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. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    Alec Guinness as George Smiley in the BBC mini-series Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The series was a remarkable adaptation of LeCarre’s novel, and Guinness perfectly embodied the retired British spy.

    I just watched them all again last week. And the movie version twice.  I think Gary Oldman was an excellent and very satisfying Smiley.  Tough shoes to fill, because Alec Guinness of course is the gold standard. 

    The story is told obliquely, and there isn’t much exposition. So unless you’ve read the book, it’s easy to get lost.  The miniseries was eight hours long, so it was easier to follow. But the actual characterization of Smiley – what you come away knowing or guessing about him – I can’t say that Oldman’s performance wasn’t more revealing, more passionate. (If such a word could ever be used about Smiley.)

    And the rest of the cast in the movie were deadly good. Tom Hardy’s Ricky Tarr is one of his greatest performances.  And Sherlock was a great Peter Guillam, though one of the dumbest and most cringeworthy choices they made was to magically make him gay.  Guillam? Why?  For what reason?

    John Hurt was astounding. But the guy who played Control in the series was also one of the best performances there.

    • #91
  2. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    Eustace C. Scrubb (View Comment):

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

    There was something in Cary Elwes’ book about the making of the movie regarding this.  I think it was that Rob Reiner read the book, thought of Andre the Giant as Fezzik, and decided to do the movie.

    I may have something about that wrong, but it was definitely Andre/Fezzik that inspired something here.

    • #92
  3. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Malcolm McDowell, Alex Delarge in A Clockwork Orange.

    Yeah, it’s hard to read that book without seeing Malcolm McDowell.  But I haven’t read it in a while.

    What a performance.

    • #93
  4. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    I’ll stick with The Princess Bride, but I think Ian McKellan as Gandalf is as spot-on perfect as it gets.

    • #94
  5. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Michael Minnott (View Comment):

    Antonio Banderas as Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan from The 13th Warrior (1999), based on the Michael Crichton novel Eaters of the Dead (1976). Not only is his character in the movie accurate to the book, but the movie overall is very faithful. If you’ve read the book you can see specific scenes and dialog that are used verbatim in the movie.

    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 didn’t much care for this movie.  The mix of Beowulf and the non-fictional Byzantine visitor to the Rus/Varangians just didn’t work for me.

    • #95
  6. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    It seems to me that if accuracy of portraying a character from a book in a movie is the criterion, then I’m surprised no one has suggested Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  I thought his portrayal was spot on.

     

    And that’s my official answer.

    • #96
  7. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey
    @GaryMcVey

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Malcolm McDowell, Alex Delarge in A Clockwork Orange.

    Agreed, but watch the critics twitch in late 2021 when the 50th anniversary comes around (Dec. 19, 1971). Long posed as an ironic message about free will, it will be widely depicted as little more than a sarcastic, dark-humored sci-fi rape comedy. Even with #metoo in retreat, it’ll be hard to defend the film to 22 year old interns at The Atlantic. 

    McDowell has had decades of mostly positive press interviews about playing Alex. He’d already had acclaim for his role in “If…” and when the Kubricks screened it in their home theater, Christiane Kubrick turned to her husband and said, “There’s your Alex”. She was right. Even beneath the strange quasi-Russian invented language of the novel and film, McDowell’s northern suburban accent was not part of the class system of Britain’s two main choices for male actors: play posh or cockney. He was an unpretentious young actor, as he said, okay with “nude scenes, fight scenes, scenes with funny hats”. Clockwork would give him ample opportunity for all three. 

    Kubrick was almost universally praised at the 50th anniversary of “2001: A Space Odyssey” in 2018 (don’t like it? Argue elsewhere–different issue) but you can be sure that “Clockwork’s” half-century is going to be far more controversial. 

    • #97
  8. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Allan Rutter (View Comment):
    Third of three

    Sorry Allen, the rules are one per member. You’ll have to choose.

    • #98
  9. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl
    @CowGirl

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    Come on, Cold Warriors! This is one of the most pro-American movies of all time. Ramius isn’t even a Russian — he’s Lithuanian, so he’s from one of the tiny countries conquered and oppressed by Stalin.

    I know I’m supposed to engage you in some type of argument, but I can’t! My husband brought home The Hunt for Red October one day, and I stayed up all night reading it! Mr. CowGirl was active duty Navy then, on the submarine base in San Diego,  where he maintained the trainer for sub crews. I’d been on that trainer with him a couple of times (it was like a ride at Disneyland!). All of the gauges were covered, of course, when I was on it, because you had to have submarine-guy level security clearance to see how fast or deep that particular type of boat could go. Mr. CowGirl has utmost respect for submarine crews.

