Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes

A Novel by Ray Bradbury  |  A Film by Jim Clayton

A mysterious carnival rolls into the sleepy town of Green Town, Illinois one late October night. Thirteen-year old best friends and neighbors, Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade, must save their town and themselves from the seductive supernatural forces of Mr. Dark’s nightmare menagerie.  

Ray Bradbury’s dark fantasy novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes, is required reading around Halloween. I discovered the book as an adult, but I think there’s something about being closer in age to the wistful father and his fears than to the two young main characters that makes it even more haunting. It’s a book about childhood, and the loss of it, as carefree summer months give way to autumn days that grow darker with the shadows of responsibility and regret. It’s this relentless and universal terror that makes Bradbury’s beautifully written novel so timeless and chilling. Continue reading →

The Revenant

The Revenant

A Novel by Michael Punke | A Film by Alejandro Inarritu

A trapper on a 1820s fur trading expedition fights for survival and retribution after he’s savagely attacked by a bear and abandoned by the men who swore to protect him.

The Revenant isn’t the first book—or even movie—about Hugh Glass’s epic tale of survival. It was told as early as 1954 in Frederick Manfred’s Lord Grizzly, and then again in 1976 in The Saga of Hugh Glass by John Myers Myers. The story was also made into the 1971 film Man in the Wilderness starring Richard Harris. But while many of the facts of Glass’s life are known to be true—the bear attack, being left for dead by the two men looking after him—it’s still a story that, for the most part, is one of legend.

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“Grand Budapest Hotel” inspired by Austrian Novelist Stefan Zweig


Although none of the eight films that are up for an Academy Award for Best Picture this year are based on novels, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel owes a debt to the writings of Austrian novelist Stefan Zweig. Anderson freely admits to having “stole” parts of Zweig’s novels Beware of the Pity and The Post-Office Girl, as well as from the author’s own life.

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All the Best Picture Winners That Are Based on Novels


Of the 85 films since 1928 that have won an Oscar for Best Picture, more than a third have been based on novels or short stories (and one novella). Here’s the complete list:


Best Pictures Based on Novels

2008 – “Slumdog Millionaire” (novel by Vikas Swarup)
2007 – “No Country for Old Men” (novel by Cormac McCarthy) 
2004 – “Million Dollar Baby” (short story by F.X. Toole)
2003 – “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (novel by J.R. Tolkien)
1994 – “Forrest Gump” (novel by Winston Groom)
1991 – “The Silence of the Lambs” (novel by Thomas Harris)
1990 – “Dances With Wolves” (novel by Michael Blake)
1983 – “Terms of Endearment” (novel by Larry McMurtry)
1980 – “Ordinary People” (novel by Judith Guest)
1979 – “Kramer vs. Kramer” (novel by Avery Corman)
1975 – “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (novel by Ken Kesey)
1974 – “The Godfather Part II” (novel by Mario Puzo)
1972 – “The Godfather” (novel by Mario Puzo)
1969 – “Midnight Cowboy” (novel by James Leo Herlihy)
1968 – “Oliver!” (novel by Charles Dickens)
1967 – “In the Heat of the Night” (novel by John Ball)
1963 – “Tom Jones” (novel by Henry Fielding)
1959 – “Ben-Hur” (novel by Lew Wallace)
1958 – “Gigi” (novella by Colette)
1957 – “The Bridge on the River Kwai” (novel by Pierre Boulle)
1956 – “Around the World in 80 Days” (novel by Jules Verne)
1953 – “From Here to Eternity” (novel by James Jones)
1949 – “All the Kings Men” (novel by Robert Penn Warren)
1947 – “Gentleman’s Agreement” (novel by Laura Z. Hobson)
1946 – “The Best Years of Our Lives” (novel by MacKinlay Kantor)
1945 – “The Lost Weekend” (novel by Charles R. Jackson)
1941 – “How Green Was My Valley” (novel by Richard Llewellyn)
1940 – “Rebecca” (novel by Daphne Du Maurier)
1939 – “Gone with the Wind” (novel by Margaret Mitchell)
1935 – “Mutiny on the Bounty” (novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall)
1934 – “It Happened One Night” (short story by Samuel Hopkins Adams)
1931 – “Cimarron” (novel by Edna Ferber)
1930 – “All Quiet on the Western Front” (novel by Erich Maria Remarque)


