Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

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domino harvey
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Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggestions

#1 Post by domino harvey » Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:44 am

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MINI-LIST PROJECT: THEATRE ADAPTATIONS
(NON-MUSICAL / NON-SHAKESPEARE)

June 21 - August 3rd


All the world is a stage, but don’t include films from that author, as this is the Non-Shakespeare, Non-Musical Theatrical Adaptation Mini-List! Any filmed adaptation of any stage play is eligible, so long as the work is not a musical and not based on a Shakespeare play. If this makes you as angry as an Alan Clarke fan who’s only seen two Alan Clarke films, fear not, we will soon have a redux of the Musicals List and Shakespeare Adaptations is in contention for a future Mini-List. Straight-up recorded performances of plays are just as eligible as stylized adaptations. Operas and ballets would be considered Musicals and are not eligible. Adaptations of operas, ballets, or musicals with the musical numbers removed, such as Irma La Douce, are eligible. Films about the theatre but not based on a stage play, such as All About Eve, are not eligible. Movies not based on plays that inspired later stage adaptations after their theatrical release are not eligible. Movies inspired by novels that were adapted for the stage before the production of the film, such as Dodsworth, are eligible. Movies adapted from unproduced plays or plays which were written before thier film adaptation but later staged after the film's release are eligible.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES
The minimum and standard number of submitted films for each participating member is 10, in ranked order (With number one being the best and so on down the line). However, if you feel especially well-versed in this genre or just can’t bare to limit yourself to a mere ten titles, you may submit up to twenty ranked titles (ie 20 total max) or any variant number between ten and twenty (so yes, your list may contain seventeen films, though you must agree to sing a few lines of that Jonathan Richman song before submitting if you go that route).

Members who submit only ten films and those who submit a maximum twenty titles will still be on even footing when it comes to the points assigned for the top ten (ie the film in their number one slot will be worth twenty points on everyone’s list).

Lists should be PMed to me, domino harvey, no later than August 3rd. No lists will be accepted before June 21st.

E X C E P T I O N S
the Fanny Trilogy (Marius / Fanny / Cesar) is one film/vote
Smoking / No Smoking is one film/vote


FORUM RESOURCES

C R I T E R I O N
A Master Builder / A Taste of Honey / the Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant / Boudu Saved From Drowning / Breaker Morant / the Browning Version / the Cranes Are Flying / Danton / David Lean Directs Noel Coward / the Fugitive Kind / Gertrud / Gray's Anatomy / Heaven Can Wait / the Importance of Being Earnest / Insignificance / La ronde / Make Way For Tomorrow / Master of the House/ Miss Julie / Ordet / Pandora's Box / Paul Robeson: Tribute to an Artist / Pygmalion / the Seventh Seal / Vanya on 42nd Street

E C L I P S E
Carlos Saura's Flaminco Trilogy / George Bernard Shaw on Film / Presenting Sacha Guitry

N E W . F I L M S
August: Osage County / Bug / Carnage / Doubt / Edmond / Killer Joe

O T H E R
David Mamet / Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton Film Collection / Filmed Theater / the Legitimate Stage / Tennessee Williams Film Collection

(In progress)

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domino harvey
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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#2 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jun 21, 2016 8:24 am

Discussion now open! I listened to the suggestions and so the process has been tweaked since the last mini-list, but hopefully to the advantage of all.

As with every list project, I have a stack of movies I'd like to get to, but here are the films on my shortlist so far, all of which are obviously highly recommended:

A Master Builder (Jonathan Demme 2014) Ibsen adaptation by a bunch of talented performers and playwrights who freely admit they don’t quite understand all the component parts, but their game (re)interpretation leads to some dizzyingly intense moments, especially the thirty minute or so extended passage early in the film concerning Lisa Joyce’s arrival and coquettish interaction with Wallace Shawn, which is like a masterclass of tension and unease with no real narrative release.

American Buffalo (Michael Corrente 1996) / Glengarry Glen Ross (James Foley 1992) The two best screen adaptations of Mamet’s stage work, both scripted by the man himself. American Buffalo wisely barely opens up the claustrophobia of the source and Glengarry famously allows Mamet to expand upon some unexplored elements of the play, including a whole-cloth creation of what is widely considered to be the greatest example of Mamet’s mastery of dialog, the “ABC” sales talk from Alec Baldwin.

