Since the character of Garrett doesn’t even exist in the novel, this scene clearly isn’t in the novel.

My Top 10

  1. Terms of Endearment
  2. Betrayal
  3. Educating Rita
  4. The Right Stuff
  5. The Year of Living Dangerously
  6. The Dresser
  7. Reuben Reuben
  8. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

note:  That’s it.  Just eight films.  And there’s really a big drop-off after the Top 5.  Actually, there’s really kind of a drop-off after the Top 3.

Consensus Nominees:

  1. Terms of Endearment (304 pts)
  2. Reuben Reuben (152 pts)
  3. Educating Rita  (112 pts)
  4. The Dresser  (112 pts)
  5. Betrayal  (80 pts)
  6. Heat and Dust  (80 pts)

note:  Terms has the highest Consensus score between 1979 and 1993.

Oscar Nominees  (Best Screenplay – Based on Material from Another Medium):

  • Terms of Endearment
  • Betrayal
  • The Dresser
  • Educating Rita
  • Reuben Reuben

WGA Awards:

Adapted Drama:

  • Reuben Reuben
  • The Right Stuff
  • The Year of Living Dangerously

Adapted Comedy:

  • Terms of Endearment
  • Christmas Story
  • To Be or Not to Be

note:  This is the last year of the genre split at the WGA.

Golden Globe:

  • Terms of Endearment
  • The Dresser
  • Educating Rita
  • Reuben Reuben

Nominees that are Original:  The Big Chill

BAFTA:

  • Heat and Dust
  • Betrayal
  • Educating Rita
  • The Dresser  (1983)

LAFC:

  • Terms of Endearment

note:  This is the first time since 1979 that the LAFC gave their Screenplay award to an adapted screenplay.

My Top 10

 

Terms of Endearment

The Film:

I have reviewed this film twice already.  The first time was when I covered James L. Brooks for my Top 100 Directors project which is a little sad since he won’t make the revised list when it eventually posts.  The second time, of course, was for winning Best Picture in 1983.  I always seem to point out that the only reason it doesn’t win Best Picture from me is because it’s in the same year as Fanny & Alexander but it does win several awards from me, including Actress, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay and even Score in a year that is very crowded at the top for Score (The Right Stuff, Return of the Jedi).  This is one of the most seminal films in my love of film because I first saw it just as I was beginning to be serious about film and keeping notebooks.  It was one of the first films I ever deliberately sought out because it was supposed to be great, having won Best Picture, and of course it was and still is great.  It also starred Debra Winger, the actress who was far and away the most serious celebrity crush of my boyhood years and who still remains so in many ways.  And I have to return to that score because it continues to resonate through my mind all of the time, a magnificent score that is one of the best to be used in a montage of film scenes and one that still evokes an emotional reaction from me.  It evoked an even stronger one this time as I watched the climax of the film and the scenes between Emma and her children and realized that it definitely had been an influence on me when I wrote my own scenes in sleep now the angels.  This was the first time I had seen the film since writing that story and it really pulled at my heart even more than it has in the past.

The Source:

Terms of Endearment: A Novel by Larry McMurtry (1975)

In my 1971 piece, I wrote about The Last Picture Show and how I felt that I had under-appreciated the novel and how McMurtry is a very good writer that perhaps I haven’t given enough attention towards.  So, since it had also been almost 20 years since I had read this, I expected much of the same, especially given that this film has always held a strong place in my heart (though I now hold The Last Picture Show as probably a better film, this one will always be closer to my heart).  So, it was a disappointment to return to this book and see how much of what I love on-screen is completely the creation of James L. Brooks and the way he decided to approach the story rather than what was in the original novel.

Truth to say, this is a decent novel but nothing special.  It does create a memorable character in Aurora Greenway (actually he had created her for his novel Moving On but he really focuses on her in this novel), a woman who enjoys stringing along her numerous admirers (she has some considerable wealth and is a widower and only 49) while the novel makes clear she’s one of the most difficult people to get along with ever imagined in fiction.  It does have a ridiculous subplot about the marriage of her housekeeper Rosie that almost derails the book but it keeps plugging on.  Then, for the last 50 pages, it leaves Aurora behind and focuses on the life of her daughter Emma after leaving Houston, her infidelity and her eventual diagnosis of cancer and death.  It is very much a character-driven novel but the character is kind of a massive pain.

The Adaptation:

The film holds to the bare bones of the story.  It involves Aurora and it gets quite a bit of Emma’s story from the novel.  But think of the film and the point where Emma leaves Houston (the 25 minute mark).  The vast majority of the book (360 pages) covers a few months in Aurora’s life (when Emma is pregnant) and then the last 50 pages covers all of Emma’s life after leaving Houston.  Aurora and Emma (and Flap and Patsy) are very much as they are in the book and it keeps several specific details but the entire character of Jack Nicholson is invented almost wholesale (there are small parts that come from the General) and most of the details and almost of the dialogue come from Brooks.  That includes the nervous aspects of Aurora as a parent dating back to Emma’s birth which aren’t in the book at all but create a brilliant opening to the film that really establish the characters right from the start (it takes 15 minutes of the film before we even get to the starting point of the book).  In fact, the three little vignettes that open the film, the one of baby Emma being awakened, the one after the funeral and the one of Garrett moving in next door all provide a great insight into Aurora and Emma and we really know the characters quite well before the film has even really begun.  Just about the only dialogue in the film that comes from the book are some of the lines at the end of the film when Emma discovers she has cancer and the final scenes with her before her death.  In The Last Picture Show, I was surprised at how good and faithful the adaptation was.  Here, it’s amazing what a brilliant film Brooks managed to make given the material he had to work with.

The Credits:

Produced and Directed by James L. Brooks.  Based on the novel by Larry McMurtry.  Screenplay by James L. Brooks.

Betrayal

The Film:

Why is it that so many terrible films are so easy to find but great films like this you have to ILL on VHS?  This was a film that I found difficult to see the first time I saw it, over a decade ago, eventually tracking it down at Movie Madness, that all wonderful bastion of hard-to-find movies on the east side of Portland.  This time, re-watching it before doing my 1983 awards, I decided to save myself the effort of having to track it down yet again for the Adapted Screenplay post, so I am writing this review in September of 2015 and god knows when it will eventually get posted.

