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January 02, 2008

Comments

cinde w

I agree with Anne and others who have mentioned Lonesome Dove. While not a big fan of "Westerns" - either books or movies - this was one book that when reading I hated to arrive at the last page. And, the casting for the mini-series was perfect too. How about the term "bootives" (pronouned boo-te-vees)?

Su Swan

Film not high art? 100 years from now, I'd bet anything that films such as Seven Samauri, Stagecoach, Casablanca, and Psycho (among many others) will be regarded as great works of art -- in fact, if one just took the films of 1939 as representative, films role as one of the fine arts would be assured.

Re: boovies -- bad name, great concept! (and wonderful blog -- I've read every word!!) Normally I take it as a given the movie will not be as good as the book. Fortunately, occasionally I am surprised. Twice I was cringing ahead of time, knowing a perfect jewel of a book would be ruined and was astonished at the tour de force the movie turned out to be: (1) The Princess Bride and (2) The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Peter Jackson). The most recent version of Dune (2000) was also a delightful surprise, especially after the wretched 1984 film (a tiny caveat--how hard was it to "get" that Atreides men have black hair, not blond?) Along with others who have posted, I'd also include the following: Sense & Sensibility (Ang Lee version), Pride & Prejudice (both the 2005 & 1995 versions are strong, but I prefer the 2005 version--Knightly & Ehle are both strong as Lizzie, but 2005's Darcy and Wickham both make my 50-something heart beat a little faster), The Godfather, Wizard of Oz, 84 Charing Cross Road, Captain Blood (the REAL origin of Pirates of the Caribbean), Lawrence of Arabia, and Lonesome Dove. To these, I would add Little Women (1994), the Secret Garden (1993), Emma (the one with Gweneth Paltrow), Casino Royale (w/ Daniel Craig), and the magical Whale Rider (2003). My personal taste said bleck to the Harry Potter films after the first two and double bleck to DaVinci Code.

A nice though incomplete resource for identifying book-movie links is from the Mid-Continent Public Library (www.mcpl.lib.mo.us/readers/movies/).

Michael McKenzie

For a wonderful boovie rent, check out "Bang the Drum Slowly." An exceptional, albeit little-known author, and outstanding teacher of creative writing, Mark Harris, wrote both the novel in 1956--the second in a series of four tracing the fictional career of "The Lefhander," Henry Wiggins--and the screenplay of the 1973 theater release.

The film, equal to the book, launched Bob DeNiro's career at age 30 -- still one of his most remarkable performances, poignant in a supporting role as a journeyman minor league catcher with a fatal disease. He had appeared in only a few b-rate flicks before that.

The reason I referred to theater release is that "Bang the Drum Slowly" appeared on TV, part of the renowned U.S. Steel Hour, when I was a teen and I'd love to find a copy of it. That production appeared the same year as the book, '56, and starred -- wow! -- Paul Newman.

Find this book through Amazon, and rent the film: you will not be disappointed. Thank you for this new forum, Steve.

And, having already committed my worst trait as a writer -- not creating the ending closer to the beginning -- I submit a P.S.: I generally will not attend a movie adapted from a book I considered exceptional. While "Lawrence" and "Shivago," two of my all-time faves, far exceeded their literary counterparts, the opposite usually is true. An example from a fave of yore, the classic "Day of the Jackal" (especially the remake with Bruce Willis, arrgggh!), and more recently, the horrendous adaptations of "All the Pretty Horses," "Snow Falling on Cedars," and "The Shipping News."

Kim

I agree with most of the titles mentioned already but was really happy to see The Hunt for Red October brought up as that is my nominee for a good boovie. Alec Baldwin is the quintessential Jack Ryan and it is a shame that he did not continue in the role in later Clancy book-based movies. I am a big fan of Harrison Ford but Baldwin really is a better choice for the role. I did not enjoy the Jack Ryan movies after The Hunt as a result of the different actors.

The Hunt for Red October movie was as faithful as a movie could be to the original book and more importantly, really captured the fear and other important feelings that define the novel and even the times during the Cold War.

