Pride and Predidice” with Colin Firth. Then the dragon trilogy Loved the movies.

    There is ” To Kill a Mockingbird” what a wonderful work done from the book.. Here also Gregory Peck is Mr. Atticus. ” The Room with a View”.

    .I am a big follower or John Irving`s novels. Read almost all of them one of my favorite was “The Cider House Rules” .The book was written in 80`s and on 20th century in America when no doctors were allowed to perform abortions. But Dr. Wilbur Larch followed his own rules,he was an obstetrician and when necessary became an abortionist too. Because he believed no woman should have a baby if she never wanted to have one.
    Then there was a compassionate young man, raised in an orphanage and trained to be a doctor there by Wilber who later decides to leave to see the world.

    Typical of Irving novels the book is very tender and compassionate in nature in Irving s style. Dealt with Alzheimer`s disease with so much kindness…and the movie of the same name played by Michael Caine as Wilber and Tobey Maguire as the orphan Homer Wells.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you, bebe. Often, I only want to think of a great novel, not also the movie version of that great novel. But, as you note, there are exceptions.

      You mentioned Stieg Larsson’s trilogy; I’m now well into the third book. Still fantastic. Talk about corruption in a government’s upper levels!

      I loved “The Cider House Rules” novel, too, though I haven’t seen the movie. Such a humane, interesting, offbeat, socially conscious book. Excellent description of it! Thanks!


  13. “And what are some lit-inspired films that disappointed you โ€” and why?”

    There were two film versions of Richard Wright’s Native Son. One was released in 1951, and the 2nd released in 1986. As much as I loved the book, both movie versions fell flat and were painful to watch.

    Richard Wright was cast as Bigger Thomas for the ’51 release. Big mistake. Wright was well into his 40s at the time of production, but the Bigger Thomas character was a teen. Very difficult for a 42-43 year old man to morph into the role of someone in their late teens.The acting was over the top, the delivery of lines was cringe-worthy, and the whole movie looked like one big rehearsal. The ’86 film wasn’t any better. It was too soft and lacked the rage/anger/passion that Wright poured into his writing.

    It is obvious that the directors/producers in both movies held back to avoid offending audiences. But Richard Wright did not write fairy tales designed to “make everyone feel happy.” His books were controversial, designed to make people think, become uncomfortable, and initiate national conversations on social issues. Both movies totally missed the point of the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t seen either film, Ana, but from your expert descriptions, it sounds like they were indeed disappointments. (As you know, I’ve read the “Native Son” book, and think it’s one of the best American novels of the 20th century.)

      Seems that pair of movies suffered from several things that can make literature-inspired films a letdown: the softening of painful content, miscasting the lead role, etc.

      Perhaps there was no choice but to have Richard Wright play Bigger Thomas? Still, way too old for the part, as you note, and Wright was not an actor (albeit a brilliant writer). Reminds me a bit of the 1950 movie “The Jackie Robinson Story” starring…Jackie Robinson, courageous baseball player extraordinaire — with no acting experience.

      Excellent, eloquent comment. Thanks!


      • It could’ve been worse. I mean, what if someone came up with a 2013-2014 version, you know, to “new school” and update it to fit modern pop culture??

        I don’t know about you, but I definitely would not want to see Bigger Thomas talking on a cell phone while following his cop chase on Twitter. But it might be interesting to see Mary Dalton ask Bigger to drive her and 5 of her BFFs to a Katy Perry concert…

        Liked by 1 person

        • LOL — Bigger and Mary at a Katy Perry concert! Too funny, Ana!

          But, yes, some literature just shouldn’t be updated. The 1940-published “Native Son” was so much of its time — the more blatant racism back then, the New Deal era, the sway of America’s Communist Party on some progressives, etc.


          • “Native Son Redux: Big, BIGGER, and Biggest”

            That is Oscar-material right there. It’s bad enough the Academy took a pass on Killer Klowns from Outer Space. This idea should not be passed up. LOL.

            Something I forgot to mention yesterday. I finished Alistair MacLean’s Where Eagles Dare over the holidays. My uncle noticed what I was reading (he’s a fan too), so we started talking about the book I was reading other MacLean titles we’ve read.

            I did not know that a film version of Where Eagles Dare came out in the 60s. Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton were cast in the lead roles. I wouldn’t mind watching this one. I love anything that Clint Eastwood stars in…hands down one of my favourite actors. I want to see if the movie measures up to the book. I’ll check VUDU later on to see if it is available.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Ana, LOL on that hilarious “Native Son Redux: Big, BIGGER, and Biggest” title! I can see the McDonald’s Happy Meal cups now… ๐Ÿ™‚ (In three sizes.)

              As for “Killer Klowns from Outer Space,” perhaps there’s still a chance for those jokers to receive “Lifetime Achievement” Oscars? Their memorable acting ran the gamut from “K” to “K”! I still chuckle remembering the amazing YouTube clip from that movie you steered me to.

              I’m still looking forward to reading Alistair MacLean in early 2015. I have mixed feelings about Clint Eastwood’s politics and personal life, but he’s stellar as an actor and director!


              • Yes, bebe, Eastwood’s empty chair thing at the 2012 Republican National Convention and his support of Mitt Romney were rather off-putting. I guess Clint is hard to pigeonhole, because he’s done some films with progressive elements. But he did come from a working-class background before getting rich, so supporting a right-wing, son-of-an-auto-exec “heir” like Romney bothered me.

                Liked by 1 person

                • He also loves jazz, and made Bird Lives!

                  Me, I like some of his stuff, most of all The Unforgiven. He looks vaguely like my best friend, who has wandered off someplace I can’t reach him, so seeing Clint is a bit like visiting a version of my friend. Were it not for the resemblance, I could like Clint a lot less.

                  I also confess affection for the awful man, actor John Wayne, but mostly in his late-stage drunk period– Branigan, True Grit, Rooster Cogburn, The Shootist. Nearly every line, it’s like watching a bear angrily addressing those who would disrupt his hibernation. That’s entertainment!

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • jhNY, Clint Eastwood has done an almost unprecedented combination of great things and annoying things in his film life, personal life, and political life!

                    Terrific description of the later John Wayne! You had me seriously chuckling there. ๐Ÿ™‚


              • *sighs* Absolutely one of the saddest moments ever on live TV. One would expect something that tacky, crass, and low-brow coming from Ted Nugent and the gang, but Clint Eastwood?!

                The backlash from that Invisible Obama nonsense was epic. Republicans, Democrats, and everyone in between rightfully ridiculed that ridiculous stunt. A parody account on Twitter was even created. Yes, I briefly followed @invisibleobama *hangs head in shame*. LOL.

                Getting ready to walk down to the coffee shop. Forget my flu…I need some fresh air. You guys have a nice day, and Happy New Year in advance.

                Liked by 1 person

                • I agree, Ana — a stunt way below what Eastwood is. Nasty, and not even remotely clever. Obama was invisible, and part of Eastwood’s hard-earned reputation disappeared as well.

                  Enjoy your day, too, and I hope the worst of your flu is over. Happy New Year to you, too!


                • Oh no…did not realize you had flu…get well soon.

                  I have not seen too many of his later movies but loved Gran Torino . I understand one of his son acted in there and the last song was sung by another son( I could not find that now perhaps I was wrong).

                  The empty chair incident turned me off a great deal.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • I went to my doctor this morning. Had my iPod playing, set it to play random songs, and The Zombies came up. While the other patients were coughing and sneezing, I laid my head on my husband’s shoulder, tapped my foot and slightly waved my hand while She’s Not There was playing.

                    “Well let me tell you about the way she looked, the way she acted, the colour of her hair, her voice was soft and cool, her eyes were clear and bright, but she’s not thereeee…lol, nothing like a little British Invasion music to prep me for my checkup.

                    That is a beautiful song you posted. I’ve already converted it to an mp3, synched it to my iPod, and added the track to the Soundtracks & Scores playlist. Thanks for posting. See you guys later.

                    Liked by 1 person

            • Have seen the film; can report much hapless Jerry misfiring and mis-aiming in the face of unerring firearms and munitions accuracy by Eastwood and the ever-perspiring Burton, whose discomfort seems to look around all by itself for a drink. My bet: book was way better.

