But did you see the movie?

I've been rereading one of my favorite books this morning. Roger Ebert's I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie, a collection of his reviews of bad films. (OOH! And in finding the link I discovered he came out with a new one last year, Your Movie Sucks, which I am totally wishlisting because I must have it.)

Anyway. I love this book. And I was reading through it and came to his very funny review of the Demi Moore/Gary Oldman "The Scarlet Letter" (accidentally typed "Demo Moore" there first. Freudian slip.) And it got me thinking. (Obviously. Otherwise this would be a very short post indeed.)

I liked the book The Scarlet Letter. It was one of my favorites of the books I was assigned in high school. But of course that film is unwatchable, largely because the filmmakers--and our pal Demo--felt the need to alter it and mess about and change what it means and blah blah blah. (I was reading Empire a few years ago, which is a British film magazine, and they interviewed the director of that terrible Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice. He mentioned how after a screening in the US he was outside and some kid walked out of the theatre, and said director asked said kid how he liked the movie. The kid replied, "It sucked!" And the director used it as an example of how Dumb People Couldn't Understand Why He Needed To Make Great Literature Unrecognizeable. Of course, he just left it at Dumn People Don't Understand, and said something derogatory about the kid "not being his target audience". Well, buddy, I thought your movie sucked too, and I am its target audience. I digress.)

Point is, some movies--most movies--made from books just aren't that good. I can think of several exceptions, chiefly of course being the Godfather films (I and II--I pretend the third doesn't exist.) To Kill A Mockingbird was pretty good, and of course the Lord of the Rings films are amazing. There's a lot of them out there.

But sometimes they just...fail. And it's especially disappointing when it's a book you love, and so a movie you were excited about seeing. (I still feel a little sick when I think of The Caine Mutiny, which had a great performance by Humphrey Bogart, a great performance by Jose Ferrar, and Fred MacMurray, and is based on my favorite novel of all time, and what a stupid ending they tacked onto the film and how it just ruined the whole thing.)

So here's what I'm wondering. What terrible movies can you think of that were made from great books? What books do you think deserve a good movie?


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