Re: RARA-AVIS: Books different than movies

Date: 26 Aug 2003


Re your comments below:

> I have not read IN A LONELY PLACE, but based on
> Woody Haut's description in
> PULP CULTURE, the movie is *very* different than the
> book. It's a wonderful
> movie, though, and I think that should be the
> criteria for movie
> adaptations, not "Is it faithful?" but "Is it
> good?". LA CONFIDENTIAL, for
> example, is not totally faithful to Ellroy's book,
> but it's a very good
> movie.

I haven't read Dorothy Hughes's novel so I don't really have a basis for comparison. As for L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, given that the massive novel had to be compressed into a feature-length running time, it was faithful to the spirit, if not the letter of the novel. At the time it was firt released, reviewers familiar with botht he book and the movie said it was fiathful in the same way that the 1953 adaptation of James Jones's FROM HERE TO ENTERNITY was faithful to that book. It gave us the main characters and a simplified version of the plot (with some aspects cleaned up for 1953 consors), and tried to put across, in a two-hour running time the essense of Jones's novel.

> And I'm surprised no one has mentioned KISS ME
> DEADLY, which takes
> Mike-Hammer-as-crusading-knight and turns him into
> Mike-Hammer-violent-thug,
> but is also a terrific movie. Comments?

I've never liked that movie for the same reason I don't like Altman's THE LONG GOODBYE. It was deliberately UNfaithful, not only to the letter, but to the spirit of Spillane's book. Aldrich, like Altman, went on record as saying he was making and
"anti-Spillane" picture, which brings me back to the point I made at the beginning. A filmmaker
(playwright, comic book writer, etc) has an obligation to be faithful, within the limits of the medium in which he's working, to at least the spirit of the source material he's adapting. If he has no respect for the source material, he shouldn't be doing the adaptation. And his obligation to be faithful is NOT mitigated by the amount of talent or effort he puts into bringing an antithetical version on screen
(stage, comic book page, etc.).


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