Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Classic books = Classic movies

We have some new DVDs on the shelf that are film adaptations of classic works of literature:
A Raisin in the Sun (1961) is the film version of Lorraine Hansberry's acclaimed play (she wrote the screenplay for this, as well). Starring the Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee, this film focuses on an African-American family that must rely on each other to withstand prejudice after the matriarch buys a house in an all-white neighborhood. This is also a story about the struggle of a man who sees his dreams of a better life slipping away from him. As always, Poitier's acting is superb.
The Good Earth (1936) is based on the Pearl S. Buck novel about a couple whose arranged marriage blossoms into mutual love and admiration as they struggle for survival in poor, rural China. The lead characters are played by Caucasian, rather than Asian, actors (Paul Muni and Luise Rainer), but that was typical for Hollywood. (This persisted on for decades - think of Marlon Brando's horrible stereotype of the Japanese in Teahouse of the August Moon). Beautiful footage from China, a tender storyline and Rainer's subtle performance - which won her a second Academy Award - all help make this film into a nice adaptation of Buck's classic tale.
Captain Blood (1935) is based on Rafael Sabatini's 1922 swashbuckler novel, which the UAS library has available for checkout. Not having ever read the book, I can't tell you if it's really a classic, but the film catapulted Errol Flynn to fame and has been the quintessential pirate film ever since. The dramatic action sequences are leavened with a romance with the beautiful Olivia de Havilland.

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