Thursday, July 30, 2015


Warning: I'm going to cheat. A. it's a stretch to categorise three of my top four as "crime novels" and B. I'm uploading clips. But maybe that's not cheating in this context.

4. Adaptation

Adaptation is a fine flowering of the divine Charlie Kaufman's genius and actually - ha! - it is about a crime. It's based on the book The Orchid Thief about . . . an orchid thief. Orchid theft's a crime.
But really it's about writing and contains one of the best snatches of dialogue ever on the subject:

                                              Bad Writer: it's a metaphor.
                                              Good Writer: FOR WHAT?

Anyone who hasn't had the chance to start loving it yet, click here for the trailer.

3. Rebecca

Properly speaking, Rebecca is a melodrama, I suppose. And a love story. But Mrs Danvers is the scariest thing I'd ever seen the first time I ever saw it, and there's a suspicious death and some major arson, so I'm claiming it. It's also got the worst proposal ever:

                                       Maxim: I'm asking you to marry me, you little fool.
                                       The Girl: *melts*

Words you'll never hear at the climax of a Bruno Mars flashmob.

I'm linking to the trailer here, but click at your peril: at the end of this two minutes YouTube carries on and plays the entire film. If you've got a couple of hours to spare, though . . .

2. Sense and Sensibility

What? Breach of promise, of course. A dastardly crime perpetrated by cads and bounders on defenceless maidens. It's a wonderful, joyous book. I love it. But it's flawed. Emma Thompson fixes the flaws and yet hangs on to whole scenes worth of Austen's words. For me, though, Hugh Laurie has the best dialogue of all, as the eternally grumpy husband of the irritating Mrs Palmer.

                        Mrs Palmer: ... we live but half a mile away.
                        Mr Palmer: Five and a half miles.
                        Mrs Palmer: No, I cannot believe it is that far, for you can see the place from the
                        top of our hill. Is it really five and a half? No. I cannot believe it.
                        Mr Palmer: Try.

Watch the trailer by clicking here; Thompson's spark is clearly in evidence. But the voice-over? Now, there's a crime.

1. And finally, an actual crime novel that was made into an actual crime movie. Both of them leave me helpless with laughter after God knows how many readings and viewings . . .

The trailer is a minor miracle: they managed to find two and a half minutes with no F-bombs. See for yourself by clicking here. Note too that it's the same voice-over as Sense and Sensibility, only quite a bit more at home.


Meredith Cole said...

Such great films! You make me want to go rewatch Adaptation... And all of them, really.

RJ Harlick said...

I'm with you for Rebecca. Great book and great film. And Mrs. Danvers had me looking over my shoulder too.

Triss said...

I have to say I hated Adaptation. I don't have time right now to explain why...and maybe I should see it again? But Get Shorty? Perfect in every form. And so is Sense and Sensibility-every line, every character,an all time favorite. You made me realize I've never actually seen Rebecca the movie. HOW is this possible? Must fix as soon as I can.

Susan C Shea said...

I smile at the very mention of Emma Thompson's adaptation of Austin's book. I love them both but you're right - Thompson really nailed what's best about the story, and the dialogue hums and sings and charms the hell out of me every time. When Eleanor bursts into tears at the end, so do I!