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Movies made from Books?

Read any good books lately?

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JulieMarch4th
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Movies made from Books?

Postby JulieMarch4th » April 16th, 2007, 10:40 am

Anyone interested in this topic? I always wonder if people pick up a book after seeing a movie, or how a screenwriter translates a book into a movie.

In the long distant past, I read Stevenson's Kidnapped after seeing the Disney production with James MacAurther. At that age, I was impressed at how well it was done.

On the other hand, I thought the Nancy Drew series with Bonita Granville an embarrassment to someone who lived for the books (at the tender age of 10).

Julie

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Disappointing Translations of Books to Film

Postby moira finnie » April 16th, 2007, 3:27 pm

On the other hand, I thought the Nancy Drew series with Bonita Granville an embarrassment to someone who lived for the books (at the tender age of 10).


Julie, I know what you mean about the way that Nancy Drew was depicted on screen by Bonita Granville, though now those movies seem kind of cute. The film versions of Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web could never match my childish enthrallment with E.B. White's world, (even though I have a model car of Stuart in a red sports car that came out when the movie premiered a few years ago).

Ditto with Mary Poppins, since P.L. Travers' character was nothing like Julie Andrews. Mary Poppins should've been played by Edna May Oliver. As written, Miss Poppins was peevish, business-like, eccentric, and very funny in a slightly sinister way--she would've scoffed at that "spoonful of sugar stuff".

Btw, forgive me for being the bearer of possible disturbing news, but have you seen the previews for the new Nancy Drew movie? It opens in June and seems to be causing apoplexy among Nancy's acolytes. Based on the previews, I thought that it looked as though they'd reimagined Nancy as an intelligent girl with an inquiring mind who thought that it was frivolous and boring to be obsessed with the usual teenage preoccupations. Here's a link to info about the film:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0479500/maindetails

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Postby jdb1 » April 16th, 2007, 8:06 pm

I am reading "Laura" right now - someone left it on the office bookshelf. I'm really enjoying it - I can hear the actors speaking the dialog of the book.

There are some differences, but the movie is so far pretty faithful to what I am reading. The story is narrated alternately by Waldo, the detective, and Laura. I'm almost finished, and I'm curious to see if the ending of the book will be the same as the ending of the movie.

The paperback copy of the book I have has a gorgeous photo of Gene Tierney on the cover.

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Postby SSO Admins » April 16th, 2007, 8:17 pm

This is embarrassing to admit, but I read nearly all the Nancy Drew books that were available in the 30s and 40s. My mom had them all from her youth, and when I was a kid I was an incredibly voracious reader to the point where it was simply impossible to keep me in material. Once i was done with Hardy Boys, my dad's sci-fi and John D. MacDonald paperbacks, my mom's issues of "Good Housekeeping" and "Cosmo" and anything else that would sit still long enough for me to read it, I tackled Nancy Drew.

It's been years, and while Bonita Granville is nothing like the Nancy I remember from the books, she's adorable on her own. It annoyed me no end that they changed Ned Nickerson's name to Ted though. It wasn't a big change, but it was more jarring to me than some of the others they made in the films.

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Postby Sue Sue Applegate » April 16th, 2007, 8:44 pm

I didn't much care for the Ted/Ned switch either. And what's up with that ugly rumor that Carolyn Keene wasn't just one woman?

I lost all my Nancy Drews when we moved once. I was heartbroken.

My folks also had trouble keeping me in ink. Then I finally discovered how wonderful libraries are!

The Bonita Granville movies are o.k., but all the other versions in the 70's and early 80's were also just "o.k." I just don't think real people can do Nancy, George, and Hannah Gruen justice. At least I haven't ever seen one film version that came close to the excitement I imagined. I loved all the cover art. It was the hinge for my visual landscape that I created for her to navigate. Maybe it needs to be animated?

I always envisioned Cary Grant for Carson Drew. I think there was a cover where he looked kind of Jeff Chandlerish or like Cary Grant, so I went with Cary.