Colleen M

I remember just loving reading Hotel New Hampshire - but the movie was just tragic! Horrible. Absolutely unwatchable.

James R (Randy) Fromm

I will agree that TKaMB is among the greatest films to come from one of the best books written. A friend and I are taking on the Time Magazine Best 100 Books in English since 1923 one book at a time (we keep our own little reading blog at www.glx.com if anyone is interested), and when we read TKaMB we each made a point of renting the movie AFTER reading the book. My friend had read it once before many years ago, as had my wife; I had never read it, but I had seen the movie as a youngster. Seeing it on the heels of reading the book for the first time, it is clear that Horton Foote did a masterful job of catching the spirit of Harper Lee's beautifully crafted novel. Conversion of text to film is a matter of choices---not unlike the choices made by authors when turning their imagined worlds into text.

As for other nominations, I am frankly surprised that The Maltese Falcon has not received mention. The movie and Hammett's text align most beautifully and reinforce one another in delightful ways. The two together make for an interesting study in the differences and similarities of the two media. I particularly like the scene at the end of the movie when Miss O'Shaunessey is taken into the elevator and the bars of the elevator cage suggest her final destination.

Another Hammett text, Red Harvest, has been a source for a number of wonderful film adaptations though the most recent is perhaps the closest to the original text: Kurosawa's Yojimbo, Sergio Leone's Fistful of Dollars, and the Bruce Willis vehicle Last Man Standing. It is suggested that there are elements of Red Harvest in Miller's Crossing, as well. But one could probably pick any B-movie, gangster flick and point to Hammett's influences there.

As a final nomination: Ridley Scott's first commercial film, The Duellists; it is based quite nicely on Joseph Conrad's novella The Duel, which is itself based on an actual series of duels fought over many years by two of Napolean's cavalry officers. If you have not seen it, it is a lush film which follows the text of the novella quite closely.

Patsy McClure

While I don't think it equally as good as the book, I love the original film of "Little Women." My youngest daughter agrees. Often somthing happens that reminds us of Elizabeth Taylor passing out biscuits at the poor family's house: "one for you and one for me; one for you and one for me." We laugh together and agree it is time to watch the movie once again. Each of the actresses marvelously brought the March girls to life.

Barbara

Wow! Great stuff! I will be sending the linky to a few book/film friends.

S L Tyson | (January 17, 2008 at 10:20 PM) mentioned a Book/Film club at a bookstore (with discussion over dinner). That is a great idea! I'm going to swipe it, and suggest it to our big indy Bookstore.

I wanted to mention one (of many) reasons that PJ's LotR Trilogy was so visually stunning, and accepted in spite of changes. He got the beloved original illustrators, Alan Lee and John Howe, to do the concept art! Rivendell was just how I pictured!
I read that Alan Lee would be making 'final touches' to the Rivendell set, and had to be chased off so they could film! Ah...dedication!
Plus, filming in New Zealand...you didn't see the same set of mountains (outside LA) you see in so many movies!

My mom was in the middle of reading "2001:A Space Odyssey", when she saw the movie. She said that was a great way to experience both!
When she went back to the rest of the book, she had a better understanding of it.

Norma B

While many of Jane Austen's works have been mentioned, her personal favorite "Persuasion" has not been listed. The 1995 BBC adpation with Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds captured the favor and style better than any other production. Again, a mini-series had the luxury of time to spin the story out as the author intended.

So many books are written today with an eye to the movie rights and deals, it is a pleasure to see a story the author thought would be visible only in the mind of her readers presented as beautifully as Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice (BBC version of course).

Barbara

does anyone know if Dorohy Dunnett's "The Lymond Chronicles" has ever made it to film? Outstanding stories but it would be quit a challenge to capture Francis Crawford on film.

Dawn

I don't think anyone's mentioned “A.I.”, Spielberg's Artificial Intelligence—a futuristic Pinocchio-like story with an intensely-focused young Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law as his adult friend (2002). After falling in love with the movie I found the short story on which the screen story was based (“Supertoys Last All Summer Long” by Brian Wilson Aldiss) but was disappointed. The movie brought an entire world to life that the story couldn’t. Same thing with “A River Runs Through It.”