Betrayal is based on a Harold Pinter play, so you shouldn’t come in to it looking for a laugh, or even a smile, or even really, anything even remotely happy.  It’s the story of a love triangle.  Well, actually there are four people involved, because it’s the story of an affair between two people who are both married, but since the husband of the adulterous wife is the third major character in the play but we never actually see the wife of the adulterous husband, it’s really limited to three.  But what a three they are.  Patricia Hodge, known mostly for theater and television work (I was lucky enough to see her on stage in A Little Night Music in London) is the woman torn between two men that she says that she loves.  It’s hard to see precisely, though, how happy either man is making her.  She seems to have gotten herself caught up in the affair and it has become as routine as her life at home – a reminder of the old Maltese Falcon anecdote about the falling beams.  Jeremy Irons is her lover, clearly adoring her, but never quite certain of what he has gotten himself into.  Ben Kingsley is the cuckolded husband, but we know that throughout the affair he’s been having his own series of affairs, so it’s hard to think of him being in any great moral position.

That is the brilliant thing about Pinter’s play.  The story of the relationship between Hodge and Irons unfolds over several scenes over the course of nearly a decade, but those scenes are actually presented to us backwards.  We start after the affair has already ended, with Hodge informing Irons that her husband has been having affairs and that she has told him about her own affair.

Pinter’s script could easily seem like a gimmick if not for the fact of how much we learn in early scenes that actually impact what we are seeing in later scenes.  We know so much more about Kingsley’s actions and why he acts the way he does precisely because we already know certain things that we have learned at the beginning of the film.

The other smart thing about this is that we know that all of this will end unhappily, that no one will come out of this film unscathed, we actually don’t feel that.  By the end, it’s like Pulp Fiction, where a dead John Travolta walks out the door and we feel happy.  We have ended with the betrayal and yet, at the end of the film, we see two people who are realizing that they are in love with each other and that they might find a measure of happiness together.  That they are married to other people, that her husband is his best friend, that we know that all of this will end unhappily, yet, still, we find some hope in the ending.

The Source:

Betrayal by Harold Pinter  (1978)

Pinter’s original play is now well known to be fairly autobiographical, which makes me wonder what the real people involved thought of it at the time.  But biographical criticism has never much interested me.  I don’t care about Pinter’s actual life – it’s more fascinating to see how he structures this play on stage.  One thing he has to do is make it clear to the audience that we are moving backwards through time.  In that, the play is an absolute success, with meanings layered upon meanings.  The play was widely hailed at the time and I can see why, though I personally have a hard time imagining Penelope Wilton, who I think of mainly as Harriet Jones, ever being the woman that Michael Gambon would gravitate towards.  I do wish I could have seen that pairing on stage though.  There have been many revivals (there’s one right now with Tom Hiddleston and Charlie Cox) with the 2013 version being one of the most famous with Rachel Weisz, though I can’t imagine how anyone would ever cheat on Daniel Craig with Rafe Spall.

The Adaptation:

I sat there reading the play while watching the film.  It was easy enough.  Until nearly the end of the film there’s only a couple of lines in the film that weren’t in the original play (when Irons tells his son to turn the music down).  There are a number of lines in the play that Pinter cut which make the action flow a bit more quickly than they would have on stage, but theater audiences have a higher tolerance for more drawn-out scenes and those cuts work well.

Towards the end, though, we actually get a couple of brand new scenes that weren’t in the original play.  The first of them is one in which Kingsley calls both Hodge and Irons, separately, about taking the afternoon off from work and they both say that they are busy.  The second, which is far less consequential, shows Hodge and Irons renting the flat where they will have their affair.  The first is extremely important and adds some interesting inflections on the earlier scenes; it insinuates that, in spite of his denial in the scene in Italy, Kingsley is, in fact, aware of the affair.  This could be hinted at in the scene where Kingsley and Irons have lunch, depending on how an actor wants to play that scene, but Pinter apparently decides to make it more clear.

But, aside from those two short scenes and a couple of lines, really the only difference between the play as originally published and the screenplay as filmed, is the dropping of any number of inconsequential lines.

The Credits:

Director: David Jones.  Screenplay: Harold Pinter.
note:  There is no mention of the original play – simply the screenplay credit for Pinter.

Educating Rita

The Film:

The Academy always seems to compound its mistakes.  In 1979, they gave the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor to Melvyn Douglas rather than for Robert Duvall’s amazing performance in Apocalypse Now.  Then comes 1983 when Duvall does win the Oscar (to be fair, also the Consensus winner) and they did not give the Oscar to Michael Caine, who at this point still didn’t have an Oscar.  They had a better excuse for not awarding Julie Walters who had to compete with not just Shirley MacLaine (finally winning) but also Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment not to mention another amazing Streep performance.  It’s too bad because the best reasons to watch this film are the two performances from Caine and Walters, the way they interact, the Cockney accent in Walters overriding her desire to learn and Caine, now a generation past his own Cockney time on film in Alfie, showing her the proper way to appreciate poetry.

This film was a stage play originally, a two person play that focused just on teacher and student.  In the film, we get a better idea of what is going on in their lives, of how he is being cheated on by his wife but can’t seem to care because he just wants to disappear into a bottle while she is being pressured intensely to give up all this studying crap and just have a baby.  The thing they have in common, aside from the actual works of literature that are being studied, is that they are both in that room trying to escape the pressures of their lives and this place is inside and away from all that stuff outside.

Educating Rita isn’t a great film.  It’s an entertaining film that is for the most part well-written and it is absolutely wonderfully acted from the two leads.  But the directing isn’t very good, it’s not particularly well-edited and the score is just dreadful.  But you’re not watching this film for its technical aspects.  You’re watching to watch these two wonderful actors go at each other and have a good time doing it.

The Source:

Educating Rita by Willy Russell (1980)

This was a two person play originally commissioned by the RSC.  It actually did star Julie Walters on stage originally (Caine was already too big a star while Walters was still up and coming and the film really helped cement her status).  It’s a solid play but also quite short, just fourteen scenes, none of which are very long.

The Adaptation:

So what happened?  Did Russell (or Gilbert) decide that a two person film wouldn’t work even though that was what the play had and even though Michael Caine is one of the two stars of the best ever example of a two person play making a faithful transition to the screen?  Or did Russell just want to expand on the characters and let us see more of what is going on in their lives and not be forced to rely on the exposition of the characters to let us in on that?  It isn’t all that effective (Roger Ebert absolutely hated all the additional characters and to some extent he is right in his criticism) and the film definitely works best when it sticks to the two main characters.

The Credits:

Produced and Directed by Lewis Gilbert.  Screenplay by Willy Russell.
note:  There are no writing or directing credits in the opening titles.

