Successful, My Ass

     From the title, one might gather that I did not feel the film makers did a successful job when adapting the literary works into film versions. Do not get me wrong! The films were excellent. However, the majority of films are not exactly accurately adaptations of their literary counterparts.

     The ending of Wuthering Heights (1939) is a prime example. I will definitely have to agree with director William Wyler about the final scene of Heathcliff and Catherine’s ghosts (played by stand-ins instead of Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon) walking away together. Personally, I feel the film should be viewed the way the authors of the literary works would want them viewed. If Emily Brontė would have wanted this scene, she would have included it in her 1847 Wuthering Heights.

     Another very unsuccessful adaptation would be the musical My Fair Lady, directed in 1964 by George Cukor. Musicals simply bore the hell out of me. Pygmalion was both an outstanding book (1913) and film ( 1938). The film Pygmalion, directed by Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard, was far more successful than the musical My Fair Lady, based on the 1956 play by Alan J. Lerner and Frederick Loewe. Surely George Bernard Shaw did not intend for the characters to be so damn annoying with their excessive singing. As I said before in a previous essay, I was waiting for Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) to fly in with her umbrella and burst into a solo of her own. If Mary Poppins were to intrude, perhaps she and Colonel Pickering (Wilfred Hyde-White) could have hooked up.

     Despite all the criticism of the unsuccessful adaptations, I will have to applaud A Streetcar Named Desire. The 1951 film version, directed by Elia Kazan, was a very accurate adapting adaptation from its literary counterpart, written in 1947 by Tennessee Williams. A person could almost follow along in the play word for word.

     In my opinion, accuracy is the most important item when transforming a literary work into its film version. It should not matter what the scene is or whether the producers deem it "appreciative." If the film makers use the novel or play, then it should all be there. This will be the topic of my next essay.

Erin Eagleson

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