On today’s edition of his podcast, Matt Lewis and I talk about movies – and, like the guys from the Muppet Show who complain from the balcony, we do our share of kvetching because all the big summer blockbusters are either sequels (like Shrek 4 and Sex and the City 2) or remakes of iconic pieces of 1980s pop culture (like the A-Team and the Karate Kid).
Earlier this week, news broke that filming had actually started on another adaptation – a silver screen version of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Aside from having a network of near-guaranteed customers through the tea party movement, Atlas Shrugged is a great story and Rand’s a good, vivid writer. Outside of being 1100 pages, it’s a book made for the movies.
Matt and I ran out of time before we could get to some other books that ought to be in pictures:
Advise and Consent
We started talking about this briefly. Yes, this would technically be a remake, but the 1962 adaptation of Allen Drury’s 1959 novel about the politics of personal destruction missed the mark so completely that it deserves a second look. Set against the backdrop of a Cold War (which the Soviet Union is apparently winning), Drury’s original work involves a Secretary of State nominee with alleged ties to the Communist party. Drury’s work is decidedly character-driven, and the central theme is how people sometimes get lost in the machinations of winning and losing in political battles.
This has nothing to do with Harrison Ford or the Amish. Whittaker Chambers was an editor for Time Magazine who risked his credibility and livelihood to out Alger Hiss as a former Communist. (The Congressional hearing actually served as the inspiration for Advise and Consent.) But Chambers’ life leading up to that – acting as a member of the Communist party and establishing Soviet ties – is actually thrilling, as is his and his family’s middle-of-the-night desertion from the Communist Party. Because of the histrionics of Rep. Joe McCarthy, the extent of Soviet operations in America is one of the under-told stories of the twentieth century. Obviously, it didn’t work out so well for them (with the only major casualty being Apollo Creed), but it is fascinating that they tried.
This one might be a made-for-HBO joint, because of a limited appeal, but political junkies would eat up Craig Shirley’s account of Reagan’s 1976 primary challenge to former President Gerald Ford. The decision to challenge a sitting President from your own party is difficult enough, but the Reagan campaign had plenty of issues, such as early fundraising challenges and lack of institutional support. This could be educational – many Americans don’t understand how the Presidential primary process works – but, like any hotly contested primary, it makes for a great story.
Of course, based on Hollywood’s interest in making anything original or non-3D, I expect to see trailers for Airwolf, Go-Bots, and a remake of the remake of Dukes of Hazzard before Witness comes to a theater near you.
But we can hope, right? What favorite books would you like to see made into a movie?