Baby Doll (Elia Kazan 1956) I mean, movies don’t get much better than this: three amazing performers, all trying to outdo each other, in a production so steeped in sex that the film was rated “R” on later submission to the MPAA and was of course famously condemned by the Catholic church as resulting in damnation for anyone who saw it. Have you ever heard of a better recommendation?

Butterflies Are Free (Milton Katselas 1972) Flighty Goldie Hawn begins an impulsive relationship with her blind neighbor, only to draw the ire of his overprotective mother, Eileen Heckart in her Oscar-winning perf. Some of the speechifying in the last twenty minutes are a bit thick, but for the majority of the film this is a winning and charming romantic comedy with lots of great laugh-lines, many coming from Heckart in the second half. Her role could have easily been played as the Old Witch from Snow White as Hawn namechecks, but she shows an openness and willingness to consider her son’s best interests that make for a more interesting character than just a mere villain, and her Oscar win was definitely yet another case of the Academy rewarding a character they liked (though it was merited by her perf, at least).

Come Back, Little Sheba (Daniel Mann 1952) Shirley Booth won the Oscar for reprising her stage role as the complacent housewife to Burt Lancaster’s drunk. Some intense moments from Lancaster (including Lancaster uttering a terrifying and remarkable vulgarity for the era) and Terry Moore’s reference-level qt perf (also Oscar-nommed) make this an easy recommendation.

Days of Wine and Roses (Blake Edwards 1962) Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick comprise the perpetually drunk couple arriving at the point of no return in this superior tale of alcoholism’s all-encompassing drama.

Detective Story (William Wyler 1951) Go into this one knowing as little as possible, as this quasi-real time barnburner is a brilliant act of misdirection, completely blindsiding the viewer just like the protagonist once certain revelations come to light. Every time I teach this one, you can hear a fucking pin drop from my students due to the anxiety and stress of the last act and every laugh line and release of tension just plays beautifully with an audience. Kirk Douglas gives his greatest and most intense performance and Eleanor Parker set a record for shortest performance ever nominated for Best Actress with her memorable turn. Hard to picture anything toppling this out of the top spot for me.

Dial ‘M’ for Murder (Alfred Hitchcock 1954) Give Hitchcock a claustrophobic stageplay and 3-D technology and what does the clever bastard do? He barely opens it up and instead uses the limited space to play with relating the impact of a stage drama.

Doubt (John Patrick Shanley 2008) Amazing cast giving amazing performances of, well, pretty good material.

Dutchman (Anthony Harvey 1967) Short (it runs under an hour), unfocused but dynamite exploration of American racial politics in the sixties, this is a memorable two hander with Al Freeman Jr and Shirley Knight going through the gamut of emotional responses to racially-charged flame-throwing.

Irma La Douce (Billy Wilder 1963) / Kiss Me, Stupid (Billy Wilder 1964) With Irma La Douce, Billy Wilder adapts a hit Broadway musical by… taking out all of the musical numbers and recasting his two stars from the Apartment in the leads. And then for Kiss Me, Stupid, he convinces Dean Martin to play a grotesque, amazingly vicious self-parody of himself as an unwitting third wheel in a marital spat. Both are divisive films, even for Wilder fans, but I think both are among Wilder’s best works.

Killer Joe (William Friedkin 2012) One sick fuck of a movie.

the Matchmaker (Joseph Anthony 1958) Two young up and comers, Shirley MacLaine and Anthony Perkins, and two veterans of stage adaptations this decade, Shirley Booth and Paul Ford, lend their talents to this hilarious and superior adaptation of the play later used to form Hello, Dolly. It goes without saying but let me stress to not hold that film against this one. Besides, don’t you want to know what’s happening in this screenshot?

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Miss Julie (Alf Sjöberg 1951) This play has been filmed several times (and I have the recent one with Jessica Chastain on the docket for viewing this round), but this bite at the apple is a beautifully visual journey through a story that loses none of its impact with each new adaptation.