    Anyway…That book was amazing!! Then, the movie came out, and it was one of the few times a superb book was made into a superb movie! It didn’t disappoint at all.

    AND…the fact that Ramius was Lithuanian is such a perfect little detail…

    Weirdly enough, when we moved to Maryland in the late 90’s, I ended up teaching school in the county where Tom Clancy lived, and he’d always give autographed books for district fundraisers, and such.

    • #99
  10. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    Donald Sutherland as the father in Pride and Prejudice.

    • #100
  11. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    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.

    Agree to all. There was talk of Gary Sinese in Without Remorse for a while in the early 2000’s but they went with The Sum of All Fears instead. After it tanked it was bye bye Clancy. I’ve always dreamed of a film adaptation of Red Storm Rising.  

    • #101
  12. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    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.

    Why yes, I can. He’s Australian, so didn’t like half of the country come there from debtor’s prison?

    He can sing about Folsom Prison:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3gp-IZVXeM

    • #102
  13. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    WoW lots of very grown up picks. I was thinking of 2 of the most famous characters of all time.

    For the old crowd:

    Sherlock Holmes. Basil Rathbone who played Sherlock Holmes in 14 movies produced between 1939 – 1946. I also like the modern Holmes of Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller – although Johnny Lee Miller’s work was quite controversial because he was playing opposite Lucy Lui as Dr Watson. (brilliant casting and performance)

    My second pick:

    Harry Potter. Come on – kids started reading because of Harry Potter – these are hefty books for children, the last one was over 600 pages.

    Daniel Radcliff played Harry Potter in the 8 movies.  When you think of it, because of these movies Daniel Radcliff has to be one of the most successful actors ever – these movies had a combined box office of nearly 10 Billion dollars.

    • #103
  14. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

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

    • #104
  15. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I know it is a play, and it is teo people, but the duo are part of the package.

    Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in Who’s Afraid of Virgina Wolf?

    • #105
  16. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    POSTER: Abraham Lincoln (President)

    Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln. This counts because the movie was based on, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

    Lincoln is one of the most fascinating human beings to have ever lived. He was a country bumpkin who had near genius levels of IQ. He was an eccentric bookworm who genuinely enjoyed simple country people. He started as an atheist in his youth (more of an anti-theist) and then had a profound religious shift as his second inaugural displayed. He (probably) had racist ideas that were endemic to nearly all men of his time but he is arguably the greatest champion that black-Americans have ever had. I could go on and on. The man was incredibly weird and decent and interesting.

    Yet somehow, Daniel Day Lewis quietly but profoundly captures this contradictory man. Lewis spoke with a slightly feminine voice and he wasn’t a conventionally good-looking but he was strikingly charismatic. He was polite to everyone but he played politics with all the necessary savagery and cunning.

    Samwise Gamgee was wonderfully depicted as the incredibly supportive friend that he was in the book. But as much as I love Samwise Gamgee, he wasn’t nearly as complete a character as Lincoln. Actors usually depict a few interesting traits in the characters they play. It’s like they can make one really good dish that is perfectly seasoned. Daniel Day Lewis provided a whole buffet of Lincoln’s personality. I’ve never seen anything like it.

    • #106
  17. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Official Answer:

    Robert Mitchum as Eddie Coyle in The Friends of Eddie Coyle.

    • #107
  18. Dotorimuk Coolidge
    Dotorimuk
    @Dotorimuk

    Hmmm…. George Burns in “Oh, God!”????

    • #108
  19. Allan Rutter Member
    Allan Rutter
    @AllanRutter

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Allan Rutter (View Comment):
    Third of three

    Sorry Allen, the rules are one per member. You’ll have to choose.

    This was always a problem in school—blowing past the directions! I will correct!

    • #109
  20. Allan Rutter Member
    Allan Rutter
    @AllanRutter

    Allan Rutter (View Comment):

    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.

    Please ignore—I’ll stick with Hallie as Mattie.

    • #110
  21. Allan Rutter Member
    Allan Rutter
    @AllanRutter

    Allan Rutter (View Comment):

    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.

    Never mind. I have but one post to make here, and it will be my first.

    • #111
  22. EJGorman Coolidge
    EJGorman
    @EJGorman

    Tom Buchanan, played by Bruce Dean, in the 1974 version of ‘The Great Gatsby’.

    • #112
  23. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. His facial expressions, his gloriously menacing voice, the way he moved, his costume and wig — everything was the perfect embodiment of what had been in my mind’s eye from the books.

    Official answer.

    Rickman did a fine job, but he was too old really to be the character.

    • #113
  24. Suspira Member
    Suspira
    @Suspira

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    I can’t defend it because the story is still on my to-do list. But I’m pretty sure the winner is George C Scott as Ebeneezer Scrooge. Good luck to whoever can run with it.

