Ricochet Movie Fight Club: Question 1

 

What is the best film portrayal of a book character?

The Rules:

  • Post your answer as a comment. Make it clear that this is your official answer, one per member.
  • Defend your answer in the comments and fight it out with other Ricochet member answers for the rest of the week.
  • Whoever gets the most likes on their official answer comment (and only that comment) by Friday night wins the fight.
  • The winner gets the honor of posting the next question on Saturday.

Notes:

  • Only movies will qualify (no TV shows) however films that air on television (BBC films, a stand alone mini-series) will qualify.
  • Your answer can be as off-the-wall or controversial as you’d like. It will be up to you to defend it and win people to your side.
  • Fight it out.

Ding! Ding!

Update:
We have a winner:

Charlotte with 18 likes for Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies.

Congratulations, Charlotte, you get to choose question #2.

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  1. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    The story uses the “found document” premise which provides a first-hand account, via Fahdlan, of the events detailed in the epic poem Beowulf. Since the Scandinavians of the 10th century (called Varangians) had no writing, the introduction of the educated Fahdlan from the Caliphate of Baghdad is the basis for the fictional transcript on which the novel and movie are ostensibly based. In this version of events the enemy is not Grendel, Grendel’s mother and a dragon, but instead the last tribe of Neanderthals in Europe.

    This is a great example of speculative historical fiction. I sometimes wonder is Crichton was influenced by Poul Anderson who, although known mainly for sci-fi, had also written a number of such novels in the genres of fantasy and Scandinavian lore.

    I agree with your assessment of the film but have to correct your false assertion about Scandinavians not having any writing in the 10th century. They had by that time been using runes for over seven hundred years, based on the oldest inscriptions we have found, and we have found them on swords, spear heads, combs, bracteats, belt buckles and kefli (rune sticks used to send messages such as “Olaf, your wife is looking for you” and “Björn, you owe me two bales of homespun, still”).  And “Varangian” was only applied to those who had served as mercenaries in Constantinople. 

     

    • #61
  2. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Official Answer:  Captain Winters in Band of Brothers.

     

    In the book, all the men describe their absolute love and respect for him, and it comes across in the mini-series.

     

    • #62
  3. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    So a TV miniseries does qualify? Then Robert Duvall as Augustus McCrae in Lonesome Dove. What to my mind distinguishes good acting from bad or mediocre acting is how completely the actor disappears into the character and Duvall becomes Gus McCrae right into his gaze. You forget in the course of the portrayal both that you are watching Robert Duvall and that Gus is fictional. It’s an amazing piece of work. He perfectly convinces you he is someone else and that someone else came off the pages of the McMurtry novel.

    That is my official answer for film, assuming that it is not disqualified, but with people nominating Jennifer Ehle from Pride and Prejudice I think I’m on solid ground, though I have to mention that Ben Withrow as Mr. Bennet gets my vote for that series. I cannot picture anyone else as the character now.

    Speaking of actors who completely embody a literary character: Jeremy Brett. He was Sherlock Holmes.

    That portrayal made Gus McRae my all-time favorite fictional character.  Duval was perfect, and I understand it was his favorite role. Hard to believe that Gus McRae is also Tom, the Godfather’s consigliere, the “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” guy, The Great Santini, the weasely bad guy in True Grit, and even THX1138 from George Lucas’s first movie.  That’s some range.

    • #63
  4. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    As far as totally convincing and perfectly cast to be the character in a book, I would say every actor in The Princess Bride.

    But if I have to pick one, I’ll say Cary Elwes, as Westley. Official answer.

    • #64
  5. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    As far as totally convincing and perfectly cast to be the character in a book, I would say every actor in The Princess Bride.

    But if I have to pick one, I’ll say Cary Elwes, as Westley. Official answer.

    Agree. We’ve been reading The Princess Bride again as a family and I’ve been surprised how spot-on the movie is. I would have gone with Mandy Patinkin, as Inigo but Cary Elwes is also perfect. 

