RE: RARA-AVIS: Archer vs. Harper

Jerry Buck (
Thu, 17 Jun 1999 22:27:00 -0700

> Newman's wife, Joanne Woodward, later claimed on The Tonight Show that
Archer's name was changed because Newman had had two hits (`Hud,' 'The Hustler') with H titles. Goldman's response: `If you know anything about the movie business, you know it's all bullshit.'"

        Bullshit is the fuel that drives the movie industry.

        I interviewed Sterling Silliphant when he began what was to be a series of novels set in Southeast Asia. Silliphant had recently purchased a Swan sail boat in Sweden, had a five-man crew, and centered the story on the hero in his sailboat. The interview hook was "why I'll never sell my books to the movies." Silliphant contended he would lose control and that the actor cast in the hero's role would forever be the public's image of the character. Silliphant was a good writer and prolific, but it was all hype and a needless worry. The books were a flop, and discontinued after about two were published.

        Silliphant adapted John D. MacDonald's THE EMPTY COPPER SEA for television, and had no qualms about turning MacDonald's hero inside out. Travis McGee was moved to California, the Busted Flush became a sailboat (Silliphant's preference), and McGee was played by Sam Elliott with a big mustache. Elliott looks great in Westerns with the mustache. Without it he looks like the traveling salesman who's made to dance by the town bully brandishing a gun. Silliphant later admitted he made a terrible mistake in his adaptation because the houseboat is almost like a character in the MacDonald books. And Florida is the place for houseboats, unless you want to tie up in Sausalito.

        Jerry Buck

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