3 books that should be made into movies

This meme is hosted by Rebecca’s Lost in Books. Thanks for the inspiration!

I thought this one would be easy. in a sense, it was, though not in the way I thought it would be. In pulling three books from my shelves I thought hadn’t been made into movies, I found that one had, one will be, and one ought to be.

Catcher in the Rye cover

The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Sallinger

You’d think the classic story of adolescent angst would be the perfect subject for a film, right? Honestly — even a bad one has a ready-made audience of English teachers and their students. And yet there’s no film version of the story.

Or so I thought. Checking at the Internet Movie Database, I came across a film of sorts with the tagline “75 minutes and 6 seconds of pure blue screen. Nothing less and nothing more.” Boy, they weren’t kidding. This gift to cinema is apparently a creation from an absurdist artist who goes by the name Nigel Tomm. He’s apparently created versions of Oedipus Rex, Waiting for Godot and Hamlet. Even after viewing his blog (which I haven’t linked to as it’s a bit R- rated), I’m not quite certain if he’s a real person or not.

Nevertheless, I do think Catcher ought to have a film version. Yet I doubt, somehow, the estate of Mr. Sallinger will ever approve such a work.

The Monkey Wrench Gang — Ed Abbey

Abbey’s book always seemed an obvious one to me. A cult favorite since its publication in 1975, it seemed tailor-made for the screen. Four eccentric characters, fed up with what they see as the exploitative development of the wilderness, begin “monkey-wrenching” development projects by destroying bulldozers, trains and other construction equipment. The book is rumored to have been a major influence on the more activist / destructive side of the environmental movement. So you’d think that a film version would be a good thing, right?

Mokey wrench gang coverWell, it turns out that a film is in development, and not everyone’s happy about it. According to the web site Cold Splinters, the cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Jack Nicholson, Richard Dreyfuss, John Goodman, and Elizabeth Shue. The director is apparently Catherine Hardwicke, who directed Thirteen and most recently Twilight.

Since the distinctive mark of Abbey’s writing is the gloriication of individualism, there’s a certain irony in having TMG be the subject of a big-budget film.

“Pardon my sinking feeling,” wrote Phil Houtz in a blog post at Backcountry.com. “Can the scriptwriting-production-blender process possibly retain the quintessential Abbey that we saw in Lonely Are the Brave? … For my money, I’d like to see (a) good low-budget indie adaptation of Desert Solitaire.”

On a side note, Desert Solitaire is one of my favorite books of all time. I’ll have to re-read it — and write about it — shortly. It’s been too long.

I’ll Always Have Paris — Art Buchwald

I'll Always Have Paris coverBuchwald’s writing is something I only discovered last year. Boy, had I missed out for some time. The story of Buchwald’s time in the 1950s as a reporter for the International Herald Tribune is so full of anecdotes, description and brilliant vignettes that it admittedly would take a talented screenwriter to develop a coherent theme. Yet the moments are there, as in this excerpt when Buchwald describes the IHT office:

One of the biggest safety hazards was the toilet seat in the men’s room, which had a serious crack. No matter where you sat you got painfully pinched by it.

Some of the best writing I did on the Trib was the memos I wrote to everyone about that seat… ‘How can you expect to put out a newspaper,’ I pleaded with the powers that be, ‘when every time your reporters sit dwn in the men’s room, they scream in agony? This seat, installed during the early days of World War One, has given pain to generations of journalists. the Herald Tribune, which fights against all forms of torture, is committing its own by not replacing the cracked throne. We are not asking for new presses or even new typewriters, though God knows we need both. But it is our asses we are fighting for, and management has a duty to preserve them if they want to preserve a fine newspaper’… the letters marked me as a possible union organizer.

His memoir is a joy to read. I need to read more of his writing.


7 thoughts on “3 books that should be made into movies

  1. I agree and equally surprised that Catcher in the Rye was never made into a movie. I wonder with Sallinger’s recent death if producers would try and get it made into a film. It they try to make it into a “blockbuster,” the existing one with just the blue screen may be considered the classic film version of the book.

    Speaking of absurdists, I did see a film version of Beckett’s “Happy Days” once. This is one of those works that might have been better off without being made into a movie.

  2. Interesting. I think a young Leo DiCaprio would have been the best pick; if they end up casting someone like the actor who played Edward Cullen in Twilight, or a similar new heartthrob actor, I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch.

    Love the last line of that article- “Goddam money,” Salinger wrote in The Catcher in the Rye. “It always ends up making you as blue as hell.”

    • I agree. Perhaps that should be an upcoming topic: “3 books that should have never been made into movies.” I’m sure that won’t be too hard to do, though avoiding inappropriate invective might be tough…

  3. “The Monkey Wrench Gang” is a really good choice! If that’s really the cast then I would be extra pleased, but I did not care for the directing (or any other part for that matter) of “Twilight.”

  4. I love your well-thought-out selections. I had not heard of The Monkey Wrench Gang. I am intrigued by it. Thanks for sharing! And thanks for participating in the Book List meme! 🙂

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