DOES THE CHARACTER MATCH THE IMAGE IN THE BOOK?

Fandango’s Provocative Question #84


I’ve got a four answers here and really, there should be more. I’ve put them in order of their dates of release.

The Haunting is a 1963 British horror film directed and produced by Robert Wise and adapted by Nelson Gidding from the 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. It stars Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson, and Russ Tamblyn. The film depicts the experiences of a small group of people invited by a paranormal investigator to investigate a purportedly haunted house.

This is one of those amazing movies where it might even be better than the book. Julie Harris and Claire Bloom are perfect. The house — which is definitely one of the characters — is perfect. It manages to to genuinely horrifying without special effects and while sticking to the novella both in character, mood, and concept. If you haven’t seen it, please see it. It also shows you why black and white is sometimes exactly the right combination for a movie!

The Lion in Winter is a 1968 British historical drama film set around the Christmas of 1183, about political and personal turmoil among the royal family of Henry II of England, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, their children, and their guests. It is based on the 1966 Broadway play of the same name by James Goldman.

I’m not sure if this counts since it wasn’t a book, but was a stage play. Nonetheless, I can’t even think of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine without seeing this movie in my head. I didn’t “read the book,” but I sure did read the history!

The Three and Four Musketeers – The 1973 hit and its sequel were filmed as a single film which really pissed off the cast. They sued,the studio lost and the caste was paid for both movies. This delayed the release of both movies. This light-hearted (except when it wasn’t) version of the Dumas swashbuckler has the four swordsman doing battle with the devious Cardinal Richelieu and his evil accomplice Milady de Winter, determined to wreak havoc on the French monarchy.

It starred Michael York, Oliver Reed, Richard Chamberlain, and Frank Finlay. Release date: February 26, 1975 (USA) Directed by Richard Lester; Story by: Alexandre Dumas, screenplay, George MacDonald Fraser. I loved this movies so much I went to see it four times in it’s opening week.

Little Women, the 1994 version of the movie was and is a gem. It starred Winona Ryder as Jo March, Trini Alvarado Trini Alvarado as Meg March, Samantha Mathis as the older Amy March, Kirsten Dunst as the younger Amy March, Claire Danes as Beth March, Christian Bale as Laurie, Eric Stoltz as John Brooke, John Neville as Mr. Laurence, Mary Wickes as Aunt March, and Susan Sarandon as Mrs. March.

Considering how frequently this movie has been made and remade, this particular version is a pearl amidst pebbles. It captures the characters and essence of the book and not just the look and feel of the characters. I loved it and watch it whenever it is on TV … and of course I have it on DVD.

The Lord of the Rings was a series of three films (the book was also published in three volumes) shot in New Zealand by Peter Jackson.The three epic fantasy films were based on the novel written by J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are subtitled The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

The caste is much too long to list here, but I think they nailed it, They looked right, they felt right. I loved it when it came out. I still love it. And I read the book at least half a dozen times over the decades.


I should mention that there have been quite a number of history-based movies where the character characterizations were brilliant.

And now, to a couple of the worst-cast movies. In this category, there are so many, I don’t even know where to start. The earliest “talkie” version of Little Women was so badly miscast I can’t watch it. Fine actresses, badly cast. Embarrassingly miscast. All the supposed girls were full-grown women and looked it. AWFUL.

I’m with Di, at Pensitivity101 who wrote, “I know I’ve said it umpteen times, but casting Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher lost all credibility for me.” If you read the book, Jack Reacher was a big brawny bruiser of a guy and Tom Cruise looks NOTHING like him in any way at all. I know that Tom bought the rights so he got to play the role, but he really shouldn’t have. He should have had some generosity of spirit and given the role to someone else. That, however, is not Tom Cruise’s style.

Most of the movies I’ve seem seem to choose the characters more on the star’s popularity than by their resemblance to the character in the book. Sometimes, if I haven’t read the book, I have no preconception and I don’t notice, but if I have already read the book  — especially if I’ve listened to the book on audiobooks — I have a very strong idea what they look like. Sometimes I reject even the audio version because it doesn’t go with the character either. These day, most of the movies I watch are relatively old since we almost never went to the movies — and now, obviously, don’t go at all.

Garry’s contribution is the Stephen King time-travel story about JFK 11/22/63. It was particularly appalling because the book was brilliant. Overall, we are not Stephen King fans. This is not because he’s not a great writer because he is, but because he writes horror stories which generally, we don’t like. With a few exceptions. Most science fiction is not done very well no matter who wrote it or whether it’s written for movies or TV.

Oh, right. I should mention there was an absolutely appalling version of “The Scarlet Letter” in which not only were the characters nothing like the characters in the book, but the script bore little resemblance to the book either. Mostly, unless you’ve gotten a review from someone you know whose taste you trust, skip the movie. Read the book.



Categories: #FPQ, Anecdote, Audiobook, Author, Books, Fandango's One Word Challenge, Movies, Performance

Tags: , , , ,

11 replies

  1. Good question. This has hardly ever happened to me because I usually saw the movie before I read the book!
    One exception however, was Winnie the Pooh. Everybody knows Winnie the Pooh doesn’t sound like that. Shameful.
    Sometimes the casting is perfect however. Such as Clayton Moore as the Lone Ranger. He looked EXACTLY like the Lone Ranger in the radio show.
    Amazing !

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  2. What interesting choices! I saw Katherine Hepburn in “Little Women” (an early version) and I could never read the books again without seeing “Jo” as Katherine Hepburn. It’s funny what notions we get from what we read or see.

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  3. I concur on The Haunting and Lord of the Rings. I saw The Lion in Winter, but since there was no book, I had no preconceived notions of the characters. I didn’t see either Little Women or the Musketeers movies. Another movie I would add to the list is the movie version of Ira Kevin’s book, Rosemary’s Baby with Mia Farrow. I thought the casting of the actors was very much how I expected them to be.

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  4. I would have included Lord of the rings in the best cast movies.

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