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Entries in Adaptations (178)

Saturday
Jun112016

Swing, Tarzan, Swing! Ch.5: Mike Henry gets his 007 on in the "Valley of Gold"

As we approach the release of The Legend of Tarzan (2016) we're ogling past screen incarnations of the Lord of the Apes...

Tarzan aficianados will cry foul that I've skipped ahead to 1966 in this retrospective but the awesomely named actor Jock Mahoney wouldn't mind. He only made two Tarzan films in the mid sixties... and barely finished those. He got deathly ill on the second, lost 40 lbs during the picture, and couldn't get out of the jungle fast enough. The first of those pictures lost money, too.

You see, in the wake of the phenomenal success of Dr. No (1962), From Russia With Love (1963) and Goldfinger (1964), James Bond was the new #1 adventure hero and Tarzan was old news. The Tarzan franchise took note and tried to combine the two with Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966), introducing the closest thing they could find to Sean Connery's swarthy dimpled masculinity: Mike Henry.

Mike Henry was a professional football player with the Los Angeles Rams but he left sports for the actor's life and donned the Tarzan's loincloth.

...Or, should we say his suit.

In addition to introducing Tarzan as a jet-setting perpetually-endangered looker in a suit, this new 007 style adventure also begins with a kitschy mod score over colorful credits, an opening action sequence that's somewhat disconnected from the movie that follows, and an intelligent international criminal with a taste for booby-trapped gifts. So, you know, we're definitely in Bond territory...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun102016

Elba and Winslet in "Mountain" Love

We just don't get enough romantic plane crash epics anymore. Or even actual romantic fireworks.

But here's a future screen coupling too hot to ignore: Kate Winslet will be joing Idris Elba in the disaster romance novel adaptation The Mountain Between Us. With their collective charisma, that's a tough pair to imagine not stirring some real screen passion. Is it too late to just retitle it They Have Lots of Sex Scenes on A Beach?

Mountain stars the two a strangers whose plane goes down in the mountains and they must battle broken bones and frigid cold as chances for rescue grow slim. So not as sexy as one would hope. The drama sounds less like a Swept Away trifle than it does The Revenant with kisses replacing the stabs. Hany Abu-Assad (twice Oscar nominated in Foreign Language for directing Omar and Paradise Now) is helming a script from Chris Weitz (About A Boy) so the unexpected team could deliver something unique.

Regardless, any gruesomeness should be alleviated by the two stars' combined powers. Let's not forget that Winslet knows her way around a romantic disaster film!

What's your favorite romantic disaster film?

Friday
Jun032016

Todd Field Finally Returns

It's been a decade since director Todd Field's masterful Little Children followed up his equally potent In the Bedroom, and we have been clammoring for his next effort since. After many close calls and proposed projects, his next literary adaptation is finally coming to fruition. Showtime has announced a two season, 20 episode order for Purity, based on last year's Jonathan Franzen globehopping novel. With the cable network throwing its weight behind the series, this is exciting news for those over us who have watched his many projects never get beyond the announcement stage.

This one comes with a high pedigree: Daniel Craig has signed on to play the central pseudo-WikiLeaks activist Andreas Wolf (sealing the final nail in the coffin to any Bond speculation), with Franzen and Oscar nominee David Hare sharing the writing duties with Field. The female lead has yet to be cast, but it's a strong role ripe for any number of younger actresses. Provided those Captain Marvel rumors don't materialize, might we make a suggestion:

 

 

It's quite an ambitious project for both Field and Showtime, hopefully stepping up their game in the coming years with this and the Twin Peaks revival. The novel is as expansive as Franzen's other praised works (curiously the more celebrated The Corrections and Freedom almost happened at HBO), with enough complex material for the planned two seasons and the thinkpieces that inevitably will follow. If nothing else, it should be a perfect fit to Field's intelligent sensibilities. The series will shoot next year, with both seasons airing shortly after.

Sunday
May292016

Swing, Tarzan, Swing! Ch.3: Lex Barker... and Queen Dorothy Dandridge?

As we approach the release of The Legend of Tarzan (2016) we're ogling past screen incarnations of the Lord of the Apes...

After Buster Crabbe filled a loincloth beautifully and Johnny Weissmuller & Maureen O'Sullivan gave us the deservedly definitive Golden Age Tarzan and Jane, the franchise had to recast or close shop. O'Sullivan left first and by the late 40s Weissmuller was feeling too old for the role and also called it quits. The producer Sol Lesser wasn't about to let the profitable franchise go, though, and led a search for a replacement. The winner was Lex Barker, a then little known blue blood actor from New York who had been disowned by his family for choosing an acting career (!) and he took up the loincloth in 1949 for Tarzan's Magic Fountain.