              Liked by 1 person

  14. Another thought provoking and well written column, Dave. I do enjoy your Dave Astor on Literature work, it always inspires me to read a few more books! I was/am a big fan of the Harry Potter books and was impressed with how well they were transferred to the big screen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much for your kind words and interesting comment, Annie!

      I totally agree with you about “Harry Potter.” I felt the seven books were better than the eight movies, but the films came pretty darn close to matching the novels. And every movie was excellent — not a dud in the bunch. It was also fun to watch Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint grow as actors over a decade — and also grow as in growing up. ๐Ÿ™‚


  15. Much depends on what carries the book. Often it is the writing, more than the story. Other times the power of the story covers for mediocre writing.

    The same goes for a movie. A beautifully rendered film can gloss over a weak screenplay.

    The best translations of literature to film are those where the story is strong and the rendering of the film matches the quality (and tone) of the writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, Almost Iowa, and thank you for commenting!

      A strong story in literature can potentially translate well to film, while an exquisitely written fictional work without a compelling plot might be better off staying on the page. Some exceptions, of course, in both instances. ๐Ÿ™‚


  16. Hi Dave, this is a great topic, and the comments so far have been most interesting. I have a very large collection of DVDs (way too large, especially considering that there are so many other ways to watch films these days!). I don’t have all that many that were based on great books other than “Howards End” and “The House of Mirth.” I also thought the entire Harry Potter collection was very well done and didn’t disappoint. You also mentioned the BBC productions, including Jane Austen. As you probably know, I could write an entire column on those films and mini-series alone! I have multiple versions of all of her major novels, all of them in fact, other than the “Pride & Prejudice” movie from the 1940s with Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier. I really didn’t like it all, although the only thing I really remember was an archery scene with the two main leads. My mouth dropped open; after all, there are so many great interactions and dialogue between these two (and all of the characters), why did they throw in something that never happened? Likewise, there was an archery scene in the movie “Emma” with Gwyneth Paltrow, again that wasn’t in the novel. Austen’s works for the most part aren’t really suitable for a two hour movie. I watched the latest “P&P” movie with Keira Knightley and was underwhelmed. The film made of “Northanger Abbey” was either campy or just plain creepy most of the time. The “Sense & Sensibility” movie had wonderful cinematography, a beautiful music score, great script and acting. However, there was just something weird about Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant as Elinor and Edward, so I usually try to look at it as just a very good movie, but not as a Jane Austen adaptation. The best film version, in my opinion, is “Persuasion,” with Amanda Root and Ciarin Hinds. It seemed to stay faithful to the book, the acting was superb, and it just had the feel of the time and place in which the novel was written. It’s the only film that I think is superior to the BBC or A&E mini-series. There are two excellent adaptions of Pride & Prejudice, and quite good ones of her other novels. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that none of the adaptations of “Mansfield Park” are very satisfying (there’s a film and two mini-series). Perhaps it’s because of the actors who portrayed Fanny Price, either as too meek and mousy, or too pretty and saucy. You can see why my best friend always says when I buy any of these, “But you already have two of those, how many do you need” and I reply, “But this a different version!” ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your terrific/engaging/informative comment, Kat Lib! With a large collection of DVDs, you are indeed an expert on this topic — and the knowledge of Jane Austen screen adaptations displayed in your comment is wonderful and awe-inspiring. It sounds like Austen’s work wasn’t treated as well as it should have been in a number of instances.

      Strange that those archery scenes were added! Hollywood is so weird sometimes. Maybe they had an endorsement deal with manufacturers of bows and arrows. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’d like to see “The House of Mirth” film at some point; I loved the novel (if that’s the right way to describe a book so sad).

      When I watch movies at home, I also still use the retro method of a DVD player. (Just got a new one for Christmas.)

      The other comments have been indeed been interesting and excellent!


      • Dave, you definitely should see “The House of Mirth” someday. Gillian Anderson (she of “The X-Files” fame) was a marvel as Lily Bart, and (spoiler alert!) they didn’t change the ending, so yes, it is very sad. I also wanted to mention some of my favorite TV series and movies of mysteries appearing on PBS and A&E: the entire collection of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot (starring David Suchet), Miss Marple (starring Joan Hickson) and “The Dorothy L. Sayers Mysteries” (with Edward Petherbridge and Harriet Walters as Sir Peter and Harriet Vane, one of which is “Strong Poison,” which I know you read). Then there is the Granada TV series of “Sherlock Holmes” with Jeremy Brett, who supplanted Basil Rathbone as my favorite ever Holmes. Not a mystery, but one of my favorite series was “Jeeves & Wooster,” with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry perfectly cast as the lead characters. I don’t always “get” British humor, but these shows were very funny, which isn’t surprising considering their source was P.D. Wodehouse. As you’ve probably noticed, everything I’ve mentioned in both posts took place in England or was produced by the Brits (other than “The House of Mirth.”) Hmm…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Another terrific comment, Kat Lib!

          Gillian Armstrong was GREAT in “The X-Files.” And I’m glad “The House of Mirth” ending didn’t change in the movie. It was indeed a sad conclusion, but it fit the storyline.

          And thanks for expertly mentioning all those screen productions of mystery literature!

          P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves stories and novels ARE hilarious.

          As for your last thought, British productions and British actresses/actors are indeed great, so I’m not surprised that you like them. As for Edith Wharton, her work almost seems British even though she was an American and lived much of her later life in France!


          • Dave, how funny is this! I googled “The House of Mirth” and learned that the screenwriter and director was an Englishman (Terence Davies), the production company was Granada Productions, a British TV company (as in the aforementioned “Sherlock Holmes” series), and it was filmed in Glasgow, Scotland (because the architecture was more in keeping with turn-of-the-century NYC than several cities considered in the Us, including my hometown of Philadelphia). No wonder I liked this film so much!

            Liked by 1 person

  17. I just watched the John Wayne True Grit on TV the other night, and parts of other Wayne films and it struck me how the simplicity (and often lesser cinematography despite the brighter colors) of cowboy movies used to scream out for heroes–based on books or not. Today, we still have them but put almost everyone in black and interject much more ambiguity. And Atticus? Well, you’re right, Lee’s fluid prose is missing from much of the movie, but there may be no more goosebump-inducing scene than this in 20th-century cinema:

    To Kill a Mockingbird (8/10) Movie CLIP – Your Father’s Passing (1962) HD

    To Kill a Mockingbird Movie Clip – watch all clips http://j

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks so much, Telly, for the great comment and link! That scene of the spectators standing as Atticus Finch leaves the courtroom is absolutely riveting and heartbreaking (as is the depiction of the whole trial in general). It IS one of the great scenes in cinema.

      As for “True Grit,” more recent westerns are indeed more ambiguous. In the real-life Old West, a lot of those “heroes” had plenty of unheroic characteristics — something that “Golden Age” Hollywood films often didn’t acknowledge. Rooster Cogburn is Exhibit A for a morally ambiguous “hero.”


  18. Another topic that could be played with endlessly Dave ,how do you do it? Not sure if I want to read all the comments or wait for the inevitable film treatment ๐Ÿ™‚ Which brings me to my first random thought, too many movies have been produced in the last couple of decades simply because they were some director or producers favorite book. If a novel is still on the best sellers list it should probably not be already getting a film treatment. There also needs to be more awareness of the fact that we are talking about two completely different mediums hence the problem with the with the above, when a novel is seen as sacred and the director feels it must be done as literally and faithfully to the text as possible the result tends to be pointless and boring. There are of course exceptions where a classic was brought to life by the right director and cast two of which you touched on in your essay IMO, Mockingbird and perhaps The Fellowship of the Ring though less so with the rest of the Trilogy. As a general rule I prefer when a director tries to elucidate a literary work by ignoring the surface of the text in regards to settings of time and place. Kenneth Barnaugh’s adaptations of Shakespeare come to mind as does a small film version of Melville’s great Bartleby The Scrivener I could go more into depth her but ” I prefer not to “.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Not sure if I want to read all the comments or wait for the inevitable film treatment” — hilarious, Donny! We’ll call the movie “True Lit.” ๐Ÿ™‚

      Also loved your concluding Bartleby reference!

      Excellent observation about books and cinema being such different mediums. Some novels (including those by Henry James, as “bobess48” noted a number of comments below) are very difficult to translate successfully into film. Such a novel being a director or producer’s favorite book certainly complicates things even more.

