June 14, 2010

Classic books becoming movies

Rarely is the journey from classic novel to decent film as successful as it was with To Kill a Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, or even something destined to become a classic, like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. But since it seems as if today's movie makers are pretty much out of original ideas, perhaps they are wise to continue mining classic literature for good plots.

Although I preferred Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead (1943), I was interested to read that after numerous unsuccessful attempts to bring it to the big screen and/or TV dating back to the 1970s, Atlas Shrugged (1950) is being made into a film.

The 1949 film version of The Fountainhead is generally considered today to be a classic. This current effort to do Atlas Shrugged is an indie production with what is to me an unknown cast, so maybe this film treatment of a classic novel will avoid ending up becoming a train wreck such as the 1990 film (an awesome book I'd read and movie I looked forward to seeing):


Their were neither castles nor winged unicorns in the novel

Reading about cameras rolling on the Atlas Shrugged movie, I am reminded there has never been a decent (in my humble onion) film adaption of either The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or The Call of the Wild, two of my favorites. Too often, it seems film versions of books I've enjoyed get made by people who seem to have read a completely different book than I had. Case in point is the terrible made for TV Disney stab at A Wrinkle in Time (2003). I've read that the producers intended for it to be a mini-series and had to cut it down to single movie size. What that tells me is they invented even more cr*p that wasn't actually in the novel than ended up being in the unfortunate finished product:

Movie poster for the odd Robert Altman film version of what is among my very favorite books.

Sometimes it seems as if the movie maker attempting to make a movie out of a classic novel is overwhelmed by the task or simply too intimidated by the source material to make a good celluloid adaption, as in the cases of Catch-22 (1970) or 1984 (1984). I actually really liked Catch-22 and think it would have been bigger had it not come out two months after a film with a similar style and point-of-view, M*A*S*H.

So, it remains to be seen how this version of Atlas Shrugged will turn out. In the meantime, where are the movie versions of The Catcher in the Rye or A Confederacy of Dunces??


Anonymous said...

I loved Bonfire of the Vanities but heard the movie was a disaster. jemison

Amy said...

Here I was happy in my ignorance that there had never been a movie version of A Wrinkle in Time attempted...and then you post that terrible trailer.

Not sure I can stomach Atlas Shrugged: The Movie. I couldn't put the book down even though I thought it was hokey as all get out, but I don't really see it as a movie. The book is too grandiose. But maybe that's what people said about Gone With the Wind.

Chris said...

It was pretty bad, jemison. Great book though.

I agree, Amy - Atlas Shrugged is just too big. As far as A Wrinkle in Time, I don't think the author, Madeline l'Engle liked the movie version very much. I hope someday someone will make try again.