I opted to watch Barker's third go at the character in Tarzan's Peril (sometimes called Tarzan and the Jungle Queen) because it was the first Tarzan film to actually shoot some scenes in Africa (Kenya to be exact) and six actors down the call list was the curio factor of a young Dorothy Dandridge as "Melmedi, Queen of The Ashuba".

Dorothy & Lex after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Monday
May232016

Stage Door: American Psycho The Musical

In the Stage Door column we review theatrical productions, often with one eye on their movie origins or connections.

We first alerted you to the glorius full bodied talent of Benjamin Walker way back in 2011 writing:

You're in for such a treat when you see him on the big screen. Major charisma he has. Big stardom awaits.

The movie career didn't happen quickly in the way we imagined despite a couple of lead roles (The Choice, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter) but that major charisma is still blinding on stage. It's impossible to miss even when the strobe lights are flashing. And flash they do in his latest show. He's recently returned to Broadway as soulless Patrick Bateman in American Psycho the Musical. Yes, that American Psycho. The best selling 1991 novel turned initally troubled 2000 arthouse horror flick turned cultural mainstay and now a Broadway musical. We recite all the history to remind ourselves that American Psycho has never been a property to elicit universal praise in any iteration. Instead, it's always greeted with a mix of  "worst ever" / "how amazing!" And so it's gone with the Broadway musical...

Click to read more ...

Friday
May132016

Review: Love & Friendship

Anyone who’s seen a film by Whit Stillman knows him to be an accomplished social satirist, continuing the legacy of authors like Oscar Wilde, Dorothy Parker, and of course Jane Austen. In fact, the English writer is at the center of one the most sardonic exchanges in all of his films, when one of the characters expresses “I don't read novels. I prefer good literary criticism” when asked if he has read any of Austen’s works. Like the Romantic author, Stillman captures the wants, desires and fears of the haves as they desperately try to grab onto a world the have-nots are trying to infiltrate. In films like Metropolitan, Stillman wonders if the upper classes only let someone from a lower class to share their space as means of experimenting, or amusing them in their endless ennui. In Damsels in Distress he explores the notion of people constructing strict societal divisions in all aspects of their lives, such as in college. More...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Apr262016

Throne of Blood's Best Shots - A Visual Index

After realizing that we'd never featured an Akira Kurosawa on Hit Me With Your Best Shot, we obviously had to. Ran (1985) was tempting but it gets a lot of attention already. So we opted to watch his other Shakespeare inspired masterpiece, Throne of Blood (1957) which is still the best Macbeth movie even if its more Macbeth-inspired than traditionally adapted.

If you've never seen it, give it a shot. It's gorgeous and haunting and unlike most Shakespeare films grippingly compact at only 110 minutes.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot(s)
Throne of Blood (1957)

Director: Akira Kurosawa; Cinematographer: Asakazu Nakai 
Click on any of the 11 images to be taken to its accompanying article

Throne of Blood teaches us how to watch it. 
-Antagony & Ecstasy


The minute we see Isuzu Yamada as Lady Asaji in this cold spare room, we know exactly where things will go...
-Scopophiliac at the Cinema 

One of my favorite ideas in these Japanese stories is that the living and dead (or the supernatural) could live together, without a hereafter.
-Cal Roth

What Shakespeare does with language, Kurosawa and Noh do with movement.
-Dancin Dan on Film 


Kurosawa injects into the tragedy of Macbeth an incredible sensorial expressiveness of poetic dimensions by placing it in mystic version of feudal japan.
-Magnificent Obsession 


Fujimaki's own splatter-painting.
-The Film Experience

The staging of the two actors is just brilliant...
-Zev Burrows 


The camera becomes like a piece of stagecraft
-Film Mix Tape

the vast space and the wealth that implies, as well as the ample room for Washizu and his wife to contemplate their guilt
-Film Actually


The movie builds with precision, early shots foreshadowing what is to come
-I/fpw 

My favorite scene in Macbeth and they do it very well here
-Rachel Wagner

 

The End.

NEXT TUESDAY NIGHT WARNING: "NOW a warning?" It's Death Becomes Her (1992), rereleased in a collectors edition. Please join us for what will surely be a fun group of screengrabs