      There is a very valid argument for having more original screenplays and fewer adaptations, but adaptations are in some ways easier and have an audience that already exists, so of course Hollywood often goes for that.

      I totally agree that “The Fellowship of the Ring” film was better than the two movies that followed in that cinematic trilogy. More human, less CGI — and one can never go wrong with hobbit scenes in The Shire!

      Hope work hasn’t been TOO crazy for you during the holidays.


      • I’m also LOLing at your ‘film treatment’ line, Donny, and I completely agree with the comment that books and films are obviously very different mediums. It drives me batty when people complain that the movie isn’t the same as the book, or even worse, when people comment that a movie RUINED the book. How is that even possible?

        Dave, the first books that I always think of when this topic comes up is Harry Potter. I thought the movies were absolutely brilliant. They stayed true to the books, but still had their own flavour. And I thought the main casting was just spot on. Admittedly, I did see the movie before I read the books, but I just couldn’t picture anyone but those three actors, in those three roles. I read the later books before the movies were released, and was pleased each time to see it brought to life just as I’d imagined.

        I was never a fan of LotR, however I did think that Peter Jackson did the first movie (the only one I’ve seen) very well.

        And Donny’s mention of Shakespeare made me think of an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing that I saw last year. Directed by Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and director of the recent Avengers movie), I thought it was just brilliant. I’ve always been a fan of Whedon, and seeing him adapt Shakespeare for the big screen and put his own spin on it, was very fun for me.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Susan, that WAS a great line by Donny. ๐Ÿ™‚ And I loved YOUR wry line about how it’s not possible for a movie to ruin a book! I totally see what you’re saying — a bad film version of a great book ruins itself; the book remains great and intact. Perhaps looking even better in contrast!

          Thanks, also, for your thoughts on the “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” movies. If I were to give the “HP” books a “100,” the films would rate a spectacular “99.” They were indeed fabulous and, as you say, they even added their own flavor to the franchise. For instance, the special effects were wonderful to see, and not used too often or overdone. And you’re absolutely right that Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint were excellent — getting better with each film as they became older and more adept at acting.

          As for that first “Rings” movie, Peter Jackson did a stellar job directing it. I loved the lush New Zealand landscapes, too, as that country subbed for Middle-earth.

          Thanks for the terrific comment!


        • Thanks Susan, always happy to provide a laugh . I agree completely with the general consensus here on the excellence of the Potter films and on the pleasure of watching three bright young performers grow and evolve over the years. Emma Watson in particular seems poised for a great future on and off camera.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m a fan of Daniel Radcliffe. Will never forget an interview that I saw of him, where he was relaying a conversation he’d had about Napoleon, and how you never hear his first time. His friend of course informed him that Napoleon IS his first name, and I was then nearly crying with laughter when Daniel went on to confess to the tonight show host that he then said, what? his name’s Napoleon Napoleon?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hilarious, Susan!

              Daniel Radcliffe does seem like an engaging guy who has remained kind of modest and not that spoiled by success.

              Napoleon is certainly not a very common first name. There was a famous American baseball player more than a century ago named Napoleon Lajoie who wisely went by the name “Nap.” Somehow I can’t picture Napoleon Bonaparte doing that… ๐Ÿ™‚


              • Actually, now that you mention it, I knew a ‘Nap’ a few years ago. Though he also went by ‘Nappy’ which is kind of weird, because that’s our word for diaper

                Liked by 1 person

                • An unusual name/nickname for the person you knew! I’ve heard that term for diaper. Perhaps also used in some of the other British Commonwealth nations?

                  Getting back to “Harry Potter,” plenty of offbeat names in that series!


  19. Howdy, Dave!

    โ€” What are some of your favorite movies based on literary works? โ€”

    1. Ridley Scottโ€™s โ€œBlade Runner,โ€ a derivative of Philip K. Dickโ€™s โ€œDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?โ€

    2. Steven Spielbergโ€™s โ€œMinority Report,โ€ a derivative of Philip K. Dickโ€™s โ€œMinority Report.โ€

    3. Paul Verhoevenโ€™s โ€œTotal Recall,โ€ a derivative of Philip K. Dickโ€™s โ€œWe Can Remember It for You Wholesale.โ€

    Meanwhile, I have spent the past four decades anxiously awaiting the film derivative of Philip K. Dickโ€™s โ€œThe Man in the High Castleโ€ only to discover it will be released as a television miniseries on a platform I have no plan to support, i.e., Amazon Prime. All that anxiety completely wasted!

    Happy New Year, Anyway!

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, J.J., for all those Philip K. Dick book-to-film references! He has certainly got some MAJOR Hollywood treatment. Dick is one of the authors who’s been on my list for a while but still unread. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      Sorry about “The Man in the High Castle” disappointment. (But “All that anxiety completely wasted!” is a great line.) Hopefully that miniseries will be available on a different platform someday?

      Happy New Year to you, too! I appreciated all your wonderfully crafted 2014 comments. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • J.J.McGrath, thanks for reminding me of Philip K. Dick’s books! I read all four works you mentioned, but did not see the movie version of “Minority Report”, I hope it is available for purchase. Too bad about “The Man in the High Castle”, I recall it fondly and would have loved to see a good film version or at least a well-crafted TV series in place of some of the awful drivel being shown daily.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Howdy, Clairdelune!

        โ€” I read all four works you mentioned, but did not see the movie version of โ€œMinority Reportโ€, I hope it is available for purchase. โ€”

        Please note has it available for purchase today at $14.99 (high definition) and $9.99 (standard definition) and for rent at $3.99 (HD) and $2.99 (SD).

        โ€” Too bad about โ€œThe Man in the High Castleโ€, I recall it fondly and would have loved to see a good film version or at least a well-crafted TV series โ€”

        I actually have pretty high hopes for the current production, which has Ridley โ€œBlade Runnerโ€ Scott as one of its executive producers and Frank โ€œThe X-Filesโ€ Spotnitz as one of its producers and teleplaywrights. And, as Dave indicated, it most likely will migrate to platforms other than Amazon Prime.

        Meanwhile, I also should have included a fourth item on my list: George Nolfiโ€™s โ€œThe Adjustment Bureau,โ€ a derivative of Philip K. Dickโ€™s โ€œThe Adjustment Bureau.โ€ I may not like the film quite as much as the other three flicks, but, compared with most other science-fiction movies, it ainโ€™t too shabby.


        Liked by 2 people

            • True, Dave. That was a very good movie, although a REALLY good science fiction movie has to have aliens or smart robots. Many decades ago, I was enthralled/hypnotized by “Forbidden Planet” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951 version, of course!) and never recovered. ๐Ÿ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

              • You’re right, Clairdelune, a movie without aliens and robots doesn’t quite seem sci-fi, though it could be. ๐Ÿ™‚

                “Many decades ago, I was enthralled/hypnotized by ‘Forbidden Planet’ and ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ (1951 version, of course!) and never recovered” — loved that line!

                I really enjoy time-travel novels and movies, which I guess are sort of akin to sci-fi.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Oh yes, Dave, time travel is definitely part of the science fiction universe. I can’t even count how many times throughout my life I wished I could travel back in time or ahead into the future … although these days, alas, I no longer see the future as an even better version of the “Star Trek” universe so optimistically envisioned by Gene Roddenberry, full of shining things and wondrous gadgets intended to improve our lives… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Thanks for your great reply, Clairdelune! Time-travel fiction is one of my favorite genres (a “guilty pleasure,” I guess ๐Ÿ™‚ ). I love novels such as “The Time Machine,” “Time and Again,” “Time After Time,” “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” “Looking Backward,” “The House on the Strand,” “If I Never Get Back,” etc.

                    Like you, I’ve wished to go back to certain times of the past, and also wondered what it would be like to see the future. I agree with you that the optimistic, “Star Trek”-type future unfortunately seems very unlikely — with so much of the human race so greedy, hateful, power-hungry… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

                    Liked by 1 person

              • To most critics, the source material for Forbidden Planet was superior its filmic manifestation. Certainly the author has been universally celebrated.

                (Confession: as a boy, I too was bowled over by it, before knowing from whence it came.)

