From Stage to Screen: Plays

CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 12:14pm
My favorite stage to screen adaptations of plays (in no particular order):

Born Yesterday
Dinner at Eight
Amadeus
Lion in Winter
Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Same Time, Next Year
Chapter Two
Butterflies are Free
Angels in America
Glengarry Glen Ross
Odd Couple
That Championship Season
Crimes of the Heart
Six Degrees of Seperation
Raisin in the Sun (1960)
Steel Magnolias
Cactus Flower
Wit
Blithe Spirit
A Thousand Clowns
A Streetcar Named Desire
A Trip to Bountiful
Bus Stop
Diary of Anne Frank


henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 01:25pm
The Heiress (Wyler)
The Little Foxes (Wyler)
These Three (Wyler)
The Children's Hour (Wyler)
Dodsworth (Wyler) (based on the play and the novel)
The Letter (Wyler)
Gaslight (Cukor)
Camille (Cukor)
Dinner at Eight (Cukor)
The Women (Cukor)
The Philadelphia Story (Cukor)
Dangerous Liaisons (Frears) (from the play and the novel)
Witness for the Prosecution (Wilder)
A Raisin in the Sun (Petrie)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Nichols)
Wit (Nichols)
His Girl Friday (Hawks)
The Winslow Boy (Mamet)
The Sunshine Boys (Ross)
Barefoot in the Park (Saks)
A Streetcar Named Desire (Kazan)
The Rose Tattoo (Mann)
The Member of the Wedding (Zinnemann) (from the novel and the play)
A Man for All Seasons (Zinnemann)
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Brooks)
The Boys in the Band (Friedkin)
Becket (Glenville)
Summer and Smoke (Glenville)
The Miracle Worker (Penn)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (Reinhardt and Dieterle)
Henry V (Branagh)
Henry V (Olivier)
Richard III (Olivier)
Richard III (Loncraine)
Ran (Kurosawa)
Throne of Blood (Kurosawa)
Romeo and Juliet (Zeffirelli)
La Cage aux Folles (Molinaro)
Rope (Hitchcock)
Dial M for Murder (Hitchcock)
Twelve Angry Men (Lumet)
Long Day's Journey Into Night (Lumet)
Anna Christie (Brown)
The Iceman Cometh (Frankenheimer)
She Done Him Wrong (Sherman)
The Awful Truth (McCarey)
The Shop Around the Corner (Lubitsch)
Stage Door (La Cava)
Pygmalion (Asquith and Howard)
Summertime (Lean)
Auntie Mame (DaCosta)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Neame)
A Thousand Clowns (Coe)
A Soldier's Story (Jewison)
The Dresser (Yates)
Follow Me! (Reed)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (Zeitlin)
Suddenly, Last Summer (Mankiewicz)
The Night of the Iguana (Huston)
The Lion in Winter (Harvey)
The Madness of King George (Hytner)










Updated On: 1/22/14 at 01:25 PM
CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 01:30pm
That's a great list henrikegerman, although I am not too fond of any of the original film adaptations of Tennessee Williams' plays because they were highly censored. I gave "Streetcar" a pass because of Brando and Leigh's performances.

henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 01:38pm
Understood, Carlos. Although if you are going to give Streetcar a pass based on the acting I'd think you might consider doing the same for Rose Tattoo. Magnani's Serafina is one of the great screen acting triumphs. I also love the performances in the movie of Cat. Actually, in spite of the censorship (unavoidable at the time), I still love the movie of Cat and think that it gives us everything in the play, although, of course, some of the backstory is subtextual and nuanced.

Speaking of censorship, I included both movie versions of The Children's Hour (both directed by Wyler). These Three, in which Martha and Karen's love story was completely erased (the rumor instead is an FMF triangle with Joe at the apex). Bizarre as it seems, it's still a great movie.

Updated On: 1/21/14 at 01:38 PM
CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 02:00pm
I would have to agree with you on "The Rose Tatoo". Powerful performance by Magnani.

"Cat" does have it's moments and that's mostly coming (at least for me) from the wonderful performances given by Jack Carson, Madeleine Sherwood and Burl Ives.

I could single out performances from any one of the original Williams film adaptations: Page in "Summer and Smoke" and "Sweet Bird of Youth" being just two, but the films as a whole paled in comparison to their original stage versions.