Some of my best adaptation picks are:

The Odessa File
Gone With The Wind (MM)
The Godfather (Mario Puzo)
The Beguiled
Pride and Prejudice (A & E version)
Connagher (Louis L'Amour)
Rascal (The Disney one about the raccoon.)
Scruples (Judith Krantz)
For Whom The Bell Tolls (Don't care what Papa said about it!)
Can't think of anymore off the top of my head.
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Postby SSO Admins » April 17th, 2007, 3:14 am

Actually, I think the movies of "The Godfather" are far superior to the books. Puzo could plot, but he couldn't write his way out of a paper bag. His clumsy prose style renders him nearly unreadable for me.

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Postby jdb1 » April 17th, 2007, 9:12 am

jondaris wrote:Actually, I think the movies of "The Godfather" are far superior to the books. Puzo could plot, but he couldn't write his way out of a paper bag. His clumsy prose style renders him nearly unreadable for me.


You're not kidding, Jon. I read the book long after I saw the movie, and I was appalled at the amateurish quality of the writing. It's a tribute to Coppolla that he saw the potential under all that hack writing.

I've always found that books made into films by Alfred Hitchcock (with his wife, Alma Reville, doing the scripts) are much better than the original books, although much creative license is taken with the plots and characters.

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Laura

Postby moira finnie » April 17th, 2007, 12:48 pm

"I am reading "Laura" right now - someone left it on the office bookshelf. I'm really enjoying it - I can hear the actors speaking the dialog of the book. There are some differences, but the movie is so far pretty faithful to what I am reading. The story is narrated alternately by Waldo, the detective, and Laura. I'm almost finished, and I'm curious to see if the ending of the book will be the same as the ending of the movie."-jdb1


If I recall correctly, Jeanine Bassinger, on the dvd commentary of Laura, points out that the author of the novel, Vera Caspary really wrote the screenplay outline prior to transferring the material to a novel and, (after alot of tinkering with her collaborators), published it in book form. I guess you'd call that synergy, 1940s style--so it's probably one good reason for the close parallels to the film.

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Horatio Hornblower sinks on film

Postby moira finnie » April 17th, 2007, 1:23 pm

Having read all of C.S. Forester's books about the British sea captain of the Napoleonic era, Horatio Hornblower as a kid, I was really disappointed when I eventually saw Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951), the Gregory Peck movie version with Virginia Mayo as the co-star on tv as an older kid. Capt. Hornblower was full of self-doubt, and was a lonely man, whose only reason for existing was often to do his duty and get it over with. He might have come to cinematic life if a Trevor Howard had played him, but the Hollywood treatment really steamed my 12 year old clams when I caught the sluggishly paced, awkwardly played romance of the high seas version with Peck.

Haven't seen any more than 15 minutes of the British series, but it looked better. Sometimes, though, I think that characters that come to life on the page for us at an impressionable age should live on there, and not be seen on the movie screen. Know what I mean?

jdb1

Re: Laura

Postby jdb1 » April 17th, 2007, 1:38 pm

moirafinnie wrote:
"I am reading "Laura" right now - someone left it on the office bookshelf. I'm really enjoying it - I can hear the actors speaking the dialog of the book. There are some differences, but the movie is so far pretty faithful to what I am reading. The story is narrated alternately by Waldo, the detective, and Laura. I'm almost finished, and I'm curious to see if the ending of the book will be the same as the ending of the movie."-jdb1


If I recall correctly, Jeanine Bassinger, on the dvd commentary of Laura, points out that the author of the novel, Vera Caspary really wrote the screenplay outline prior to transferring the material to a novel and, (after alot of tinkering with her collaborators), published it in book form. I guess you'd call that synergy, 1940s style--so it's probably one good reason for the close parallels to the film.


Interestingly, though, "Laura" reads like a book, not like a screen treatment. Also, the characters in the book are not physically like the actors who portrayed them. Waldo Lydecker, for example, is described as fat and florid, and sexless. Although Clifton Webb played many a fey character, I can't think of him as "sexless," and I could accept him as a father in many of the films he did. I actually can see someone like Alexander Woolcott in the book character, as described.

I find I throw down in disgust a lot of today's fiction because it is obviously written by a screenwriter wannabe who has the big screen, not the armchair reader, in mind. A book is made to be read, not watched.

