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Books and the Movies

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Hello All,

Since there don’t seem to be a lot of books coming across my desk, no less books that I want to read. So, this past summer I have been all over the map with my reading. I had started a new trend of reading books that are the basis of many of our classic movies. Naturally, I thought of my Ol’ Grayhead because I know he loves movies as much as I do. I began this kick after reading Nina Revyor’s marvelous novel, The Age of Dreaming. The Age of Dreaming is a novel that tells the life story of a Japanese actor who eventually became a Hollywood movie idol during Hollywood’s silent screen era. The book is Revyor’s masterpiece. I had reviewed Revyor’s previous two novels, The Necessary Hunger and Southland. I loved both of the novels. I was going to submit a review of The Age of Dreaming but couldn’t honestly do it because there were no African American characters in it.

After reading the novel, I got to thinking, how many of the movies I love are different from the book. It is a standard belief that the books their motion picture counterparts are based on are better than their movies. I am one that holds this belief, so I do my utmost to read the current books that are made into movies before I see the movie. Oddly enough, I have not read the books that the classic movies are spawned. I set out to change that oversight. I started with All The Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren. The movie version featured Broderick Crawford, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as the corrupt governor Willie Stark. The movie was awfully close to the book. I thought, OK, this is going good. So, I moved on to Goodbye, Columbus by Phillip Roth. I got turned on to this book because I had seen a Steve McQueen documentary on the Biography channel and Ali McGraw was discussed, which lead me to thinking about McGraw’s first picture that brought her to prominence; Goodbye, Columbus, costarring Richard Benjamin. I am not a fan of the movie, but I LOVE the book! Now that Phillip Roth is in my sights, do not be surprised if I begin a Phillip Roth kick.

One night, I was flipping channels and ended up on the Fox Movie Channel and watched the last half of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I wondered if before it became a movie, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was a book. I hopped on the internet, hit Amazon.com and discovered that there was a book which the movie was based, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Sparks. I loved the book, which is better than the movie! Sparks is a remarkable writer, which kinda surprised me. Sparks is a British author. I find many British authors’ writing style stiff and suffocating. Sparks writing is simple, elegant and to the point. Fortunately for me, I bought the Everyman’s Library edition of the book which is hardcover and includes a few more novels by Sparks since Sparks believes in writing short novels.

Now, I’m cooking with gas and now James M. Cain and Patricia Highsmith are up. James M. Cain wrote The Postman Rings Twice, Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce. Patricia Highsmith wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley. She also wrote the Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train. I’m going to have to get Strangers on a Train. Now, I’m at the beginning of The Postman Rings Twice. Except for John Garfield, the rest of the cast is NOTHING like the characters in the book. I love it. The storyline of The Postman Rings Twice in the movie stayed pretty close to the movie. But Double Indemnity was a total flip. The first quarter of the movie was real close to the book, but then everything flipped. The ending to Double Indemnity in the book pimp-slapped the hell out of me. There has not been that many times where an ending of a book rendered me speechless, and Double Indemnity is the latest addition to the short list. I am not going to tell it because you have to read it for yourself, but I have no doubt that it’ll get you too. Cain is one helluva writer!

I haven’t had the chance to get to Patricia Highsmith yet. There are some awfully interesting AA books coming down the pike, so Ripley is going to have to go on the back burner for a minute, probably until the summer when I usually go on my Winter Wonderland reading vacation.

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Hello All,

Since there don’t seem to be a lot of books coming across my desk, no less books that I want to read. So, this past summer I have been all over the map with my reading. I had started a new trend of reading books that are the basis of many of our classic movies. Naturally, I thought of my Ol’ Grayhead because I know he loves movies as much as I do. I began this kick after reading Nina Revyor’s marvelous novel, The Age of Dreaming. The Age of Dreaming is a novel that tells the life story of a Japanese actor who eventually became a Hollywood movie idol during Hollywood’s silent screen era. The book is Revyor’s masterpiece. I had reviewed Revyor’s previous two novels, The Necessary Hunger and Southland. I loved both of the novels. I was going to submit a review of The Age of Dreaming but couldn’t honestly do it because there were no African American characters in it.

