Did you know that classic film Casablanca  was based on an unproduced play titled Everybody Comes to Rick’s? by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison?; or that film Moonlight  was based on another unproduced play titled Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney? Many a great film first originated in a play, and because of this origin, these films often rely much on performances and have certain “intimacy” to them not found in other films. I previously reviewed such plays-turned-films as Prelude to a Kiss , Carnage , It’s Only The End of the World , Marjorie Prime  and Una , and other notable films in this category include Seventh Heaven , Brief Encounter , Steel Magnolias , Glengarry Glen Ross , Meet Joe Black , Closer , Doubt  and August: Osage County . Below are ten great films that first originated in plays (excluding Shakespearean adaptations).
I. The Seventh Seal 
Play: Trämålning (Wood Painting)  by Ingmar Bergman
This well-known masterpiece of a film by Ingmar Bergman stems from a one-act play by Bergman himself. He wrote a play titled Trämålning (Wood Painting) and it was initially supposed to be a play to be performed by students. In the story, the country is suffering because of the Black Death pandemic and a young Knight with his Squire have just returned from the Crusades. The land is in panic, and, unwittingly, the Knight joins a wagon of travelling performers. Death is also their follower, challenging the Knight to a play of chess. What will be the outcome? Philosophical, visually-striking and full of symbolism, The Seventh Seal is an uncanny portrayal of the Middle Ages and an iconic film in the history of cinema.
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Paul at Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies hosted The Meg Ryan Birthday Blogathon to celebrate the birthday of Meg Ryan, and this is my belated post containing some thoughts on “Prelude to a Kiss” (1992). I love so many Meg Ryan films, including her “feel-good” romantic comedies “You’ve Got Mail” (1998) and “Sleepless in Seattle” (1993), and her more “serious” movies, such as “When a Man Loves a Woman” (1994) and “In The Cut” (2003).
Prelude to a Kiss (1992)
“…Must have been my kiss(es), all I can think, drives men wild…” (Rita/Julius).
The movie is based on the 1988 play of the same name by Craig Lucas, and, although most plays-to-films do not agree with me, for example, see “Marjorie Prime“ (2017) and “Carnage” (2011), this movie seems to work, maybe because it does not have this feeling of being contained in one location. The story may appear absurd, but it is actually quite entertaining and amusing. Rita (Ryan) and Peter (Baldwin) meet at a party and instantly establish a connection. After some lovely courting (which takes the movie some 40 minutes to get right), the couple move on with their wedding, and, from then on, its a roller-coaster of delights and sorrows. During the wedding, Rita somehow manages to swap her body with that of an old grumpy man through a kiss, and Peter, noticing that something is wrong with his new wife, sets on the course to put things right. And, Rita really does not seem like the old Rita to her husband at all. If before she could not get enough sleep, now she sleeps like a baby, and, if before she drank alcohol (she worked as a barmaid), now she does not even want to try a cocktail in Jamaica.
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Crystal at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood is hosting the Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn Blogathon, honouring the fantastic classic duo from the Hollywood’s brightest times, and my contribution is a short review of one of Hepburn’s most distinguished films:
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
George Cukor’s “The Philadelphia Story” is based on a Broadway play of the same name also starring Katharine Hepburn. In this film, Hepburn plays a rich socialite Tracy Lord, who is about to be married to George Kittredge (John Howard), after her previous marriage to a yacht designer C.K. Dexter Haven, played by Cary Grant, fell apart. Meanwhile, two reporters Mike Connor (James Stewart) and Liz Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) are secretly “planted” in the house of Tracy to spy on her and to try to cover the big wedding. Surely, they are helped in their endeavour by Tracy’s ex-husband Dexter, who still secretly hopes that Tracy will realise that their love was genuine and true. The gist of the comedy here is that Tracy knows about the true purpose of Connor and Imbrie, and her family puts on the show to impress and mislead the reporters. As Tracy flirts with Connor, the realisation of her mistake in the decision to marry Kittredge becomes more apparent. The great thing about this film, apart from its cast and performances, is the way it cleverly combines a witty story, involving a theatre of “appearances deceiving”, and the reflecting character study.
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There are some films which touch very sensitive topics, and most of the time it may be advisable to avoid such films. But, there comes a film which deals with a hard-to-digest-topic so unassumingly, the viewers will hardly notice that what they are seeing is something quite shocking. “Una” is one of these films, telling the story of Una, now a grown-up woman who recalls her past sexual relationship with a much older man when she was just thirteen. Directed by Benedict Andrews and starring Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn in the lead roles, this film, which is based on a theatrical play “Blackbird“, is an interesting account of a twisted relationship and “damaged” personalities. Beyond its uncomfortable subject matter, the film also offers a well-thought-out, even if “minimalist” plot, interesting cinematography and mesmerising performances.
Continue reading ““Una” Mini-Review”