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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There are 174 comments.

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  1. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in Seattle
    @SusaninSeattle

    Daniel Craig as Bond.  James Bond. 

    (Yeah, probably opened a can of worms with that one!  But only because Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in P&P were spoken for.)

    • #121
  2. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    I’m gonna nominate James Gandolfini as Carol from Where The Wild Things Are.

    • #122
  3. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    I’m gonna nominate James Gandolfini as Carol from Where The Wild Things Are.

    That book always creeped me out, both the story and the especially the artwork.  I think this entry should be disqualified because the movie goes well beyond the book’s plot.

    • #123
  4. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Samuel Block (View Comment):

    I’m gonna nominate James Gandolfini as Carol from Where The Wild Things Are.

    That book always creeped me out, both the story and the especially the artwork. I think this entry should be disqualified because the movie goes well beyond the book’s plot.

    To be exiled, am I? 

    Well, then I shall make my defense!

    Their couldn’t have been a satisfactory movie by sticking strictly to the plot of the short story had been the determinative criterion. The movie was exquisitely visceral, much like its source material, but utilized the additional time for dialogue to expand on Max’s adventure and add his epiphany about his out of control side. 

    I think my entry here is appropriate since it’s to be a film rendition of a character from a book. And, though I don’t expect it to win, the interpretation that Spike Jonze and Gandolfini brought to this beloved imaginary friend is very special. 

    • #124
  5. Nick H Coolidge
    Nick H
    @NickH

    Let’s see, what books have I read where I think the movie adaptation is both faithful and well done? LOTR and Harry Potter are both taken. Oh, I know! Casper Van Dien as Rico in Starship Troopers

    Oops, that’s the exact opposite of faithful and well done. Moving on. 

    Official answer: Georgie Henley as Lucy in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  I thought all the kids in that movie did a good job but hers was the closest to the character in the book. 

    • #125
  6. WilliamDean Coolidge
    WilliamDean
    @WilliamDean

    EJGorman (View Comment):

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

    Dern

    • #126
  7. WilliamDean Coolidge
    WilliamDean
    @WilliamDean

    Laurence Olivier in Richard III.

    • #127
  8. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    Nick H (View Comment):

    Oh, I know! Casper Van Dien as Rico in Starship Troopers

    Oops, that’s the exact opposite of faithful and well done. Moving on. 

    Amen!  The movie was fun, but nothing at all like the book, which is one of my all time favorites.

    • #128
  9. Eustace C. Scrubb Member
    Eustace C. Scrubb
    @EustaceCScrubb

    The Scarecrow (View Comment):

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

    You can see Ian McKellan’s process for acting that part here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5CX00i4uZE

    • #129
  10. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

     

    My second pick

    Rules say one per member. 

    • #130
  11. Sisyphus (Rolling Stone) Member
    Sisyphus (Rolling Stone)
    @Sisyphus

    Official Answer: Donald Sutherland as Andrew Nivens in the Puppet Masters.

    Easily the best portrayal of a Heinlein “Competent Man” character on screen, and Sutherland just eats it up.

    Andrew: [musingly] I can’t believe you shot me.
    Sam: Well, what would you have done?
    Andrew: [nonchalant] Oh, I’d have shot you, of course.

    For those who skipped the book and the movie, Sam is Andrew’s coming of age son and, surprise, their relationship is strained. The son shot the father to deter the father’s puppeteer from using him to cause imminent harm.

    Reading this book as a child gave me insight into how the people taking on the job to protect society can be shaped by the demands of that calling. Sutherland was a long way from his Hawkeye Pierce role in M*A*S*H. And I have never looked at cats quite the same way since.

    • #131
  12. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    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.

    YES! Good pick. 

    • #132
  13. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Susan in Seattle (View Comment):

    Daniel Craig as Bond. James Bond.

    (Yeah, probably opened a can of worms with that one! But only because Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth in P&P were spoken for.)

    Having just read all the books and seen most of the movies (#QuarantineProjects) it is definitely a tossup between Craig and Timothy Dalton if the criteria is faithfulness to the character as presented in the source material.

    But of course, this probably needs its own thread. Emotions will run high.