But I really do love your list as it reminded me of many I had seen and had forgotten about and am going to re-visit.

jnb9872
Broadway Legend
joined:11/24/08
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 02:48pm
Since I will happily cede that I haven't seen nearly as many of the stage-to-screen as either of you (both excellent lists, by the way) I'd like to throw in a few adaptations of one-man shows - Mike Birbiglia's SLEEPWALK WITH ME and the filmed works of Spalding Gray, specifically SWIMMING TO CAMBODIA, MONSTER IN A BOX and GRAY'S ANATOMY. Just because they aren't likely to leap to mind, and I think they're worthy of praise, even though they kind of fit into a side-category.
Words don't deserve that kind of malarkey. They're innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they're no good anymore…I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 02:58pm
Interesting to see Bus Stop on the list. I love the film, but it is SOO different from the play, I almost have a hard time thinking of it as an adaptation. (That said, I wish I could track down a copy of another Inge film adaptation--Dark at the Top of the Stairs. Despite having fairly well known names Robert Preston and Angela Lansbury and being well received when it came out, it seems impossible to track down.)

I have issue with most of the Williams adaptations as well. Usually the films have something that keeps me interested (often it's the acting. For instance it's brilliant to have Geraldine Page recreating her off-Broadway success from the revival of Summer and Smoke, but the movie treats the play as a big lush melodrama--very different from the tone of the stage script.)

I like the performances in Cat. Hell it's even nice to have Newman and Page in Brooks' follow-up adaptation, Sweet Bird of Youth but I think he takes both plays and refashions them as rather conservative movie melodramas. Some of that was necessary due to the censorship--but, for example, Brick's dilemma in the film becomes one of him simply having to finally grow up--a delayed adolescents. And it's shown that he does--this is utterly at odds with Williams' play (the Kazan or the original script.) The scene added between Brick and Big Daddy (I think it's set in the basement amongst, not too subtly, Brick's childhood objects) skews everything completely differently. Sweet Bird of course can be entirely summed up by that ridiculous happy ending in the speed boat (apparently Brooks originally did want a darker ending--no castration, but we would end with seeing Chance's beaten up, perhaps dead body shipped out of town on a garbage boat.)

I do think Rose Tattoo works--and the performances are great (the play was written for Magnani of course, though it is interesting to compare it with the LP "cast album" of the 1960s revival with Stapleton re-playing her original role.) But it does shy away from the lusty spirituality of the play.

Orpheus Descending is one of my favorite plays, and the original production was by all reports a flop due to Clurman (sp?) too realistic direction (he completely cut the impressionistic prologue,) and a miscast Cliff Robertson as Val. Lumet's film version, The Fugitive Kind has a big cult following, and a lot to recommend it, but why Magnani and Brando were who Williams originally wanted or the role, their acting never matches (Magnani found him impossible to work with) and by then Brando had started lazily improvising his dialogue, ruining some of the most poetic moments. Still, it's interesting that it didn't have to be censored for the most part. (I'm glad we have Peter Hall's TV adaptation with Vanessa Redgrave of his stage revival on DVD now.)

I also think Suddenly, Last Summer is a fine movie and Vidal did a fine adaptation, but it also changes the themes quite a bit (unavoidably I suppose.) I like that we also have the Maggie Smith/Natasha Richardson TV adaptation based on Richard Eyre's celebrated production.

Some of the later Williams' adaptations are interesting. I have an odd fascination with Boom! the Liz/Richard adaptation of Milk Train. And The Last of the Mobile Hot Shots, based on Seven Descents of Myrtle with Lynn Redgrave (that family sure liked WIlliams) and again directed by Lumet and adapted by Vidal. It seems to have made, much like the play, zero impact but can be found online and is worth watching...

And while it feels quite different with the whole added "first act" I admit to being a big fan of Huston's Iguana.

I like the film (I believe by Mann) of Inge's Little Sheba. I like a lot of things in Logan's Picnic but I find his directing hard to take (those endless scenes of the fair games!) Funny, I find all his film directing heavy handed though by all reports the plays he did originally on Broadway (including Picnic and South Pacific) weren't.
CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 03:06pm
Two really mediocre stage to screen adaptations from the 1960s:

FIVE FINGER EXERCISE (1962)
THE STRIPPER (1963)

The latter was an adaptation of William Inge's flop play, "A Loss of Roses" which had originally starred Carol Haney and (in his Broadway debut) Warren Beatty. Here the roles are essayed by Joanne Woodward and Richard Beymer.

Coincidentally Beymer was also in FIVE FINGER EXERCISE.
CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 03:13pm
@ EricMontreal22: You and I feel the same way about the Williams' adaptations. The plays were watered down and basically became high-brow soap opera. Nothing wrong with soap opera or a good old fashioned melodrama, but the original Williams' texts were so much more than that.

Mind you I was introduced to Williams' work by a friend who let me borrow Richard Brooks' 1958 film of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". I absolutely fell in love with it - - - and then I read the play and realized how much better it was.

