This is a thread about seductive, skinny-dipping Provencal goatherds. And Faulkner, Rowling, Brecht, Stoppard and Hornby and the art the art of scriptwriting. I am hoping for some rigorous intellectual ejaculations!
I do hope that, like me, you have all been carefully studying the results of Dai’s AW Survey of Best Ever films.
If you have, you will know that Claude Berri’s magnificent, two-movie Provencal epic from 1984, comprising Jean de Florette/ Manon des Sources, picked up 8 points.
Until this week, I had no idea that, Berri’s masterpiece was a remake of sorts of Marcel Pagnol’s four-hour epic, Manon des Sources, from 1952 which starred his wife, the gorgeous Jacqueline Pagnol as the voluptuous goatherd.
I say “of sorts” because Berri’s two films, are based on a two-volume novel that Pagnol published in 1966, which he had written as a result of making the film back in the 1950s.
Writing the novel after making the movie? That must be a first, Or am I wrong?
I stumbled across Pagnol by accident this week . Novelist, playwright, and film director, he was the first movie-maker to be elected to the Academie Francaíse.
Basically, I was listening to the music of Marseille band, Moussou T E Lei Jovents, who do some cracking versions of songs by Vincente Scotto, a Hitmaker who collaborated extensively with Pagnol.
Anyway, I have some questions to ask.
Do good novelists always make good scriptwriters?
Are they always the best person to transfer their own novels onto the screen?
J K Rowling is something of a control freak. Ian Rankin, by contrast, seems to have a refreshingly hands-off approach. As far as I know, his advice to writers is “Take the cheque and let them get on with it.
Invariably people will say that the book was better than the film. Why not get on with writing a new book instead of doing battle with a film company?
Some novelists are excellent screenwriters. Nick Hornby, for example, did a great job with Lynn Barber’s memoirs for Lone Scherfig’s An Education.
Men and women of letters have always had an ambivalent attitude to Tinseltown. In the 1940s Hollywood was crawling with great novelist and playwrights,
Brecht wrote the script for Fritz Lang’s Hangmen also die, a film that took an anti Hitler stance at a time when the USA were indecisive abut joining the allies. ( Please do read William Boyd’s Restless about this period, A cracking, very informative novel!)
Let me end with a story from screenwriter Otto Friedrich’s description of 40s Hollywood; City of Nets,.
”The one important man in Hollywood who understood and appreciated Faulkner was Howard Hawks. . . . Hawks liked to take Faulkner on hunting expeditions, and when Clark Gable heard one day that the director was setting off for the Imperial Valley early the next morning, he asked to go along. Hawks agreed. The three of them were driving through Palm Springs, as Hawks later recalled, when the talk turned to writing. Gable, whose ignorance was almost classic, idly asked Hawks’s gray-haired friend who he thought were good writers. ”Thomas Mann, Willa Cather, John Dos Passos, Ernest Hemingway, and myself,” Faulkner said. Gable seemed mildly surprised. ”Oh, do you write, Mr. Faulkner?” he asked. ”Yeah,” Faulkner admitted. ”What do you do, Mr. Gable?”
Perhaps that was intended as a sarcastic retort, but Hawks wondered. ”I don’t think Gable ever read a book, and I don’t think Faulkner ever went to see a movie,” he said. ”So they might have been on the level.”
Do please share with us, any tales you may have from the glamorous worlds of goat-herding and scriptwriting!