Monday, June 21, 2010

Books to Film

Hope all of you dads out there had a great day yesterday! I did the obligatory watching of To Kill A Mockingbird - obligatory not necessarily because it was Fathers' Day, but obligatory because whenever it shows, I have to watch it. It's fun to browse that page at IMDB; for instance, I like the comments people leave about which scenes always make them cry. I agreed with most of them, but was surprised at the ones that were missing: I always tear up during Atticus' summation to the jury when he says, "In the name of God, do your duty. In the name of God, believe Tom Robinson." (Did you know that Gregory Peck did that scene in ONE TAKE?? That Oscar was well-earned, I tell you what!), and I also always cry when, near the very end, Atticus extends his hand to Boo Radley and says, "Thank you Arthur. Thank you for my children." Good Lord, I cry just writing about it!!

Speaking of tears, those were real tears that Brock Peters produced in his incredible testimony scene when, having been asked by Atticus if he had raped Mayella Ewell, he responded, "I did not, sir." Gregory Peck said that, during the filming of that scene, he couldn't look directly at Peters because he was in danger of losing his own composure, which is not surprising. Also, I didn't know that Brock Peters had delivered the eulogy at Peck's funeral.

So, this morning I was thinking about good books-to-movies transitions and here is my spontaneous, not-very-extensively-thought-about list. I also started thinking about what I think are some of the WORST books-to-movies transitions. All very subjective, your suggestions welcome!

Good (or great) books made into good (or great) movies:

Yes, TKAM has to top this list.
The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II
The Grapes of Wrath
The Exorcist
Howard's End
The Shining, and while we're on Kubrick, we might as well add A Clockwork Orange

I'm sure there are many that I am forgetting. Let's see what comes up in the comments! Meanwhile, here's my short list (so far) of good/great/moderately good books that were made into terrible (or at least, disappointing to me) movies:

Practical Magic
The Cider House Rules
Blood Work
UPDATE: How could I forget The Prince of Tides? I just can't warm up to Barbra Streisand. Like Liza Minnelli, I can appreciate her talent, but her personality just rankles, and it has to be a really, really good movie for me to get past my dislike of those two Stars. (Cabaret managed it, but I can't think of another example. But I digress!)

And this is a special category, I didn't like either the book OR the movie:

The Bridges of Madison County


Julie said...

I'm with you on Bridges. Another crappy book that will be coming out in movie form soon is The Lovely Bones. Waste of time.

AnnPW said...

So right Julie! The trailers to that film are completely cringeworthy - Gag!

Mike Thomas said...

Lord of the Rings trilogy
Certainly the best thing Peter Jackson has ever done and probably will ever do. An excellent telling of the J.R.R. Tolkien classic.

AnnPW said...

Good suggestion Mike! (I knew I could count on you, Mr. ListMan!)

I never have been much of a science fiction fan, so I didn't read the Tolkein trilogy, and didn't include those films in my list.

heydave said...

Douglas Adams' works (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) were thrashed into shit even too embarrassing for the passing fare in the 70's on teevee, then resown as fresh manure on a pile of dead things in a feature length movie.

Absolute shame and sadness; no sympathy for the nerds and geeks that thought they needed the visual fix, no pardon for the shills that brought it into being.

AnnPW said...

You are actually the second person to bring that work to my attention HD - thank you! Having not either read the book or seen the movie, I didn't put it on my list.

Mike Thomas said...

I've always liked the 1995 version of "Sense and Sensibility" with Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant.
"Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" is another good one (the original with Gene Wilder).
Then there is the Jason Bourne trilogy that I thought was excellent.
And since we brought up Tolkien, we should probably also consider Chronicles of Narnia by his Oxford friend and colleague C.S. Lewis. The movies are not on par with LOTR, but they are above average.

heydave said...

Hugh Grant? That boy just makes me want to slap his smirk soooo badly.

Ann, you really should read the Hitchhiker series. Sure, it would be a challenge to visualize it on film, but why they ever pandered to the need to attempt to do just that speaks volumes in favor of clearing out the world for a better view!