Film & Stage Adaptations

How The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier Became a Terrifying Alfred Hitchcock Film

I made the mistake of seeing The Birds, a 1963 film by Alfred Hitchcock when I was young. Not being a fan of all things scary, I never quite recovered enough to give it a second view as an adult, especially since it’s based on a novella of the same name by Daphne du Maurier, an author I admire (Rebecca is one of my favorite classics). 

The following article/review about the film from 1963, the year the film came out, reveals the surprising fact that the masses of birds were — real birds! Of course, in today’s world it would have been done digitally.  Read More→

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The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman (1939)

The Little Foxes by Lillian Hellman is a 1939 stage play considered a classic of twentieth century American theater. Set in small Southern town 1900, it centers on Regina Hubbard Giddens, who conspires with her brothers for control of a family business belonging to her husband, in an era when men were seen as the only legal heirs.

The play has been staged and in revival ever since it was first opened on Broadway in 1939. We’ll look at some of those performances (and a film version) after the following description. Read More→

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The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968 film)

The 1968 film version of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, based on the 1940 novel by Carson McCullers, aimed for a faithful adaption. Though it had its merits, the film got mixed reviews.

Strong performances, especially by Alan Arkin as Singer and Sondra Locke as Mick (her film debut) earned them both  Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations — for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. The film received numerous other nominations and awards, and was generally favorably reviewed.

Still, the film fails to capture the sweep and emotional impact of the book, so I’d recommend reading it before considering  the film. Here’s a review that was published when the film premiered in 1968: Read More→

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How Gentleman’s Agreement (1947 film) Smashed Hollywood Taboos

When Darryl Zanuck was considering making Laura Z. Hobson’s 1947 best-seller about “genteel” anti-Semitism, Gentleman’s Agreement, he faced a common dilemma: At the time, there were significant number of powerful Jews in Hollywood.

As studio heads, they were reluctant to plead for Jewish causes. They even avoided the topic of what had happened with the genocide of European Jews, before, during, and just after the war. Serious social issues were generally avoided because they weren’t good box office business. In tough times, especially, audiences wanted an escape. Read More→

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Gentleman’s Agreement (the 1947 film)

Gentleman’s Agreement, the classic 1947 film, was based on the novel of the same name by Laura Z. Hobson, who doubted any publisher would want to take it on, let alone that it would become an award-winning film.

It’s the story of Philip Schuyler Green, a journalist who poses as a Jew in order to investigate anti-Semitism in post-World War II New York City and environs.

Though it showed only a narrow slice of “upper crust” anti-Semitism, the film sensitively explores the topic and is quite true to the book. Read More→

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