                Liked by 2 people

                • jhNY, most film adaptations of beloved science fiction books/short stories fall short of the original material, at least for me because my imagination is usually more satisfying. That said, I do still enjoy the movies, it’s usually a pleasure to see the characters take shape on the screen. I just remembered one book by Stanislaw Lem that was made into an interesting movie: “Solaris”, the original version. The second movie made a few years later was OK, lots of special effects, but not as faithful to the original story. Odd book, but I loved it.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Never read the book, but did see the Russian movie years ago, and I liked it– had a unique feel. Skipped the 2nd one.

                    Was making a joke re The Tempest and Forbidden Planet in my earlier comment….

                    Liked by 1 person

  20. Hi Dave, thanks for another interesting column. As I read it, the first movie that came to mind was “The Pearl” based on a story (novella?) by John Steinbeck. Maybe it is because in 1947 I was young and impressionable, but I never forgot the performance by Pedro Armendariz, a highly underrated Mexican actor who subsequently ended up playing mostly stock “Mexican” or vaguely foreign characters thanks to the silliness of Hollywood. I had already read the novella, and the movie brought it to life for me.
    I agree with your assessment of the “Jane Eyre” movie with Orson Welles and and Joan Fontaine. Fortunately, the BBC has produced several versions with more suitable actors – there is a gifted British actress whose name I cannot recall, who is usually brilliant in roles requiring a plain-Jane heroine. Most of the BBC’s productions of Jane Austen’s novels are a pleasure to behold.
    One of my favorite writers whose books have either been ignored or trivialiazed by Hollywood is Isaac Asimov; two notable exceptions, IMO, is “The Bicentennial Man” with a brilliant Robin Williams and “I, Robot” with Will Smith.
    Another E.M. Forster novel that I enjoyed on film is “A Room with a View”, Helena Bonham Carter and Maggie Smith were both memorable, but perhaps the cinematographer’s images of Florence were the real stars in the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, Anonymous; I’m glad you found the column interesting — as is your comment!

      So many John Steinbeck novels were turned into movies! Unfortunately, I haven’t seen “The Pearl” film, though I found the story that inspired it to be memorable. Sounds like Pedro Armendariz’s performance was exceptional, and it’s such a shame people like him were mostly stuck in stock roles by a racist and/or timid Hollywood. As you know, there have also been many films — such as “West Side Story” — in which non-Hispanics played some of the roles meant for Hispanic actresses/actors.

      Glad there was at least one “Jane Eyre” production with an actress who looked somewhat like Charlotte Bronte’s protagonist!

      It’s a shame Hollywood rarely did Isaac Asimov justice. Maybe he and his books were just too intelligent. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • You may be right about Isaac Asimov! To be fair, many of his books are not suitable for translation into a movie, but some could be very good in the hands of the right screenwriter, for example his series about the human detective Elija Bailey and his robot partner Daneel Olivaw. However, Hollywood would probably turn that intelligent, thoughtful and entertaining series into just another cartoonish adventure aimed at teenage boys. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

        BTW, I have not yet figured out why at times my name comes up as Anonymous instead of Clairdelune… obviously I’m doing something wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, Clairdelune! I thought the previous (excellent) comment was yours, but I wasn’t totally sure. ๐Ÿ™‚

          Hollywood does often have a problem translating the work of hyper-intelligent authors into great films. Perhaps — given the differences between the movie and book mediums, and the demands of the “marketplace” to often “dumb down” things — it’s almost impossible even under the best of circumstances.

          I haven’t read that Asimov series you mentioned, but I’d love to see that done right on the screen!


  21. I just learned so much from your commenters. I have nothing to add. What I had to say, they said better from more informed viewpoints. I will say that I loved the mini-series Roots. I thought they captured the feel of the novel very well. Of course, they had several evenings to bring more depth to the story. High powered talent in that one. Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman was also deeply touching. I don’t recall how it matched to the novel. I think Harry Potter was done as well as they could with time limits and such. My big complaint is all the drama/comedy in a book that must be reduced to meet the 90-120 minutes movie limits. .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the interesting comment, energywriter, and I’m glad you DID have something to add. ๐Ÿ™‚

      The “Roots” miniseries was indeed wonderful (and of course sobering). The “Roots: The Next Generations” sequel was pretty gripping, too. TV had done almost nothing like those two miniseries before. And it did help that there were so many episodes.

      Great that you brought up “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman”! I thought the TV movie came pretty close to Ernest J. Gaines’ excellent novel, and it certainly didn’t hurt that Cicely Tyson gave such an amazing performance.

      I saw all eight “Harry Potter” movies, and agree that it’s hard to imagine how they could have been done much better. I had a few quibbles, such as changes the eighth film made in the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort. As with many people, my favorite of the eight movies was the third — “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” directed by Alfonso Cuarรณn, who later did the fantastic “Gravity.”

      Yes, knocking down a novel to 90-120 minutes on screen has to be frustrating for all concerned.


    • I LOVED that movie, Cathy! So evocative, atmospheric, and intense — with fabulous acting by Holly Hunter, Anna Paquin, and Keitel. I didn’t realize there was a book.

      Thanks for the great comment and kind words!


  22. First of all, I’ll be the contrarian and say I’ve never cared for ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I’ve never read the novel but suspect that the movie would have been more effective straight without music (obviously not a fan of movie musicals). I agree with many of the examples that have been cited above. ‘Gone With the Wind’ was definitive and probably as good as anyone could have adapted that novel although it lacks much of the grit and bite of the novel. The brutal starvation of the Southern survivors of the Civil War during Reconstruction was particularly graphic as Scarlett is emaciated from hunger, sunburned and scrounging in the dirt for food in the burning sun. Also I think Clark Gable trivialized Rhett Butler’s true ethical strength. He is the most heroic character in that novel. I’ve said before that some writers are almost totally unfilmable, There has never been a truly effective adaptation of Henry James partly because so much of the impact depends on his labyrinthine prose more than surface story. Most of the subtlety is lost. Likewise, William Faulkner. The godawful 1958 ‘The Sound and the Fury’ is laughable with Yul Brynner as a ‘Slavic’ Southerner. ‘The Brothers Karamazov’, also with Yul from around the same year is pretty underwhelming compared to that towering novel. But back to Faulkner, James Franco, an actor/director who possesses far more ambition than talent made ‘As I Lay Dying’ into a film which is a noble attempt and hits the high notes but still rings false when the word is made flesh and visual representation. BBC productions have the advantage of being able to encompass more of long novels due to their episodic structure and some are quite good but historically they lacked the budget or production values of theatrical productions. With the success of cable series these days, which match and often surpass the quality of feature films in budget, acting, depth and production value, that could change alhough I have yet to hear of any HBO productions of Dickens, Dostoevsky or Balzac. Perhaps the most successful feature films based on novels have been adaptations of E.M. Forster and Edith Wharton. Merchant Ivory’s ‘Howards End’ is one of the all-time greats. Of course, Forster’s prose is already pretty cinematic so it was made much easier for the filmmakers in that instance. Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Age of Innocence’ and Terrence Davies’ ‘The House of Mirth’ are also outstanding and are probably as good as film productions of those great Wharton novels will get. The Coen Brothers are the surprising success in film adaptations. For years they were known as being totally original and idiosyncratic. They wrote original screenplays and all of their films possessed certain characteristics. So when I heard that they were adapting Cormac McCarthy’s ‘No Country for Old Men’ I was very skeptical. However, I saw it and it is the miracle of being an utterly faithful adaptation of that novel while at the same time bearing the Coen stamp. They did it again a couple of years later with Charles Portis’ ‘True Grit,’ which is also an excellent and faithful adaptation but also distinctive a Coen product.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the terrific comment, bobess48! Many vivid elements to it!

      I’m also not a fan of most musicals; it just seems strange — and jarring to the story — when characters break into song. But “The Wizard of Oz” works for me, music and all. One of my favorite films, and I had the pleasure of seeing it on the big screen at a local movie theater last month.

      So true what you eloquently said about Henry James. His novels are VERY hard to film because of his complex prose, the usual absence of a rousing plot, etc. I can also see how Faulkner and Dostoyevsky would be hard to film.

      The 2010 “True Grit” movie, which I saw for the first time a couple of weeks ago at a friend’s, is indeed excellent. The Coen brothers DO seem to have a knack for adaptations as well as original-screenplay films.

      I loved Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence” and “The House of Mirth,” and was impressed with/horrified by Cormac McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men,” but I have not seen the movie versions of those three novels.


