When MOSY Met Harry And Sally

Sally Albright: Well, I guess we’re not going to be friends then.

Harry Burns: I guess not.

Sally Albright: That’s too bad. You were the only person I knew in New York.

One of my all-time favourite movies is When Harry Met Sally starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. At the height my passion, I could quote whole tracts of dialogue and to this day I can’t see pecan pie on a menu without descending into a silly voice – “But I would be proud to partake of your pecan pie. Peeecaan piiiieeeee.”

(Interestingly, in doing some research for this post, I discovered that the silly voice scene was improvised by Billy Crystal and he dragged Meg Ryan along (you can see her look over at director Rob Reiner in confusion at one point).)

So on a recent jaunt to New York City, how could I not be excited to find myself in places where Harry and Sally once stood?

It’s not that I went on a When Harry Met Sally scene hunt. (Although, I have been known to do that. Harry Potter in Oxford, Doctor Who in Cardiff, James Bond in Monte Carlo…) Most times we just stumbled across it or were there for other reasons and the movie connection was just a bonus.

Of course, no visit to New York is complete without a visit to Katz’s Delicatessen.

Katz1

Katz2

I told myself I was there for the pastrami but really, why go to New York and not visit the site of that infamous orgasm scene?

Eating at a diner one night, I ordered apple pie for dessert (of course).

Pie Ala Mode

When the waiter confirmed, “Pie a la mode?” it took all my willpower not to launch into a complicated pie request for heated/not heated, vanilla/strawberry icecream, real/canned cream.

We had very limited time on our visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (I know, I know, we managed our timing badly. So sue me) so we picked out the ‘must see’ items in our guidebook. One of these was the Temple of Dendur.

Temple of Dendur 1

 

Temple of Dendur 2

It was only when we walked into the space that I realised it was where my favourite pecan pie scene was filmed. I also love Harry’s view on hieroglyphics.

I only purposely hunted down one site from the movie. I had assumed the archway where Sally drops off Harry in New York was at Central Park.

Running around the park twice a few days after we arrived, I could not see it anywhere. But on a visit to the top of the Empire State Building, there on the mounted guides of what we were looking at was the arch. It’s at Washington Square Park. So off we trekked and found it.

Washington Square 1

Washington Square 2

We found it full of people with pillows. We’d stumbled across International Pillow Fight Day. Well, that was just a bonus, really.

Pillow Fight

While I didn’t find the arch in Central Park, we did pass the Loeb Boathouse restaurant and Bethesda Terrace on our rambling travels one day which also feature in the film.

Boathouse

I’m sure, had I thought to watch the movie before we left, I could have gone to more locations both intentionally and accidentally but in the end, I loved the spontaneous and serendipitous nature of it.

Hm. Speaking of Serendipity, this place was familiar.

Ice Rink

Oh, that’s right…

 

 

 

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The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Of Book Adaptations

Actor Jonathan Crombie died last week from a brain haemorrhage aged just 48 years. This was devastating news to women of a certain age for whom Crombie was and always will be Gilbert Blythe from the screen adaptation of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series.

I love those books (all the more special because I have my mother’s copies) and I found the first adaptation very faithful and the sequel faithful in a “take the best bits from a few books” way. I prefer to ignore the later The Continuing Story movie which was something of a tarnish on the whole series.

Even after the umpteenth viewing (just the other day), the film version can still make me laugh and cry in all the same places. (Matthew’s death leaves me sobbing every time.)

I mentioned Crombie’s death at the dinner table the other night and this led to a rather extensive and intense discussion about screen adaptations of books with our three boys.

The following is a summary of the Good, the Bad and the Plain Ugly of adaptations as decreed by the MOSY Offspring.

WARNINGWe are a very nerdy household and I make no apologies for the nerdy leanings of the following reviews. If you’re looking for opinions on the adaptations of The Shipping News or Wuthering Heights, I suggest you look elsewhere.

These are the views of three boys aged 18, 16 and 13 and are strictly the ones they wanted to talk about with no prompting from their parents.

THE GOOD (OR AT LEAST OKAY)

Lord of the Rings

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Based on the books by J. R. R. Tolkien
Directed by Peter Jackson
Screenplays by Fran Walsh, Phillippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Stephen Sinclair (The Two Towers)

The View: Good adaptations and great movies in their own right.

Harry Potter

The Harry Potter Series (Eight movies)
Based on the seven book series by J. K. Rowling
Directed by Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, Mike Newell, David Yates
Screenplays by Steve Kloves and Michael Goldenberg (Order of the Phoenix)

The View: Very faithful to the books. The movies did cut out a lot from the books but they kept the best bits.