After reading the novel, I got to thinking, how many of the movies I love are different from the book. It is a standard belief that the books their motion picture counterparts are based on are better than their movies. I am one that holds this belief, so I do my utmost to read the current books that are made into movies before I see the movie. Oddly enough, I have not read the books that the classic movies are spawned. I set out to change that oversight. I started with All The Kings Men by Robert Penn Warren. The movie version featured Broderick Crawford, who won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as the corrupt governor Willie Stark. The movie was awfully close to the book. I thought, OK, this is going good. So, I moved on to Goodbye, Columbus by Phillip Roth. I got turned on to this book because I had seen a Steve McQueen documentary on the Biography channel and Ali McGraw was discussed, which lead me to thinking about McGraw’s first picture that brought her to prominence; Goodbye, Columbus, costarring Richard Benjamin. I am not a fan of the movie, but I LOVE the book! Now that Phillip Roth is in my sights, do not be surprised if I begin a Phillip Roth kick.

One night, I was flipping channels and ended up on the Fox Movie Channel and watched the last half of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. I wondered if before it became a movie, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was a book. I hopped on the internet, hit Amazon.com and discovered that there was a book which the movie was based, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Sparks. I loved the book, which is better than the movie! Sparks is a remarkable writer, which kinda surprised me. Sparks is a British author. I find many British authors’ writing style stiff and suffocating. Sparks writing is simple, elegant and to the point. Fortunately for me, I bought the Everyman’s Library edition of the book which is hardcover and includes a few more novels by Sparks since Sparks believes in writing short novels.

Now, I’m cooking with gas and now James M. Cain and Patricia Highsmith are up. James M. Cain wrote The Postman Rings Twice, Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce. Patricia Highsmith wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley. She also wrote the Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train. I’m going to have to get Strangers on a Train. Now, I’m at the beginning of The Postman Rings Twice. Except for John Garfield, the rest of the cast is NOTHING like the characters in the book. I love it. The storyline of The Postman Rings Twice in the movie stayed pretty close to the movie. But Double Indemnity was a total flip. The first quarter of the movie was real close to the book, but then everything flipped. The ending to Double Indemnity in the book pimp-slapped the hell out of me. There has not been that many times where an ending of a book rendered me speechless, and Double Indemnity is the latest addition to the short list. I am not going to tell it because you have to read it for yourself, but I have no doubt that it’ll get you too. Cain is one helluva writer!

I haven’t had the chance to get to Patricia Highsmith yet. There are some awfully interesting AA books coming down the pike, so Ripley is going to have to go on the back burner for a minute, probably until the summer when I usually go on my Winter Wonderland reading vacation.

My man Thump, You know you sure do bring it! See, I need you right next to my copy of TCM's 2009 DVD catalog.

I didn't know "Patricia Highsmith wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley AND the Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train". You know I love both of those movies. The movies was great and so was the acting.

Oh, before I get caught-up, I am waiting to hear your Oscar picks. I've seen all the talked about movies and most of the performances of the leading actors. I am not going to show my hold card but Morgan Freeman and Avatar gets my 10 TOES DOWN. Well, I fell asleep while watching both of them. So, you know, 10 toes down. They were just "ok" in my book. Now I'll tell you who I think did a great job. I mean, he might not win a damn thing but, Brad Pitt did a great job. The movie may not be for everyone (the director does his usual thang of over-the-top-ness, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course you know what I feel about Monique`.... BEST ACTING - by a black actress - EVER! Agree or disagree, I'm sticking with that one. But Thump, can I have my card back? I mean you spanked me for blowing ol girls name. You know, the one that played Julie Child. Will you ever forgive me? I was drunk. Okay, that's a lie because I don't drink, but come on man, can I have my card back? Anyway, although she's a great-great-great actress, the movie and her, gets my 10 TOES DOWN! Well, for the Julia & Julia chick flick.

Back to movies and books: I knew you were on this kick, but did you ever consider that "Benjamin Button" was developed from a short story? I think we've talk about the movie, but how does short stories fit in this issue?

Wasn't there 2 movie versions of The Postman Rings Twice and Double Indemnity?

Although I was never a big fan of Broderick Crawford (fat face talked to fast), he killed Willie Starks.