Fifty Shades of Grey on the Screen, Fifty Shades of Grey…


I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey or seen the movie (I’m not the right demographic, I guess), so I can’t comment on whether or not it’s any good. But I’m cynical about how well the “erotic” part of the fiction can be adapted into a mainstream Hollywood film. I would think the book’s strength, or at least its appeal to millions of women (mostly, women), would be the baroque descriptions and the reader’s own imagination. If the story’s not there, it’s not going to work as a film unless they really pull out all the stops. The reviews seem to confirm as much. I know the movie will have an audience regardless and probably be a massive hit and spawn two sequels to finish out the trilogy. Maybe after that they can rebrand Fifty Shades as an anthology on HBO or Showtime, where they’d be free push the envelope. Commit to fifty episodes (maybe 10 a season for 5 years?) and make each one a new story. A sort of Grey Shoe Diaries. What’s David Duchovny up to these days?

A New Harper Lee Novel? “Hell” Yes!


There’s been a lot of excitement and skepticism following the stunning news that HarperCollins will publish a new book by Harper Lee, a sequel to her beloved, and until a week ago, only novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

The book, titled Go Set a Watchman, will be published in July, and continues the story of Scout and Atticus Finch some 20 years after the events of Mockingbird. It’s set during  the racial tensions of 1950s, as an adult Scout, living now in New York, returns home to Maycomb, Alabama to visit her father, Atticus.

The discovery of this lost literary treasure–written before Mockingbird and found hidden away in a box almost 60 years later—should be celebrated, not just by everyone who has ever read To Kill a Mockingbird or seen the 1960 film, but by, well, everyone.

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Two Books, One Double Agent

Philby Lionsgate recently acquired the TV rights to Ben Macintyre’s new biography, A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and The Great Betrayal. The book was published in the UK last month and will be released in the US in July by Crown Publishers. Harold “Kim” Philby was one of the world’s most notorious double agents, who, after being recruited as a student at Cambridge University, becomes a high-ranking member of British intelligence and provides secret information to the Russians for over 20 years, before defecting to the Soviet Union in 1963. Continue reading →

Roland Emmerich Buys Rights to Historical Novel ‘Maya Lord’

Maya LordDeadline is reporting that Roland Emmerich’s Centropolis Entertainment has bought the screen rights to Maya Lord, John Coe Robbin’s 2011 historical novel about Gonzalo Guerrero, the Spanish adventurer who was shipwrecked with his crew in 1511 on the shores of the New World and taken prisoner by a Mayan tribe. Learning to adapt to a foreign and sometimes hostile culture, Guerrero marries the daughter of a powerful chieftain and eventually helps the Maya defend against Cortes and other Spanish conquistadors. Guerrero is considered a hero in Mexico and the father of the first Mestizo family, whose people are of both Spanish and Native American descent.

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And Now, 10 Spectacular Ways the Movie Was Different from the Book

Drinking and Driving in Oklahoma
  1. No Walter. Walter is the six-year-old boy that Sutter finds standing alone outside the convenience store after buying a 7UP to go with his 10 a.m. whiskey. Sutter buys Walter breakfast, and then offers him a ride to wherever he’s going. Turns out it’s Florida to visit his Dad, but since that’s “a good five states away” from Oklahoma where they live, Sutter drives him home instead.  Continue reading →

Carey Mulligan joins “Madding Crowd”

Far From the Madding Crowd

After taking on the ethereal Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, Carey Mulligan will soon play a less fragile but equally desired literary heroine in a new adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic 1874 novel, “Far From the Madding Crowd.” Mulligan has been cast as Bathsheba Everdene, the beautiful and headstrong young farm girl who is pursued by three different suitors—the humble fellow farmer Gabriel Oak, the wealthy dullard William Boldwood, and the dashing, womanizing Sergeant Francis Troy. It’s easy to imagine where this “love square” might lead us, but Hardy expertly crafts a tale that’s rich in character and place. His Bathsheba is vividly drawn, a strong and resourceful woman who learns to run a farm on her own, only to risk losing her independence to the men who love her. She’s a literal ancestor to the self-reliant female protagonist of today. “The Hunger Games” author Suzanne Collins acknowledges that her Katniss Everdeen, no delicate flower, takes her name from Hardy’s heroine.

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