      • I liked Washington Square, its movie title The Heiress, starring Montgomery Clift and Olivia De Havilland, so for me at least, it’s a James’ property into film that succeeds. Then there’s The Innocents, which derives from a play of the same title, which derives from The turn of the Screw– there is a most unfortunate tear that falls in the movie, which should not have, but otherwise it’s a fine picture and does as much justice as one can expect a denotative medium can to a writer such as James.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for the great comment, jhNY! Nice to see you here. Is your computer fixed, or have you gotten a new one?

          I haven’t seen the two films you described, but they illustrate that even Henry James’ not-that-cinematic work can be turned into good movies.

          From what I recall reading, that superb novelist didn’t have much success as a playwright — which sort of relates to how his books don’t easily make for excellent films. He was of course more about the prose and his characters’ psychology than stage- or movie-friendly plots.


          • I hesitate, lest by saying so I jinx my good fortune, to report that I might have triumphed over the infernal machine, though probably in the way that mankind won in War of the Worlds– inadvertently, and without prior knowledge of my weapon’s effectiveness, or even, that it was a weapon. I refer to my capacity to diagnose and solve computer issues…

            Liked by 1 person

  23. In many cases,books make a more personal,in depth character study,more strata,one uses their imagination to conjure the words on paper to a visual. Agree completely with The Natural. Did a comparison /contrast in college,book to film,book far superior to Redford ‘s matinee idol depiction,not sure he requested to be shot from one side,he was not spry then,middle aged, seemingly too old to play a baseball player,did not work,nor did Glenn Close as his love interest although she is a good actress in my book. A film that was on par to its namesake novel in my opinion is A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, both tender,full of emotion and truth. I was sad when the book ended. The Hours,saw film,infer novel would he better. Perplexing how Kidman with limited screen time got a supporting actress Oscar for this role,was it the prosthetic nose that sniffed out the accolade? Jessica Tandy was always brilliant, Fried Green Tomatoes worked both in book and film. Its interesting if one sees a film first,then reads book, the actors can be in ones mind. I prefer to read book first then compare film. Almost always its different,endings,character depiction,emotion. Many times you have the auteur,then a screenwriter can have creative license. The visuals film can bring facilitates bringing the books to life, those Merchant Ivory period pieces like Wings of a Dove, Remains of the Day come to mind,it enriches the book on a larger scale through costumes, European travel,dialogue,etc….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said about what books do, Michele! Novels can offer elements — introspective and otherwise — that movies are hard pressed to match.

      Sounds like a fascinating study you did in college on “The Natural” novel and movie! Robert Redford was indeed too old for the part, and his matinee-idol status at the time — helpful in some films — was not helpful in THAT one. I wonder what Bernard Malamud thought about the cinematic softening of his novel? He was still alive at the time.

      Funny comment about Nicole Kidman in “The Hours”! A good performance, but certainly nothing Oscar-worthy. Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep, and Ed Harris acted rings around her in that movie.

      I thought “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” was a very good film, but my local library unfortunately never seems to have the book.

      I LOVED Fannie Flagg’s “Fried Green Tomatoes…” novel. So funny, compassionate, and socially conscious. Never saw the movie, but I know it has a great cast.

      Superb closing comments by you!


  24. Excellent theme Dave..almost wrote this in your previous blog..,Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester with a big age gap. Now watching it on TV the 1996 version of it. Have seen it before on PBS Mr. Rochester brilliantly played by William Hurt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, bebe! A coincidence that you’re watching “Jane Eyre” on TV tonight! William Hurt is an excellent actor, but he doesn’t seem like an Edward Rochester type to me. So he must have really transformed his “look” for the role.

      Jane and Rochester indeed are not close in age. Interesting that Joan Fontaine and Orson Welles from the 1943 film were only two years apart in real life!


      • Good morning Dave…when I watched the movie in PBS long ago I thought Mr. Hurt was excellent the Oscar winner I always thought to be a great actor. No, his looks was not changed just longer hair. His acting sufficed the role. Now I see lullabelle h was watching it too.

        The latest one was Michael Fassbender and there was Judi Dench as Mrs. fairfax good enough reasons for you to watch. No, I have not seen any other versions.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Good morning to you, too, bebe! Great point — if an actor or actress is good enough, they don’t necessarily have to “look the part.”

          In a related note, I read the other day that there might be a black James Bond, which upset the vile Rush Limbaugh. A black James Bond would be an excellent idea; I might even start watching that silly franchise again. ๐Ÿ™‚ A few years ago, I saw a production of “Death of a Salesman” with an all-black cast (including Frankie Faison as Willy Loman), and it was spectacular.

          Judi Dench as Mrs. Fairfax — I can picture that! “Jane Eyre” has so many memorable scenes, and one of them is Mrs. Fairfax’s stunned, confused reaction to Jane and Rochester getting engaged.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ha…unbelievable so un-informed supidity…

            Some one ought to tell Rush that so very handsome Idris Elba is a Brit. like the James Bond character. He is mixing up Nationality with his narrow mind. The few that I have read..nowhere Mr. Ian Fleming have characterized James Bond being ” White”.
            Better yet..Limbaugh would throw fits if he realized ” James Bond” is a spy and frequently enters the US of A illegally.

            I should not say it..but read a commentator saying have no objection Rush playing “Quasimodo” a very bad joke but it fits.


            Liked by 1 person

            • Limbaugh can’t grasp the concept of black people having different nationalities. Cultural ignorance makes my head hurt.

              Idris Elba would make a fantastic Bond. Not only is he extremely easy on the eyes, but he’s very talented as well. Aside from his acting, I love the way he promotes the beauty, traditions, and sounds of African music. I think he hosted an African music series on BBC radio a few months ago.

              Liked by 2 people

              • “Limbaugh canโ€™t grasp the concept of black people having different nationalities” — so true, Ana.

                One wonders how much Rush actually believes and how much he is just catering to his racist, far-right audience. But either way, the man is a blot on humanity.

                Given my minimal movie and TV watching, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen Idris Elba in anything. But he sounds like a very multi-talented guy.


                • I think it’s both. When you’re trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator, you have to dumb yourself down in order to get on their level. But I also think he actually believes some of the nonsense he spews. To explain his outrageous behaviour, I’d say it’s 90% pandering; 10% personal beliefs.

                  Idris Elba is the guy to watch. Definitely a Renaissance Man (and did I mention he was easy on the eyes? LOL).

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • I’m sure you’re right about it being both. Meanwhile, I know Rush has lost some advertisers in recent years due to his disgusting statements, yet he still goes on and on… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

                    Easy on the eyes, along with talent — definitely not Limbaugh. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hopefully, I’ll see Idris Elba in one of his acting roles soon!


                • Dave ..I live in a Republican “white” neighborhood with friendly neighbors and most listen to Rush…does not make any sense to me. I am very open about my political affiliations to most.

                  To think of it in Nashville we had . two lesbian couples and the next street two gay couples, one was married to a woman before. One man with a black gorgeous woman.
                  In OH I have yet to see one gay couple in my area.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • It must be an interesting experience living in that neighborhood, bebe. And indeed some people with right-wing views are quite friendly (I know some). It’s hard to pigeonhole people. Still, listening to Rush Limbaugh for anything but “research” purposes is not good!

                    Sounds like Nashville was/is a more open-minded place than I realized.

                    I’m lucky to live in a fairly progressive town with many gay couples, interracial couples, etc.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Good point, bebe! Towns, cities, and states can have progressive pockets amid very conservative areas surrounding them. Austin in Texas and Bloomington in Indiana are other examples of that, in terms of “blue” cities in “red” states.


                    • I seem to recall that the Democratic Party’s candidate for president in 1928, Al Smith, won every metropolitan area in the nation, but lost rather handily overall. The rural-urban divide has been alive among us for some while, I’d say.

                      On a related note, a Bosnian friend , when speaking about the roiling internal troubles of his beleaguered country, said it came down to ‘country versus town’. And Egypt’s recently crushed attempt at popular democracy likewise ran along these lines. The townspeople want a liberal multi-ethnic cosmopolitan sort of a state; the country folk want the old-time religion. Then the military comes in and nobody gets what they want.

