This week is another biggie-Adaptations, that Wandering Through The Shelves picked in which we can go all over the place, from author's alone(Shakespeare anyone?) to different adaptations of the same play (Scrooge..er...A Christmas Carol..135 versions! I looked it up). I decided to choose from 3 different "places" that a film version came into existence and hope you like them. Here are my 3...
1. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE-1945
Oh, come on, you think I will ever stop choosing this film? If you have not seen it, what is wrong with you:) This film, my all time favourite, started life as a booklet/short story called, "The Greatest Gift" written by Philip Van Doren Stern in 1943. The rights were bought up and then laid there until Frank Capra decided to make it into a film for his first Liberty Films Studio (State of the Union was the only other made before Liberty Films folded). This is the first film that Jimmy Stewart made after he served in WW2 and he was suffering from severe PTSD during this time. One person who helped him through this was Lionel Barrymore who played mean old Mr. Potter. It's about a man who dreams of leaving the small town of Bedford Falls but, time and time again, something prevents him from leaving. He doesn't truly understand what his measly life means until he is given the gift to see what life would be like if he was never born. Brilliantly acted with some great character actors that greatly help the leads. Please see it.
2. BLITHE SPIRIT-1945
This is a fetching, British comedy that was originally a play written by the slyly witty Noel Coward, who told Peter O'Toole(star of Lawrence of Arabia) that if he were any prettier, the film would have been called Florence of Arabia. Thankfully, Noel Coward didn't want his play bastardized by Hollywood so he held off on it being filmed until David Lean decided to film it(Lean directed Florence of Arabia later). Noel hated the ending but it doesn't matter as it is considered a great film that was noted for it's technicolour and special effects. Rex Harrison is a novelist who wants background material for his new novel so he, with the help of his wife and friends, enlists the help from one daffy old medium played hilariously by Margaret Rutherford. They all laugh until Sexy Rexy's ghost of his first wife appears but only he can see and hear her. He soon realizes that his first wife misses him and wants him to be with her. This is very funny and should be seen before the new film that was released this year.
3. THE BLUES BROTHERS-1980
This film comes from skits that were done on Saturday Night Live by John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd, the original not ready for prime time players. Jake Blues, played by Belushi, has just be released from prison after 3 years and is picked up by his brother, Elwood, played by Ackroyd. They were raised in an orphanage and find out by Sister Mary Stigmata(love that name) that the place can't pay their property taxes and will be razed so the 2 boys, who must have learned from Mickey Rooney on how to put on a show, decide to get their act back together and raise the $5,000 for this orphanage. Let's just say, they run into some problems with a ton of cops, a crazy gal who is trying to kill them(played so well by Carrie Fisher), Nazis and Country Singers. Some great music and car chases abound in this film which leaves your foot tapping and your stomach sore from laughing. It is a lot of fun.
So...which 3 would you choose? How many Christmas Carol movies have you seen? I saw 10 including Henry Winkler as Scrooge.
I met Peter O'Toole in London years ago. Super nice guy. Will have to look for Blithe Spirit.ReplyDelete
I'm going with two biggies. The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, which I thought was even better than the books. And M*A*S*H the television series, which also outshined its original movie inspiration.
Wow! You met Peter O’Toole? That’s so cool! It’s nice to know he had no airs about himself. I love both your choices because they are so great and are classic.Delete
I'm with Alex on LOTR - love the books and the movies. Anyway, 135 versions of a Christmas Carol and that doesn't include the play I appeared in in high school, lol. Unfortunately, I didn't like IAWL, though maybe I should see it again now that I am older. Only saw Blithe Sprit on the stage - last year as a matter of fact.ReplyDelete
I am dumbfounded that you did not like IAWL. What did you not like about it? You know, my best friend never saw it and I sat her down to watch it. She told me after that she didn’t like it because the character of George Bailey just seemed to not be happy with his life. She gave it a second chance and suddenly she got the whole reason for that character and now it is one of her favourite films. That is great that you saw Blithe Spirit in the theatre.Delete
I think I'm going to finally watch It's A Wonderful Life now that it's on Amazon Prime lol. I've been putting that movie off for so long.ReplyDelete
I can’t believe you have never seen it considering it has been on tv every year. It must be because it is an old movie. I hope you see it all the way through.Delete
I've actually seen TWO of these, although I saw them on TV. The one I didn't see was the British comedy. I can't believe it, and really enjoyed seeing how you saw these films through your eyes. Great, great, great synopses this week, dear.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much and glad you saw 2 of them.Delete
Hi Birgit...for once I have seen all three films...must be a first....ReplyDelete
Hope you are keeping well,take care xxxxx
I am keeping safe and hope you are well. Glad you saw all 3.Delete
I really like It's a Wonderful Life but I think the over saturation that it use to have before the copyright was renewed cooled my ardor for it somewhat. I did get a chance to see it in a movie theatre once and that was a refreshing experience.