The Right Stuff

The Film:

This film is the story of the American mythopoetics (explained in my review).  It is the story of the changing status of America in the 1950’s, of the move west, of the move towards the middle class, away from those explorers who had come first.  It is not a film without flaws, but it is nonetheless a great film, especially when you look, not just at the writing and directing, but at the magnificent cinematography and score that are the core of the film.  As mentioned in my review of Hidden Figures, it is those film qualities, not the heroism of its subject, that make this the far superior film.

The Source:

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe (1979)

I’m not certain there’s a journalist as compulsively unreadable as Tom Wolfe.  Susan Orlean can take something as boring as flowers and make it almost readable.  Wolfe can take something as amazing as the Mercury astronauts and make it a complete mess.  Yes, I am aware that this book has been lauded by many over the years and was a huge seller.  When you read lines like “He should turn up at the front door and ring the bell and be standing there like a pillar of coolness and competence, bearing the bad news on ice, like a fish.  Therefore, all the telephone calls from the wives were the frantic and portentous beating of the wings of the death angels, as it were.” you can see why Wolfe got his reputation.  But when Wolfe does things like spend an entire page trying to mimic what he thinks is a particular Appalachian drawl that he associates with airline pilots, as if every pilot in the country is from there, only to try to explain that all the drawl comes from Chuck Yeager, you begin to wonder what the hell he is talking about.  He obfuscates and bewilders and all you can do is hope to cling to the title which Wolfe clearly chose early on and decided to hammer home so constantly that you wish he was hammering your head instead.

The Adaptation:

William Goldman was originally approached to write the script for The Right Stuff and he labored on it for a long time before Philip Kaufman was brought on board.  Producer Irwin Winkler wanted Goldman to forget about Chuck Yeager and focus on the astronauts while Kaufman, once he was brought in, was fascinated with Yeager.  In his chapter on working on the script in Adventures in the Screen Trade: A Personal View of Hollywood and Screenwriting, Goldman notes that only six pages remained from his script in the one that was approved, though the book was published the year before the film was released so I don’t know how much actually did remain in the film.  I’m guessing very little.

But much of the film didn’t really come from the book anyway.  Oh, sure, the basic story structure comes from the book, complete with the focus on Yeager throughout, both really beginning and ending with him.  There are even specific scenes that really came straight from the book, mostly having to do with Glenn (his comments at the press conferences, his backing of his wife in not allowing LBJ in the house), although the scene with Shepard needing to pee is also straight from the book.  But the personalities on-screen, most notably those of Shepard (and his insistence on mimicking the guy from Ed Sullivan) and especially Gordon Cooper might have possibly come from real life but absolutely did not come from the Wolfe book.  In fact, Cooper is the least detailed character in the book while he is possibly the most detailed character in the film and the one that the film uses to carry us through the astronauts’ story, from his first appearance, straight the narrator’s final words.  And they work well for the film.  I just don’t know what their source was, if any.

The Credits:

Directed by Philip Kaufman.  Written for the Screen by Philip Kaufman.  Based on the Book by Tom Wolfe.

The Year of Living Dangerously

The Film:

A young journalist comes to a new country.  He hasn’t arrived in time and as a result his predecessor has already left town without bothering to hook him up with any of his contacts.  That means, in this country of ever-changing politics (Indonesia in the mid 60’s) the new, young journalist is out of luck.  He is young and sharply handsome and because of that combination most of the locals and the established news corps don’t want to do anything to help him.  So he will turn to his abilities, to a beautiful woman working in the diplomatic corps (though what her precise job is isn’t quite clear to him) and to a very resourceful half-Chinese dwarf.

What could come of all of this could have been a complete mess.  You could have ended up with a half-baked journalism story or something about two pretty people that no one cares much about.  But the journalist is played by a young Mel Gibson during the stretch where Peter Weir could get fascinating performances out of him.  If we, the viewers, and the journalists around him don’t know what to make of Gibson’s Guy Hamilton that’s because he’s not quite sure what to make of himself yet either and he’s running out of time to figure it out.  He’s falling in love with Jill Bryant (played by Sigourney Weaver) and she’s too smart to let him know everything about her.  He’s dependent on Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt in a gender-reversed Oscar winning role).  He’s got a country ripe to explode and he’s not sure if he’s the journalist to find the story here.

All of the things come together, partially because Weir is such a sure-handed director, following up Gallipoli with this tale of romance and international intrigue, partially because Gibson was actually a good actor and not a lunatic once upon a time and partially because the screenwriting trio of David Williamson, Weir and the original novelist C.J. Koch find a way more towards the romance than in the book and less towards the political intrigue which would have probably made the story too confusing.

The Source:

The Year of Living Dangerously by C. J. Koch (1978)

Koch’s novel is a fictionalized version of the events that he lived through during the coup attempt in Indonesia in the fall of 1965.  His stand-in, however, is not the main character of Guy Hamilton, the young journalist who arrives just too late for his new job, but rather Cookie, the narrator of the novel.  The book does a decent job of setting its time and place and allowing you to see the problems that face Hamilton as he tries to do his job and to romance a beautiful young woman working in the British embassy (though what her job is, is something that Hamilton doesn’t know soon enough).  However, by approaching the story through the lens of Cookie’s first person narration, the book is limited by its viewpoint.  The book would have been better had it been in third person, even if still had to hide certain information from us.  As it is, there are certain scenes that just don’t really feel right that Cookie would have known what was going on.

The Adaptation:

The screenwriters very wisely dropped the entire character of Cookie from the script (I don’t think I know of any other film adaptation that actually drops the character who is a first person narrator in the novel).  Instead, we get a much more straight-forward depiction of Hamilton and they go with Billy Kwan, the half-Chinese dwarf for our narration.  Most of the rest of the film comes pretty closely from the book, though there are details of the romance between Guy and Jill that are changed for the film, as well as the emphasis for the film is more on the romance and less on the political turmoil.  That was also a wise commercial choice, since a romance between Gibson and Weaver was a much easier selling point to filmgoers than a failed coup in Indonesia from 1965.

The Credits:

directed by Peter Weir.  screenplay by David Williamson, Peter Weir, C. J. Koch.  from the novel by C. J. Koch.

The Dresser

The Film:

When I wrote about this film originally for the Best Picture post I talked about how it was the forgotten Best Picture nominee, almost certainly the one that swept in and stole the nomination away from Fanny and Alexander (although, as it turns out, Fanny and Alexander was technically ineligible for Best Picture).  There is some truth to that.  It is a forgotten film.  It is a good film and watching it this time, I wondered again if I should bump it just up into ***.5 range but I left it where it is, a high *** with some really strong acting, especially from the two leads.  It was recently remade for television with Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen and they also do a remarkable job with what is essentially a showcase for two strong actors.