M. P. Hollins

I agree with Silence of the Lambs and Hannibel the follow up book and movie. I love Trillers and often read the books after I watch the film. The Exorcist, Omen, Rosemary's Baby are other great triller boovies. In my experience the books are more frightening than the movies, because I can imagine the characters better from the book. Therefore I never read the book for Trillers before seeing the movie version, I usually feel that the directors placed the wrong actors in the leading roles.

Marie

In my opinion one of best is The Virgin Suicides by Sofia Coppola.

Laurel Dabbs

Two of the movies already mentioned, Legends of the Fall and Captain Corelli's Mandolin, can hardly be considered without mention of their excellent scores. The Legends soundtrack was composed by James Horner, and Stephen Warbeck wrote the music for Captain Corelli's first and then the movie was shot around it. Both soundtracks transport you to those particular places and times, weaving haunting images and feelings that give an added dimension to the movies, much like the way reading can transport you. The CD's also stand alone; I enjoy listening to them on their own - rare for a movie soundtrack.

BJC

Eye of the Needle is at the top of my list. The book was riveting, and the movie followed it faithfully, adding drama that could only come from the scenery and the tremendous acting.

Kathy P

I'm not sure if you consider a mini-series a "movie", but I'd like to mention Lonesome Dove. The book (written by Larry McMurtry)was unforgettable, and the movie starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones was equally great, in large part due to the perfect casting for the movie.

Marlene

How about a Playvie category. I did not read Enchanted April, but the movie was SO MUCH better than the play, I loved it.

On a more recent note, No Country for Old Men - the chilling performance of the villain made the movie even better than the book - in my opinion.

John Armato

The Graduate
Three Days of the Condor (book: Six Days of the Condor. I read the book after I saw the movie and decided I didn't miss the other three days. Nothing additional happened, it all just happened faster. You suppose a remake in our hyper-speed era might be "45 minutes of the Condor"?) :-)

Ronda E. Ireland

I forced myself to finish reading Lonesome Dove before it aired on TV as a mini-series.
I was astounded how well the movie followed the book. Wonderful read & wonderful series.

PITA

Out of Africa - exquisite movie after reading the book.

Mykal Banta

No Country For Old Men:

Normally, I like to see a book before a movie. When the Coen Brothers released their newest movie, No Country For Old Men, I broke my own rule, as I enjoy the work of these filmmaking brothers a great deal.

After seeing the movie, and liking it, I then decided to read the book. As I read, I was conscious of seeing the actors from the movie in my mind’s eye, playing through the scenes from the movie as I read the corresponding scenes in the book. Normally, I think one of the primary disappointments I have with movie versions of books I’ve read, particularly favorite books, is that I visualize the book in my imagination as I read, creating characters and scenes on my inner theater. With this boovie experience, I read the book with a cast/settings/dialogue already clear in my mind. In fact, I found myself judging the book as though it were an interpretation of the movie and felt Cormac McCarthy did an incredible job in capturing the tone and feel of the movie (this must mean, I think, that the Coen Brothers did a great job with the material)!

Anyway, I found that I liked both the experience of the book and the movie just about equally. If anything, it was interesting to see the characters from the movie come to life again. Additionally, I felt that knowing the ending of the book somehow added to the pleasure. It allowed me to admire the way things developed from a different, all-knowing perspective, I think. Characters' actions became all the more heartbreaking in 20/20 foresight.

No Country For Old Men was a sparse, powerful book, full of bleak landscapes and lawmen with deep creases and very tired eyes. No Country For Old Men was also a sparse, powerful movie, which had no music track at all other than the sound of the desert wind.