    • #133
  14. Nick H Coolidge
    Nick H
    @NickH

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Nick H (View Comment):

    Oh, I know! Casper Van Dien as Rico in Starship Troopers!

    Oops, that’s the exact opposite of faithful and well done. Moving on.

    Amen! The movie was fun, but nothing at all like the book, which is one of my all time favorites.

    Well, Denise Richards and Dina Meyer were in the movie which made it fun, but it was so different than the book that I couldn’t enjoy the rest. To be fair it would be really difficult to make a good movie that’s also a faithful adaptation of the book. So much of what makes it good is Rico’s internal thoughts, and having Rico speak them would be totally out of character.

    • #134
  15. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    Nick H (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Nick H (View Comment):

    Oh, I know! Casper Van Dien as Rico in Starship Troopers!

    Oops, that’s the exact opposite of faithful and well done. Moving on.

    Amen! The movie was fun, but nothing at all like the book, which is one of my all time favorites.

    Well, Denise Richards and Dina Meyer were in the movie which made it fun, but it was so different than the book that I couldn’t enjoy the rest. To be fair it would be really difficult to make a good movie that’s also a faithful adaptation of the book. So much of what makes it good is Rico’s internal thoughts, and having Rico speak them would be totally out of character.

    We could definitely have an entire thread on movies where the screenwriters took the title and threw away the book.

    • #135
  16. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    Nick H (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Nick H (View Comment):

    Oh, I know! Casper Van Dien as Rico in Starship Troopers!

    Oops, that’s the exact opposite of faithful and well done. Moving on.

    Amen! The movie was fun, but nothing at all like the book, which is one of my all time favorites.

    Well, Denise Richards and Dina Meyer were in the movie which made it fun, but it was so different than the book that I couldn’t enjoy the rest. To be fair it would be really difficult to make a good movie that’s also a faithful adaptation of the book. So much of what makes it good is Rico’s internal thoughts, and having Rico speak them would be totally out of character.

    We could definitely have an entire thread on movies where the screenwriters took the title and threw away the book.

    Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

    Sum of all fears

     

    • #136
  17. Sisyphus (Rolling Stone) Member
    Sisyphus (Rolling Stone)
    @Sisyphus

    Nick H (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Nick H (View Comment):

    Oh, I know! Casper Van Dien as Rico in Starship Troopers!

    Oops, that’s the exact opposite of faithful and well done. Moving on.

    Amen! The movie was fun, but nothing at all like the book, which is one of my all time favorites.

    Well, Denise Richards and Dina Meyer were in the movie which made it fun, but it was so different than the book that I couldn’t enjoy the rest. To be fair it would be really difficult to make a good movie that’s also a faithful adaptation of the book. So much of what makes it good is Rico’s internal thoughts, and having Rico speak them would be totally out of character.

    But you gotta love that they did the whipping scene. Let’s flay the miscast actor at the end of the first act! A little gift to whatever movie goers were still hanging with it. Dina Meyer was fun in her part.

    • #137
  18. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    Another honorable mention:  Tommy Lee Jones as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell in No Country for Old Men.  The movie was very faithful to the book, containing lots of dialogue verbatim from the book.  And making a Cormac McCarthy book into a movie is no easy task.

    • #138
  19. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):

     

    My second pick

    Rules say one per member.

    I was happy enough to pick to movie rolls only. Lets go with Sherlock Holmes… Ive never actually seen any of the Harry Potter movies.

    • #139
  20. notmarx Member
    notmarx
    @notmarx

    In need of a rules ruling.  Does “books” include plays?  For example, Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams?    

    • #140
  21. notmarx Member
    notmarx
    @notmarx

    In need of a rules ruling.  Does “books” include plays?  

    For example, Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams?    

    • #141
  22. notmarx Member
    notmarx
    @notmarx

    A rules ruling needed.  Does books include plays?  Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams?  

    • #142
  23. The Cynthonian Member
    The Cynthonian
    @TheCynthonian

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    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.

    YES! Good pick.

    I’m gonna have to disagree.   Love Gregory Peck as an actor, but I’ve always thought he was a bit miscast in this role.   He brought the proper dignity to it, but no Southern accent at all, and really no flash of humor or folksiness.   I’d probably have had Jimmy Stewart read for it, even though he was getting a bit too old at that point to play the part. 

