SAY What?:

Hollywood's Propensity to Change the Ending

     The reader/viewer sees it all of the time. Throughout the duration of this class, my classmates and myself have seen it numerous times. Hollywood likes to change the ending. Why must Hollywood film makers take it upon themselves to change beautifully written works?

     In the closing scene of William Wyler's 1939 screen version of Emily Brontė's 1847 Wuthering Heights, it shows Catherine (stand-in for Merle Oberon) and Heathcliff's (stand-in for Laurence Olivier) spirits walking together toward their place together. Brontė's story did not end as such. Instead, Heathcliff and Catherine died unhappy and years apart. The reader wanted Catherine and Heathcliff to reunite, but Brontė chose not to grant her readers' wishes. Instead, she let the readers make presumptions about their life together after death.

     When George Bernard Shaw wrote the play Pygmalion in 1913, he wrote Liza leaving Henry Higgins to marry Freddy. He wrote it to show that love and respect, even one-sided, was what Liza was needing. But Hollywood was not satisfied with his ending. When film makers adapted the 1956 musical play, My Fair Lady, by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe to Jack Warner's production directed by George Cukor, the film makers reiterated the musical play's theme that once again showed love conquers all, even Higgins' (Rex Harrison) own mistreatment of Liza (Audrey Hepburn).

     Elia Kazan's 1951 screen version of A Streetcar Named Desire shows Stella (Kim Hunter) clutching her baby, claiming never to return to Stanley (Marlon Brando). Due to censorship at the time, the movie was forced to only imply the rape screen between Blanche (Vivien Leigh) and Stanley. Tennessee Williams' rape scene, although not graphic by today's standards, was detailed in the 1947 play and left nothing to the imagination. Williams also has Stella returning to Stanley, showing readers that no matter how much she complained, she liked her life as it was.

     All of these endings completely corrupted the original story. The writers wrote the ending as they wanted it and as they saw was the most suiting ending. The corrupted versions movie goers see do not tell the original story, leading the lost value of literature today. Hollywood only care about the bottom line, not the literary word.

Denise Higgins

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