Film & Stage Adaptations of Classic Novels

Trouble in Mind by Alice Childress – Playwright, Novelist & Activist

Alice Childress’s first full-length play, Trouble in Mind, premiered in 1955 at an interracial theater co-sponsored by a Presbyterian church and a synagogue in Greenwich Village.

According to accounts at the time, the audience “applauded and shouted bravos, and would not leave their seats until the author was brought on stage.” Despite initial audience enthusiasm, decades would pass before the play received the recognition it has today as a classic of American theater.

The show received an Obie Award for best original off-Broadway play that season and was slated to open on Broadway in 1957, but Childress herself pulled the plug on that production. Read More→


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Reading (and Watching) Pride and Prejudice in India

Like most teenagers in India who enjoyed the English classics, Pride and Prejudice came into my life. It prompted me to borrow the Complete Works of Jane Austen from the library and to read all her novels. But if you were to ask me to recall the plots today, Pride and Prejudice is the one that has etched itself most clearly in my mind. 

This could also be because I had to study this novel as part of my English Honors program in college. I recall the name of the teacher who took up this book but can’t remember many insights that she left me with.

What comes to mind is that she spoke of it as a “drawing room novel,” as a lot of the action indeed takes place in these various home settings, starting with that of the Bennet family in Pride and Prejudice. Read More→


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Cimarron by Edna Ferber — the 1930 Novel and the 1931 Film 

Cimarron by Edna Ferber was a 1930 novel by the prolific American author that was quickly adapted to film, earning accolades and winning 1931’s Academy Award for Best Picture.

Though it wasn’t the first of Ferber’s novels to be adapted to film, it was a far more expansive (and expensive) production. It paved the way for more Hollywood blockbusters based on her books.

Cimarron (from a Spanish derivation meaning “wild” or “unruly”) takes for its subject the Land Run in Oklahoma territory in 1889. A 1930 review described the book in a nutshell:

“It depicts the opening up of that great territory known as the Run of ’89 — the fantastic scramble when oil was discovered. The story is told through the experience of Yancey Cravat and his young wife who went to seek their fortunes in the new territory. Always a mysterious character with a shadowy past, Cravat is one of Miss Ferber’s best creations.” Read More→


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Fact and Fiction in All This, and Heaven Too: The 1938 Novel and 1940 Film

When it was freshly published in 1938, Rachel Field’s bestselling novel All This, and Heaven Too kept company on the shelf with other contemporary novels titled with allusions to Christianity but preoccupied with romance. Here we’ll be taking a look at the 1940 film All This, and Heaven Too  in the context of the novel that it was based on. 

Consider E.M. Delafield’s Thank Heaven Fasting (1932), in which the touch of Captain Lane’s hand has Monica muse: “This, surely, was love—the most wonderful thing in life.”

Or Janie’s relationships and search for fulfillment in Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937). Or, soon after, the complicated social expectations in the courtship depicted in Gwethalyn Graham’s Earth and High Heaven (1944). Read More→


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Laura — the 1944 Film Based on the Novel by Vera Caspary

Laura, the 1944 film based on the 1943 novel of the same name by Vera Caspary, has earned a secure place among the finest of the film noir genre. Excerpted from A Girl Named Vera Can Never Tell a Lie: The Fiction of Vera Caspary by Francis Booth ©2022. Reprinted by permission.

The novel remains Caspary’s best-known work, and its even better-known film version has been preserved in the U.S. National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for its significance. It was also named as one of the 10 best mystery films of all time by the American Film Institute.

Produced and directed by Otto Preminger, Laura starred Gene Tierney in the title role. The three men involved in Laura’s life and subsequently purported death are Dana Andrews as detective Mark McPherson, Vincent Price as Laura’s playboy fiancé, and Clifton Webb as pompous newspaper columnist Waldo Lydecker. Read More→


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