Interestingly, I find myself remembering the same scene from both the book and the movie. It is the moment when Tommy Lee Jones/Ed Tom Bell is asked why he retired from law enforcement. He thinks a moment and says, “I felt overmatched.” That both Film and Movie captured the same moment so memorably says something very good about both novel and movie, and that the filmmakers really understood the heart of the writer’s work.
--Mykal Banta

giniajim

This is an interesting topic on a couple of dimensions. The first is some insight into how non-literate I myself am. I've seen few of these movies, and read very few of the books (and I read a lot, just not many books!). But the other thought is that movies and books function in far different media. Its quite an art to make a movie from a book and often not done well.

Having said all that, let me nominate some of my own: Mr. Roberts, War Of The Worlds (thinking of the first one; I haven't seen the remake), All The Presidents Men, Giant, There Will Be Blood (you can't buy a copy of Oil! now), Grapes of Wrath, The Jungle was made into a silent film, I'm amazed that it hasn't been made in more modern times (I guess the subject matter was very pertinent to the time, not so much later).

Shari Myers

"The Accidental Tourist" was the first book I read by Anne Tyler, and without realizing it, I cast the movie in my head as I was reading. With the exception of "84 Charing Cross Road", it's the only movie I've ever seen where each character was perfectly cast and perfectly played. Each time I see one of these movies, I'm compelled to read the books, again. I would say the same about "Lonesome Dove", which could never have translated as well in a movie - the story was just too big to be distilled down to 2 or 3 hours. To me, it is possibly the best mini-series of all time, with some of the most brilliant performances ever given. In each of these movies and the mini-series, the actors truly "inhabited" the characters, and movie and book served to enhance, rather than outshine, one another.

Richard

Steve: I love the blog but as many others have commented, the name boovies is not catching on. It sounds too passive. Too booooviiiine. Too unworthy of a great concept.

How about running a contest for a better name? A Levenger gift certificate could do the trick.

I would like to comment on your comment about movies that made me want to read the book.

My top award would go to the late Joan Wilson, the producer of Masterpiece Theatre for many years. She inspired me to read Mayor of Casterbridge, which lead me to read all of Thomas Hardy. Ditto for I, Claudius. I have read everything Robert Graves wrote as a result of her choice of BBC productions she introduced to the U.S. audiences.

Basically she did what a great teacher does, using her influence to create students who WANT to learn. To know that one doesn't have to reinvent the wheel all the time. That there is an author out there some where who has written on every subject imaginable and willing and eager to share their experience with you.

And THAT is the purpose of story telling, isn't it? Be it mooooovieees, boookiiies or whatever you want to call it.

Sherdean Rhule

The Color Purple by Alice Walker was a great movie and a phenomenal book. I saw the Color Purple when I was about 12 years old. Never thought of reading the book until having a discussion with Steve about great movies and books. I read the book a few weeks ago and and was so glad I did because the book evoked a completely different emotion than the movie.

“Miss Celie", the main character was a lesbian in the book. Although it was hinted at in the movie, I never gave it much thought because it was a small kiss that Miss Shug gave her on the lips. But in the book, it was well presented about her feelings for Shug and the way her body and her emotions reacted to her when they were together. They were lovers. I find it very interesting why that was not presented in the movie. Maybe because Black America was not ready to see a black woman that was sexually abused by her father, her husband, and beaten down by her stepchildren, to be presented to us as a lesbian.

I remember that when watching this movie at 12 years old to today at age 31, it would always make me feel angry towards white people. Especially when Miss Sophia (played by Oprah) was beaten in the street by the white Mayor, put in jail for 8 years and then only to become the Mayor's wife's maid. But after reading the book I never got that angry feeling, because there was more information for me to read how her life was in jail and how she was at the home of the mayor. Don’t get me wrong, she was still abused but that feeling was not there. The movie also made me hated Miss Celie’s husband Mr_____(Albert) because of the way he treated her and that she never forgave him, but the book presented his character in a different way, so I was glad he realized his mistakes, and in the end they became friends.

I must say I never thought I could read a book after watching the movie over the years (least 50 times) and love the book as much as the movie. I am glad that Steve presented this idea to me because I read the book and loved it! I’m glad I read it, I’m glad I read it!

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