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Hello All,

Carey: I don't know if you can have your credentials back yet or not. I'm still thinking about it. You may have to sit out this Oscar season because of it. Anyway, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the movie, is based on a short story, same title, that was written by one of my favorite authors of all times, F. Scott Fitzgerald. I done went and pulled down my big volume of Fitzgerald's short stories. I remember when I moved out from my mother's house, got an apartment after being on my job for over a year, I got my hands on this huge volume of Fitzgerald's short stories, and I would read from the book every night before I went to sleep. I hadn't read the Button stories in years. I'm going to read it in a few and get back with you.

I think short stories fit into this issue because be it novels or short stories, the origin of the movie comes from another literary source. In my opinion movies based on short stories are not judge as harshly as those based on novels because the novels are longer; thereby, taking the time to develop the story line, characters, settings, etc, that short stories don't have that benefit.

There were 2 movie versions of The Postman Rings Twice; the first with Lana Turner and John Garfield, the second with Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange. The second version, the Jack Nicholson version, SUCKED! I heard that there were other versions of Double Indemnity, but I have only seen the one with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurray.

As far as this year's Oscar goes. It's going to go down like this:

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges - Crazy Heart

Best Actress: Meryl Streep or Gabby Sidbie

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz - Inglorious Basterds

Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique - Precious

BEst Director: Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker

Now, this is how things are looking so far. But, I'm not going to make the final selections until a few more awards are presented and I'll get back with you. Here's a side note for you though that has gone unnoticed--Lee Daniels became the FIRST AA to be nominated as Best Director for the DGA award.

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Thump, I have so much to say, but your mention of Lee Daniels caught my eye. Well, more so, the DGA awards.

We've talked about the racism Prejudice certain flavor of the voting panel of the Oscars. Well, this year the DGA is honoring Norman Jewison. First, I don't know if Mr Jewison is a Jewish fellow, but I know he was born in Canada. So here's my thang, he's always shown the courage to direct movies that championed black folks. I know I don't have to tell you, but for others, he did In The Heat Of The Night, A Soldiers Story and The Hurricane. In my opinion, he's due an award.

Now, I don't know the core of Oscar voters, but I wonder how many of them are part of the DGA? Over the years we've seen what you call Negro Oscar Busters. I wonder how many of "Buster's" fathers are part of the Oscar Academy? Sure, they gave Denzel and Halle an award, but I don't even want to go there. For that "I don't want to go there" reason, Monique could take the big one.

But anyway, although it's great to see the light shine on Lee Daniels, I am not very big on the BEST DIRECTOR AWARD. First of all, I don't know what the voters are looking for. It seems like if the movie is a fan favorite, the award drops in the hands of the director. To me, that should not be the case. Take for instance the DGA nominees.

Jason Reitman

Quentin Tarantino

Kathryn Bigelow

James Cameron

Lee Daniels

I doubt if the aveerage joe can match the nominated movies to the correct director. Also, if asked I don't think many people can say a thang about the "direction" of the movie. How in the hell is Jmaes Cameron a nominated director for Avatar?

I love seeing black peole get their props, but Thump, although A_womon hates it when I slam "black movies" or black directors, I gotta do my thang. I have to speak on The Book Of Eli. I'm not going to highjack your post, but i gotta talk about it.

I'm going to do a review & blog. Yep, my way. Have you seen the movie? You may want to slow your roll. Well, the Hughe Brothers jump out with Menace To Society. This WTF movie should be called Dennis The Menace meets Max In The Thunderdome.

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Hello All,

Carey: First all, since the DGA is composed of nothing but directors, I would assume, the directors know what to look for when judging other directors. Who better to select a director award than directors? Second, the Best Director Oscar nominees and winner is also chosen by directors. So, on that tip, I'm not understanding your argument.

I agree Norman Jewison is over due for the honor.

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Hello All,

Carey: First all, since the DGA is composed of nothing but directors, I would assume, the directors know what to look for when judging other directors. Who better to select a director award than directors? Second, the Best Director Oscar nominees and winner is also chosen by directors. So, on that tip, I'm not understanding your argument.

I agree Norman Jewison is over due for the honor.

Oh boy, it looks like I've been corrected. I didn't know that all the categories were not voted on by all of the academy voters.

