Film & Stage Adaptations of Classic Novels

The Enduring Power of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide by Ntozake Shange

“Through my tears I found god in myself and I loved her fiercely” is perhaps the most iconic quote from For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf  by Ntozake Shange (1948 – 2018). For Colored Girls has touched many hearts since it premiered in 1976. The 2019 production of For Colored Girls  at SUNY New Paltz was one such powerful and emotional presentation of Shange’s play.

For Colored Girls was Shange’s first work and remains her most acclaimed theatre piece, consisting of twenty captivating poetic monologues representing black sisterhood in a racist and sexist society. Shange describes her work as choreopoem, a form of dramatic expression incorporating poetry, dance, music, and song. This term was coined in 1975 by Shange herself to describe this work. Read More→

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Giant, the 1956 film based on Edna Ferber’s Epic Novel

Giant, the 1956 film, was based on the epic 1952 novel of the same title by Edna Ferber. The saga of a wealthy Texas ranching family, the film starred Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean, with appearances by Chill Wills, Mercedes McCambridge, Carroll Baker, Jane Withers, Dennis Hopper, Sal Mineo, and Rod Taylor.

Giant was notable for being James Dean’s final film performance before his tragic death in a car accident. He was nominated posthumously for an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Jett Rink, a poor but ambitious ranch hand. Read More→

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Jane Eyre — 1943 film based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë

How can Charlotte Brontë’s masterwork, be crammed into a time frame of just over an hour and a half? This feat of compression was accomplished by Hollywood for the 1943 film version of Jane Eyre. To clear up any confusion, the film was released at the end of 1943 in Britain, and had its American release of February, 1944.

Nearly a quarter of the film covers young Jane’s torturous experience at the Lowood School, based on the actual place that Charlotte and her sisters attended in Yorkshire. The experience proved fatal for one of the Brontë sisters, Maria, who became gravely ill and died. Read More→

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Rebecca — 1940 Film Based on the Novel by Daphne du Maurier

The 1940 movie version of Rebecca, based on Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel of the same name, was a psychological thriller with nod to the gothic tradition.

The black-and-white film, which captured the moody, mysterious feel of the book, was the first American film by director Alfred Hitchcock. Joan Fontaine starred in the role of the naïve young woman who marries a brooding widower Maxim de Winter, portrayed by Laurence Olivier.

Rebecca, the departed first wife of de Winter, is never seen in the film, but casts a powerful shadow over the inhabitants of Manderlay castle. The suspense builds until we learn just why that is.  Read More→

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1939 Film Adaptation of Wuthering Heights

The 1939 movie adaptation of Wuthering Heights, based on the novel by Emily Brontë, is considered an American film classic. Produced by Samuel Goldwyn and directed by William Wyler, the screenplay took some liberties with the original stories to streamline it into a film whose run time is less than two hours.

It covers barely half of the novel’s 34 chapters, cutting out the second generation of characters. Despite the liberties taken with the story, the film retained the dark, brooding mood of the book, and was generally praised by critics. Read More→

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