    • #65
  6. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    Hartmann von Aue (View Comment):

    So a TV miniseries does qualify? Then Robert Duvall as Augustus McCrae in Lonesome Dove. What to my mind distinguishes good acting from bad or mediocre acting is how completely the actor disappears into the character and Duvall becomes Gus McCrae right into his gaze. You forget in the course of the portrayal both that you are watching Robert Duvall and that Gus is fictional. It’s an amazing piece of work. He perfectly convinces you he is someone else and that someone else came off the pages of the McMurtry novel.

    That is my official answer for film, assuming that it is not disqualified, but with people nominating Jennifer Ehle from Pride and Prejudice I think I’m on solid ground, though I have to mention that Ben Withrow as Mr. Bennet gets my vote for that series. I cannot picture anyone else as the character now.

    Speaking of actors who completely embody a literary character: Jeremy Brett. He was Sherlock Holmes.

    That portrayal made Gus McRae my all-time favorite fictional character. Duval was perfect, and I understand it was his favorite role. Hard to believe that Gus McRae is also Tom, the Godfather’s consigliere, the “I love the smell of napalm in the morning” guy, The Great Santini, the weasely bad guy in True Grit, and even THX1138 from George Lucas’s first movie. That’s some range.

    Yup. The man is a national treasure. 

    • #66
  7. philo Member
    philo
    @philo

    Official winner: Chevy Chase as Irwin M. Fletcher.

     

    • #67
  8. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Andre the Giant as Fezzik. I doubt Goldman believed they would find anyone so perfect when he wrote the novel.

    • #68
  9. Chris O. Coolidge
    Chris O.
    @ChrisO

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Hannibal Lecter as portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Red Dragon.

    If you have seen Manhunter, it’s the Michael Mann version of Red Dragon from the 80’s, and Brian Cox does a very good job with the Lecter character, but nothing could top Hopkins’ portrayal of Lecter. Silence of the Lambs was perfectly written, filmed, and edited but Hopkins’ delivery of Lecter’s lines is unsurpassed.

    I’m going to disagree here. Yes, Hopkins’ work in Silence of the Lambs is excellent. Of all these films, however, Manhunter is superior for the same reasons that Brian Cox is a slightly better Lecktor: it’s understated rather than over the top.

    Lecktor’s most potent attack on anyone in this film comes from words, and perhaps his most menacing line is, “Dream much, Will?” Lecktor knows he haunts Will Graham. The audience already has a pretty good idea, and Michael Mann doesn’t hit you upside the head. He trusts you to get it, to hear the sick satisfaction in Cox’s somewhat subdued Lecktor. This Lecktor is a growling caged lion, and he has no need to brag about his conquests, for Will Graham is one, though he struggles not to be.

    Superior director, superior depiction; it’s not Anthony Hopkins’ fault, he was just in the wrong movie.

    • #69
  10. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    I’m going for Edward Petherbridge as Lord Peter Wimsey. There were a bunch of dramatizations on “Mystery”, by PBS (I think they were originally BBC). We have all the DVDs. Petherbridge is simply the consummate Wimsey. He gets all the mannerisms right, and even resembles what I thought Wimsey might actually look like. I am a total Wimsey fan, and periodically we break out the DVDs to watch-they never get old. I read all the Dorothy L. Sayers novels, and couldn’t help thinking of Peter Wimsey as a real person. WWWD? I found myself asking this numerous times.

    For all you Wimsey fans out there, Jill Paton Walsh has written more Wimsey novels, carrying him through WWII and slightly beyond, and they are up to the Sayers standard. Highly recommended.

    You get my vote.  We have broken out our Petherbridge Wimsey DVDs to help get through the captivity.

    • #70
  11. Allan Rutter Member
    Allan Rutter
    @AllanRutter

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    Tex929rr (View Comment):
    Reply

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    The difficulty of this question is that I can’t like an answer involving a well-acted character based on a book I haven’t read. In most cases, I fear, I have only seen the film.

