Saturday, June 27, 2009

Shafted

Watched High Plains Drifter again last night. This time I noticed something in the credits I hadn't before - written by Ernest Tidyman. Tidyman is probably best known as the author of Shaft and its sequels, (the books, mind you), but he also adapted Robin Moore's true crime book The French Connection into a little movie of the same title. While I can appreciate certain elements of the film, (Isaac Hayes for instance), I much prefer the book and think it's been unfairly eclipsed by the movie. Take the opening scene of movie when Shaft is ambushed in his office - in the book he THROWS that motherfucker out the window - in the movie the guy is a dumbass who falls out the window. Changes everything. Of course he wrote the adaptation himself, and won an Academy Award to boot, so what do I know, (also got him a NAACP award - one of the few white folks to have one of those). Anyhow, it got me thinking about books which have for better or worse been eclipsed by their own adaptations. Uh, Mario Puzo's The Godfather, perhaps. Maybe Larry McMurtry's Horseman Pass By - Hud. Not that I'm opposed to it ever happening, but it takes strange forms sometimes - I don't know that film adaptations of Philip K. Dick will ever eclipse his reputation, but jeez they're different creatures than his books and Stephen King's famous disappointment with Stanley Kubrick's The Shining makes you wonder how many terrific takes could there be on the same material. Dunno, just riffing here. Anybody got more?

11 comments:

Keith Rawson said...

the Silence of the Lambs is the first one to pop into my head, even though the book is far superior.

First Blood is another. David Morrell's John Rambo was an intense, three dimensional, almost noirish character as opposed to Sylvester Stalone's one trick pony.

And Blade Runner--sadly-- eclipses Dick's entire catalog

jedidiah ayres said...

Thought about Lambs, but the book - the first three anyway - are still best sellers.

First Blood is a good example. I heard Dustin Hoffman was one of the actors seriously considered before Stallone got the part.

Blade Runner/DADOES? is a toss-up.

Kieran Shea said...

It's one of those arguments that equate to a gun dog snapping at its tail. Round and round. The only way to get off this carnival ride is to surrender to the notion books and their movie interpretations will always be two different animals. Then barf, naturally.

jedidiah ayres said...

Different animals for sure, but I'm just wondering about those instances where the latter is so prominent in public consciousness that the former is almost entirely forgotten.

Kieran Shea said...

well in that case, ANGEL HEART. based on based on FALLING ANGEL by William Hjortsberg. bigger than life flick, but scratch your head finding somebody who read the book.

Kieran Shea said...

yes, i believe my last message sounded like porky pig.

jedidiah ayres said...

K - Angel Heart/Falling Angel by William HjortsBjornBorg or whatever his name was -Yeah! good one. LOVED the movie and liked the book no little bit, but you're right, total eclipse... Did I read on BIB that there's a remake coming? Really? Not gonna top Alan Parker's

Keith Rawson said...

Not to go off topic here, but what's the deal with all the unnecessary remakes over the past few years? It seems since Gus Van Sant's completely irrelevant "re-imagining" of Psycho the film industry has had zero issues with butchering perfectly fine movies.

Now back on topic: Blackboard Jungle and the Exorcist, you here almost no mention of the source material when the films are brought up

Kieran Shea said...

there's some word on a remake of AH. hmm. thought here, maybe "the machine" chooses remakes because nobody has any balls and everyone wants a sure thing?

Gordon Harries said...

Dude, Get Carter.

jedidiah ayres said...

Ah, Gordon good transition point. Get Carter fulfills both the eclipsing source material and unnecessary remake criteria... Shall we on to the next post?