Pygmalion (Anthony Asquith and Leslie Howard 1938) Pretty garn good adaptation of the Shaw play, with memorable turns by the two leads.

the Night of the Iguana (John Huston 1964) / Suddenly, Last Summer (Joseph L Mankiewicz 1959) / Sweet Bird of Youth (Richard Brooks 1962) Tennessee Williams was a popular adaptation choice in the wake of A Streetcar Named Desire’s massive success, but of course many of his adaptations suffer from censorship choices (most notably Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which is rendered meaningless with the homosexuality removed), but these (with Baby Doll) are the strongest of the classic wave of adaptations, which live and breathe on their own two legs apart from the albatross of the plays around their necks.

Sleuth (Joseph L Mankiewicz 1972) The ultimate two-hander (even if technically it’s a third with that detective poking around in the second half). Few directors from the classic era were allowed to go out on such a high note.

the Teahouse of the August Moon (Daniel Mann 1956) Always a list bridesmaid, never a bride. One of the most important works of fifties cinema in terms of impact and cultural importance. The inability of some to see how progressive the film is due to Brando’s casting is a nightmare of improper (lack of) context run amok.

Wait Until Dark (Terence Young 1967) Audrey Hepburn is a blind woman tormented for nearly two hours by a group of jewel thieves, who enter into her home and toy with the poor woman until she figures out what’s going on and flips the tables. Even if the rest of the film were bunk, which it isn’t, it would still be worth recommending for the most famous jump-scare in history. When the film was originally released theatres turned out all of the lights, even those dimly-lit ones guiding patrons to their seats, and refused to let anyone in or out of the auditorium for the last twenty minutes, and if you have a spare afternoon some rainy afternoon, you should do a Google search for blog entries and comments from those who saw this on first run about the audience’s reaction to that moment.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Mike Nichols 1966) I mean, is it an obvious choice? Well, yeah, but for a reason. Four incredible performances, led by Richard Burton giving the perf of his career.

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#3 Post by swo17 » Tue Jun 21, 2016 10:24 am

Quoted from the lists project thread:
swo17 wrote:
swo17 wrote:I'm usually able to look at a list of films I like and quickly discern whether they qualify for the genre under consideration, but in this case I'm going to be mostly in the dark. Read: My vote can be bought for the right price.
Actually, I think these IMDb links should help:

Most popular films in the genre

Films you've rated in the genre
I don't think some of these are right though--Švankmajer's Virile Games, Wellman's Yellow Sky, etc. Best to check the writing credits on the film to be sure.

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#4 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Tue Jun 21, 2016 10:51 am

I went through a stage of watching adaptations of Tennessee Williams' plays when I was in school and we studied Streetcar (so Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Night of the Iguana, Suddenly Last Summer). I always worry the plays and films will have aged badly so not sure how much I want to go back to them!

What'd be good....Amadeus, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Shape of Things, Picnic, Gaslight (1940), The Philadelphia Story, Waterloo Bridge (1940), The Browning Version (1951) - needs more thought.

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#5 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jun 21, 2016 10:56 am

thirtyframesasecond wrote: Picnic, Gaslight (1940).
Good calls, though Cukor's Gaslight all the way for me. Our Town too on the William Holden in a small town tip

EDIT: And I see I Remember Mama was also inspired by the play adaptation, not just the novel, so that one goes on the prospective list too!

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#6 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Jun 21, 2016 12:17 pm

I'll throw into this a link to the full movie ofThe Designated Mourner directed by David Hare from Wallace Shawn's play and starring Mike Nichols and Miranda Richardson.

Whereabouts do we stand on the Hitchcock adaptation of Rope?

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#7 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jun 21, 2016 12:26 pm

It's fair game for voting and a great film but I know I'll only have room for Dial M For Murder on my list, even with twenty available slots

Werewolf by Night

Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#8 Post by Werewolf by Night » Tue Jun 21, 2016 12:44 pm

It's mentioned in the first post, but it will be important to remember that many classic Hollywood movies, particularly those from the '30s-'50s, are adaptations of plays based on books, and this provenance can sometimes be hard to discern. Famous, random examples off the top of my head include Tod Browning's Dracula, Wyler's The Heiress, and Auntie Mame. Unfortunately, I can't find a list of these sorts of adaptations online, so it may be worth checking the writing credits on your favorite Hollywood films to see if they are eligible.

