Thursday Movie Picks: ADAPTATIONS

ThursdayMoviePicksHappy almost Friday everyone! I’m a bit late to the TMP party but I love this week’s topic that I still want to participate. The Thursday Movie Picks blogathon was spearheaded by Wandering Through the Shelves Blog.

The rules are simple simple: Each week there is a topic for you to create a list of three movies. Your picks can either be favourites/best, worst, hidden gems, or if you’re up to it one of each. This Thursday’s theme is… film adaptations.

Now, it’s not specified what sort of adaptations we’re supposed to pick. So I’ve decided to select a couple of different adaptations, from books and play/stage work. I was going to do one based on video games, but there isn’t really one I’d even recommend, ahah.

In any case, here are my three picks:

Little Women (2019)

Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women, each determined to live life on her own terms.

Ok so I have not read Louisa May Alcott‘s autobiographical novel, but based on this article, Greta Gerwig adds a simple twist to the story by imagining that Jo is actually the author of the novel Little Women. This transforms the story into one about creative passion and achievement, and in one stroke makes a classic feel fresh without betraying its essential nature.’

Now, I think the film itself has much to be admired. The performances, especially Saoirse Ronan as Jo is simply marvelous. Her passionate speech that ‘she’s so sick of people saying love is a woman is fit for’ is so emotional and indelible. It’s a film with an inspiring message for girls and women alike, and a good one for boys as well to serve as a reminder that the journey for women equality still continues. The production values, set pieces, costumes, cinematography and music are all excellent, so it’s definitely one of the best literary adaptations in recent memory.

Sense & Sensibility (1995)

After the death of Mr. Dashwood, the Dashwood family takes a step down in society and faces hardship as they are four women virtually penniless. Elinor and Marianne, two sisters with different perspectives on life and interests, keep one another in line and support one another through death, hardship, love, and friendship.

I can’t possibly have a list of literary adaptation and not mention a Jane Austen film, especially one of my all time favorites!

Confession: Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel, but when it comes to Sense & Sensibility, I actually like the film version by Ang Lee a bit more than the book. Emma Thompson made some changes to the script, which won her an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, but she kept the essence of the story and its um, sensibilities.

In the book, there’s no Shakespeare connection between Willoughby and Marianne, thus no scene of Marianne crying in the rain, citing the poem as she looks upon Willoughy’s estate. But it’s no doubt one of the most emotional scenes of the film…

… and of course, who doesn’t love the heroic scene of Col. Brandon rescuing Marianne, which is another beautiful and emotional moment.

The casting alone is outstanding, particularly Emma Thompson herself as Elinor and Kate Winslet as Marianne (who’s far less irritating than how she’s portrayed in the book). Alan Rickman will forever be my favorite Austen hero despite being much older than what the character is supposed to be in the book.

My Fair Lady (1964)

Snobbish phonetics Professor Henry Higgins agrees to a wager that he can make flower girl Eliza Doolittle presentable in high society.

So for the movie-based-on-a-play, I’d have to go with one of the first three films my late mother bought when I was in my early teens that introduced me to big Hollywood classics. The 1964 film was adapted from the Lerner and Loewe Broadway musical starring original Broadway and London shows starred Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews, which was originally based on George Bernard Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion. It was quite a controversy that Audrey Hepburn was cast as Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl who learns manners from a phonetics professor named Henry Higgins (Harrison).

I loved this movie and as someone still learning English at the time, it was a lot of fun watching Eliza trying to pronounce things properly. There are sooo many memorable scenes, the Ascot horse-race scene still makes me grin every time I remember it “Come on, Dover! Move your bloomin’ arse!” [tee-hee!] The eternally classy and elegant Hepburn is so marvelously convincing as someone from a lower class, and she’s got such a delightful chemistry with the pompous Prof. Higgins. Of course the music is absolutely wonderful. To this day, I’d still hum or sing the songs from time to time.

What do you think of my picks? Have you seen any of them?

16 thoughts on “Thursday Movie Picks: ADAPTATIONS

  1. Love your choices!

    I agree that this version of Sense & Sensibility improves on the novel. It doesn’t matter that Emma is too old for Elinor, she captures the essence of the character and that’s what is important. It’s all expertly played and directed and beautiful to look at. Alan Rickman really shows what a versatile performer he was, hard to believe that this man was the same one who delineated silky evil so completely in Die Hard.

    I really like My Fair Lady without completely loving it. It’s handsome and magnificently mounted with Harrison inimitable as Higgins and Audrey charming as Eliza but I’ve always wished that Julie Andrews had been given the chance to recreate her stage performance. Still it is a marvelous picture.

    I haven’t seen this version of Little Women yet though it’s on my to see list. But I’ve seen the previous three major takes on the novel. The 30’s Kate Hepburn version is probably the closest to Louisa May Alcott’s novel but I liked the Winona Ryder 90’s film better. I do have a soft spot for the candy colored 40’s version with Elizabeth Taylor as Amy though having the 32 year old June Allyson as the teenage Jo is pushing it.