Blithe Spirit is a gem. Rex and Margaret Rutherford are terrific matched all the way by Constance Cummings and Kay Hammond.
I liked Blues Brothers well enough but that one view was plenty.
Since the theme was wide open I decided to go with stage to screen adaptations. I limited myself to ones where I had seen both the film and a production of the play on Broadway.
Into the Woods (2014)-Adaptation of the Sondheim musical reimaging of classic fairy tales-Rapunzel, Cinderella, the Baker & His Wife etc.-with an impressive cast (Meryl Streep, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman among others) is enjoyable but misses the magic of the stage production despite CGI and the utilization of location shooting. I saw this in 1988 at the Martin Beck Theatre, though Phylicia Rashad had by that time replaced Bernadette Peters who had originated the role of the Witch.
Gypsy (1962)-Star powered (Rosalind Russell, Natalie Wood and Karl Malden in the leads) filmization of the classic stage play based on the memoirs of ecdysiast Gypsy Rose Lee growing up in the shadow of her more talented sister June and her fearsomely aggressive stage mother Mama Rose that Ethel Merman made legendary when it opened in 1959 with a score by Jules Styne & Stephen Sondheim. I saw the 2003 revival with Bernadette Peters as Mama Rose at the St. James Theatre.
MacBeth (1948)-Moody expressionistic take on the Shakespeare "Scottish Play" about the price of unfettered ambition and lust for power by a courtier (Orson Welles) and his rapacious wife (Jeanette Nolan). I saw the production starring Christopher Plummer (he was very good) and Glenda Jackson (she was electrifying!) at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in 1988.
Oh I know IAWL gets overplayed this time of year but I look beyond this and just find this film magical in so many ways. Blithe is wonderful and I so want to see this again. The Blues Brothers is the lesser of the 3 but I love the music. That is so cool that you saw all 3 on Broadway. I saw a high school version of Into The Woods and that was quite good and I liked it better than the screens version. Gypsy is an excellent film with some great songs. Natalie Wood shone in her role as Gypsy. MacBeth is a favourite of many people but it is not my favourite. I would love to have seen Plummer in the role and Jackson.Delete
I have never seen The Blues Brothers. I have seen the other two. I think movies are better when they come from short stories as opposed to full novels. It's better for a movie to fill out details rather than have to leave them out.ReplyDelete
Yes, I see your point but that is why it is better to see the movie before reading the book or you will almost always be disappointing.Delete
Not often I know all the films!ReplyDelete
It's a wonderful life is truly a great film. It is timeless. And the Blues Brothers is just so much fun. I don't know Blithe Spirit but 2 out of 3 is pretty good.ReplyDelete
That’s great that you saw 2 and I agree with your response to IAWL.Delete
Wow! I've seen all three. You might recall that It's A Wonderful Life is also my favorite movie and I watch it every year. Sometimes movies go backwards in a sense and are turned into Broadway plays or books. PBS sometimes shows the Broadway musical Holiday Inn, which is based on the movie but has undergone a lot of changes. Movies I'd choose: West Side Story, based on the Broadway show based on Romeo and Juliet. Gypsy, based on the Broadway show based on Gypsy Rose Lee's stories about her life. My Fair Lady, based on the Broadway show based on Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw.ReplyDelete
Yeah to IAWL!! It will soon be time to watch this film. I love your choices and I love the film version of Pygmalion as Wendy Haller shone as Eliza.Delete
I usually save IAWL until Christmas Eve, but now I'm in the mood to watch it sooner.Delete
I've seen your picks though didn't know about Wonderful Life. I guess this means any novel or story turned into a movie. Covers a lot of ground.ReplyDelete
1). From a play: I quite enjoyed The Importance of Being Ernest either the 1952 or 2002 version--both were funny.
2). SNL skits gave us a lot of good ones. One of my favorites is Wayne's World.
3) From the novella by Thomas Mann is Death in Venice. I never read the story except for parts of it. I thought the film version was an interesting interpretation of what I think is more of a philosophical treatise. The soundtrack of Mahler symphony music was something I really liked along with the sumptuous views of Venice. Not everyone's cup of tea, but I think it's a beautiful adaptation.