The Source:

The Dresser by Ronald Harwood (1980)

A good play that makes use of Harwood’s experience as a dresser for years.  Much can be found online about how the play is basically a stand-in for his relationship as the dresser to Sir Donald Wolfit which is ironic since Harwood has a Foreword in the published play explicitly stating that is not the case though of course the play stems from his experiences.  It’s, as I mentioned above, a nice showcase for two strong actors with very different styles, the bombastic fading out Shakespearean actor and the man who is basically holding him up, alternately underplaying and overplaying.

The Adaptation:

Much of the play ends up line for line on film which is often par for the course when a playwright adapts his own work for the screen.  Most of the differences are actually additions and almost any scene in the film that doesn’t take place in the theater wasn’t in the original play (in a few cases, they are described later in the original play but actually depicted in the film).  That includes the train scene which I remarked upon in my original review, thinking it probably worked much better on film than it had in the theater but reading the play I learned it was never in the original play.

The Credits:

Produced and Directed by Peter Yates.  Screenplay by Ronald Harwood.
note: The credits do not mention the original source but that is sometimes the case when the screenwriter is also the source writer.

Reuben, Reuben

The Film:

Back in 1983, in the days before SAG and the BFCA and when the BAFTAs were held after the Oscars, lots of Oscar nominees were surprises.  But Tom Conti’s nomination for Reuben Reuben could hardly be called that since he had earned a Globe nomination and won the NBR (partially for his performance in Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence).  Indeed, only two actors had that resume heading into the Oscars and hadn’t earned a nomination (Gene Hackman in 1974 and David Carradine in 1976, surprisingly, both for performances in Best Picture nominees).  On the other hand, it was a big surprise because Tom Conti was hardly on anybody’s radar and was the only one of the nominees without at least one previous Oscar nomination, going up against Robert Duvall, Michael Caine, Albert Finney and Tom Courteney.  But Academy voters had clearly seen the film because not only was Conti nominated but the film had also managed a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination over Best Picture nominee The Right Stuff.

So what exactly is this film that you likely have not seen?  This is a film which has less than 1000 votes on the IMDb in spite of two major Oscar nominations.  It’s the story of a lecherous, tired, alcohol-infused Scottish poet at large in suburban Connecticut.  He’s the second coming of Dylan Thomas (because Thomas inspired the character).  Played to the hilt by Conti, Gowan McGland is the worst nightmare for many of the people around him.  He’s the kind of man who gets wealthy women to take him out to lunch, drinks as much as possible and then steals the tip on his way out the door.  He will take a middle aged woman to bed and then make ruthless comments about her looks as he does so.  Yet, he also has his own vanity, not just about what he has written but, oddly, about his teeth.  He has the belief that his teeth are all that he really has left.  That will lead to his downfall.

Is all of this the making of a tragedy?  Or is it the making of a comedy?  McGland’s actions will catch up to him when one of the cuckolded husbands gets him back in a bad way and that will lead to a cascade of events that brings an end that really does beg the two questions I just asked.  If you will go ahead and watch this, you can answer the question for yourself.

The Source:

Rueben, Reuben by Peter DeVries (1964) / Spofford by Herman Shumlin (1967)

I never really took too much to the book.  It is divided in three parts: Spofford (an elderly farmer who meets a local visiting poet), McGland (the poet himself) and Mopworth (a man who is researching McGland’s life and who falls in love with Spofford’s granddaughter).  But none of the parts are all that interesting in spite of inspiring both a play (see below for more on the play) and a film.  I would really just prefer to take the film and leave the other two alone.

The Adaptation:

Spofford was an adaptation of the novel back in 1967 and I really think that the producers simply decided that since a play of the novel had already been written, they should go ahead and snap up the rights and credit it in the film but they basically didn’t make any use of it.  You can get an idea just by having seen the film without even having to read the play beyond the title.  The play itself focuses on Spofford, the old farmer whose granddaughter is the young woman that McGland falls for.  He is barely in the film.  On the other hand, McGland is in the vast majority of scenes in the film and he doesn’t even make an appearance in the play until the second act.  The play really adapts the first third of the book while the film adapts mostly the middle third although it does combine some actions of the first part of the book and combines some aspects of the third with the second by combining some aspects of the character Mopworth with McGland.

The Credits:

Directed by Robert Ellis Miller.  Based on the novel “Reuben, Reuben” by Peter De Vries and the play “Spofford” by Herman Shumlin.  Screenplay by Julius J. Epstein.

Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

The Film:

As I mentioned in my review of Empire, for a long time, this was considered a superior film to that one.  Now, I think you would find that a considerable minority view.  It’s not that this isn’t a great film.  It is a great film, one that closes out that grand trilogy of film with a bang, providing closure all across the board, some nonstop action, some great suspense, great character moments and even a fair bit of humor along the way.

When those of us who were around to watch it in the theaters during its original run in 1983, it was both a goodbye and a hope for more.  After all, Lucas had said that he planned to make nine films in all and while this was a farewell to the characters that we had been growing up with, there was still the hope that there would be more of this story to come.

This is not a perfect film by any means.  What the original Star Wars had done was to make a great film that was first and foremost a Science Fiction film with mythical overtones.  It was a not a film that was geared towards kids but it was a film that was perfectly okay for kids.  With the introduction in this film of the Ewoks, a race clearly designed to entice kids (and possibly sell more action figures, although no one really cared about the Ewok figures that much), the film had aged itself slightly down and was pandering more than the first two films had done.  What’s more, while fans (including myself) balk at the change to the Han and Greedo scene in the first film (which has been undone little by little through subsequent releases) this is in fact the film in which the Special Edition hurt the most.  That’s because, unlike the first film, it didn’t need the effect alterations as much in certain scenes and because it does add a scene to it that actually damages the flow of the film (the song in Jabba’s palace which really didn’t need to be extended).