Well, although my comment wasn't very clear, I knew that about the DGA. But, nevertheless, I still don't like the fact that Cameron won for Avatar. But in this case, it's probably fair. Given the fact that there was so much involved in making that movie, I can't imagine how aware he has to be in all aspects of making a movie of that kind.

But wait Thump, how you gonna say that you're gonna wait until AFTER the awards to make your picks? That's cleavor but that's not fair.

Maybe you are saying who will win the Oscar, not who should win? But come on Thump, step out on a limb, or stand on a large tree truck, but tell us who made you smile. I don't want to hear any fence stradling "reviewer" talk. Give it to me like you care about me and my money. Hug me like you love me.

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Hello,

Carey: Here it goes, right between the eyes.

Oscar winners:

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker

Best Director: Kathleen Bigelow

Best Actor: Jeff Bridges

Best Actress: Sandra Bullock

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz

Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique

Best Original Screenplay: Up In The Air

Best Adapted Screenplay: Precious

There it is baby, take it to the bank.

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My man Thump, You know you sure do bring it! See, I need you right next to my copy of TCM's 2009 DVD catalog.

I didn't know "Patricia Highsmith wrote The Talented Mr. Ripley AND the Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train". You know I love both of those movies. The movies was great and so was the acting.

Oh, before I get caught-up, I am waiting to hear your Oscar picks. I've seen all the talked about movies and most of the performances of the leading actors. I am not going to show my hold card but Morgan Freeman and Avatar gets my 10 TOES DOWN. Well, I fell asleep while watching both of them. So, you know, 10 toes down. They were just "ok" in my book. Now I'll tell you who I think did a great job. I mean, he might not win a damn thing but, Brad Pitt did a great job. The movie may not be for everyone (the director does his usual thang of over-the-top-ness, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course you know what I feel about Monique`.... BEST ACTING - by a black actress - EVER! Agree or disagree, I'm sticking with that one. But Thump, can I have my card back? I mean you spanked me for blowing ol girls name. You know, the one that played Julie Child. Will you ever forgive me? I was drunk. Okay, that's a lie because I don't drink, but come on man, can I have my card back? Anyway, although she's a great-great-great actress, the movie and her, gets my 10 TOES DOWN! Well, for the Julia & Julia chick flick.

Back to movies and books: I knew you were on this kick, but did you ever consider that "Benjamin Button" was developed from a short story? I think we've talk about the movie, but how does short stories fit in this issue?

Wasn't there 2 movie versions of The Postman Rings Twice and Double Indemnity?

Although I was never a big fan of Broderick Crawford (fat face talked to fast), he killed Willie Starks.

Patricia Highsmith was a piece of work. I've got her latest biography on my list. Here are 2 reviews:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/20/books/review/Winterson-t.html

http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Reviews-Essays/The-Talented-Miss-Highsmith/ba-p/1821

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Guest Bonnie Glover

Thumper - you are an impressive reader -- voracious. Can't wait to dive into some heavy reading very soon. When I write, I can't read books that are too serious or in the same genre as I'm writing. So, soon and very soon.

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Hello All,

Bonnie: Thanks for the compliment. I wish I had more time to read more and faster than I do. I totally understand about not reading books when you're trying to write.

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Thumper - you are an impressive reader -- voracious. Can't wait to dive into some heavy reading very soon.

This is true. I knew a woman like this about 15 years ago. You could give her a copy of "War and Peace" on Monday and by Thursday, she could tell you every thing in the book and answer any questions you had. And yes, she held a full time job and was a single mother with four kids at home. She was very smart and a ravenous reader. I've always admired people who could rip through books and were in constant search for more literature to digest.

I guess I really shouldn't be posting here since my reading consists mainly of biographies, American and military history and not the conventional literature that is discussed here. A few of my favorite historians are John Toland, William Shirer, Richard J. Evans and Paul Johnson. I also appreciate and have quite a few books by Arnold Rampersad, David Levering Lewis, Lawrence Leamer and Taylor Branch. As soon as I finish this bio of Marian Anderson, I'm going to start on "The Race Beat", by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff and "The Coming of The Third Reich", by Richard Evans. I just wish I could read at the accelerated rates as those who consume four of five books a month. I guess maybe because the books I read are of a detailed historical nature and average 475 to 600 pages? I dunno....maybe I'm just a slow reader.....

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