                      Nashville is a very cosmopolitan place, given its surroundings– my parents live there now and have for decades– I have visited twice in recent months and each time was made to subsist on excellent Turkish, Lebanese and Indian food, via the miracle of take-out. A far cry from the Nashville of my youth, when Italian food was exotic stuff and apart from the offerings of Chef Boyardee and one lonesome restaurateur, rare– pizza, mostly of the Shakey’s variety, excepted. The largest population of Kurds in the US, I understand, lives in Nashville now. Also, though I had to be driven there to see it in in person before I could believe it, Nashville is home to a bona fide Hindu temple, complete with stone elephants! The music remains a problem, however. Mallbillies have succeeded hillbillies, and country, in my opinion, is poorer for it.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • jhNY, I didn’t know that about Al Smith! The rural-urban divide really HAS been around for a long time.

                      So depressing what’s happening in Egypt, with Obama and the U.S. government barely saying a word about the violent return of a right-wing dictatorship there. But that vile dictatorship is supposedly “better” for Israel than an Islamic-led democracy, and if most Egyptians have to horribly suffer, U.S. and Israeli leaders don’t seem to care.

                      Interesting firsthand thoughts about Nashville, and how it has changed. After all the discussion about that city, I want to visit! Unfortunately, country isn’t the only music that has been mall-ified and corporatized. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


                  • bebe, I didn’t know you lived in Nashville before. I grew up in Memphis. Originally from Boston, but my family moved to Memphis when I was around 7 or so. You’re so right about Nashville…very inclusive and vibrant city. I always looked forward to those trips up I-40, stopping in Jackson to hang out at the Casey Jones village/museum.

                    Memphis, the Mid-South, and Nashville are representing in your blog, Dave. How can you handle all of this Tennessee awesomeness?

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Q: “How can you handle all of this Tennessee awesomeness?”

                      A: Ha! I was once in Chattanooga’s airport, so let me try to spell that: a-i-r-p-o-r-t…

                      (I drove through Tennessee for a while this summer on the way to my wife’s family reunion in western North Carolina. But I was closer to Knoxville than Nashville and Memphis.)

                      Good morning, Ana and bebe! You are of course both awesome. ๐Ÿ™‚

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • How about that eh gal pal ?

                      After 30 some years in KS moved to Nashville…awe the music row , Vandy..actually worked there then during lunch hour if time so many eating places close to the University. When we had to move I needed to be dragged out from there. I could easily go back in a heartbeat.
                      Now…friendly neighborhood…and blah..don`t like it in OH.

                      Looks to me Dave handles us really well…How can you not TN awesomeness..

                      Liked by 1 person

              • Hi Ana, I get so very angry with this radio faced idiot.

                What i read that Mr. Elba with a killer…would love to play Bond, James Bond.
                Would love to see him to be the next Bond.

                Liked by 1 person

            • Bebe and Dave, as I was reading these comments again, I was watching on MSNBC a segment about the Sony hack, and specifically about the idea of Idris Elba being cast as James Bond. The commenters were in favor of Elba, as I am, though specifying that when one makes films about blacks portraying normally white fictional characters, then the movie should be a good one. I was also going to mention Megyn Kelly’s comments on how Jesus and Santa are both white, which was covered in the column from The Daily Beast, linked to by Bebe.

              Liked by 2 people

              • Hi Kat lib…I remember watching the clip of ” Megyn Kelly” claiming Jesus was white…she was very angry when she was claiming that. So silly….to be clinging to the white roots when she like it or not the whole World is revolving.

                I would also love to see Idris Elba being the James bond. They changed Miss Moneypenny as a black woman last time and we know of ” M” was not a man any more. Also they introduced a bespectacled nerdy young man as the future “M”.

                Also the TV series ” Elementary” `s Sherlock ..Watson is a Chinese American Woman..ha….

                Liked by 1 person

          • Actually, on this point, I hate to say that I must agree with Rush, as much as I hate to admit it. While I acknowledge that the film series has veered afield from what Ian Fleming envisioned for the character, I would say that, even if the black actor was fantastic as a British agent, he would be something else, but not James Bond. I can accept the blond Daniel Craig because he is the best actor to play him since Sean Connery and he is as close to the character, aside from the physical description, as Sean was. However, you can stretch that character and remold him so far before he becomes another fictional creation.

            Here’s the link to the Wikipedia entry on the character of James Bond, including Ian Fleming’s original physical description:


            I know that Fleming never envisioned anyone but a Brit somewhat like himself as James Bond, especially in the 1950’s. That was how the character was originally conceived. if you keep re-conceiving him you may as well just call him something else, no matter how fantastic the actor or the character might be..

            Liked by 1 person

            • I hear you, bobess48. Well said and persuasively argued. But some fictional characters morph enough over the years where I feel, why not go just one more step and make things even more interesting? The Batman of the 1960s TV show is much different than the Batman of recent movies, to give one example. And “The Cat in the Hat” TV show has a black boy replacing the white boy of Dr. Seuss’ famous books. I suppose one could call a black actor something like the long-lost stepbrother of James Bond and name him John Bond or something. ๐Ÿ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

              • As great as he might be, he wouldn’t be James Bond. Would you cast a black actor as Sherlock Holmes or do an adaptation of Jane Austen or Charles Dickens with all black actors? I mean, you could do that but why? My point is that if you stray so far you no longer have the character. Having said that, the film James Bond is quite a bit different from the character from Fleming’s 1950’s novels but still, what would be the point? I know that all these are efforts to keep the character ‘relevant’ but why not go in the opposite direction and be faithful to the original books, even setting them in the Cold War 50’s where they originated. That would be an original idea. There are other retro spy thrillers that are set in WW II or some previous era so in a sense that would be relevant these days.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Again, I see what you’re saying, but James Bond is a fictional character and thus has some “malleability.” I remember seeing an all-black “Death of a Salesman” production in 2007 (with Frankie Faison as Willy Loman), and it was spectacular. Then there was “The Wiz” movie a few decades ago that was a version of “The Wizard of Oz.”

                  Also, there are not enough film roles written for performers of color, so giving them the opportunity for some “white roles” can help.

                  In addition, there has been a long history of white actors playing characters of color: Laurence Olivier as Othello, Natalie Wood as Maria in “West Side Story,” Meryl Streep as Clara del Valle Trueba and Jeremy Irons as Esteban Trueba in “The House of the Spirits,” etc. Maybe some “turnaround is fair play.”

                  I realize my arguments are kind of on the emotional side rather than on the “credibility” side. ๐Ÿ™‚

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • I think a lot of it depends on the vehicle as well as the individual actor so I would refrain from making any generalization. As one of the comments below cited, Morgan Freeman as the ‘Irishman’ in ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ was perfect casting. Beyond that ‘Irishman’ label in King’s novella I don’t recall any other specific description so the character was kind of a blank slate and they filled it perfectly with Morgan.

                    Liked by 1 person

                  • To me, the greater question is why a wise-cracking psychopath in the service of repressive power elites has proved to be such an enduring entertainment vehicle, or put a bit differently, shouldn’t we find something better to look at, whatever the actor’s color? In any event, the movie James Bond long ago morphed past any semblance of resemblance to Ian Fleming’s character, though, because he was such an s and m kinda guy, is not altogether a bad thing, or wouldn’t be, if his subsequent manifestations hadn’t been so awful in their own ways.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Very well said, jhNY! I’m also amazed that James Bond has cinematically endured for decades. It really IS a rather silly, retrograde franchise — though perhaps somewhat less retrograde than its earlier incarnations. But if it’s going to exist, bring on the black Bond! ๐Ÿ™‚

                      Liked by 1 person

                • bobess, I respectfully disagree with you. It’s not as though James Bond was somehow an only white character as some others are. Bond has always adapted to different characters, whether it be a Scottish actor or others of a different British type. It’s ludicrous to talk about there being a black actor as Sherlock Holmes or a character in a Dickens or Austen novel, because they just didn’t exist in the periods in which they are set. It’s just possible that there was a black British spy in the 1950s or 1960s, but it’s much more likely to have one in today’s world and who really cares. Besides which, the Sean Connery Bond character was perhaps the most sexist of them all.