So I started reading the plays first and then watching the films and I found that much was lost in the translation.

I have to agree that what saves these films are the wonderful performances that are preserved. I can't stress enough the importance of Geraldine Page's performances in "Sweet Bird" and "Summer and Smoke".

If only for that I am thankful the films were even made.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 03:35pm
I haven't seen The Stripper since I found a VHS copy as a kid--it always seemed genuinely odd that they made a film of it (and with that title) since it was such a big flop, but I suppose at the time Inge was a pretty successful name for movies coming off of Splendour in the Grass (at least I *think* that came out before--a few years later came the underated film he wrote--based on a novel by the author of Midnight Cowboy and staring Beatty as well--All Fall Down.)

We absolutely agree, Carlos, about the Williams' adaptations--actually, I believe Cat was the first Williams film I watched back when I was 11 or 12, so I have to give the films credit for sparking my interest (even back then it seemed like something obvious was not being said in the film.) But yes, absolutely many of the films are worthwhile if only for the performances they preserved.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 03:47pm
I know people who actively disliked it, but I liked the film adaptation of Craig Lucas' The Dying Gaul.
CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 03:49pm
As a HUGE fan of Natalie Wood I can assure you that SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS came first and Beatty was cast in that film because he had done A LOSS OF ROSES on Broadway.

ALL FALL DOWN was Beatty's third film and it was also written by Inge.
KathyNYC2
Broadway Star
joined:12/2/10
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 04:17pm
I can't compete with the long lists above.

The first ones that came to my mind upon seeing the thread topic..

Wait Until Dark
The Miracle Worker
Born Yesterday
Barefoot in the Park
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 04:24pm
Right, that's why I brought up All Fall Down--of course it's based on a novel not a play.

I forgot about your deep love for Natalie. What do you think of her TV version of CatÉ
Demitri2
Broadway Star
joined:3/25/05
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 05:28pm
The movie SUMMER AND SMOKE had one of the greatest impacts on me as a child and was responsible for taking me from the screen to the stage. I was ten years old and was mesmerized by Geraldine Page. Though a child I knew I was seeing an extraordinary performance. Living in NYC I was able to go out of my way at an early age to catch her on and off Broadway in a half dozen plays over the years. I was most grateful for this movie for that reason alone.

I never was able to catch SUMMER AND SMOKE on stage but did see two productions of William's ECCENTRICITIES OF A NIGHTINGALE which is a much more poetic cut down version of the film. I appreciated Eric Montreal's mention that the stage version of the film was much different in tone than the play (always wondered how they differed and need to read the script now). As much as I've enjoyed Elmer Bernstein's lush soundtrack on return viewings it does indeed give the film a highly melodramatic feel turning it more into a Ross Hunter soap opera.

In college for my film history course's final paper I chose the topic of how films often bastardize adaptations of plays and used SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH as the example. Besides Chance's final castration scene changed into roughing up his good looks, Heavenly's contracting an STD leaving her barren was watered down to an unwanted pregnancy. And the happy ending with Ed Begley stomping his feet in the background was ludicrous. Surprisingly my film teacher wrote on my paper, "A crappy movie based on a crappy play"! To each his own.

Back on topic:

TWENTIETH CENTURY
SLEUTH
THE VISIT
ARSENIC AND OLD LACE
HISTORY BOYS
A DELICATE BALANCE
THE LETTER (Jeanne Eagels)
OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT
THE PETRIFIED FOREST
ONLY WHEN I LAUGH (based on THE GINGERBREAD LADY)
AGNES OF GOD
CALIFORNIA SUITE




henrikegerman
Broadway Legend
joined:4/29/05
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 05:38pm
Demitri, I agree with you about Sweet Bird. Also, I never knew Twentieth Century was a play before it was a movie - learn something every day.
darquegk
Broadway Legend
joined:2/5/09
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 05:55pm
I found the remake of Sleuth fascinating as not just a remake but a reboot. We don't often get "reboots" of plays the way we do with literature and major franchises, but the juxtaposition of "take a critically-acclaimed playwright with a distinct style and get them to reimagine a classic work by an earlier critically-acclaimed playwright with a distinct style," against the themes of duality, identity and repeated phrases that are present in both movies, and you have a fascinating exercise.
Borstalboy
Broadway Legend
joined:2/9/04
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 06:22pm
The film of (THE) MISS FIRECRACKER (CONTEST) is probably better than the play, as is COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN.
"It's now rather very common to hear people say 'I'm rather offended by that'. As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more than a whine. It has no meaning, no purpose. It has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that'. Well, so f**king what?"--Stephen Fry
logan2
Leading Actor
joined:6/15/04
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 08:39pm
Tops for me are Effect of Gamma Rays in Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds with Joanne Woodward and her real life daughter Nell Potts, and Come Back to the Five & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean with the incomparable Sandy Dennis.
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 09:46pm
Demitri--that's a great list. I grew up with Owl and the Pussycat because it is a favorite of my mom's--she saw Eartha Kitt in the play in Toronto (I believe this was when Eartha was boycotting the USA) and it made a strong impression.

