Thursday Movie Picks seemed tough this week at first. How many adaptations of really great books come close to doing their source material justice? I’m just proud of myself that I was able to come up with 3 without any Jane Austen.
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)– Probably my all-time favourite adaptation of a novel, director John Ford is just the right amount of faithful to Steinbeck’s classic. Screenwriter Nunnally Johnson was smart enough to know when best to let scenes play out nearly word for word as it did in the novel just as well as he knew when to let the movie when changes were needed. In 10 Movie Moments That Took My Breath Away, I listed Ma Joad’s burning of the old family photos as one of my all-time favourite scenes but now wish I had used the penny candy scene. There are so many perfect scenes in one of my favourite movies based on one of my favourite books.
Apocalypse Now (1979)– Francis Ford Coppola put his career and sanity on the linein his re-imagining of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness set during the Vietnam War. With all the script and cast changes that plagued the production, it’s a Hollywood miracle that Apocalypse Now is even watchable, let alone an American classic. Even the Marlon Brando part works for me.
Clueless (1995)– It’s easy to forget that Clueless is a modern adaptation of… damn. Okay, I guess I couldn’t completely escape Jane Austen. It’s supposed to be an adaptation of Emma, the only book of my three picks that I have not read, so I’m not sure how faithful it is. I’m guessing not very. But it is hilarious, quotable, and one of the few teen comedies I can think of that encourages us to learn a new word every day. It also features a young Paul Rudd (who has barely changed), an adorable Brittany Murphy, and a scene-stealing performance by Dan Hedaya.