    It’s interesting in that some literary characters are drawn clearly enough that the movie casting seems wrong, even when the actor involved does a good job. Robert Urich as Spenser, Alex Baldwin as Jack Ryan, or Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump were all well played characters but not at all like the picture in my mind after reading the books.

    Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher is quite good. (Imo) But he is absolutely nothing like the clearly drawn physical description of the character in Childs’ books.

    So much of the first Jack Reacher movie success was the script and direction of Christopher McQuarrie, who helps suffuse the movie with the right vibe of the book, with Cruise getting the attitude perfectly right. But, way too short to qualify for this competition.

    • #71
  12. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    I won’t argue for it, but have been told Russell Crowe well represents Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander.

    As someone who’s read all the books more than 5 times each, I can confirm that he does the predatory naval captain thing perfectly.

    Disagree. Can you imagine Russell Crowe in debtor’s prison? Land based Aubrey tends to be a bit naive. Maturin would be a better choice.

    • #72
  13. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Official answer: Sean Connery as Marko Ramius in The Hunt for Red October.

    I almost went with Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan from October. As much as I revere Harrison Ford, I still think Baldwin made the better Ryan. Still waiting on a great John Clark.

    Willem Dafoe would be a good pick.

    • #73
  14. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Michael Caine as Peachy Carnehan in The Man Who Would be King

    • #74
  15. Allan Rutter Member
    Allan Rutter
    @AllanRutter

    One of three entries: Hallie Steinfeld as Mattie Ross in the Coen Brothers’ remake of “True Grit.” I am listening to the audiobook of the Charles Portis’ novel, and Steinfeld has more of the original beyond-precocious quality of Mattie in the movie, much more so than Kim Darby in the original. She is the narrator of the book and the character around which everything rotates, and so Steinfeld’s characterization is note perfect!

    • #75
  16. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):

    I’m going for Edward Petherbridge as Lord Peter Wimsey. There were a bunch of dramatizations on “Mystery”, by PBS (I think they were originally BBC). We have all the DVDs. Petherbridge is simply the consummate Wimsey. He gets all the mannerisms right, and even resembles what I thought Wimsey might actually look like. I am a total Wimsey fan, and periodically we break out the DVDs to watch-they never get old. I read all the Dorothy L. Sayers novels, and couldn’t help thinking of Peter Wimsey as a real person. WWWD? I found myself asking this numerous times.

    For all you Wimsey fans out there, Jill Paton Walsh has written more Wimsey novels, carrying him through WWII and slightly beyond, and they are up to the Sayers standard. Highly recommended.

    For me, Jill Paton Walsh falls short of Sayers’ writing. Well, maybe not of Sayers on a bad day such as in the Wimsey Papers and the like, but Walsh’s novels disappointed me.

    • #76
  17. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in The Godfather. 

    • #77
  18. Allan Rutter Member
    Allan Rutter
    @AllanRutter

    Second of three: Raul Julia as Harrison Ford’s defense counsel Sandy Stern in Alan J. Pakula’s wonderful version of Scott Turow’s debut novel, “Presumed Innocent.” The entire cast was great and John Williams’ score was perfect. Julia does the best job of capturing the character from the book, the expensive defense lawyer schooling the prosecutor on how to win his case, not necessarily whether he believes Rusty Sabich is innocent.

    • #78
  19. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    Chris O. (View Comment):
    Manhunter is superior for the same reasons that Brian Cox is a slightly better Lecktor: it’s understated rather than over the top.

    Agree wholeheartedly.  I thought that Brian Cox was the epitome of creepiness:  “Dream much, Will?”.  Anthony Hopkins was trying a bit too hard.

