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. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Jim Beck (View Comment):
    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

    Right. By choosing the latter, we remove free will, and turn human beings into mechanical organisms – clockwork oranges, if you wish. In the last chapter of the book, which doesn’t make it in the movie version, Alex has tired of his violent ways, and begins to imagine a different life that has all the cozy domestic pleasures. It’s not an entirely optimistic ending, but it provides the possibility of redemption. The movie does not.

    • #151
  2. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    For those interested in Clockwork Orange, the Dalrymple article is great. https://www.city-journal.org/html/prophetic-and-violent-masterpiece-12926.html

    • #152
  3. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    notmarx (View Comment):

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

    Sure, you just have to defend it. I’m surprised nobody has picked any comic book characters so far, or biblical films.

    • #153
  4. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I would have chosen Al Pacino/Michael Corelone’s growth from fey college boy to corporate killer, but it’s already been taken. How about George C. Scott’s Patton, taken from Omar Bradley’s book, A Soldier’s Story?

    • #154
  5. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Petty Boozswha (View Comment):

    I would have chosen Al Pacino/Michael Corelone’s growth from fey college boy to corporate killer, but it’s already been taken. How about George C. Scott’s Patton, taken from Omar Bradley’s book, A Soldier’s Story?

    Sadly, people think Patton sounded like George C. Scott. He didn’t. Other than that minor flaw…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9DpKDwCJcM

    • #155
  6. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    We should start a new Clockwork Orange thread, but until we do, two cents:

    I thought the book wasn’t about society, or rape fantasy, or wickedness, or any of that.  It was about teenagers.  It was about the path to adulthood.

    He of course cranked everything up to eleven, but that was to make it obvious. Same with the Beethoven, the “lovely lovely Ludwig van . . . “.

    Teenagers behave badly. We step in and treat them with wacky things – Ritalin, whatever. It makes them less inconvenient and troublesome, in this case by taking away Alex’s free will, torturing him into behaving.  Making him, an organic creature like, say, an Orange – into a kind of machine, a Clockwork.

    It works, but it also kills off everything beautiful about him – he can no longer hear Beethoven without trying to kill himself.

    Burgess’s point I thought was that if you just wait them out, they eventually get over this youthful confusion themselves, naturally; we call it growing up.

    The British version of the book has 21 chapters, on purpose.  In the short 21st chapter, a few years have passed since the cure, and Alex, now presumably 21 years old, encounters his old droogs. He sees Pete in a cafe with wife and baby, and he barely recognizes him. Then he sees a policeman, who looks familiar. It’s Georgie.  Alex returns to his house, thoughtful.  Maybe it’s time to do something with his life . . . .

    This is from memory, so some details might be wrong.  But Burgess was upset that the American publishers chose to leave out the 21st chapter, a decision that pretty much upends the point of the book.  They said American readers wouldn’t like a “happy ending” or something.

    He was also displeased that Kubrick also left it out of the movie, ending instead with the grotesque “. . . I was cured all right” ending.

    I like the movie very much, but wish he had filmed that last chapter. I think that would have been a powerful ending.

     

    • #156
  7. The Scarecrow Thatcher
    The Scarecrow
    @TheScarecrow

    Ah.  Looks like James is already on it.

     

    • #157
  8. Audacious Member
    Audacious
    @Audacious

    Can it be that no one mentions Sean Connery as James Bond?  When Dr. No was released I was impressed by how he portrayed Bond as I had imagined him reading Goldfinger and From Russia with Love.  My wife agrees.  The accent was not English but it was a better fit than for a Lithuanian sub commander in HFRO (I agree with Connery’s great portrayal of Ramius).  As backup:  Ian Fleming met Connery while making Dr. No.  When he wrote You Only Live Twice, he gave 007 a Scottish father in an obit late in the novel.

    • #158
  9. Nick H Coolidge
    Nick H
    @NickH

    Audacious (View Comment):

    Can it be that no one mentions Sean Connery as James Bond? When Dr. No was released I was impressed by how he portrayed Bond as I had imagined him reading Goldfinger and From Russia with Love. My wife agrees. The accent was not English but it was a better fit than for a Lithuanian sub commander in HFRO (I agree with Connery’s great portrayal of Ramius). As backup: Ian Fleming met Connery while making Dr. No. When he wrote You Only Live Twice, he gave 007 a Scottish father in an obit late in the novel.