                  Liked by 2 people

                    • thread’s maxed, so:
                      Nashville, just now, seems to be the retrenching site of what’s left of the music business that isn’t rap– all sorts are there, or getting there. Stevie Winwood (Traffic, Blind Faith) has been a resident for more than a decade, as have a great many session players from the old LA rock recording scene. There are some truly world-class musicians there, more than a few. My mother is a New Orleans jazz buff and whenever I visit, we go to a club that hosts a band on Sunday evenings near home. Last visit, I had one of the most enjoyable experiences as an audience member of my life– and I’ve been around the music business for 40 years….

                      Glad you liked living there… I am tempted to return.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    • Oh I did not know about Stevie Winwood…against popular believe of Nashville = Country that is so yesterdays. Eric Clapton was seen wondering about in vandy.
                      Cat Stevens / Eusuf Islam after 9/11 was on his way for a recording sessions and was detained and send back. The gentleman behind me was a songwriter for Rolling Stone.

                      I am a small independent musician as well, my voice coach was a Rock-n-roll musician but got his degree from Manhattan School of Music.

                      Yes, I have friends I am always in touch and as you are tempted to go back I also would really go back there in a heartbeat.

                      Liked by 1 person

                  • As Bond is in the service of a government whose old policies around the world were founded on the notion of white supremacy, I beg to differ. The post-colonial period, brought about largely due to the Empire’s inability to keep hold of its parts, rather than by a change of assumptions re white supremacy, is the environment in which Bond, in Flemings’ novels, operate.

                    And the white supremacy thingy seems to me at least quite unapologetically and openly expressed in Dr, No, movie and book.

                    Inscrutable power-mad Oriental? Check
                    Savvy, friendly American white intelligence officer? Check
                    Exotic, weird mixed-race assassins? Check
                    Cooperative, naive local type? Check
                    Suave, sophisticated tuxedo-bearing cosmopolitan with a gun and his colonial government’s license to kill? Check

                    I’d chalk down the whole clutch of novels and the movie franchise to: the guilty pleasure department, best enjoyed without analysis.

                    Me, I’d rather look another way. But if I want to see a Bond, I want to see a white Bond, as it’s always a shame to see a man of another race co-opted into the service of his superiors.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Well, that’s food for thought and a telling argument against a black James Bond, jhNY. If there’s ever a black Bond, the ideal would be for him to have new, less onerous superiors — or to push back against the existing, onerous ones. Pipe dreams on my part, I’m sure.


                    • thread’s maxed, so:

                      For Idris to play Bond as Bond, he’d be working for GB. For Idris to play a better Bond he’d need a better employer, which would require the invention of an entire nation.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Hi JhNY no place to write below…how interesting to read your connection with Nashville. We lived there seven years from `01-`08 and fell in love with the city. Yes the middle eastern eateries are exquisite, the Indian near vandy ” sitar” not much unless they have changed.
                      Lived not too far from the ” Hindu Temple” prominent location with a huge black “Ganesh” statues inside. Within a few miles was Al Gore and Vady`s chancellor`s residence.

                      Where I lived every other resident was either a singer, a song writer a jazz saxophonist…incredible talented folks. I understand Aaron Neville after Katrina moved there so was the Disco Queen late Donna Summer.

                      Liked by 1 person

            • bobess48…sorry but I disagree with you in this matter.
              Idris Alba is British and that`s all matters. as the series continues on the technology is of modern times. No one raised their eyebrows when in the last movie Miss Moneypenny was a beautiful black woman, or even better “M” was a woman as Judy Dench.

              Liked by 1 person

              • I will concede that the other major characters have changed race as in Moneypenny and Felix Leiter and sex as in ‘M’. The only thing that’s only changed hair color so far is the Bond character himself. Many have made very valid points about the character departing from the Ian Fleming original long ago. Although, ironically, Daniel Craig’s first Bond movie was not only a reboot of the series but was based on the first Ian Fleming novel, Casino Royale, and actually retained much of the flavor of the character from the books (which is in many respects VERY different even from Sean Connery as the first film Bond) as well as key plot elements. It was a complete reset and reboot while at the same time retaining elements from the original books. So I think that was a necessary move for the film series to continue. Sure, Bond still works for an imperial government that supports repressive policies and one of them MIGHT be that a person of color might not be given a task with the job description of JB. That’s a big IF even though we’re talking about the fictional equivalent of a real intelligence organization, MI6.So I do concede with resignation that these radical changes are going to continue in the film series, which has juggled sensibilities and tested out attitudes on the movie-going audience and society that has transformed radically from the world of 50 years ago. So they can cast whoever they want at this point and it will neither validate or invalidate all the previous incarnations of the character [raising white flag of surrender].

                Liked by 1 person

                • It was a great discussion, bobess48, and there’s no right answer — just the valid opinions of different people. I guess those entertainment franchises do anything possible to keep an audience and keep the profits rolling in: changing things, not changing things, updating, going back to the original premise, etc. The “Star Trek” franchise has done a lot of that, too. Maybe James Bond should be green — for money! ๐Ÿ™‚

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Oh it is always have “green intentions” money making franchise. I understand that C grade movie by SONY is making tons of money…and now it is all Obama`s fault for whatever reasons.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • So true, bebe — it’s always about the money. Hopefully, creativity and artistic integrity breaks through here and there. ๐Ÿ™‚

                      Yes, the right wing seems to blame Obama for everything. One funny joke I saw on Facebook involved reactionaries calling the President a liar because he said he was 53 years old when only 12 months before he had said he was 52!


                • Hi bobess48. there was .no need to surrender..we were thoroughly enjoying a civilized and lively discussion I have to admit I have only read only a couple of Ian Fleming novels. So I could not offer too much justification why James Bond could easily be a “colored” great actor. JnNY above gave his reasons why he preferred a White Bond .

                  For me among so many others enjoyed Bond over the years for sheer entertainment reasons and always enjoyed the actors only because they were so easy on my eyes.

                  But I found the last movie to be too violent for my taste.
                  So let`s wait and see why gets the meaty role.

                  Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve only seen William Hurt in a few movies, Donny, but I agree that he can do just about anything. For instance, his performance in “Kiss of the Spider Woman” was off the charts in terms of losing one’s self in a character.

          As I think we’ve discussed before, I am woefully ignorant about “Doctor Who,” except for the realization that there was no way he could have saved Keith Moon and John Entwistle. And now I’ve filled my awful joke quota for the day…


              • His exuberance is visually entertaining, and his rock drumming, for a fellow who preferred surf music, is unique. I used to like to say that in the Who, Moon played lead, Townshend played rhythm and thank God for Entwhistle.

                Ever listen to “Beck’s Bolero”? on the Jeff Beck Group Truth lp? That’s Moon on drums, who was so over-tweaked in performance that he manages to knock over every cymbal in his kit as the song goes on, which is why, despite his usual preferences of applied din, there are, by song’s end, no cymbals to be heard….

                Liked by 1 person

                • jhNY, I just listened to “Beck’s Bolero” for the first time. Wow! And thanks for the background info on Moon’s role in that.

                  You described Moon well. So exuberant, and he indeed seemed like The Who’s “lead drummer.” Meanwhile, Entwistle played bass so intricately he seemed like “lead bassist.” What a combination, those two — and then there was Roger Daltrey’s great singing and Pete Townshend’s great guitar-playing and fabulous songwriting…

                  This might be my favorite clip featuring Moon’s drumming:


                  • When was a young teenager (12-13), my pal Mike Donegan and I used to spend our afternoons after school in his attic, where we had an army surplus speaker, a broken tape recorder , a microphone and a turntable. We would make up our own top 40-type radio shows, reading the news right from the newspaper, spinning 45’s we bought a Woolworth’s at first, but eventually, spinning cast-offs from one of Nashville’s top 40 stations, once Mike got to know a deejay or two there. Eventually, we bought a tiny oscillator and attempted to actually broadcast our radio show– not sure if we even managed to get the signal all the way out to the driveway.

                    One of my all-time fave castaways was: Can’t Explain, by the Who. Somehow, it didn’t pass muster with the local deejays. Incidentally, this 45– which featured the same producer as had been behind his own, earlier stuff, Shel Talmy– caused Ray Davies (The Kinks) to remark, more or less, “When I first heard it, I had no idea we had a new record out.”

                    The deejays also and memorably rejected Otis Redding, several offerings, all of which were broadcast and treasured up in our attic ‘studio’.