Don't get me wrong--Summer and Smoke absolutely is great to have mainly due to how amazing Geraldine is in it. That's interesting that you've had more of a chance to see Nightingale (which I know from the late 70s Blythe Danner/Frank Langella PBS version.) It's worth tracking down the original script for Summer and Smoke, which I'm sure you know met with a mixed reaction when it opened so soon after Streetcar in New York, but a few years later in its off-Broadway production with Geraldine was a success. Still, at least one book I've read has said that at the time (the late '50s, early '60s) movie studios were willing to adapt any Williams piece, even ones that were not big hits. This Property is Condemned comes to mind, I know since it uses the brief one act scene of the same title just as a very short prologue many people say that the actual film is basically a Williams pastiche (it's been a long time since I've seen it.) Similarly, even if I condemn the films, partly, for making them much more traditional Hollywood soap opera, they obviously did have a big impact on films of the time and a focus on "adult" melodrama -- Long Hot Summer owes a lot more to films of Williams' plays than to the Faulkner work it's meant to be based on.

I wrote a paper about Sweet Bird in a university second year English class and got a similar reaction from my prof -- I did well enough, but he noted that he thought the play was awful, as was the film. Meh--it's one of my favorite Williams' plays, but I do understand criticism that it feels very much like two different plays joined together (which is kinda was, if I remember right,) and I know when it opened on Broadway, while a big hit, that was right around when critics were starting to bemoan how violent and out there his plays were getting. Meh.

The cable tv movie version from the late 80s by Nicholas Roeg with Liz Taylor and Marc Harmon was a missed opportunity -- it keeps the ending but changes till cuts and changes a lot (including some silly sentimental scenes between Chance and Heavenly) and is really appealing mainly as camp.
Borstalboy
Broadway Legend
joined:2/9/04
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 09:50pm
If you really want your socks knocked off, check out ECCENTRICITIES OF A NIGHTINGALE, done in the early seventies for PBS with a young Frank Langella and Blythe Danner (arguably miscast but still tearing it up with heartbreaking gusto).
"It's now rather very common to hear people say 'I'm rather offended by that'. As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more than a whine. It has no meaning, no purpose. It has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that'. Well, so f**king what?"--Stephen Fry
EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 09:52pm
Agreed. Amazon used to sell as a package those Broadway Archive/public TV Williams' collections (including Lotte Lenya and Martin Sheen in the original one act version of Camino Real and a pair of short plays sold as Dragon Country.) The production quality is a very mixed bag, but they're great to have.
CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 10:37pm
All I have to say is a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who have contributed to this thread! I have gotten so much more out of it than I ever expected.

I definitely have some catching up to do!!!
CarlosAlberto
Broadway Legend
joined:6/29/10
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 10:48pm
@ EricMontreal: In regards to Natalie's performance in the 1976 TV version of "Cat", it was certainly a valiant try but it didn't come close to Ann-Margret's performance in "A Streetcar Named Desire", which for a split-second got me to thinking: "Vivien who??"
Borstalboy
Broadway Legend
joined:2/9/04
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 11:11pm
Ann-Margaret was fantastic in STREETCAR! As was the rest of the cast. Well directed, too, if I remember.
"It's now rather very common to hear people say 'I'm rather offended by that'. As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more than a whine. It has no meaning, no purpose. It has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that'. Well, so f**king what?"--Stephen Fry
Jay Lerner-Z
Broadway Legend
joined:4/4/11
From Stage to Screen: Plays
Posted: 1/21/14 at 11:11pm
The Beckett On Film project from 2001 was pretty great - all nineteen of his plays, from the full-length ones like Waiting For Godot to Breath which is only 45 seconds long. Featuring actors like Michael Gambon, John Hurt, Julianne Moore, John Gielgud, Kristin Scott Thomas, Penelope Wilton and directors like Neil Jordan, Harold Pinter, David Mamet and Conor McPherson - they're definitely worth a look, even if they're probably an aquired taste. All up on youtube, I think.

Eric, what did you think of Katherine Hepburn's Glass Menagerie?

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