Culture

10 Great Adaptations That Don't Exist (Yet)

Delicacy with source material is key when adapting a beloved play or novel for the screen. Though a completely faithful adaptation would be a fool's errand -- after sifting through the hands of screenwriters, producers, and test audiences (not to mention a wealth of studio executives) -- there are plenty that occupy a cozy little nook in the viewer's heart right next to the spot reserved for its textual origins. Just take a look at "The Fault in Our Stars" or 2005's "Pride and Prejudice."

It can be done, most certainly, without alienating a loyal fan base.

But a complexity of literary style tends to vex even the most ambitious screenwriter -- dooming novelists or playwrights such as James Joyce or Harold Pinter to a wordly existence, their sophisticated texts as dependent upon technique as narrative power.

Still, there are other works of literature and stage that would promise great cinema should they get their day on the big screen. Some have been swimming around in development hell, some have been written off as relics, and some seem too overwhelming to survive the transition.

The following ten works are on our wish list for a life in celluloid:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Novel)
Mark Haddon's wildly popular mystery novel, narrated first-person through the eyes of a fifteen-year-old boy with an autism spectrum disorder, provides a challenge for any director to maintain the original tone. But it may be getting its due -- Steve Kloves, popular for scripting much of the "Harry Potter" film series, will adapt and direct, with Brad Pitt on board to produce.

The Pillow Man (Play)
Martin McDonough's play, equal parts psychological thriller, horror, and mystery, would translate beautifully to the screen, especially if the production could manage to maintain much of its original London and New York casts, which included David Tennant, Jim Broadbent, Jeff Goldblum, and Michael Stuhlbarg. For direction, we might want to defer to one of the masters of cinematic serial killers: David Fincher.

Black Boy (Novel)
Richard Wright's two-part bildungsroman has never gotten to live on film, perhaps as a pitfall of its intellectual subject matter. Concerning a young African-American contending with the horrors of racism and crime in the American South and the hurdles of enlightenment after his arrival in the North, Wright's novel could cast a variety of marvelous young actors as its maturing protagonist, perhaps giving Michael B. Jordan a reasonable shot during awards season.

Maus (Graphic Novel)
Art Spiegelman's perennially controversial cat-and-mouse graphic novel set during the Holocaust calls for some serious masterminding in order to give it the movie it deserves. CGI? Live-action? Simple animation? Every choice, including possible celebrity voices, would have to jibe perfectly in order to appease the novel's ardent followers.

Cat's Cradle (Novel)
Possessing a fan base of even greater proportions than Maus, Kurt Vonngeut's Cat's Cradle is a book of heightened reality, humor, and weaponry, where an ill-handled adaptation could result in a major blunder for any particular filmmaker. Let's hope that Leo Dicaprio's production company, Appian Way, can make good use of the classic novel, which it has recently optioned.

The Merry Wives of Windsor (Play)
Former films of this puppy, including efforts by the BBC and Shakespeare's Globe, really don't give it its big-budget due. But one of Shakespeare's weaker comedies is still a Shakespeare comedy, so, hey, let's give it the primo treatment it deserves. The plot is relatively frivolous and certainly hilarious, bordering on farce, and when was that ever worse than sitting through "Jack and Jill"? Let's get an all-star cast, of course (maybe link up with some of our pals from across the pond?), and just completely destroy this thing.

The Jungle (Novel)
Upton Sinclair's high school favorite received the silent treatment in 1914, but a modern day adaptation could illuminate Jurgis' dashed American dreams at the hands of Marty Scorsese, who made the plight of the immigrant so digestible in "Gangs of New York." And the corrupt food production industry in Hi-Def? Yep.

I Am My Own Wife (Play)
Doug Wright's acclaimed one-man show about the life of transgender East German Charlotte von Mahlsdorf would be a tough nut to crack, but in the hands of biopic specialist Gus Van Sant, and starring Neil Patrick Harris, it might have a chance.

Assassins (Musical)
Multiple eras of American history and the sinister carnival setting make Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's musical perfect fodder for a screen birth. Direction is up in the air, but there's a variety of singing talents to cast in the colorful ensemble.

The Most Dangerous Game (Short Story)
Okay, this already has a screen version that people tend to like. But it's been eighty-two years. So let's re-up this most perfectly constructed three-act structure in the history of the short stories with some really boss performers. Rainsford by Jude Law, Zaroff by Christoph Waltz, and Ivan by Joe Manganiello.

Tell us: Which books and plays would you like to finally see adapted?

  • patch

    The Most Dangerous Game has been adapted relatively recently. The John Leguizamo movie The Pest was undeniably an adaptation of the short story.

  • http://Matthewsgarcia88.tumblr.com Matt

    Man, still wish Kavalier and Clay would get off the ground.

  • http://Wordcandy.net Julia

    Anything by Georgette Heyer. Please, movie gods. Or TV gods. Or anyone. Hell, I'd take a radio play at this point.

    Also, 'Nine Coaches Waiting', by Mary Stewart, although I've always wondered how they'd handle the French/English stuff. Best chase scene ever.

    • Eileen H

      I'm with you on Georgette Heyer. I'd also like to see some Mary Stewart, but probably as a television series. They'd have to cut out all the cigarettes though. Are you old enough to remember "The Moon Spinners" with Hayley Mills? Big disappointment.

  • Johnjohnphenom

    The talisman should make the list. Personally Id like to see hatchet made into a film, its been awhile since we got a good wilderness movie.

  • Observer

    Wish there could be a faithful adaptation of Eddings' Belgariad series. I'd even settle for animated.

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