    • #143
  24. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    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. 

    Great post, and I’m sitting here drumming my fingers thinking of something to add. 

    • #144
  25. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Jim Beck (View Comment):
    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.

    But he wasn’t irredeemably evil! He grew up and out of his horrible ways.

    • #145
  26. The Cynthonian Member
    The Cynthonian
    @TheCynthonian

    Several performances I would have nominated have already been named.  I’ll go with Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada.”

    Also, in my next life I would like to be a casting director.   I’m sure you have to deal with actor/director/producer egos/opinions, and schedules, amongst other hassles, but wouldn’t it be fun to get paid to do this?

    • #146
  27. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    The Cynthonian (View Comment):

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    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.

    YES! Good pick.

    I’m gonna have to disagree. Love Gregory Peck as an actor, but I’ve always thought he was a bit miscast in this role. He brought the proper dignity to it, but no Southern accent at all, and really no flash of humor or folksiness. I’d probably have had Jimmy Stewart read for it, even though he was getting a bit too old at that point to play the part.

    That never bothered me.  Not all southerners sound like Slim Pickens, and though a lot of regional lawyers exaggerate an accent, wear bolo ties and cowboy boots, etc., there are many lawyers who eschew strong accents.  I think Atticus, as in the original story and not as mutilated in Harper Lee’s very late butchery, would have been more proper than regionally eccentric.

    • #147
  28. Samuel Block Support
    Samuel Block
    @SamuelBlock

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Gary McVey (View Comment):

    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.

    Great post, and I’m sitting here drumming my fingers thinking of something to add.

    Mightn’t “Clockwork’s” controversy be one of those events which creates a rift of sorts among the Woke and their would-be allies? Kubrick is practically sainted by some, many of them progressives who flatter themselves by equating his daring cynicism with their own. 

    It could get interesting. 

    • #148
  29. The Cynthonian Member
    The Cynthonian
    @TheCynthonian

    Skyler (View Comment):

    The Cynthonian (View Comment):

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    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.

    YES! Good pick.

    I’m gonna have to disagree. Love Gregory Peck as an actor, but I’ve always thought he was a bit miscast in this role. He brought the proper dignity to it, but no Southern accent at all, and really no flash of humor or folksiness. I’d probably have had Jimmy Stewart read for it, even though he was getting a bit too old at that point to play the part.

    That never bothered me. Not all southerners sound like Slim Pickens, and though a lot of regional lawyers exaggerate an accent, wear bolo ties and cowboy boots, etc., there are many lawyers who eschew strong accents. I think Atticus, as in the original story and not as mutilated in Harper Lee’s very late butchery, would have been more proper than regionally eccentric.

    They don’t have to sound like Slim Pickens.  They just have to sound like the character….who was a native of a small town in Alabama.   My disagreement stands! 

    • #149
  30. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Evening James,

    As I understood the choice Burgess was contrasting, we can have a world where some will be docile, weak, some strong, some law abiding and some will be evil, maybe even sociopathic.  Or we could have a world where, using in this movie, some kind of conditioning, Pavlovian or operant, we can change even the most evil among us, even those who lack a conscience.  I thought that Burgess was saying that we could strip the behavioral  will out of individuals and create a peaceful, well behaved (acting in the morally selected fashion) population, or we can allow individuals to act as they choose with the understanding that some of the worlds which will exist will be like a prison camp and within this prison camp world some individuals will be the most vicious.  I thought Alex’s evil was within his base nature, and that for the analogy to work, Alex’s wickenss like McBeth’s couldn’t be attributed to an exterior source, but had to be his inherent. I also thought that the change in Alex only came about because of his “treatment”.  That McDowell wasn’t as malevolent as Ryan, meant that the analogy wasn’t as clear and difficult.  Imagine Ryan, after treatment, as a normal, innocent, maybe even timid man.  Wouldn’t we doubt Ryan’s conversion, more than we would McDowell’s. In contrast, I can not imagine an actor who better embodies the role of Humbert Humbert, than Mason.

    • #150
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