Though am I clear that Casablanca, which is based on a play that apparently remained unproduced until 1991 is ineligible? Not that I'd necessarily be voting for it, just want to be clear on the rules.

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#9 Post by swo17 » Tue Jun 21, 2016 1:26 pm

Some scattered recommendations. Titles in red will do you double duty for the all-time list.

The Outlaw and His Wife (Victor Sjöström, 1918, play by Jóhann Sigurjónsson)
He Who Gets Slapped (Victor Sjöström, 1924, play by Leonid Andreyev)
zedz has a great write-up on the former here. As I mention in the post that follows it, the Kino DVD does the film a great disservice in being severely sped up to fit the accompanying score. I recommend playing it at 70% speed with the sound down most of the way, if you can figure out how to do that. As for the other film, you might actually wish that the Warner Archive DVD were severely sped up if you are the kind of person that finds this visage unsettling:
SpoilerShow
Image
Waterloo Bridge (James Whale, 1931, play by Robert Sherwood)
Afraid to Talk (Edward Cahn, 1932, play by Albert Maltz & George Sklar)
Edgy pre-Code delights that deal seriously with prostitution and government corruption, respectively. The former features a heartbreaking performance by Mae Clarke, who is mostly only known for her fluff role in Frankenstein.

Boudu Saved from Drowning (Jean Renoir, 1932, play by René Fauchois)
The most humane, anarchic, and lighthearted of Renoir's incredible run of films in the '30s.

The Good Fairy (William Wyler, 1935, play by Ferenc Molnár)
How much of this screenplay's wit and playful command of the English language came from the original Hungarian play vs. the mind of burgeoning screenwriter Preston Sturges is a mystery for the ages.

Make Way for Tomorrow (Leo McCarey, 1937, play by Helen & Nolan Leary)
The Awful Truth (Leo McCarey, 1937, play by Arthur Richman)

McCarey famously declared that the Academy awarded him for the wrong one of these two films. Fortunately for us, there is no requirement that we award only one of them.

Stage Door (Gregory La Cava, 1937, play by Edna Ferber & George Kaufman)
A film about theatre actresses that is itself based on a play. Is this the perfect storm for our project, or will everyone be too confused to remember to vote for it?

Holiday (George Cukor, 1938, play by Philip Barry)
Grant and Hepburn are such a deliriously cheerful couple in this film it's almost obnoxious. But only almost.

The Face at the Window (George King, 1939, play by Brooke Warren)
If you have not yet acquainted yourself with the diabolically suave Tod Slaughter, then chances are that you have also not recently vanished under mysterious circumstances. Good for you.

The Browning Version (Anthony Asquith, 1951, play by Terence Rattigan)
The Importance of Being Earnest (Anthony Asquith, 1952, play by Oscar Wilde)
The wonderful Pygmalion has already been mentioned, but for my money, these two are even richer works, and a lot of the credit for that has to go to actor Michael Redgrave, the heart of both films.

Dial 'M' for Murder (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954, play by Frederick Knott)
This has also already been mentioned, but it must be mentioned again. I always tell people that this is my favorite Hitchcock, and then begrudgingly qualify that statement with "I mean, other than Vertigo." Sometimes I forget that last part though.

Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1955, play by Kaj Munk)
The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957, play by Viktor Rozov)
The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957, from his own play)

It's hardly fair to everyone else that these stone-cold masterpieces are all technically play adaptations, but who said this exercise was supposed to be fair?

Edipo re (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1967, play by Sophocles)
Let's not forget the ancient Greeks, shall we?

Little Murders (Alan Arkin, 1971, play by Jules Feiffer)
Why am I having to remind domino about this movie?

The Maids (Christopher Miles, 1975, play by Jean Genet)
C+P from the '70s thread: This film is, by necessity, somewhat stagey, but Jackson and York are more than up to the task of carrying what is essentially 90 minutes of extremely incriminating nanny-cam footage of what the maids do while the master is away. Great score too. NB: The Kino DVD cover is pretty unrepresentative of the content, if not the spirit, of the film, in case your wife asks you about this after picking it up for you from the library.