Tossing It Out
I love the play The Importance of Being Earnest and rarely do I laugh out loud when reading something but that was so good. I still have to see the film. Wayne’s World is another classic, stupid, but a classic. Death n Venice is an excellent film that truly makes one think although the last scene I think Rudy was trying to emulate a couple of weeks back. I don’t like the guy but I did feel bad for him With all the derision. I don’t like any forms where people are laughed at for something they couldn’t control at the time.Delete
The Patrick Stewart version is my go-to Christmas tradition. I would accept Jim Carrey’s. I wouldn’t mind watching Mister Magoo’s again.ReplyDelete
I still have to see the Patrick Stewart version which was his one man show on stage. I have seen bits of the Jim Carey version and I always enjoyed the Muppet version.Delete
3 wonderful films Birgit, loved Its a wonderful life....well I just Jimmy Stewart, and the Blues Brothers is brilliant comedy, Blighth Spirit, well not so much. Keep well and safe Kate xReplyDelete
Glad you like IAWL, how could you not:). Sorry that you don’t care for Blithe Spirit.Delete
Wonderful Life. The classic of classics. I had no idea JS suffered from PTSD. He was such a hero.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for your offer to help me get the word out. Would you drop me a quick line on my contact form? That will give me your email addie and we can chat.
As you know, I have placed this on my Facebook page. Yes, Jimmy Stewart did suffer from this which was known as Battle Fatigue back then. He never really talked about it nor ever wanted to do a war movie. You can see the change I. Him in this film compared to his earlier films as he is not as naive looking. He really was a war hero.Delete
Of course I have seen Wunderbar Life. (Oops... I'm still thinking about your previous post with the German version of Banana.) It's interesting that Jimmy was suffering from PTSD during production. He was a solid pro, and you'd never know it from his great performance. I'd love to be given the gift to see what life would be like in the U.S. if a certain POTUS were never born.
I have also seen The Blues Brothers, but didn't like it as much as I expected. Throughout the movie I objected to treasured oldies being presented in parody form. Two other films, American Graffiti and Peggy Sue Got Married, got it right. They treated the songs of the past with greater respect.
My adaptation picks, among films that I have seen, would include Cuckoo's Nest, Brokeback Mountain, Shining, Requiem For A Dream, Empire Of The Sun, Remains Of The Day, Lolita, Moby-Dick and 39 Steps.
Have a nice weekend, dear friend BB!
You picked an excellent array of films here which are all great. Bummer you didn’t care for The Blues Bros but I like the other 2 you chose to replace it. It would be so nice to see if that person was never in the White House. One wonders what would the world be like without Stalin, Mussolini or Hitler? Would it be a better place? There is always a reason for the bad.Delete
Definitely a broad topic. And the Blues Brothers will always be one of my all-time favourite movies! It's certainly my all-time favourite musical. Rather than going with movies that simply and faithfully try to recreate books, I'll mention three of my favourites that provide imaginative twists to the works that originally inspired them. The first is another of my all-time favourite movies, Apocalypse Now, based on Joseph Conrad's book Heart of Darkness. The second is O Brother Where Art Thou based, or at least inspired, by Homer's Odyssey. The third is Wild at Heart which is also somewhat inspired by The Wizard of Oz. Kind of a stretch but each demonstrates how Hollywood doesn't always have to totally faithful to an earlier project.ReplyDelete
Sometimes Hollywood comes out with something original. I have not seen Wild At Heart but Apocalypse Now is such an excellent film and O Brother is strange but so funny, I found anyway.Delete
Fantastic choices and I love how you found different media for each. I love It's a Wonderful Life - didn't know the back story.ReplyDelete
In earlier eraa, stage plays made it to the screen a lot more often. A few of my favorites:
A Soldier's Story
Love Philadelphia Story which was the last film Stewart made before going off to war. A Soldier’s Story is excellent and I need to see it again. I have not seen Deathtrap but Noises Off is hilarious and I was lucky to see this play in NYC starring Jane Curtin. Born Yesterday is another classic that I love.Delete
Yeah, seen a christmas carol way too many times with too many versions. That and war of the worlds. Stargate popped in.ReplyDelete
It has a ton of versions for sure. Stargate is a good choice!Delete
I saw Blithe Spirit a long time ago. A thumbs up.ReplyDelete
Thanks for the FB posting. Much appreciated. I stopped using FB after I got hacked, so I really appreciate you putting me out there. I think everyone except me uses it:)
Is there a link I could use to see it?