This film continues the storytelling process that had been set in place in the first two films.  In the first film, we focus on Luke at the end with some glances at Leia (and Han showing up at the end).  There is just that one bit of action.  In the second film, we had to balance things between Luke and Leia/Han.  Here, we have three different sequences going on between Luke on the Death Star, Lando in space and Han and Leia on Endor.  (In the fourth film, the first prequel, the action is actually split four ways between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gonn, Padme, Anakin and Jar-Jar and one of my reactions was that they better not split things five way in Episode II and they didn’t).  But it works okay for three reasons – because all three scenes are continually exciting leading up to dramatic conclusions, because the editing is well done enough that we never feel like we’re being suddenly pulled away from what we want to see to what we don’t want to see (like in Episode I when we would suddenly focus on Jar Jar when what we really cared about was the lightsaber duel) and because the three things don’t climax simultaneously.  In fact, they can’t.  Lando can’t go into the Death Star until after Han has succeeded and he can’t complete his task before Luke finishes his duel or Luke would have died.

What this film would also do is what would continue so well through the Star Wars films – the increasingly fascinating lightsaber duels.  In this case, the duel improves on Empire because Luke has more skill now and is better able to hold his own and because the music is so damn impressive during the final battle with Vader.

In the end, though, while the script is not as strong as the previous two films, this film does in fact succeed on the strength of its story though that would actually becoming more clear after the release of Episode I.  This is what I wrote (verbatim) in an e-mail just hours after the release of Episode I and of course years before II or III were even made: “Lucas has made a big deal about the story being a son redeeming his father – but in a sense, in Jedi, when Luke says “No.  I am a Jedi like my father before me,” that father is Obi-Wan and that scene is Obi-Wan’s redemption for watching Qui-Gon die and losing Anakin to the dark side”.  And I hold that I was right, that this is Luke redeeming Obi-Wan’s mistakes and finally making things right and bringing full closure to a story of redemption.

The Source:

characters created by George Lucas (1977)

Of course, once again, I don’t really need to write anything here.  You can go here or here to read my original two reviews on the first film or you could go here to read what I had to say on Empire or you could just click on the Star Wars tag on the right and see how much it pervades my life.

The Adaptation:

Of course this isn’t an adaptation but just a continued use of pre-existing characters.  For the most part, the characterization is kept the same, although having Leia suddenly be Luke’s sister made for some odd storytelling and was clearly inserted so that Leia could be paired off with Han without objections from those who thought she should have been with Luke.  Other than that, Yoda dies and we finally get to see the Emperor and get interactions with him.

The Credits:

Directed by Richard Marquand.  Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas. Story by George Lucas.

BAFTA Nominee

 

Heat and Dust

The Film:

A woman just approaching middle age travels to India.  She is looking for a connection to the past.  It will turn out that her grandfather lived in India when he was younger and first married.  She wants to know the story of that remarkable woman who lived in India and never returned, because it will turn out that the woman she is interested in is not her grandmother, but her grandfather’s first wife.  She wants to understand what made this woman, young and beautiful, becomes so entranced that she remained in India.

So, this will be the story of a woman in a different time, when India was still the Raj, when there were much stricter rules about everything, especially the way women were supposed to behave and about how people of different races were supposed to interact.  Because what it will turn out is that the woman who wasn’t her grandmother, while married to her grandfather, had an affair with an Indian prince who has been losing his power and his dignity to the British rule.

It’s a bit of an odd film, with Julie Christie nominally in the starring role, but really relegated to the framing device where she is learning about the woman who lived and loved long before she was born.  That woman is played by Greta Scacchi, who is decently well-known now but was pretty much unknown when she was cast as the young Olivia, whose sexuality blooms when she is in India.  The film meanders a bit as we learn the fates of both Christie and Scacchi as they both manage to get pregnant and both of them long to get rid of the child.  A connection is formed across the gulf of time but it’s hard to figure out what it’s all supposed to add up to.  The film is well-acted but in the end, feels less like a story and just a commentary on the times of the British Raj.

The novel had won the Booker Prize and the author had been the screenwriter for the team of Merchant-Ivory for over 20 years, so it made sense that the team would adapt the novel into a film.  And it’s not a bad film.  It’s just, like with the book, it feels like there’s not really much there.

The Source:

Heat & Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala  (1975)

So, now we’ve hit the Booker Prize.  The Prize was established in 1968 and when I was still working in bookstores, like the Pulitzer, National Book Award and other major book awards, I read my way through the entire list.  But the Bookers have always been my least favorite of the major book awards.  With some 50 years of winners, I only own seven of them.  There will be several more through the course of the project.  Heat & Dust is actually not a good example of a Booker winner because it is short and, while a bit hard to follow at times, is not particularly complex in its writing style.  The Bookers love to take books that are nigh on incomprehensible and hold them up as a triumph of literature.  This book is the story of two women and it’s a bit complex as one woman comes to India to follow the footsteps of a woman who never left there during the Raj.  This will give you an idea of how difficult it can be to follow the book at times.  According to the Wikipedia page for the book, Olivia is the narrator’s step-grandmother.  According to the Wikipedia page for the film, Olivia is the narrator’s great-aunt.  Unless I misread it, neither is accurate.  Olivia was her grandfather’s first wife before he married her grandmother.

The Adaptation:

The narrative is a bit confusing in the book but Jhabvala makes it more straightforward for the book, keeping much more in the past than the book does (and, with actors, it makes it much more clear when the story jumps from one to the other, something that was never quite clear in the book).

The Credits:

Directed by James Ivory.  Based on the Novel by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.  Screenplay: Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
note:  The source is the only non-acting credit in the opening titles.  The other credits are from the end credits.

WGA Nominees

 

A Christmas Story

The Film:

I try to take a degree of objectivity when I review films.  I try to sort out what I enjoy from what I think is good.  That’s how I can look at a film like Battlestar Galactica, which is not particularly good and still realize how and why I enjoy it and why it’s not all that good.  All of that being said, I will mention that I don’t think this is a good film; in fact, I think it’s pretty bad.  I think it’s fairly badly written and it’s really badly acted and it just doesn’t hold up very well to a look at how good the film is.  And that being said, I feel it is only fair to mention that I hate this film.  I absolutely loathe it and I have never understood people who think it’s a classic and want to watch it at Christmas every year.

Ralphie Parker is a horribly obnoxious kid.  The only thing he wants for Christmas is a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle (Roger Ebert seemed to think that being that precise about what he wanted was part of why the film was good but Ebert often tended to overrate films that touched on the nostalgia of his own youth).  The problem is that Ralphie is a little snot who is desperate to do anything to get the gun but everyone keeps telling him that he’ll shoot his eye out.  That, of course, he will get the gun for Christmas because his father is an idiot and of course he almost does shoot his own eye out is apparently supposed to be, what, humor, nostalgia, something else?