                    Donegan, unlike myself, got a radio operator’s license after a while, and went on to become a deejay in real life, in Nashville and LA. Haven’t seen him in over 40….

                    Thanks for providing that clip. Never saw it before!

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Sounds like you had a great time at 12-13, jhNY! Doing a radio show — nice! I was also listening to “45’s” back then, but doing nothing more than that music-wise.

                      Annoying that local deejays didn’t want to touch “Can’t Explain.” Fantastic song — one of the best Who numbers before they reached a new level with more complex, ambitious stuff. Now that you mention it, “Can’t Explain” DID have a Kinks feel to it.

                      You’re welcome for the clip! Such a shame that Keith Moon combined drumming genius with legendary self-destructiveness.


          • I haven’t seen “The Accidental Tourist” movie, but I thought Anne Tyler’s novel was terrific (except for a somewhat weak ending). The character William Hurt played in that film was certainly different than Edward Rochester! ๐Ÿ™‚


              • Of course you are correct J. J. and my boneheaded mistake is doubly unforgivable as the specific episode may well be my favorite and I was given a DVD of it by a co-worker for Christmas. John Hurt’s name and face attached to the 50th special are about 10 inches from where I sent my misleading post. Hopefully some type of paradox will prevent anyone from remembering. ๐Ÿ™‚

                Liked by 1 person

  25. I guess my favorite “novel turned into movie” is “Gone With The Wind”. Although the movie HAD to leave out many of the details in the novel (e.g. Scarlett’s other children), to achieve the lengthy 238 minutes of the movie, it captured in graphic clarity the horror of the Civil War and its two stars, Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh couldn’t have been better as Rhett and Scarlett.

    You mentioned Jane Eyre with Orson Wells and Joan Fontaine. I wasn’t particularly fond of that version, but I think I’ve watched every version ever filmed. In fact, I’m watching a version right now with William Hurt and Charlotte Gainsbourg in the starring roles (with a bonus of Joan Plowright – Laurence Olivier’s 2nd wife – as Mrs. Fairfax). However, my favorite version stars George C. Scott as Mr. Rochester (entirely credible as the brooding Mr. Rochester) and Susannah York as Jane Eyre. She’s FAR too beautiful to be plain Jane Eyre, but the movie is superb! There is also a mini-series starring Timothy Dalton as Mr. Rochester. That is a FABULOUS mini-series!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great that you’ve seen several versions of “Jane Eyre”! I’ve only seen the one I mentioned in the column. You named many terrific actresses and actors, and I can totally picture George C. Scott as Rochester. I’m trying to think of a young actress that would have a true “plain” Jane Eyre look, and I’m drawing a blank. Sexist Hollywood doesn’t have many “average”-looking young women.

      “Gone With the Wind” is indeed a memorable film — with tremendous acting and scenes. As I also mentioned to someone Facebook, the portrayal of African-American characters bothers me in the movie, but of course that was also in Margaret Mitchell’s novel — and Mitchell was portraying a certain place at a certain time.

      Thanks for the excellent comment, lulabelleharris!


      • That’s a tough one – plain “Janes”. Julie Harris immediately comes to mind. She was never a great beauty, although I always loved the way she looked. She played Eleanor in “The Haunting”, the movie version of Shirley Jackson’s novel “The Haunting of Hill House”. (You need to catch that movie when you can. It TRULY does justice to that scary book.) In fact, the more that I think about it, she would have been the IDEAL Jane, but it’s too late now!!! Amanda Plummer, Christopher Plummer’s daughter is another unique-looking woman who could have made a great Jane. Also, Tracy Nelson, Ricky Nelson’s daughter, comes to mind. She’s another unique-looking woman!

        Liked by 2 people

          • Thanks, lulabelleharris, for the follow-up comments! Your three suggestions all seem totally plausible, and your first comment was prescient about Julie Harris re Jane Eyre!

            “The Haunting of Hill House” is indeed a VERY scary novel, in an understated way. I have a vague memory of perhaps seeing the movie version on TV many years ago, but I’m not sure.


      • It is hard to picture George C Scott in that scene where Rochester is disguised and tells fortunes, as George C Scott is always so obviously and entirely George C Scott– even if he were made up misdirectingly for hours, as soon as he opened his mouth, out would come: George C Scott.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ha — that’s true, jhNY! I guess the old “suspension of disbelief” has to kick in.

          Of course, Jane Eyre might look at the fortune teller and think, “Is that General Patton?” ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Lulabelle, I also enjoyed the mini-series starring Timothy Dalton, with Zelah Clarke as a rather plain Jane Eyre. At the time this came out, a friend told me that her teenage daughter and her girlfriends binge-watched this adaptation on DVD, as they were so enamored of Dalton. I must admit that I found him quite a good Mr. Rochester. But then I’m probably the only one who actually liked him as James Bond.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kat Lib, I just looked up Zelah Clarke on Google after you named her and — yes! — that’s an actress who looks right to play Jane Eyre.

        Now I will step aside and let lulabelleharris respond, if she sees your comment. ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • I ADORED him as James Bond! In fact, I went to the MOVIE THEATRE to watch those movies, simply because he was in them. That’s saying something. I never go to the movies. Wasn’t that mini-series just exquisite, Kat lib?

        Liked by 1 person

  26. Many good points, Dave. Thanks. Having written several screenplays, and read a lot about the craft, I try now not to compare a movie with a book [hard to do sometimes.] They are separate creative works with sometimes only a plot in common โ€” and at times not even that. What works in a 500-page novel rarely does in a 90-120-minute screenplay. A movie is limited in number of characters and interior thought, the key to many novels, is difficult if not impossible.
    A good movie is a visual medium that is the result of the synergistic creative efforts of a story creator, a screenplay writer, a director, actors interpreting characters, a cinematographer and a film editor. When they are all on their game, the movie is excellent.

    If someone were to offer to do a screenplay of the novel I’m currently revising, I would say, “Treat this as a beginning idea and have fun with it.”

    One the lighter side: A good friend who has sold many novels, short stories, and screenplays once said the problem with writers wanting to “maintain the integrity” of their work is that they don’t understand the movie business. Which, according to him is: “Here are 120 typed pages. I’ll take that bushel of money. Do what you want with it. I have plenty more where that came from.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, John! You’ve seen things from both the book and movie side, which gives you a fantastic perspective.

      Many good points by you, too — including how movies are a collaborative effort while books are mostly an individual effort, and how movies are a visual medium and books are not. When one thinks about things in those ways, it’s almost miraculous when a great novel is morphed into a (different yet also) great film.

      Loved your “lighter side” paragraph! ๐Ÿ™‚


    • I’ve got a pal in LA that, last time I checked, was still making a so-so living there as a writer, selling his stuff to several, none of it ever having actually being made into a movie. I’d imagine, in a case like his, the trick is staying inspired enough to write after a while of seeing nothing on screen. But then, the wolf at the door sings a powerful song….

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Stephen King’s novella, “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” is my favorite example for one great reason: King sold Frank Darabont the rights for a pittance on a handshake, but didn’t cash the check; he later had it framed and returned to Darabont. Rob Reiner wanted to write the screenplay and direct the film and offered Darabont $2.5 million for the rights, which Darabont turned down. The movie only did modestly well at the box office, despite Oscar noms, but later became a monster hit on video and, since 2008, has been at the top of the Best Movies fan-generated sites, including AFI, being the first movie to beat out The Godfather as #1. NOTE: The Godfather took many years itself to finally beat out Citizen Kane. Also interesting is that, had Reiner won the right to do screenplay and direct, he wanted to cast Tom Cruise as Andy Dufresne and Harrison Ford as “Red.” One of the actors considered to play “Red” was Clint Eastwood. (Red’s a character described in the novella as an Irishman.) I can’t think any of these fine actors could have fit the bill as well as Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. This is one of my 10 favorite films of all time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great comment, thepatterer!

      I’ve read about 15 Stephen King books and seen several movie versions of them, but am embarrassed to say I’ve never seen “The Shawshank Redemption” or read the novella that inspired it. Your enthusiasm is encouraging me to rectify that. ๐Ÿ™‚ Fascinating anecdote about that handshake deal!

      It’s also fascinating how some movies don’t do great at first but then become wildly popular later. Another example, as Bill Tammeus mentions below, is of course “The Wizard of Oz.”


      Liked by 1 person

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