Have you ever seen a TV show or a movie that you wished was based on a book? Just so you could go back and reread the scenes in great detail and appreciate its genius once again? I know I have. It might be a strange wish coming from a person who doesn’t believe in film adaptations, but here it is. You may notice that many of these are pretty old works, but that’s when cinematography relied on proven bestsellers very little, and when Hollywood was bursting with talented writers unconstrained by big studios looking for a quick cash cow. Those were the days when true classics were born.
I love Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon, and I especially adore them when they work together. There is such chemistry and natural raw talent, that the duo can turn any script into gold. My two favourite films with them are “The Great Race” and “Some Like It Hot”, and oh how I wish they were based on an equally fantastic books! The Great Race is a slapstick comedy where Curtis is a dashing hero in white named the Great Leslie, and Lemon is a cunning yet unlucky villain Professor Fate dressed in all black. Fate constantly tries to sabotage Leslie’s fame, only falling prey to his own mad inventions. Finally, the Great Leslie announces an unprecedented automobile race from New York to Paris, which sets Fate on a new quest to outdo his rival. The protagonists get in a real saloon fight, cross the ocean on an iceberg, and foil the plans of a small kingdom’s usurpers to attain the throne. If this were a book, it would read similarly to Around the World in Eighty Days (which I am to review very soon), but with a much greater humour and a charming villain you cannot resist.
Some Like It Hot is another favourite movie of mine, this time set in the Prohibition Era. Two broke musicians (Curtis and Lemon) stumble upon a murder scene and are now fleeing from the most prominent mafia gangsters of Chicago. Confident that escaping the city amongst any male band would get them killed, they don on wigs and dresses to join an all-female jazz band bound for Florida. There they struggle to fit in a strange world of women and keep their manly habits under control. Eventually the two befriend a troubled ukulele girl Sugar (played by Marilyn Monroe), whose only dream is to meet a millionaire in Florida and forget her past of unsuccessful relationships with saxophone players. Too bad Joe (Curtis) plays sax and has his sights set on her. Meanwhile, Jerry (Lemon) is horrified to find himself an object of affection of an elderly rich guy who likes to pinch ladies in the elevator. To add to their trouble, the hotel where the band stays is visited by the Chicago mafia, and so the two feel the need to run again. Now, don’t you think this would make a wonderful book?
Roman Holiday is a sweet romantic comedy that is considered one of the most successful stepping stones in Audrey Hepburn’s career. The story involves Anne, a princess of an unnamed kingdom, who finds her royal status suffocating and overwhelming. One night, after being given sedatives for her anxiety, she runs away from the embassy to experience the magical city that is Rome. Unfortunately, when the drugs kick in, she passes out on a bench, only to be found by a newspaper reporter (Gregory Peck). He is unaware of her identity and lets her spend the night in his apartment. The two then roam around the city and get in comical situations thanks to the princess’s naivety. In the end they find love, of course, which is a very storybook ending, no? There is a similar Italian movie I’ve seen called “Innamorato Pazzo”, starring Adriano Celentano, that tells a story of a runaway princess and a bus driver exploring the capital as well. Maybe if you’re a princess visiting Rome, your guards should keep a closer eye on you!
I’ve already professed my love for Indiana Jones movies a thousand times on this blog, but here it goes again. I’ve been looking for some quality novels based on the trilogy for a very long time, but nothing good ever turned up. I wish the novelizations of all three movies existed, but if I had to choose one, I wish there was a book dedicated to The Temple of Doom. I read a lot of lost world adventure stories that were mass produced at the turn of 20th century, and I love it. I swear I should have been born a boy, because these were obviously marketed towards male population. Girly books never interested me much. Give me a lost treasure, a mysterious ancient civilization, and hidden death traps and I am happy. For those who have never seen it, The Temple of Doom tells a story of a dangerous death cult hidden in the jungles of India. The followers of the cult kidnap children in nearby villages to force them to work in the mines. Sometimes ghastly sacrifices happen, complete with ripping out of hearts and burning pits of death. Indiana Jones goes on a quest to save the children and to return the three sacred stones that the cult stole from the villages. While doing that he manages to barely escape a closed room trap, be turned into a zombie, and fight the shaman while dangling above the river infested with alligators. Please give me a book version of this amazing film!!
Back to the more recent releases, I wanted to add these two TV shows as my ultimate book wishes. Lost is a tale of plane crush survivors who end up on a mysterious island full of strange phenomena. I personally don’t like the show past the first season, but I love the detailed character development, and how everyone on board of the plane is connected to each other in some way. I love that the show took its time to tell multiple stories at once, all of them culminating in an ultimate message. I wish that the smoke monster was actually a monster, and polar bears encounters were more frequent. I wish the Dharma Initiative did not exist, and that there was no strange countdown and the button you have to press. If this were a book, I’d want it to be like Robinson Crusoe, but with all these complex characters, and creepy things in the jungle that they have to survive.
Oh my House, you’re the best character I’ve seen on television so far. You have to become a book character too; something like medical Sherlock Holmes with a Vicodin addiction. It would be a perfect short story collection with a common main plot and complete story arcs. Each season could be a book! I would love to learn more about Chase and Cameron’s marriage drama, and House’s difficulties with being in a real relationship, and the reasons behind Kutner’s emotional problems. Some things were too rushed and left unexplained. Give me something to read about, House!