It is true that this film establishes a feel for its era, or what a particular group of people felt like was the feel of this era (like Ebert, for example).  But the performance of Peter Billingsley as Ralphie is one of the most utterly aggravating in the history of child performances which is actually made even worse because there is a horribly obnoxious voiceover narration from Jean Shepherd, the author of the original story, basically reading his own piece straight from the source.

This film was directed by Bob Clark, whose previous attempt at “nostalgia” was to write and direct Porky’s (and he would write and direct the sequel in this same year), about a more relaxed time in young men’s lives and it’s amazing that Clark could tone himself down so much to make this film.  But good lord, it doesn’t make it any good.

The Source:

In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd (1966)

I sped my way through most of this, partially because I didn’t like Shepherd and his writing about his nostalgia growing up in the 1950s and partially because basically the entire film comes from Chapter II, Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid.  Once I had done my duty by getting through the actual source of the film (to the point where that chapter has been reprinted in Adaptations as the source for the film), I plowed through the rest and threw it against a wall (that’s hyperbole – I am good to library books.

The Adaptation:

A lot of the dialogue in the film comes straight from the book but even more of the voiceover narration comes straight from the book.  It had been hard enough to take in the film but I just wasn’t putting up with it in the book.  It’s a very faithful adaptation.  Just neither of them are very good.

The Credits:

Directed by Bob Clark.  Based upon the Novel In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd.  Screenplay by Jean Shepherd & Leigh Brown & Bob Clark.

To Be or Not to Be

The Film:

Some films don’t really count as remakes.  The first film version of Hamlet was in 1907 so Olivier’s could be considered a remake by that notion as well as Branagh’s.  But when films that are written for the screen are later remade, there’s no question they qualify as a remake.  And the question is, why do people remake them?  The answer was easier in the past because we didn’t yet have the prevalence of home video players.  This might be the way to take a classic story and allow people to see it for the first time.

But, you also invite a problem, no matter the reason, when you remake a classic film.  You not only have the question of why you are bothering but how people will react to it, especially if they have seen the original.  So now we get to the heart of To Be or Not To Be, a solid Comedy, the only time that longtime married couple Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft played opposite each other on film, a fun film that manages to lampoon actors and their egos as well as being able to take rather hilarious swipes at the Nazis (can you laugh at the Nazis with any level of taste had not only been ably answered in the original film but also by Mel Brooks in The Producers).  It is smart and funny (though, to be fair, there are a lot of lines that are directly from the original film), has some charming performances (including an Oscar-nominated performance for Charles Durning, his second of two back-to-back nominations for what is a very funny but also quite small role both times) and it does a good job hitting the targets.  But why did it bother?

I can’t say for certain why Mel Brooks decided to make this film.  It’s an oddity in his career, not only because he actually starred with his wife but also because he neither wrote nor directed it.  The director was Alan Johnson, the longtime choreographer for Brooks (he choreographed the dance scene to “Springtime for Hitler”) and he would only make one other film.  I suspect that Johnson wanted to remake it and Brooks and Bancroft did it to help out their friend.  It does have a few Brooks-like touches (at the beginning, Brooks and Bancroft speak in Polish until an announcement is made that the film won’t be in Polish or the constant joke about Bancroft’s character never getting proper billing that runs all the way to the end credits and even the poster).

This would be a charming and funny film even if the original had never been made.  But it makes you wonder what the point of it is when the original does exist.  There are some performances in this film that are better than the original (namely Durning as the famous “Concentration Camp Earhardt” and Christopher Lloyd as his hapless assistant Schultz) but Brooks and Bancroft never really live up to Jack Benny and Carole Lombard and while this film is charming that is one of the all-time great Comedies.

The best review I can give this film is this: if you’ve already seen the original and need something to see, this is a fairly good movie that is quite funny.  But there’s no reason to see this if you haven’t yet seen the original which is a great film.

The Source:

To Be or Not to Be, Directed by Ernst Lubitsch, Original Story by Melchior Lengyel, Screenplay by Edwin Justus Mayer (1942)

I have already reviewed this film in full in my Nighthawk Awards for 1942 because it is one of the five best films of the year, which doesn’t say much for the Academy which only gave it a Score nomination even though they nominated 10 films back then.  It’s a hilarious film, a brilliant Comedy that manages to lambast the Nazis and what they did to Poland at the same time that Poland was still under Nazi control.  I mention in my review the various problems with timing that the film had that kept it from being a big hit.

The Adaptation:

Somebody added in a note on Wikipedia that pretty much sumx up how it compares to the original, so I’ll just quote it in full: “This remake was mostly faithful to the 1942 film on which it was based and, in many cases, dialogue was taken verbatim from the earlier film.  The characters of Bronski and Joseph Tura are, however, combined into a single character (played by Brooks).  The character of the treacherous Professor Siletsky (here spelled Siletski) was made into a more comic, even somewhat buffoonish, figure; in the original he was the only completely serious character.  Instead of having the company preparing for Hamlet, Bronski performs his “world famous, in Poland” highlights from Hamlet, including the To Be or Not To Be soliloquy, from which the film’s name is taken. His dresser, Anna, has been replaced with Sasha, allowing them to address the plight of gay people under the Nazis, as well as the Jews.”

The Credits:

Directed by Alan Johnson.  Screenplay by Thomas Meehan & Ronny Graham.  Based on the Film Directed by Ernst Lubitsch.  From the Screenplay by Edwin Justus Mayer and the Story by Melchoir Lengyel.
note: The source credits are only listed in the end credits.

Other Screenplays on My List Outside My Top 10

(in descending order of how I rank the script)

  • none, obviously

Other Adaptations

(in descending order of how good the film is)

