Pop Culture Junkette

Addicted to pop culture.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

An American Tragedy

It has been 100 years since the death of a woman that inspired Theordore Dreiser's An American Tragedy. I have spent this summer looking for some good books to read, so I am sure others are having the same problem. If you are, I highly recommend this book. It has everything: mystery and suspense, passion, appealing characters and, of course, tragedy. A very, very good read. Plus, you get to check another classic off of that list of "books everyone should read."

Note: I haven't seen A Place in the Sun, the movie based on the book, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. It sits on my Netflix queue but I am reluctant to watch it, after seeing the movie version of East of Eden (I have never seen a movie less faithful to a book than this--they literally changed every single pivotal moment from the book--the movie should have been titled Loosely Inspired by An American Tragedy). A lot of those movies from the 1950s really have an overwrought, overdramatic vibe, and the book was so great that I don't want melodrama ruining my feelings about a phenomenal book.


Blogger Isaac, your bartender said...

Woody Allen's Matchpoint (a good, albeit not great, film) is also inspired by A Place in the Sun and thus An American Tragedy.

7/12/2006 10:49 AM  
Blogger Laura Holt said...

This, once again, is evidence in support of my theory that reading a very good book first can ruin the experience of a very good movie, but a very good movie can almost never ruin the experience of reading a great book.

I watched East of Eden long before I read the book, and so was able to love both. On the other hand, I read The Maltese Falcon before seeing the movie, and the movie paled in comparison.

7/12/2006 11:03 AM  
Blogger Red Fraggle said...

Your theory has merit. I didn't even fiish watching East of Eden because I disliked it that much (there was probably only 20 minutes left, but I very, very rarely leave a movie unfinished).

I always try to read the book first, because I like the suspense one gets from a book--a movie can never quite replicate it. So watching the movie would take away that feeling of suspense. But you are right--the movie will rarely reach the level of the book, so if one loves movies, they should probably watch it before reading.

7/12/2006 11:08 AM  
Blogger Isaac, your bartender said...

While I agree that most great books make average to bad movies, there are some medioce (or, at the least, middlebrow) books that have made great movies. The best example of this is the Godfather. The book is pulp, but Coppola took it and created a masterpiece. The characterization of the Corleones is so much richer in the movie. As a second example, Goldfinger, perhaps the best of all of the Bond movies. I read it many, many years ago, but the plot was the fairly standard robbing Ft. Knox. The movie made the plot more clever with Goldfinger seeking to irradiate the gold--absurd, to be sure, but less so than the book. And, of course, great acting--whether Brando and Pacino or Connery and Gert Frobe are a must.

7/12/2006 11:52 AM  

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