007 finding Jill Masterson’s gold painted corpse in GOLDFINGER is superior to being told of her death by Tilly Soames in the novel
I love the Casino Royale novel, but the film (the latter half which is mostly a faithful adaptation of the novel) does a much better job depicting some crucial moments - the attempted assasination of Bond, Leiter coming to the rescue, Vesper’s kidnapping and the torture scene, Bond’s recovery and decision to resign from the Service, the Bond-Vesper romance, and Vesper’s betrayal.
Although the notion that even after being saved by Bond from disgrace, and sleeping with him, Tracy still wants to kill herself is a funny/embittered puncturing of the hero-norm by Fleming, the film’s order of opening events plays out more appealingly. The Rigg Tracy becomes worth rescuing and therefore more tragic when she dies; Fleming’s Tracy is always doomed and Bond cannot prevent it, which is terribly dark.
Bond’s fight with Red Grant in the book entirely depends on Grant shooting Bond in the right place, the bullet being stopped by The Mask of Dimitrios with Bond’s cigarette case inside and Bond ‘falling’ exactly right to get at his hidden dagger in the briefcase. Altogether a most unlikely, staged scene depending on the cooperation of the adversary.
The film’s solution is not just more dynamic - opening the fight with a bang - but the buildup is also quite a bit more suspenseful. Can Bond trick Grant into getting at his case? Is the other case even the same model Bond got? Will Grant fall for the trick?
The book Drax is arguably Fleming’s best villain. However, the film Drax has easily the better lines.
The Spy Who Loved Me’s gender-switching narrative and dank motel settings, a la “Crossroads” is surpassed, if only by a hair, by supertankers, a man with metal teeth, and an onlooker with a bottle of wine. Delve deeper, indeed…
In all seriousness, I’m all in with all the posters on the “improvements.” And in the case of OHMSS and FRWL, both novel and film are highly regarded within their respective halves of the canon. Interesting, in that source material so good, was improved upon by Maibaum without undermining how one regarded that material.
Goldfinger’s “monologuing” to Bond at the stud farm reveals a much more satisfying and plausible (by Bond standards) scheme than Fleming’s “steal all the gold” original. Bond voices the objections raised by critics of the book and when Goldfinger’s true intent becomes clear, Bond’s “it’s an inspired plan!” always sounds to me like, “Hot damn, you fixed the book!”
I agree. My only(small) problem with the updated Casino Royale movie is that the high stakes game was changed from Baccarat to Poker
Much like the Goldfinger adaptation, the film does point out the huge flaw in Fleming’s plan
“So there is a plan? I got the impression we were betting millions of dollars and hundreds of lives on a game of luck”
These come to mind:
In Dr No, I prefer the spider rather than the centipede.
I prefer Scaramanga’s assembled pistol instead of the revolver.
I like the idea Bond has the added incentive of rescuing Tracy, as well as destroying Piz Gloria.
It’s hard to imagine finding a trained centipede for filming, whereas – remarkably – there’s actually such a thing as “spider wranglers” in the film biz. Plus our instinct is to see centipedes as gross but harmless but spiders as deadly and the bigger the deadlier. Even when you learn both assumptions are wrong, the spider scene still works.
That’s not so much an improvement on Fleming as a necessity of adapting to film.
Similarly, while Dr No 's demise in the novel is darkly amusing, his on-screen death is a step up from being buried in bird poop. Cinematically, that would have stunk.
Thanks, and drive safely.
I’ll be performing all week in the Shady Tree Memorial Theater.
I find it difficult to choose a scene which surpasses Fleming - not because he was such an unsurpassable writer but because film and prose are so wildly different mediums which cannot compete with each other.
For me, Fleming´s novels and short stories work through his gift for atmosphere and description. But the films work because they establish their own way of creating this character within a highly entertaining story through the effective use of this particular medium.
Is there any scene in the written work which is just faithfully depicted in the movies? Nothing comes to my mind, really, since every Fleming scene was tweaked and reworked, I believe.
If one compares Vesper´s death, for example: the underwater demise is, naturally, more visual and, for my taste, more visceral and devastating than Fleming´s choice. Then again, the almost matter-of-fact-way in the novel is shocking on another level, too. I can’t say I prefer one over the other.
But I rarely if ever consider any movie better than the novel it is based on. Hill´s “The world according to Garp”-adaptation is, IMO, a true marvel - but it does not surpass Irving´s novel. They are both great in their own way.
Will the Acorns be there too?
For me there are a few candidates:
I would say that Mankiewicz’s version of SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER is as good as the play it is based on, if not an improvement. Almost all of the play’s dialogue is used, but the script additions by Gore Vidal and Mankiewicz bring out class issues more than the play did. As a result, Sebastian Venable’s predatory nature is grounded more in his class privilege than in his sexuality. The play is more poetic reverie, while the film is more rhetorical examination. Tennessee hated it, and I can see why–the play is imbued with his personal anguish over his sexuality, and the movie plays it down–being gay is not the issue–being a colonizing predator is. Privilege perverts Sebastian.
Sticking with Mankiewicz: while many have reviled his adaptation of Graham Greene’s THE QUIET AMERICAN, I love the fact that he changed the ending, and has Phuong reject Fowler. Mankiewicz’s women display more autonomy than Greene’s usually do, and the loss of Greene’s misogyny is an improvement in my eyes. I also maintain that JLM still implicates the American as guilty, but makes Fowler a dupe–blinded by his own desires.
The Godfather’s an awful book.
Jurassic Park’s pretty scabby, too.
Probably The Ten Commandments too, but that will just get me into trubbel.
Haven´t read the first two, so that saved me. Have read the third one - but not in one sitting.
That movie, however, felt it went on for ages when I saw it as a teenager.
Alas, since 1971 they have grown to mighty oaks.
Indeed, the art of filmmaking is to dazzle us with visuals and pacing that keep us from thinking, “hey wait, that wouldn’t work,” as opposed to Fleming’s approach of providing gorgeous details and putting us fully into a scene, with the same goal: to keep us from realizing it’s all impossible. I remember years ago reading an analysis of Fleming’s description of the Disco Volante which concluded it simply could not float, but to a layman he sure made it sound good.
I preferred the book, and for the same reason as above: Crichton spends a lot of time on the “science” behind acquiring and cloning dinosaur DNA, and it helps us suspend our disbelief once we get to the action. In contrast, the movie reduces all of that to a 30-second video starring a cartoon character in a “welcome to the park” message, because Spielberg’s main concern is not “scientific plausibility” but rather how to move on to bitchin’ special effects ASAP. Enough with the chit-chat, let’s see some chompin’!
This is why so few of Stephen King’s horror books work on screen. He is the master of creating rounded, fascinating characters who then experience absurd events. By the time the lunacy starts, we’re totally on board because those characters are real to us. But in a film, there isn’t the benefit of that kind of time: you have two hours total, and a lot of it better involve scary stuff or folks will riot. And so, reduced to little more than the bare bones of the basic idea, we see a lot of King’s concepts are on par with what we used to get in a 1950s EC horror comic.