  • Danton –  A very good film but it’s the acting that is the strength, not the writing.  Though it’s a French film about French history with French actors it has a Polish director (Andrzej Wajda) and it’s based on a play by a Polish writer (Stanisława Przybyszewska).
  • The Dead Zone –  The best of a solid year for Stephen King adaptations with David Cronenberg adapting one of King’s better novels (that along gave this film an advantage over the other two).
  • Daffy Duck’s Fantastic Island –  My favorite of the Loony Tunes clip movies because it has the best linking premise (Daffy Duck doing Fantasy Island) and because it focuses on Daffy instead of Bugs.  It does have too much Speedy Gonzalez but Daffy counters that.
  • All the Right Moves –  Based on an article by Pat Jordan about high school sports this was Tom Cruise’s second lead role (after Risky Business).
  • Muddy River –  Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film in 1981 from Japan.  Based on the novel by Teru Miyamoto.
  • Gorky Park –  Solid Mystery with William Hurt based on the best-selling novel by Martin Cruz Smith (the first of eight novels starring the character).
  • The Outsiders –  I’ve actually never read the S.E. Hinton novel which has been assigned to middle school kids for decades.  This film, with Swayze, Lowe, Cruise and Estevez, helped to create the Brat Pack.  Directed by Francis Ford Coppola who would follow it up later in the year with another Hinton adaptation (see below).
  • Alsino and the Condor –  Nicaraguan film that was an Oscar nominee for Foreign Film in 1982.  Based on the novel Alsino by Pedro Prado.
  • We of the Never Never –  Australian Western based on the autobiographical novel by Jeannie Gunn.
  • The Stationmaster’s Wife –  Directed by Fassbinder (who had died the year before), originally a West German television show shortened for a theatrical release.  Based on Bolwieser: The Novel of a Husband by Oskar Maria Graf
  • Yentl –  Solid Musical from Barbra Streisand with the very memorable song “Papa, Can You Hear Me?”.  Based on the play which had been based on the Singer short story.
  • Star 80 –  The final film from Bob Fosse, not up to his 70’s work but still solid.  The true story of the murder of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten based on the Village Voice article.
  • The Return of the Soldier –  We’re down to mid ***.  The Rebecca West novel is adapted into a Drama with Alan Bates, Glenda Jackson and Julie Christie.
  • Christine –  This might be the highest Stephen King adaptation in inverse proportion of quality to book to quality of film.  I’ve read the vast majority of King’s 59 novels and this wouldn’t make my Top 30 even if I considered all of the Dark Tower as one book but with John Carpenter’s direction and a good performance from Keith Gordon it makes for a solid film.  The film began shooting just days after the novel’s release and was released less than eight months after the novel.
  • Never Say Never Again –  Sean Connery’s solid return to the role of James Bond in a remake of Thunderball and vastly superior to Roger Moore’s Bond film this year.  Fully reviewed here.
  • Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence –  The other Tom Conti film of the year is from Nagisa Oshima and based on the novel The Seed and the Sower about a P.O.W. during World War II (based on the author’s experiences – good lord, did every P.O.W. write about their experience?).
  • The Pirates of Penzance –  After the horrible The Pirate Movie we get a straight adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan.  Much, much better.
  • Twilight Zone: The Movie –  The anthology film most famous for the scene gone wrong that killed Vic Morrow and two kids.  Three of the four segments were based on episodes from the show, making it adapted.
  • Sleeping Dogs –  Roger Donaldson’s debut film from 1977 finally making it to the States, it was the first 35mm film produced entirely in New Zealand.  Based on the novel Smith’s Dream.
  • Sudden Impact –  The fourth Dirty Harry film and the first one directed by Eastwood himself.  Most famous for the line “Go ahead.  Make my day.”
  • Carmen –  Carlos Saura adapts the Bizet opera.
  • Return from Hell –  The Romanian submission for Best Foreign Film.  Adapted from a novella by Ion Agârbiceanu.
  • The Assistant –  The Czech submission from 1982.  Solid Drama based on the novel by Ladislav Ballek.
  • The Sandwich Man –  Early film from Taiwanese director Hsiao-hsien Hou, based on the novel by Chunming Huang.
  • The Makioka Sisters –  Classic Japanese novel (which is very good) by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki becomes a solid Kon Ichikawa film.
  • Ardh satya –  Indian film based on a short story by S.D. Panvalkar.
  • La Nuit de Varennes –  French/Italian Drama from Ettore Scola based on the novel by Catherine Rihoit.
  • Parsifal –  More opera adaptations, this one based on the Wagner opera.  We’ve hit low ***.
  • L’Étoile du Nord –  The second-to-last film of Simone Signoret’s career is based on a Georges Simenon novel.
  • The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez –  Biographical Western based on the book With a Pistol in His Hand.
  • Illustrious Corpses –  A 1976 Italian Suspense film based on the novel Equal Danger.
  • The Plague Dogs –  Richard Adams’ second-best known novel (unless you want to claim that Shardik is) becomes an animated film five years after Watership Down.  Same director but much weaker results.
  • Reign Behind the Curtain –  Chinese Drama, the sequel to Burning of Imperial Palace which came out just the month before.
  • High Road to China –  The world got lucky when Tom Selleck was too busy playing Magnum to play Indiana Jones.  This mediocre effort in the same genre based on the novel by Jon Cleary (best known for The Sundowners) kind of proves it.
  • The Turning Point –  The fifth and final Oscar submission from East Germany, directed by Frank Beyer, who directed the country’s only Oscar nominee (Jacob the Liar).  Another P.O.W. film based on a novel based on the author’s (Hermann Kant in this case) real experiences.
  • Psycho II –  Just like Psycho is better than almost all Horror films, its first sequel is better than most Horror sequels.  Still unnecessary (and way after the first one) and only low *** but considerably better than most Horror sequels, namely because of Perkins.
  • The Flight of the Eagle –  Swedish submission for Best Foreign Film in 1982, directed by Jan Troell (who directed Oscar nominees The Emigrants and The New Land) and based on the novel by Per Olof Sundman.
  • Masoom –  An Erich Segal (who wrote Love Story) novel, Man Woman and Child, becomes Shekhar Kapur’s first film.
  • National Lampoon’s Vacation –  This will be blasphemy to some people my age but this is just high **.5.  It’s not really all that good or even all that funny.  Written by John Hughes and based on a story he wrote for National Lampoon.
  • Never Cry Wolf –  Carroll Ballard finally makes a second film, four years after Black Stallion and again, it’s about animals.  Based on Farley Mowat’s non-fiction book.
  • The Osterman Weekend –  The last film from Sam Peckinpah before his death in 1984.  Based on the Robert Ludlum novel.  Mediocre final effort from Peckinpah.
  • Daniel –  The Book of Daniel is one of Doctorow’s better novels but it doesn’t make for one of Sidney Lumet’s better films with a dour mood over the whole thing, beginning a string of mediocre efforts from Lumet.