    I decided that since this was open to interpretation I’d go with stage to screen adaptations. I limited myself to ones where I had seen both the film and a production of the play on Broadway.

    Into the Woods (2014)-Adaptation of the Sondheim musical reimaging of classic fairy tales-Rapunzel, Cinderella, the Baker & His Wife etc.-with an impressive cast (Meryl Streep, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman among others) is enjoyable but misses the magic of the stage production despite CGI and the utilization of location shooting. I saw this in 1988 at the Martin Beck Theatre, though Phylicia Rashad had by that time replaced Bernadette Peters who had originated the role of the Witch.

    Gypsy (1962)-Star powered (Rosalind Russell, Natalie Wood and Karl Malden in the leads) filmization of the classic stage play based on the memoirs of ecdysiast Gypsy Rose Lee growing up in the shadow of her more talented sister June and her fearsomely aggressive stage mother Mama Rose that Ethel Merman made legendary when it opened in 1959 with a score by Jules Styne & Stephen Sondheim. I saw the 2003 revival with Bernadette Peters as Mama Rose at the St. James Theatre.

    MacBeth (1948)-Moody expressionistic take on the Shakespeare “Scottish Play” about the price of unfettered ambition and lust for power by a courtier (Orson Welles) and his rapacious wife (Jeanette Nolan). I saw the production starring Christopher Plummer (he was very good) and Glenda Jackson (she was electrifying!) at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in 1988.

    1. Hi Joel!

      Glad you love S&S and yes, despite the actors’ ages, this Ang Lee’s version is a classic in my book and it’s SO rewatch-able too, I always find something to love every single time I watch it (which is a lot!) 😀

      Yeah I think many people Julie Andrews had reprised her Broadway role as Eliza, but since I first saw My Fair Lady w/ Audrey Hepburn, I really can’t imagine anyone else in the role.

      I actually like Winona Ryder 90’s film a lot, and there are still some scenes I prefer over this newest one, but the proposal scene with Timothée Chalamet and Saoirse Ronan is so emotional and heart-wrenching. Hope you see it soon!

      Oh wow, I’m so jealous you have seen SO many great Broadway plays!! I’d have loved to see Christopher Plummer as MacBeth!

    1. Ha! Great catch. I think I had listed another film before that, but forgot to change the year when I switched to S&S. It’s my fave film of all time, so yes of course I knew it came out in 1995 😉

  2. I love your first two picks! I actually prefer that movie to the book itself. I struggle reading Austen. I never did see My Fair Lady, though I’ve read about it plenty. I’ll have to fix that one day.

    1. Glad to hear you love S&S and yeah, Austen can be a tough read because of her narrative style, I think the one I love reading over and over is Persuasion as I love the story so much. My Fair Lady is such a wonderful film, it can be funny but also heartbreaking. Hope you see it one day!

  3. I love all 3 picks. Quite enjoyed Gerwig’s Little Women which I thought was well done. I still replay scenes from Sense and Sensibility. And Audrey is underrated in My Fair Lady.

    1. Hey Vince! I just love that you appreciate Austen so much! S&S is an annual viewing for me 🙂 And yes, Audrey is astounding in My Fair Lady, too bad her performance was overshadowed by the fact that people wanted Julie Andrews to reprise her Broadway role.

    1. Hi Ted, the latest Little Women adaptation is really good! Have you seen the 1994 version w/ Winona Ryder? It’s got young Christian Bale in the role that Timothée Chalamet played in this version.

  4. I still have to see this version of Little Women but have seen The one with Katharine Hepburn and the one with June Allyson. I really like this version of Sense & Sensibility which was so well done and acted. I loved Alan Rickman in this and would have given anything to be with him. I love My Fair Lady which has so many great tunes and Audrey did an amazing job even though we hear Marni Nixon singing. I would have liked to (ave seen Julie Andrews I. The role since she made it famous. I have to admit my favourite is Pygmalion with Leslie Howard as the professor and the great Wendy Hitler as Eliza.

    1. Hi Birgit, I love what you said about Rickman… ‘I’d have given anything to even just meet him!’ His role in S&S is one of my fave male roles in all of Austen, and there are a ton out there. I even named a character in my film after Col. Brandon as I love him so much.

      I have never seen Pygmalion but Leslie Howard (who’ll always be Ashley Wilkes to me) as the professor? Now you got me curious!

  5. I didn’t love the Little Women as much as most, though I do like some parts of it, more when they were older.

    I did enjoy Sense and Sensibility, but it’s the only one of her six finished novels I have yet to read. I absolutely love Persuasion and both the movie and TV adaptations of it, which I hope you’ve seen too.

    1. Oh yeah I definitely have seen Persuasion, both the film and the most recent TV adaptation with Sally Hawkins. Persuasion is actually my fave Austen novel, in fact I love it so much it partly inspired my first screenplay which is also set in England but in modern day, and I flipped the gender so it’s the woman who’s become more economically successful when the couple reunite.

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