The Shape of Things (Neil LaBute, 2003, from his own play)
Paul Rudd romantic comedies are always fun.

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#10 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jun 21, 2016 1:34 pm

Why am I having to remind domino about this movie?
Because there's so many movies based on plays that it's easy to forget a lot of the films that have their origins in the theatre! I mean, Holiday is for sure making my list now and I'm scared to cross reference the Screwball Comedies list because I bet at least half of those farces came from the stage.

And speaking of double duty, our next mini-list after this is films taking place predominately over 24 hours, which describes a lot of play adaptations as well. This is a great time to multitask!
Werewolf by Night wrote:Though am I clear that Casablanca, which is based on a play that apparently remained unproduced until 1991 is ineligible? Not that I'd necessarily be voting for it, just want to be clear on the rules.
There's no stipulation that the film has to be based on a play that was produced before the film, so should be eligible. I kind of doubt anyone considers the film a play adaptation, but they're welcome to vote for it. However, speaking of Vote For It, I will be cross-checking everyone's lists with eligibility, so don't try to sneak something in that doesn't follow the rules or I'll have one of the ushers escort you out

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#11 Post by swo17 » Tue Jun 21, 2016 1:51 pm

domino harvey wrote:I'm scared to cross reference the Screwball Comedies list because I bet at least half of those farces came from the stage.
Probably incomplete, but here is every film tagged on IMDb as both "based on play" and "screwball comedy."

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#12 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jun 21, 2016 2:28 pm

Can't believe I forgot His Girl Friday, and Twentieth Century now must find a place too. Double Wedding is garbage, no need to track that one down

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#13 Post by knives » Tue Jun 21, 2016 2:52 pm

swo17 wrote: I don't think some of these are right though--Švankmajer's Virile Games, Wellman's Yellow Sky, etc. Best to check the writing credits on the film to be sure.
Yellow Sky is an adaptation of The Tempest so that might be why it is listed. Of course that still makes it ineligible for this list. I'm personally keeping to films that I engage with as a play because otherwise there are too many options available for a list of twenty. So sorry Dom, even though it is the second best Williams adaptation I'm not going to go for Baby Doll this time.

A few scattered recommendations.

The Maids
That whole theater project which Kino has released on DVD is essential. Not only do you have Frankenheimer's famous take on The Iceman Cometh, but also Harold Pinter's lone cinema credit as director. For me though this small adaptation of Genet's tale of power and sexual politics by some no name nobody is the highlight of the series hitting at exactly what makes theater so different from cinema while at the same time perfect for its adaptation. Plus the play itself is just great.

Venus in Fur
I swear not every film I mention is going to be about reversing power roles through sexual dominance. It just so happens such ideas play equally well on stage and screen.

A Soldier's Story
This is possibly the best discovery I've made in the Oscar project and of course it is all about power and submission though this time in the context of race rather then sex. Jewison plays things with remarkable simplicity emphasizing how genre (a chamber room mystery) is a tool for expression. It's going to be one of the most open films on my final list showing what is only alluded to in the original play in a way that makes it all too visceral.

Journey's End
This is James Whale's first film yet all of his strengths are already on full display. Much like the Blackadder series which is probably inspired by it its effect as a piece of anti-war thought comes through how casual horror has become until the act of death seems like the only thing worth fearing. Whale wisely keeps things as closed as possible to keep the sense of claustrophobia the setting forces. This is pretty hard to find with only a television airing with commercials floating around, but even with those problems the film remains tight and disturbing.

Wit
I absolutely love monologue to the camera films. I might vote for Ken Russell's Whore just for that and this is the best example in film I know of for that theatrical device. I get the impression that this is Nichol's least loved play adaptation, but it's the only one to really affect me with any closeness. Emma Thompson is just amazing in the way she can encourage empathy with acts of apathy. Also hey, there's Harold Pinter again.

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#14 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jun 21, 2016 2:56 pm

A Soldier's Story is terrific and a real corrective to most "important" films on race. Could make my list as well. I have the Kino Theater box to hopefully get through for this project, but I'm watching the Robards Iceman first

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#15 Post by knives » Tue Jun 21, 2016 3:07 pm

The Robards one is good too though obviously the DVD is marred by the sorts of things that make television from that era such a pain to watch.