    Connery might be the definitive Bond onscreen, but he’s not as close to the 007 character in the books as some of the other actors who have played Bond. He’s got too much… swagger is the only word that comes to mind. Bond is confident, but not cocky. There’s a darker side to the Bond in the novels that Connery doesn’t have.

    • #159
  10. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Jim Beck (View Comment):
    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

    Right. By choosing the latter, we remove free will, and turn human beings into mechanical organisms – clockwork oranges, if you wish. In the last chapter of the book, which doesn’t make it in the movie version, Alex has tired of his violent ways, and begins to imagine a different life that has all the cozy domestic pleasures. It’s not an entirely optimistic ending, but it provides the possibility of redemption. The movie does not.

    Movies are very rarely capable of capturing such an intense change in the internal world of people. Even if the feature were animated and you could easily age up all the characters. The jarring change in imagery usually doesn’t work in movies like it does in the theatre of the mind. 

    • #160
  11. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    Jim Beck (View Comment):

    For those interested in Clockwork Orange, the Dalrymple article is great. https://www.city-journal.org/html/prophetic-and-violent-masterpiece-12926.html

    Can’t get me enough Dalrymple. 

    • #161
  12. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Jim Beck (View Comment):
    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

    Right. By choosing the latter, we remove free will, and turn human beings into mechanical organisms – clockwork oranges, if you wish. In the last chapter of the book, which doesn’t make it in the movie version, Alex has tired of his violent ways, and begins to imagine a different life that has all the cozy domestic pleasures. It’s not an entirely optimistic ending, but it provides the possibility of redemption. The movie does not.

    Movies are very rarely capable of capturing such an intense change in the internal world of people. Even if the feature were animated and you could easily age up all the characters. The jarring change in imagery usually doesn’t work in movies like it does in the theatre of the mind.

    War and Peace – probably my favorite book – was a terrible movie for exactly that reason. So much happens internally in that book which couldn’t possibly happen onscreen. Not to mention the usual deficiencies in adapting to screen. 

    • #162
  13. notmarx Member
    notmarx
    @notmarx

    Runners-up.  From books I’ve actually read.

    Belaboring the obvious?  Margaret Mitchell wrote Rhett Butler with Clark Gable in mind.  He is exactly, effortlessly right.

    Alec Guinness twice: a memorable Fagin, and a deadpan hilarious Gully Jimpson in The Horse’s Mouth.

    Dustin Hoffman is the tragic Willy Loman Miller created.  Arthur Miller modeled Willy Loman after his own father.  When Lee J. Cobb was cast in the original production Miller changed Willy’s self-description from “shrimp” to “bull”. With Hoffman in the role he changed it back.

    Under that convict’s haircut, Henry Fonda’s boney, noble face, measured walk, and beleaguered tetchy temper make for a definitive Tom Joad. Maybe even more memorable is Jane Darwell’s Ma Joad: anyone who’s seen it never forgets: the short, silent vignette of Ma Joad sorting treasured trinkets before a table mirror that’s lost half its silver: what it is to be an exile, even in your own country. Could be John Ford betters John Steinbeck in telling the story.

    Likewise with Ford’s version of How Green Was My Valley. Beth Morgan is the heart of her big family; Beth facing down the mob of strikers, defending her husband’s honor (and life), is thrilling; her measured rage is a fearful thing: you believe every word of the threats coming out of her. Venerable Irish actress Sara Allgood, perfectly cast.

    • #163
  14. notmarx Member
    notmarx
    @notmarx

    A couple of Ricocheteers have nominated George C. Scott’s Ebenezer Scrooge.  Respectfully I disagree.  See the 1951 English film: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0044008/  

    Alistair Sim’s Scrooge is definitive, before and after his haunted night. His conversion is radiant, hilarious, inspiring.  Scott can’t match it. George C. Scott is a screen-filling presence and an indefatigable scenery-chewer. Always fun to watch, especially as a villain. But oftentimes I don’t believe him; even though I feel he’d likely beat hell out of me for my skepticism.

