RARA-AVIS: books to film

From: BaxDeal@aol.com
Date: 17 Aug 2001

In a message dated 8/17/01 2:33:50 PM, DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net writes:

<< About your comparison, though, I always preferred Our Man Flint to Casno Royale when it came to spy spoofs.

There was one thing I did like about the movie, Velda's clear animosity towards Mike. It seemed as if she had finally gotten fed up with Mike's overlooking her "in that way" and going off with other women. I can't remember if it came through in the dialog or the delivery (weren't Estes and Anderson once engaged -- yes, I am embarassed to know that -- was she acting out after they broke up?), but she had a pretty nasty attitude towards Mike. >>

I'll try to be brief because I'm sure we're on the edge of being off topic. Velda's animous toward Mike was written into the script. Pamela and Rob never were a couple. I'm probably being a little unfair toward Pam because she couldn't deliver the line "I've accessed every data base known to man. And some only known to woman."

I like the Flint movies. Heck, I like the Dean Martin Matt Helm movies even though they certainly aren't Donald Hamilton's Helm. My biggest beef with Rob's performance is how much sincerity he invested in the scene where the love interest asks him why he became a private eye and he says it was because of Sinatra's performance in Tony Rome. It's a joke, Rob. Like I said earlier though, once he got it, he got it.

Clearly books and film are two different medium. TV is a netherworld unto itself. Much is lost in the translation, usually to the detriment of the source material. Sometimes however, movies can improve on the book. I would suggest Michael Mann's MANHUNTER over Thomas Harris' RED DRAGON. Likewise the movie's ending of HANNIBAL is superior to the novel's. I thought that Steven Soderbergh's version of OUT OF SIGHT a vast improvement over Elmore Leonard's underdeveloped novel. I'm embarrassed that the name of the screenwriter who did the adaptation eludes me at the moment.

Other works are so different it's like apples and oranges. Case in point: THE LONG GOODBYE. It ain't Chandler, but it's one heck of an interesting movie.

Finally, not only does the material change translating from book to screenplay, but also from script to film. I think everyone knows the memorable ending to CHINATOWN is director Roman Polanski's contribution, and not screenwriter Robert Towne's.

Sometimes the process works.

John Lau

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