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#16 Post by zedz » Tue Jun 21, 2016 5:34 pm

domino harvey wrote: There's no stipulation that the film has to be based on a play that was produced before the film, so should be eligible. I kind of doubt anyone considers the film a play adaptation, but they're welcome to vote for it. However, speaking of Vote For It, I will be cross-checking everyone's lists with eligibility, so don't try to sneak something in that doesn't follow the rules or I'll have one of the ushers escort you out
Oh bugger. So no chance of slipping my favourite four episodes from season two of Deadwood in here because of the local amateur production I staged in 2009?

I don't know if I'll be participating in this vote, but I'd nevertheless like to warmly recommend Mamet's version of The Winslow Boy, which is about as straight as play adaptations get but doesn't put a foot wrong.

And swo's recommendation of Pasolini's Oedipus Rex reminds me that you shouldn't overlook his spectacular Medea, or Jansco's possibly even more spectacular Elektreia.

Mai Zetterling's ingenious The Girls is a self-reflexive version of Lysistrata in which Bergman's stock company stage the play while it plays out in their personal lives.

Rowan Woods' brilliant and harrowing The Boys is derived from a play, and it exhibits all the best qualities of theatrical adaptations in terms of the intensity of its performances and the claustrophobia of its mise en scene. I'd say (to make a topical argument) it's the best Alan Clarke film made since his death.

And of course, I'm sure there are countless beloved films that some of us don't even realise were originally adapted from theatre, so stating the obvious might be a good principle going ahead.

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#17 Post by zedz » Tue Jun 21, 2016 5:42 pm

And don't overlook Japan: Shinoda's Double Suicide and Mizoguchi's The Crucified Lovers are both adapted from Chikamatsu.

And there are all those versions of Faust to sort through too!

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#18 Post by sinemadelisikiz » Tue Jun 21, 2016 5:45 pm

zedz wrote:And of course, I'm sure there are countless beloved films that some of us don't even realise were originally adapted from theatre, so stating the obvious might be a good principle going ahead.
YES to this. Just looking at the recommendations so far in this thread, I found myself repeatedly thinking "Oh that's a theatrical adaptation?" so yea, I hope everyone keeps the suggestions coming, no matter how obvious.

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#19 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jun 21, 2016 5:47 pm

The Girls answers the obnoxious cinema-literate party question you never thought to ask, "What if Bergman made a Nouvelle Vague movie?" It's a terrific film and another one I forgot about in conjunction with this list. And the Winslow Boy is indeed great, especially for those of you who have the compulsion to always be right or vindicated by your peers. So, basically, it's a film cater-made for the entire internet!
And there are all those versions of Faust to sort through too!
Now, how to shoehorn in the Band Wagon... "There was a fan-edit in 1987 that removed the musical numbers and replaced them with soliloquies on actual wagon wheel usage in olden times."

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#20 Post by bottled spider » Tue Jun 21, 2016 6:16 pm

sinemadelisikiz wrote:
zedz wrote:And of course, I'm sure there are countless beloved films that some of us don't even realise were originally adapted from theatre, so stating the obvious might be a good principle going ahead.
YES to this. Just looking at the recommendations so far in this thread, I found myself repeatedly thinking "Oh that's a theatrical adaptation?" so yea, I hope everyone keeps the suggestions coming, no matter how obvious.
Lantana would be an example of a movie that doesn't register as being derived from a play. Or it didn't to me. I just noticed it now, while looking up something else on IMDb.

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#21 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jun 22, 2016 4:46 pm

I'm listening to the special features now and we can add Here Comes Mr Jordan to the mix as well

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#22 Post by bottled spider » Wed Jun 22, 2016 5:12 pm

The Homecoming (Peter Hall, 1973). A demented tonic. Relatively light for Pinter. Definitely a favourite piece of filmed theatre.

The Caretaker (AKA "The Guest") (Clive Donner, 1963). Much to my surprise, I found this deadly boring the first time I watched it. So I read the play, and found it brisker and funnier off the page. Donner opens up the play a bit, which necessarily slows it down a little too, and diminishes the claustrophobic atmosphere. But after masochistically revisiting this a few times, I've come to like it. Excellent performances, of course, from the cast of the original stage production. Underneath the usual sense of Pinter menace, this is ultimately a warm film about brothers.

