As Time magazine’s arts crew points out, "tis the season when Hollywood gets literate." This prompts them to launch into a blow by blow comparison of the major literary adaptations vying for awards and box office dollars this year, and whether or not they live up to their generally beloved source books. If you’re wondering, they say "Brokeback Mountain" the short story was better, and we’d agree â€” of course, it’s one of the best short stories we’ve ever read. They also like "The Ice Harvest," the novel and "The Ice Harvest," the film equally well. We’re a little intrigued by the book, despite mixed feelings on the film â€” also, Terry Armour at the Chicago Tribune reports that, for all the film’s general bleakness, its ending isn’t nearly as dark as the book’s:
"The novel ended even more darkly than the film and the original script did," [Harold] Ramis said. "Everyone who ever looked at the original script–even Scott Phillips and the screenwriters [Richard Russo and Robert Benton]–said, `Gee, can it be so bleak at the end and have any commercial life?’"
On the topic of two other high-profile (though ultimately not-so-successful) literary adaptations, James Mottram at the Independent holds up "Bee Season" and "Where the Truth Lies" as prime examples of what can go wrong when successful indie types head over to Hollywood, though both films he addresses are technically indie. Mottram oddly ignores the whole adaptation angle, which is the basis of why "Bee Season" got made, passing up a prime chance to remind the world of "Where the Truth Lies" author Rupert Holmes‘ previous songwriting career. Really, then, why even bother?
Mr. Irving is already complaining that the film takes so many creative liberties, that it will be "a hoax about a hoax."
Also at the Times, Broeske revisits the claims of Melvin Dummar, the Utah gas station operator who allegedly once found a solitary Hughes lying near the side of the road in the Nevada desert. After Hughes’ death, a handwritten will was discovered at the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In it, "Melvin DuMar" is left one-sixteenth of Hughes’ estate. The will was ruled a forgery, but Broeske writes that Gary Magnesen, a former FBI agent, has just published a book supporting Dummar’s story.
Once more at the Times, Dana Stevens has an interesting piece in which she reviews two books about black actors working during the period when the only roles open to them were terrible caricatures (this seems to be the issue haunting us today): Jill Watts’ "Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood," about the actress best known for the role of Mammy in "Gone With the Wind"; and Mel Watkins "Stepin Fetchit : The Life and Times of Lincoln Perry," about the vaudeville and early talkies actor who created the controversial character he named after a racehorse.
And at the Hollywood Reporter, Gregory McNamee digs up some of the good gossip in "Live Fast, Die Young : The Wild Ride of Making Rebel Without a Cause," which, authored by two Us Magazine vets, appears to have plenty. Hoooo, yes.
+ Books Vs. Movies (Time)
+ Inside an ‘Ice Harvest’ secret (Chicago Tribune)
+ Why some indie directors fall on their faces in Hollywood (Independent)
+ Based on an Untrue Story (NY Times)
+ Melvin and Howard and Now Gary (NY Times)
+ Caricature Acting (NY Times)
+ Live Fast, Die Young (Hollywood Reporter)