    Yes! He’s the best Scrooge and is rarely credited with it.

    • #114
  25. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Marjorie Reynolds (View Comment):

    Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth In Pride and Prejudice. Playful but not giddy, pretty but not in a distracting film star way. She has an intelligent looking face and a twinkle in her eyes. Colin Firth put in a not too shabby performance opposite her too

    I was waiting for this.

    It’s due a re-watch in this house soon. Timeless.

    My wife just finished re-watching it, and I’m thinking it’s about time for me.

    • #115
  26. LC Member
    LC
    @LidensCheng

    Suspira (View Comment):

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. His facial expressions, his gloriously menacing voice, the way he moved, his costume and wig — everything was the perfect embodiment of what had been in my mind’s eye from the books.

    Official answer.

    Rickman did a fine job, but he was too old really to be the character.

    I think what added to his impressive portrayal is that Rickman was so much older than the character and yet it didn’t matter at all. The way he walks, the way he speaks, his clothes, his hair, his expressions, he’s Snape in every way. 

    • #116
  27. LC Member
    LC
    @LidensCheng

    Skyler (View Comment):

    It seems to me that if accuracy of portraying a character from a book in a movie is the criterion, then I’m surprised no one has suggested Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I thought his portrayal was spot on.

    And that’s my official answer.

    I wasn’t going to pick him myself, but I’ve been waiting since this was posted to see how long it would take for someone to pick Peck’s Atticus. I’m really surprised how long it took. 

    • #117
  28. Songwriter Inactive
    Songwriter
    @user_19450

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    Alec Guinness as George Smiley in the BBC mini-series Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. The series was a remarkable adaptation of LeCarre’s novel, and Guinness perfectly embodied the retired British spy.

    I just watched them all again last week. And the movie version twice. I think Gary Oldman was an excellent and very satisfying Smiley. Tough shoes to fill, because Alec Guinness of course is the gold standard.

    The story is told obliquely, and there isn’t much exposition. So unless you’ve read the book, it’s easy to get lost. The miniseries was eight hours long, so it was easier to follow. But the actual characterization of Smiley – what you come away knowing or guessing about him – I can’t say that Oldman’s performance wasn’t more revealing, more passionate. (If such a word could ever be used about Smiley.)

    And the rest of the cast in the movie were deadly good. Tom Hardy’s Ricky Tarr is one of his greatest performances. And Sherlock was a great Peter Guillam, though one of the dumbest and most cringeworthy choices they made was to magically make him gay. Guillam? Why? For what reason?

    John Hurt was astounding. But the guy who played Control in the series was also one of the best performances there.

    I also re-watched the movie version recently (Thank you, Covid 19) and I agree with your assessments. The entire cast was solid, and Oldman is always a satisfying actor to watch. 

    • #118
  29. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Morning Gary,

    I loved Clockwork Orange, its visuals were the tops, however McDowell is not as good as James Mason is as Humbert Humbert in Lolita.  McDowell lacks an inner menace; imagine a young Robert Ryan as Alex.  I know we are critiquing movies that we think are great, but I think that had the actor who played Alex been seen to be irredeemably evil the allegorical choice would have been clearer.  One can criticize Lolita, in that it does not illuminate the tortured logic that a predator must use to enable his obsessions, but as a translation from book to movie, I think Mason is better.

    • #119
  30. Jeff Hawkins Coolidge
    Jeff Hawkins
    @JeffHawkins

    “Throughout his life a case study underachiever, Sully—people still remarked—was nobody’s fool, a phrase that Sully no doubt appreciated without ever sensing its literal application—that at sixty, he was divorced from his own wife, carrying on halfheartedly with another man’s, estranged from his son, devoid of self-knowledge, badly crippled and virtually unemployable—all of which he stubbornly confused with independence.”
    ― Richard Russo, Nobody’s Fool

    “No, Sully’d decided long ago to abstain from all but the most general forms of regret. He allowed himself the vague wish that things had turned out differently, without blaming himself that they hadn’t, any more than he’d blamed himself when his 1-2-3 triple never ran like it should at least once. It didn’t pay to second-guess every one of life’s decisions, to pretend to wisdom about the past from the safety of the present, the way so many people did when they got older. As if, given a second chance to live their lives, they’d be smarter. Sully didn’t know too many people who got noticeably smarter over the course of a lifetime. Some made fewer mistakes, but in Sully’s opinion that was because they couldn’t go quite so fast. They had less energy, no more virtue; fewer opportunities to screw up, not more wisdom. It was Sully’s policy to stick by his mistakes….”
    ― Richard Russo, Nobody’s Fool

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljtpSw-n9tE

    • #120
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