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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#23 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jun 22, 2016 6:24 pm

Let me pose a question to participants: Does anyone feel strongly one way or the other if we made this a 25/50 List (25 films on your ballot, 50 films on the final tally) instead of the weird hybrid it's at now? There is a bigger group of films to choose from than I initially thought and while this would only increase the load by five for voters going the whole mile to begin with, it would leave out those who could only produce a top ten, as I'd want 25 from everyone. But there are just so many movies based on plays that I can't imagine someone only being able to conjure up a top ten... The time frame and other stipulations in the first post would remain unchanged. Thoughts?

EDIT: Disregard above, voting remains as it was/is in first post

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swo17
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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#24 Post by swo17 » Wed Jun 22, 2016 6:32 pm

I was feeling good about just doing a top 20. There should still have to be some tough cuts after all.

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knives
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Re: Theatre Adaptations Genre Mini-List Discussion + Suggest

#25 Post by knives » Wed Jun 22, 2016 8:01 pm

I don't feel too strongly either way, but certainly there's enough films out there to make a tough 25 in terms of Swo's concern. Anyway, the below is prep watches.

Angels in America
I feel rather poor that this didn't do much for me since I more then recognize the major importance of this film and more relevantly I think it pulled off all of its elements well without any flaw (well I could have gone without Streep playing so many characters). The intellectual respect is there, but even in the superior second half the film seems oddly at a distance which left me entirely emotionally unengaged. That said I think the criminally underrated Jeffrey Wright does a brilliant job to such an extent that any and all emotional investment I was able to come up with is thanks to him. Which isn't to say that the other performances aren't also great (I'd argue Marie Louis Parker had the hardest role), but that something with Wright's performance clicked much more strongly.

Closer
Probably the most interesting thing in rewatching this film (besides that I only remembered the last half hour) with adaptation in mind is the naturalism and general cinematic feeling Nichols imbues on the proceedings without significantly opening up the play or denying the theatrical origins (though to be fair the original play is already very open). It's almost all in the acting which is fairly traditional movie acting for the most part, but in light of Nichols previous adaptations, especially his previous two films, this shift in acting style is rather pronounced and interesting. The other elements of the film are fine. The academy was smart in highlighting the two performances they did and Nichols does good work in preventing the focus on Law's character to turn this into another generic example of 'woe is me I've got a hot, young, sex life and no one loves me'. Still, the film doesn't do much more with its chess pieces then an exceptionally well example of a genre filled to the gills with poor self absorbed nonsense. That said this is another great example of a play film which uses its settings perfectly. The strip club room is so asphyxiating that it becomes the one moment of true greatness of the film almost entirely on the basis of the location (though Portman and Owen are amazing too). It plays a bit like the climax to Paris, Texas which is as great a compliment as I could offer.

Long Day's Journey into Night
I'm not terribly invested in Lumet especially during this period because they tended to be stiff and overly dependent on poor scripts. To keep things simple often he comes across as theatrical in the pejorative. A return to Eugene O'Neil plus Boris Kaufman doing some of his best work thankfully makes this a non-issue. Instead there is a great use of the closeness and expanse that cinema can breed. Lumet keeps things fairly theatrical as he was wont to do during this period. Everything is kept simple with longish takes and slight movement of the camera allowing the performances to breed most of the film's character. The camera only ratchets the drama by focusing on the background that gives the closed in feeling of an actual play. The deep focus sandwiches the actors, who stay primarily in medium shot, so that they cannot escape. That's how the film respects O'Neil as a piece of theater, but it also shows how cinema can add a new layer to the problem. The story is all about self imposed labyrinths and by having the house be so sprawling with everyone moving in and out of long narrow hallways leaves that literal in a way that has the drama induced by a visual sense of loss in addition to the earlier mentioned enclosure.

