Thursday, September 29, 2005

Books that'd make good movies, if...

That's a big 'if'. If the Hollywood crap machine wouldn't ruin it. If the writers wouldn't screw with a perfectly good story. If the producers wouldn't throw in a bunch of extra explosions and/or gunfights and/or special effects crap just because "it's a good idea" or "we can do this!". And so forth.

I've mentioned this before, the Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories Fritz Leiber wrote. Monsters, wizards, beautiful women(often scantily clad), swords and battles, the whole nine yards. CGI- used properly- would bring Ningauble of the Seven Eyes and Sheelba of the Eyeless Face to life; various critters and magic could show before us in all their glory. Damn, those are movies I'd pay to see!

More modern? Check out the Matt Helm books by Donald Hamilton. Spy stories that do NOT depend on more explosions and car chases instead of a plot, and a protagonist who's believable as a human being. Warts, scars and all. One of my favorite passages involved rescuing a girl from kidnappers. As they're preparing to break out, he explains to her that 'escaping is easy, escaping is no problem. As long as anybody who can stop us is dead'. Works for me.

A little less modern? The 'SPQR' series by John Maddox Roberts. Murder mysteries set in ancient Rome, with characters both historical and made up, backed by lots of research and believable portrayals of the people and places, with enough explanations worked in so the historical references make sense.

The Joe Leaphorn mysteries by Tony Hillerman. A Navajo Tribal Police officer investigating odd occurrances on the Big Rez. They made one of them into a movie for PBS with Robert effin' Redford directing, and mucked it up good.

Lord, there's a LOT of books and short stories out there that would make marvelous movies. Take the first Nero Wolf novel 'Fer de Lance' for one. The list goes on and on, mysteries and sci-fi and historical and... They all run into the same problem, though. When in college a friend and I decided that Fafhrd and the Mouser would be amazing on the big screen, but we didn't know if we wanted it to happen because Hollywood would probably screw it up.

I just wish they'd do it right, and prove us wrong.

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