Hugo

Hugo
Based on the book by Brian Selznick
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Screenplay by John Logan

The View: Great adaptation! This was a great movie adapted from a book that is mostly illustrations but done very successfully.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
First of the Chronicles of Narnia movie series
Based on the book by C. S. Lewis
Directed by Andrew Adamson
Screenplay by Ann Peacock, Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

The View: Movie was semi-faithful to the book. It was a good adaptation. There was a drop on the symbolism and it was more of an action movie.

Scott Pilgrim

Scott Pilgrim vs The World
Based on the comic books by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Directed by Edgar Wright
Screenplay by Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright

The View: Amazing comic book adaptation. Cut out a lot but still great. The movie even on its own is amazing.

Stardust

Stardust
Based on the book by Neil Gaiman
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn

The View: Loved the movie but too much from the book was changed. It lost a bit in translation.

Hunger Games

The Hunger Games (Four movies)
Based on the books by Suzanne Collins
Directed by Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) and Francis Lawrence (Catching Fire, Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2)
Screenplays by Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray (Hunger Games), Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt (Catching Fire), Peter Craig, Danny Strong (Mockingjay)

The View: Each movie’s merit is quite different. The first movie was good but not much energy in it. The adaptation was very close. “They made it their own.” (Direct quote from Middle Son.) The second movie was a much better adaptation and closer to the book. No opinion offered on the third and fourth movies (possibly not seen yet).

Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin (Animation)
Based on the comics by Hergé
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Screenplay by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish

The View: In terms of the original books on which the movie was based (The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rakham’s Treasure), they changed a lot but they made a beautiful movie. The method of animation was fantastic.

Spiderwick

The Spiderwick Chronicles
Based on the books by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
Directed by Mark Waters
Screenplay by Karey Kirkpatrick, David Berenbaum and John Sayles

The View: The Youngest Son said he watched the movie before he read the books. He thought the movie was good but the books were better.

Hitchhikers Guide

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Based on the book by Douglas Adams
Made into a TV series (Directed by Alan J. W. Bell, Screenplay by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd)
and into a movie (Directed by Garth Jennings, Screenplay by Douglas Adams and Karey Kirkpatrick)

The View: The TV series was great. The movie was okay but it took liberties.

THE BAD

The Hobbit

The Hobbit (Three movies)
Based on the book by J. R. R. Tolkien
Directed by Peter Jackson
Screenplays by Fran Walsh, Phillippa Boyens, Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro

The View: A terrible adaptation and a total over-indulgence on Jackson’s part. Could easily have been made as one movie.

Eragon

Eragon
Based on the book by Christopher Paolini
Directed by Stefan Fangmeier
Screenplay by Peter Buchman

The View: This caused some contention. The Eldest and Middle Sons thought it was a terrible movie. The Youngest Son liked the movie but then conceded that he hadn’t read the book when he saw it. He then admitted that having now read the book he could see that the movie was not a good adaptation. The advice from the Boys was “don’t read the book before watching the movie and you might enjoy it.”

Inkheart

Inkheart
Based on the book by Cornelia Funke
Directed by Iain Softley
Screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire

The View: The books are great. (Inkheart is the first in a trilogy.) The movie was okay as a movie but it was not a good adaptation.

Astro Boy

Astro Boy (Animation)
Based on the Japanese manga series by Osamu Tezuka
Directed by David Bowers
Screenplay by Timothy Harris and David Bowers

The View: Once again, this adaptation did not find consensus. The Eldest Son thought the movie was average and felt they had changed everything. The Middle Son thought the movie was okay if you ignored the source material. The Youngest Son thought the movie was pretty good.

Coraline

Coraline (Animation)
Based on the book by Neil Gaiman
Directed by Henry Selick
Screenplay by Henry Selick

The View: This is a good movie as long as you haven’t read the book. If you’ve read the book, it’s a terrible adaptation. It did not do Neil Gaiman justice.

THE PLAIN UGLY

Dragonball Evolution

Dragonball Evolutions
Based on the Japanese manga series by Akira Toriyama
Directed by James Wong
Screenplay by Ben Ramsey

The View: Woeful. Absolute disgrace. Avoid at all costs.(Those are direct quotes.) Their advice, if you want an adaptation of this series, is to watch the animated television series.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
Based on the book series by Lemony Snicket
Directed by Brad Silberling
Screenplay by Robert Gordon

The View: TERRIBLE! BAD! SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN MADE! ABHORRENT MISHMASH! KLAUS DIDN’T EVEN HAVE GLASSES! (Yes, there was shouting.) And I would like to add my own appalled two-cents-worth. I adore this series of books and the movie was a complete travesty. Don’t bother with the movie. But do read the books.

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There were a few more (it was a lengthy, enthusiastic discussion) but that’s probably filled your brain enough.

So, tell me, what’s your favourite book-to-screen adaptation? What’s your worst? Let me know in the comments. Shouting is permitted but keep the language nice.

 

 

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