    One acting challenge Scott doen’t come to close to solving: Scrooge—in fact about every Dickens character—is nothing but English and Scott is anything except English. American men make lousy Englishmen. Fruit of The Revoution?  

    • #164
  15. notmarx Member
    notmarx
    @notmarx

    Ed G. (View Comment):

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Jim Beck (View Comment):
    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

    Right. By choosing the latter, we remove free will, and turn human beings into mechanical organisms – clockwork oranges, if you wish. In the last chapter of the book, which doesn’t make it in the movie version, Alex has tired of his violent ways, and begins to imagine a different life that has all the cozy domestic pleasures. It’s not an entirely optimistic ending, but it provides the possibility of redemption. The movie does not.

    Movies are very rarely capable of capturing such an intense change in the internal world of people. Even if the feature were animated and you could easily age up all the characters. The jarring change in imagery usually doesn’t work in movies like it does in the theatre of the mind.

    War and Peace – probably my favorite book – was a terrible movie for exactly that reason. So much happens internally in that book which couldn’t possibly happen onscreen. Not to mention the usual deficiencies in adapting to screen.

    The Russian version of War and Peace – six hours long – got me through the book.  Perfect casting: all the actors step into the characters in your imagination.  And the USSR, as a matter of prestige, gave the production a practically unlimited budget; and you see it onscreen. Those thousands of soldiers were not computer-generated.  It’s imposssible not to be in love with aristocrat Natasha, when she improvises her peasant dance.  

    • #165
  16. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Alright everyone you’ve got about 24 hours left to cast your votes and fight it out. Here are the leaders as it currently stands.

    1) @charlotte with 18 ikes for Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films (comment #12). Never underestimate the Harry Potter contingents ability to dominate the internet.

    2) @thescarecrow with 15 likes for Cary Elwes portrayal of Wesley in The Princess Bride (comment#64)

    3) And a two way tie between @arizonapatriot for Sean Connery’s portrayal of Marko Ramius in The Hunt for Red October (comment #17), and @MarjorieReynolds for Jennifer Ehle’s portrayal of Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, 1995 BBC (comment #20) at 12 likes each.

    If you were mentioned, start thinking about what question you would like to pose for the next Ricochet Movie Fight Club post on Saturday (and maybe attack your opponents).

    Lastly, sorry B.W. Wooster but @cbtoderakamamatoad is right, Wooster and Jeeves is a TV show. Rules are rules.

    • #166
  17. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    We have a winner: @charlotte with 18 likes for Alan Rickman’s portrayal of  Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films.

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

    • #167
  18. notmarx Member
    notmarx
    @notmarx

    Too late I know, but this string seems the right spot to honor a strange and wondrous incarnation of a strange and wondrous creation: Hazel Motes, impersonated by Brad Dourif.

    From Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood:

    “Hazel Motes sat at a forward angle on the green plush train seat, looking one minute at the window as if he might want to jump out of it, and the next down the aisle…

    He didn’t look, to her, much over twenty, but he had a stiff black broad-brimmed hat on his lap, a hat that an elderly country preacher would wear. His suit was a glaring blue and a price tag was still stapled on the sleeve of it. …eyes…the color of pecan shells and set in deep sockets. The outline of a skull under was plain and insistent.

    She…squinted at the price tag. The suit had cost him $11.98… that placed him… [she] looked at his face again as if she were fortified against it…  a nose like a shrike’s bill and a long, vertical crease on either side of his mouth; his hair looked as if it had been permanently flattened under the heavy hat, but his eyes… Their settings were so deep that they seemed, to her almost like passages leading somewhere…”

    *

    “Well, I preach the Church without Christ…. where the blind don’t see and the lame don’t walk and what’s dead stays that way…. the church that the blood of Jesus don’t foul with redemption.”

    “‘Nobody with a good car needs to be justified,’ Haze murmured.”

    ***

    They say it’s hard to make a great movie, even a good movie, from a great book; John Huston did it more than twice. My favorites from Huston are Wise Blood and The Dead, both made from recognized masterpieces (by Flannery O’Connor and James Joyce), and among the last of Huston’s movies. Huston was persuaded to make Wise Blood by a brilliant script done by amateurs. He made the film on a shoestring, on location.

