March 18, 2010

Some Things It Seems Are Not for Sale

And while Salinger lived the movie rights to Catcher in the Rye were among them. Here's an interesting Letter of Note: Holden Caulfield is unactable.


Posted by Vanderleun at March 18, 2010 1:46 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

It is no doubt true that there are any number of people who would make a mess of a stage or screen adaptation of "The Catcher in the Rye". But I am quite certain there are people would could produce such a work and make it succeed. I think Mr. Salinger overestimates his own genius and shows a good bit of arrogance in dismissing the genius and ability of others.

Aside from that I wonder if a stage or screen adaptation would be a viable commercial endeavor today. I read "The Catcher in the Rye" back in 1964 and enjoyed it. I also forgot it very quickly and certainly do not count it as a work from which I gained any significant insight or that influenced in any meaningful way my outlook on life. I think if I read it today I would find it dated and largely irrelevant. A movie might have worked in 1957 but I wonder if it would generate much interest in 2010.

Posted by: Cory at March 18, 2010 7:21 AM

Salinger was perfectly right to doubt that anybody could adapt his novel to make a good movie. The simple fact is that not much happens that's visible action, and what is visible is annoying. Voiceovers work a lot better in short doses.

So what's left to fill an hour and a half? Unless the screenwriter makes up entirely new plots, subplots, romantic interests, or Bollywood musical numbers, it's about fifteen minutes worth of movie.

Posted by: Maureen at March 18, 2010 7:48 AM

I think it should be made into a reality show, where the contestants are struggling young actors trying to make their version of Holden Caulfield clique.

The losers would be tossed off a cliff that demarcates one edge of a field of rye. Except for the ones who inadvertently end up doing bad imitations of James Dean. The latter should be beaten to death with bean bags.

Posted by: Don Rodrigo at March 18, 2010 11:02 AM

1. Holden Caulfield was one of the least appealing characters in any book I ever read -- a whinny little turd. My reaction to his angst was, and is, who cares? shut up and grow up.

In the past few years there have been a couple of good movies about teenagers on the cusp of becoming adults. Napoleon Dynamite, and The Squid and the Whale, were two that I liked.

Anyone who tries to make Catcher in the Rye into a move is faced with a daunting task. The book is a mess. The protagonist is, as described above, an annoying jerk. Basically, the scenery and the character names could be recycled, but the rest of the project would be like trying to turn a pig's rectum into a silk purse.

Whit Stillman may have done this already, but I haven't seen it.

Posted by: Fat Man at March 18, 2010 11:33 AM

I have to agree with the Fat Man, but I only read the book a few years ago in my 40's. Hopefully this bad idea will just go away, but when there's the remote possibility of making a buck, Hollywood's always ready to give it a try.

Posted by: StephenB at March 18, 2010 12:01 PM

Shia LeBoeuf would be perfect playing an annoying little turd. Maybe he could make the Caulfield character work onscreen.

To attract a wider audience they should have a scene of him boinking Megan Fox.

Posted by: Don Rodrigo at March 18, 2010 12:37 PM