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Unforgivable Script Changes


CaveGirl
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Well, having respect for all writers and their creative process I hate, despise and abhor any filmmaker or star who thinks that they have the right to change integral plot points to fit their own maladjusted agendas.

 

Now sure, occasionally you have the cult classic that results from one who would take a highbrow film like Bergman's "The Virgin Spring" and turn it into something like "Last House on the Left" famous for the best marketing tagline of "Keep repeating, it is just a movie, it is just a movie."

 

I can forgive that, as I think it was a creative urban guerilla move, worthy of Che Guevara.

 

And I realize, films are a different medium than books and occasional changes or cuts must be made, as were those to Eugene O'Neill's "Mourning Becomes Electra" or others. But what does not pass muster is altering the very important plot elements which make the point of the story, to pad parts for supposed stars of said projects.

 

For example, Tom Cruise in the masterful tale by Phillip K. Dick called "Minority Report".

 

This story has an intricate plotline, which has to be followed or the intent of the insights are undermined. And the only part that as written could have been played by Cruise, was for the younger man not the older one, who is the whole basis for the tale.

 

But being that Cruise and the powers that be, wanted him to be the center of the film, everything was altered to give him basically the role of the older participant, which made no sense in terms of the original storyline and took an amazing story and turned it into the typical Tom Cruise action flick. Only those who have read the original Dick masterpiece will probably get why this change made the film so mediocre.

 

I blame the director for not caring, and yes I do know his name, and of course Cruise for putting himself above the creator's intent. My guess is that Cruise would probably want to alter Shakespeare, and give Othello's lines to Iago if he got the chance, and who knows where that leaves Desdemona?

 

Okay, I'm done. What films gall you the most with their incipient changes from book to film?

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Kubrick's changing Stephen King's" The Shining" (1980)  to an all daylight film--in the book, the scariest scenes are after twilight--yes, he added two good scenes, but he tossed out some great scenes from the book--like the one where they hear the hotel elevator running in the middle of the night (in the book, it had malfunctioned & crashed New Years Night 1945, killing at least 5 people) & the wife, Wendy, goes to investigate & finds faded streamers, two masks, & assorted New Years faded party favors in the elevator.  Also, Kubrick directing Nicholson to act like he's an excellent candidate to go bonkers over the long, isolated Colorado winter ruined the film--the film has isolated scary scenes, but the book is a classic ghost story, IMHO.

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Yes, Film Lover that naughty Kubrick again messes with a book.

 

I am a little more forgiviing for messing with King, than I would be for messing with anything written by Vladimir Nabokov but you make most salient points.

Why the book "The Shining" and the film are like night and day, but even Cole Porter would not approve.

 

The book "Lolita" most certainly did not have the Peter Sellers character acting out like he did continually and I bet Nabokov was fit to be tied, but all in all I guess James Mason's strong portrayal of Humbert Humbert [ I started to type Nicely Nicely and then Duran Duran!] did sway me a bit.

 

And Lolita is described a bit differently than Sue Lyon but I won't go there.

 

Thanks for your most astute remarks!

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Two films come to mind:

 

The dreadful remake of The Haunting (1999)--where the 1963 classic hews closely to Shirley Jackson's plot of The Haunting of Hill House, the 1999 version throws everything but the idea out the window, along with any claims to quality.

 

The crazed version of The Scarlet Letter (1996), where the novels plot & dialogue are thrown out to make a film that was supposed to be more "cinematic" & "modern"--Where Demi Moores' Puritan lady discovers Gary Oldmans' Puritan minister skinnydipping & takes a long, thorough look--& then, that night, takes an indulgent bath--while her Indian maid watches through a keyhole--Moore's husband is supposedly dead--so Oldman & Moore commit adultery--then Moores' husband (Robert Duvall) shows up alive.  Film is too funny to spoil--it's one of the "so bad it's good" genre.  Pity the poor teenager who thinks this accurately represents Nathaniel Hawthornes' book.

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I concur about that rancid 1999 version of 'THE HAUNTING'; it really is a waste of film.  There's plenty of bad original movies one could watch and at least see something different even if the film isn't so hot.   

 

     The HAUNTING remake would make a nice 'n' putrid double-bill with that lousy remake of 'THE FOG' from 2005.  Utter dreck. 

 

     IDEA!  Howzabout a 'Bad Sex Double-Bill' featuring 'THE SCARLET LETTER' and 'SHOWGIRLS' (which is bad and funny, too). 

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Seein' as how nobody has as yet mentioned perhaps the granddaddy of all novel-to-film rewrites, I suppose I will.

 

In the novel, that glass of milk is full of poison, and the lovely young lady in bed there readily drinks it and even though she knows it, or at least strongly suspects it...

5015906da3b13f84fb25d71764a8fdf8.jpg

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Dargo--The novel is called "Before the Fact", by Francis ILES--is worth reading, if you find a copy--& since this version of the film was left in the cutting room, here's the ending RKO said **** NO to.  Lina (The young lady pictured) writes out all her SUSPICIONs to her parents, along with enclosing proof her husband has been trying to kill her.  She puts all in a letter & stamps it.  When Johnny comes in with the poisoned milk, Lina asks him to mail the letter when he leaves.  He agrees, & Lina drinks the poisoned milk.  The last shot of the film has Johnny dropping off Lina's letter in a postal box.

 

Edit: read Patrick McGilligan's biography of Hitchcock for more details. PM' bio is best, IMO

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Film Lover,

 

Not only Shirley Jackson would turn over in her grave but so would Nathaniel Hawthorne at those horrid remakes.

 

I remember reading that the inspiration for the scarlet letter plotline, was really about incest in Hawthorne's own locale, which he apparently thought was too hot to handle in a book, so he changed it to illegitimacy and moral turpitude issues. Besides "A" looks better as a monogram on a dress front than "I".

Dargo, I too wanted so badly for Cary Grant to be shown to be the dastardly fellow that was in the book ostensibly. But NO...they had to make him a good guy.

 

Bah humbug!

 

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I still remember the shock and betrayal I felt when I actually finished reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame, years after seeing the Lon Chaney and Charles Laughton versions.

 

But the two pre-Gregory Peck versions of Moby Dick [sic] were even worse.  At least I read the book first so I could laugh at those movies.

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