  • The Smurfs and the Magic Flute –  The second animated Smurfs film, released in Belgium in 1976 but just making it to the States in 1983 as the new show was becoming huge.
  • The Honorary Consul –  Also known as Beyond the Limit, this Graham Greene adaptation has Michael Caine and Bob Hoskins but Richard Gere kind of kills it.
  • Rumble Fish –  Same crew, cast, director and source writer as The Outsiders but not as good.
  • Fire and Ice –  At mid **, a better effort from Ralph Bakshi than usual but rotoscoping still isn’t very good.  The old oscars.org database listed it as adapted so perhaps Bakshi and Frank Franzetta (the noted Conan illustrator) created the characters previously because nothing on Wikipedia or the IMDb seems to indicate it should be considered as adapted.
  • Cujo –  Easily the weakest of the three Stephen King adaptations this year, yet in a lot of years, this would be the best King adaptation.  The novel is effective but not all that good.
  • The Moon in the Gutter –  Mediocre French Drama based on the novel by David Goodis.
  • Hammett –  Wim Wenders directs a Mystery starring Dash Hammett (played by Frederic Forrest) based on a novel by Joe Gores.  Quite over-rated.
  • Fall Guy –  Kinji Fukasaku Comedy based on the play by Kôhei Tsuka.
  • Strange Brew –  Yes it brings in some elements of Hamlet but really it’s adapted because the characters of the McKenzie brothers had already been created for SCTV.  Not really to my tastes but maybe I’m just a hoser.
  • Testament –  Dour (low **.5) film about the world after a nuclear holocaust based on a short story by Carol Amen.  Jane Alexander gave an Oscar nominated performance but I mainly think of this as the film where Kevin Costner wears his actual Villa Park High School letterman’s jacket and it’s probably pretty obvious why I recognized it, although I couldn’t find a picture of me with mine so here’s one of V with it on.
  • Streamers –  Robert Altman filmed David Rabe’s play about young soldiers headed for Vietnam and I have rarely seen a film that looked so much liked a filmed play rather than a film.
  • Cross Creek –  Four Oscar nominations (two for acting) went to this film about how Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings came to write The Yearling.  Based on her memoir.
  • The Wicked Lady –  A far cry below the original Gainsborough version of the novel filmed in 1945.  As a Trekkie, I was quite surprised to see Marina Sirtis (Troi) with an extended topless scene in this film.
  • Querelle –  More Fassbinder, this one based on the Genet play.
  • Enigma –  Mediocre Suspense film based on the novel Enigma Sacrifice.
  • Staying Alive –  Dumb sequel to Saturday Night Fever which was actually directed by Sylvester Stallone of all people.
  • The Black Stallion Returns –  Sequel to the 1979 film based on the 1945 sequel to the original 1941 novel.
  • Octopussy –  I have written a full review of this film here as part of the FLOF: James Bond series.  Not just the worst Roger Moore but the worst Bond film.  The title and a couple of things come from the Fleming short story but it’s mostly original.  And bad.  We’ve hit ** now.
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes –  Skip this Disney version (part of their effort to make films aimed at older audiences) and just read the Ray Bradbury novel it’s based on.
  • The Keep –  Michael Mann’s third film and thankfully he has never made another one this bad.  A Horror film based on the novel by F. Paul Wilson that was the first in a series.
  • Twice Upon a Time –  Animated film that made use of cut-outs for the animation.  I see nothing that indicates it is adapted but apparently the old oscars.org database listed it as such somehow.  We’re at mid **.
  • Breathless –  If it was questionable to remake To Be or Not to Be at least they made a good film.  Remaking Breathless with Richard Gere was a terrible idea and I say that even though I think the original is over-rated.
  • Eddie and the Cruisers –  Yes, the main song (“On the Dark Side”) is fantastic.  But the movie itself is quite bad though not as bad as the sequel.  Based on a novel by P. F. Kluge.
  • Puberty Blues –  A coming-of-age film from Bruce Beresford.  Pretty weak and he had already made Breaker Morant so you can’t chalk it up to youth.  Based on the novel by Gabriel Carey and Kathy Lette.
  • Romantic Comedy –  Terrible Romantic Comedy from Arthur Hiller, adapted by Bernard Slade from his own play.
  • House of the Long Shadows –  This is actually the seventh film version of the novel Seven Keys to Baldplate.  Weak Horror Comedy that is notable because it stars Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price but even that cast doesn’t make it worth it because we’ve hit low **.
  • The Man Who Loved Women –  I’ll be honest.  The only reason to see this tepid Blake Edwards-Burt Reynolds remake of the Truffaut film is for the Marilu Henner topless scene.
  • Stroker Ace –  Burt Reynolds turned down Terms of Endearment to make this for his friend Hal Needham, possibly the worst decision ever made by an actor in Hollywood.  His film career wouldn’t recover until Boogie Nights while Nicholson, of course, won the Oscar.
  • The Entity –  Terrible (*.5) Horror film based on the novel by Frank De Felitta.
  • Of Unknown Origin –  Now we’ve hit the * films with this crappy Horror film based on the novel The Visitor.
  • Deadly Eyes –  More crappy Horror, this one based on The Rats.
  • Tales of Ordinary Madness –  Not a Horror film, just a bad Italian Drama.  Based on various Charles Bukowski works and I can’t recommend those either.
  • Jaws 3-D –  Yes, 3-D came back in the early 80’s.  And this sequel was 3-D and it sucked.  Most of what follows from here are shitty sequels.
  • Superman III –  The franchise bottoms out with an attempt at comedy, bringing in Richard Pryor.  A full review is here and I am not kind.
  • The Hunger –  Like Cat People from the year before, erotic Horror film with David Bowie involved.  But it’s really just awful, an incoherent mess of a film.
  • Curse of the Pink Panther –  With Sellers dead, Blake Edwards tried to continue the series with Ted Wass.  A disaster.  Has a Roger Moore cameo as Clouseau at the end.
  • Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 –  Originally titled Smokey is the Bandit because it was all about Gleason (Reynolds has a cameo at the end), this series had badly run its course.
  • Porky’s II: The Next Day –  Classless, crass sequel from Bob Clark the same year he made A Christmas Story.  We’ve hit the .5 films.
  • Amityville 3-D –  More terrible 3-D Horror sequels.
  • Piranha II: The Spawning –  James Cameron’ debut feature but you can’t really lay much blame on him as he took over part way through (he was originally hired just to direct the special effects) and was fired before the end.
  • Hercules –  A full review will probably be forthcoming sometime in late April / early May as this is the worst film from MGM that I haven’t already reviewed.  Lou Ferrigno plays the mythical character.  Only adapted in that the character and his story aren’t original.
  • Yor, the Hunter from the Future –  Thanks to terrible films produced by Adam Sandler, this wasn’t reviewed as the worst film from Columbia that I hadn’t already reviewed.  Based on an Argentinian comic book.  Yet, this was easily available on DVD when I went to find it while working on the Columbia post (see the rant in Betrayal towards the top).

Adaptations of Notable Works I Haven’t Seen

  • none  –
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