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Re: Horatio Hornblower sinks on film

Postby jdb1 » April 17th, 2007, 3:10 pm

moirafinnie wrote:Having read all of C.S. Forester's books about the British sea captain of the Napoleonic era, Horatio Hornblower as a kid, I was really disappointed when I eventually saw Captain Horatio Hornblower (1951), the Gregory Peck movie version with Virginia Mayo as the co-star on tv as an older kid. Capt. Hornblower was full of self-doubt, and was a lonely man, whose only reason for existing was often to do his duty and get it over with. He might have come to cinematic life if a Trevor Howard had played him, but the Hollywood treatment really steamed my 12 year old clams when I caught the sluggishly paced, awkwardly played romance of the high seas version with Peck.

Haven't seen any more than 15 minutes of the British series, but it looked better. Sometimes, though, I think that characters that come to life on the page for us at an impressionable age should live on there, and not be seen on the movie screen. Know what I mean?


I absolutely loved the Hornblower series, as I love Forrester. I think he is one of literature's great "action writers," and I've read most of what he's written. I have seen the Peck Hornblower movie, but I can't say I remember it very well. I always thought Roy Marsden, the first actor who played Adam Dalgliesh on TV, would have been a good Hornblower. He fit the physical description.

What did you think of that Hornblower rip-off of 10 years ago or so? The one Mel Gibson did - "Master and Commander". I read one or two of those, and thought they were very pale imitations of the original. Then it turned out that the author - Patrick Somebody, was a complete fraud. I remember when he died the obituary said that he had several aliases, and had more than one family, etc. In that case, I found the film much better than the written version.

I always remember Forrester's description of Hornblower's character - how he had an "unfounded distrust of his own abilities."

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Postby JulieMarch4th » April 17th, 2007, 3:31 pm

Moira, I, too, steamed through the Hornblower books (um, at least two decades ago) and totally agree with your assessment of the Peck rendition. Not that it's really Peck's fault, IMHO, but I think the script was so far off base compared to the novels.

The more current BBC series with that most attractive Welsh actor, Ioan Gruffudd, is much more realistic. (I hang out with a lot of people who love the Regency/Napoleonic period, so I get lots of pros and cons.)

Master and Commander had Russell Crowe, and I though it was pretty good as a buddy picture. It is also based on a long running series set in the same time period.

I keep on meaning to find a copy of The African Queen, also written by Forrester. . . but I think the ending is different, and I'd have a hard time with that.

Julie

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Postby JulieMarch4th » April 17th, 2007, 4:13 pm

Jon, should I be embarrassed that I tore through all the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift Jr books I could lay my hands on, along with Brains Benton :D ?
I have very few of the original 1930's Nancy Drew's and Hardy Boys, and I treasure them. What a difference between them, and the ones that were published in the 50's and 60's.

Moira, I looked at IMDB for the new Nancy Drew movie, and it sounds like fans are up in arms. . . Sometimes I think that movie people should just keep the plots, but change the names, and then fans won't be upset.

SueSue - I thought they did a good job on the Odessa File, too, but it's been a long time since I read the book. Did you like the adaptation of Sense and Sensibility? I thought Emma Thompson really deserved that screenwriting Oscar!

Julie

jdb1

Postby jdb1 » April 17th, 2007, 4:21 pm

I keep on meaning to find a copy of The African Queen, also written by Forrester. . . but I think the ending is different, and I'd have a hard time with that.

Julie[/quote]

African Queen, the book, is just as good as the movie. The main differences are that the characters in the book are about 10 years younger than Hepburn and Bogart were (mature, but not middle-aged), and the ending is left open-ended: Maybe they will make it as a couple, and maybe they won't. But they do decide to stay together as the story ends. It's a very good read, as are all of Forrester's works.

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African Queen relief

Postby JulieMarch4th » April 17th, 2007, 5:02 pm

Judith, THANK you for telling me. I read somewhere that the ending was changed in the movie, and I was afraid that they had drowned/blownup/died somehow in the explosion! I'll see if I can find it somewhere!

Julie


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