    • #79
  20. Allan Rutter Member
    Allan Rutter
    @AllanRutter

    Third of three: Titus Welliver is the best detective in a police procedural, but it’s an Amazon Prime series so it doesn’t count. I love Humphrey Bogart better as Sam Spade than as Philip Marlowe, but my favorite version of a mystery novel character is Matthew McConaughey as Michael Connelly’s Mickey Haller in “The Lincoln Lawyer.” Haller has gone on to be a fixture in many later Bosch novels, but in this first version, McConaughey captures so much of the street smart/world weariness of Connelly’s Los Angeles.

    • #80
  21. repmodad Inactive
    repmodad
    @Repmodad

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Michael Caine as Peachy Carnahan in The Man Who Would be King

    I haven’t read this book, but I sure do love Caine’s character and portrayal. 

    • #81
  22. She Member
    She
    @She

    James Cromwell as Farmer Hoggett, in Babe.  The pig, not the baseball player.  Sheer perfection.

    • #82
  23. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Michael Caine as Peachy Carnahan in The Man Who Would be King

    Maybe. I haven’t read the story, since the movie came out. But I do remember being somewhat disappointed. I came away thinking this is one case where the movie was better. The characters and the story were better realized on film. But then, I’m a sucker for John Huston.

    • #83
  24. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    My memory of “Taming of the Shrew” is vague, but Elizabeth Taylor might be the perfect Kate.

    • #84
  25. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    She (View Comment):

    James Cromwell as Farmer Hoggett, in Babe. The pig, not the baseball player. Sheer perfection.

    Just watched that again recently.  It was quite a performance.  Didn’t realize it was a book!

     

    • #85
  26. She Member
    She
    @She

    Gossamer Cat (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):

    James Cromwell as Farmer Hoggett, in Babe. The pig, not the baseball player. Sheer perfection.

    Just watched that again recently. It was quite a performance. Didn’t realize it was a book!

    Yes, a kid’s book–Babe: The Gallant Pig, originally published as The Sheep-Pig in the UK.  It’s a movie I can watch over and over–I think Mrs. Hoggett is excellent too.  As are the selfish and nasty little children.  The pig ain’t bad, either.

    • #86
  27. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Official answer: Sean Connery as Marko Ramius in The Hunt for Red October.

    I almost went with Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan from October. As much as I revere Harrison Ford, I still think Baldwin made the better Ryan. Still waiting on a great John Clark.

    I agree that Baldwin was a better Jack Ryan.

    Sean Bean would have been a good Clark, when he was younger and if he could lose the British accent.  I think that Nathan Fillion would be a good Clark now, in the later books like Rainbow Six.  He could actually team up with Jon Huertas, his co-star from Castle, who could be a pretty good Ding Chavez.

    • #87
  28. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    I won’t argue for it, but have been told Russell Crowe well represents Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander.

    I read most of the series one summer at the recommendation of fellow Ricochet members – and Crowe very much fits the physical description of Jack Aubrey.

    Crowe was great, but too skinny.  Aubrey was a big fat dude like me.  Well, not quite as fat as me.  I seem to recall him weighing 15 stone in the books, which is 210.  I left 20 stone in the rear view mirror a while ago.  :)

    • #88
  29. Ontheleftcoast Inactive
    Ontheleftcoast
    @Ontheleftcoast

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Michael Caine as Peachy Carnahan in The Man Who Would be King

    Maybe. I haven’t read the story, since the movie came out. But I do remember being somewhat disappointed. I came away thinking this is one case where the movie was better. The characters and the story were better realized on film. But then, I’m a sucker for John Huston.

    Huston was a master, and Caine and Connery were at the height of their powers.

    What always strikes me about Kipling as a writer is how he can pack a lot into a short piece of fiction, in this case less than 15,000 words. Not to mention looking as  though he’s not working very hard. 

    But there’s certainly a difference between the Victorian and modern sensibilities.

    • #89
  30. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Malcolm McDowell, Alex Delarge in A Clockwork Orange. 

    • #90
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