What moments can't be turned fully cinematic like a conversation Hepburn has with herself a little over an hour in are sold mostly thanks to some very interesting acting choices. Hepburn was nominated for the Oscar for basically doing a three hour version of her Suddenly, Last Summer performance right down to the bizarre hairstyle and dress (that her hair is the main indicator of her mental state is one of those funny little details that are a brilliant because they are too heavy). Still, her shifts between an overly stagey performance style, presumably to handle the tough cadence of the dialogue, and occasional spurts of which feel like a method air helps give her a necessary unpredictability. Dean Stockwell as her psychology closest family member gives the performance furthest from that. He feels as distant from classical acting as if they cast Dennis Hopper which gives his sickly black sheep status a physical fact identifiable without words. Jason Robards is perhaps the weak link here. While I'm sure he worked on the stage he seems far too old for his role on film. What? Was Hepburn twelve when she gave birth to him? He's okay beyond that, but the age thing breaks down the reality of the film too much. Ralph Richardson and Jeanne Barr are good in their roles, but there's a little too much of a My Dinner with Andre passivity to them compared with the main three. Richardson has one scene early on and towards the end, but otherwise he's left to simmer in her psychology to the point of being defined by it more then anything from the character. His stares though, are a thing of beauty.

Five Graves to Cairo
Hey, it's the other boring guy from Lives of a Bengal Lancer as the lead. He's a lot more exciting here though still no Gary Cooper. Fortunately then he's here primarily to observe the more interesting supporting characters (I almost feel bad that despite being first billed he's nowhere on the poster but that's an accurate portrait of the experience). Anne Baxter of course runs away with things, but von Stroheim and Tamiroff are about as memorable as can be. Even Peter van Eyck confirms himself as the more engaging screen presence despite being such a small role in the grand scheme of things. In a small screentime he becomes such a great character by trying so hard to imitate Rommel and just getting punished for it. The plot is amusingly similar to Dragon Inn though it doesn't fully live up to that comparison though cons and pros are shared with surprising fidelity. The dramatic elements, like Anne Baxter's first scene with von Stroheim, work very well and allow the film to work as an effective thriller in addition to an old fashioned hurrah for the war effort. The comedy works less so being played very broad often undermining the idea that there is any threat (this is especially true with the Italian officer). Though these broad elements are small enough to be a minor nuisance at worst.

The real highlight of the film is how beautifully mapped out the isolated hotel is. It's a subtle bit of business with Wilder distracting the map with haunting shadows. For whatever reason the film doesn't do this through the normal way of mapping with tracking shots or other sorts of movement. The camera stays still as much as possible which gives the set a smaller feeling then the reality suggests (there has to be at least three sections to the hotel with the main having two stories). The mapping to put it simply emphasizes the theatrical basis for its sense of enclosure rather then the ability to get lost in its expanse ala Long Day's Journey or Suddenly, Last Summer. This pays off quite well during a chase scene near the end of the film which is tense because of how limited the options feel to be. I'm not sure if the film needs its coda which feels like a bad parody of Edward Zwick and exists presumably just to give the audience some action and pathos. This too though is just a minor nuisance to an otherwise endearing film.

These Three
By changing just about everything this is significantly better then Wyler's later adaptation of the same material. This mostly comes down to the increase in a loose naturalism in all categories. Whether it be Oberon and Hopkins acting less histrionic then Hepburn and MacLaine or just the freshly opened up nature of the first half everything comes across as much more real and much less like an important staging of an important play. I suppose in this it's stupid to ignore that the change in the source of the lie, adultery from homosexuality, as a reason for this radical change in tone. Even in '36 this is the sort of material that would work in a comedy as well as it does in a drama like this while in the '60s just broaching the topic was still walking on eggshells. That wouldn't explain how improved the aspect of the story following the child is. Hellman and Wyler allow her to be even more a spoiled little shit of a monster here, but the actress playing the role here feels more real with the vindictive yet naive workings of her brain coming across more clearly rather then being to just push the plot. The biggest benefit though is in the first act which is just so light and lived in that the claustrophobia and pain that develops as the film runs to its end is a natural outgrowth of the situation rather then a permanent imposition. Comparing the two, especially with the benefit of seeing the closer film first, with them being so close (I think all of the dialogue is retained in this version with just pronouns switched at moments) highlights the joy of observing adaption.

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