    Flannery O’Connor’s world is deliberately strange, her eccentric characters precisely drawn and vivid— none more so than Hazel Motes, the protagonist of her first novel, Wise Blood. Brad Dourif, who won the part after a bit of a campaign, felt his Southern background gave him an inside track on the character. Could be; he looked the part for sure, and an insanely focused intensity he brought gave a smoldering core to the film, and was at the same time, grimly comic. Nice trick, and entirely in O’Connor’s unique vernacular.

    Something else Dourif gave to Motes: a patient, pathetic quality when he undertook his severe penances (one involved wrapping his torso in barbed wire). More so even than when reading the novel, watching Dourif’s Motes’ stoic suffering you found yourself moved to pity and wonder; and wondering if the madman was in fact a saint.

    • #168
  19. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    I was only 8 when the movie came out so I’m not surprised I didn’t know anything about it at the time, but I never knew this movie was made.

    I first saw this actor as Wormtongue. I like Flannery O’Connor a lot so I’m intrigued.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph-oCWpQWlE

    • #169
  20. notmarx Member
    notmarx
    @notmarx

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    I was only 8 when the movie came out so I’m not surprised I didn’t know anything about it at the time, but I never knew this movie was made.

    I first saw this actor as Wormtongue. I like Flannery O’Connor a lot so I’m intrigued.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph-oCWpQWlE

    Oh Lord, that preview was wonderful, had me laughing all through.  I’m sure to rewatch the movie before the weekend’s out.  It was on my Lenten list, but it’s great anytime.  I have it on disc, and I think it’s still available on The Criterion Channel. 

    • #170
  21. Ed G. Inactive
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    notmarx (View Comment):

    Too late I know, but this string seems the right spot to honor a strange and wondrous incarnation of a strange and wondrous creation: Hazel Motes, impersonated by Brad Dourif.

    From Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood:

    ***

    They say it’s hard to make a great movie, even a good movie, from a great book; John Huston did it more than twice. My favorites from Huston are Wise Blood and The Dead, both made from recognized masterpieces (by Flannery O’Connor and James Joyce), and among the last of Huston’s movies. Huston was persuaded to make Wise Blood by a brilliant script done by amateurs. He made the film on a shoestring, on location.

    Flannery O’Connor’s world is deliberately strange, her eccentric characters precisely drawn and vivid— none more so than Hazel Motes, the protagonist of her first novel, Wise Blood. Brad Dourif, who won the part after a bit of a campaign, felt his Southern background gave him an inside track on the character. Could be; he looked the part for sure, and an insanely focused intensity he brought gave a smoldering core to the film, and was at the same time, grimly comic. Nice trick, and entirely in O’Connor’s unique vernacular.

    Something else Dourif gave to Motes: a patient, pathetic quality when he undertook his severe penances (one involved wrapping his torso in barbed wire). More so even than when reading the novel, watching Dourif’s Motes’ stoic suffering you found yourself moved to pity and wonder; and wondering if the madman was in fact a saint.

    I’ve tried a few times, but I admit that I just don’t get O’Connor. It’s probably me (definitely me). I’m Catholic, but do I need to be Southern too? 

    • #171
  22. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    We have a winner: @charlotte with 18 likes for Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films.

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

    Woo-hoo! Fun! Just sent you a PM.

    • #172
  23. Charlotte Member
    Charlotte
    @Charlotte

    Ed G. (View Comment):
    I’ve tried a few times, but I admit that I just don’t get O’Connor. It’s probably me (definitely me). I’m Catholic, but do I need to be Southern too? 

    Same-same.

    • #173
  24. notmarx Member
    notmarx
    @notmarx

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Ed G. (View Comment):
    I’ve tried a few times, but I admit that I just don’t get O’Connor. It’s probably me (definitely me). I’m Catholic, but do I need to be Southern too?

    Same-same.

    I think this deserves a fuller reply than there’s room for here.  I’ll try to fashion a post.  Maybe tempt you two to take another pass at O’Connor.  She’s a taste worth cultivating.

     

    • #174
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