Best Writing (Adapted) – 1962

Actual Nominations: To Kill A Mockingbird. David And Lisa. Lawrence Of Arabia. Lolita. The Miracle Worker.

Two titans of literature go up against a couple of curiosities and a pseudo-biography. The bane of high-school English students everywhere, To Kill A Mockingbird is Harper Lee’s only novel to date, and Horton Foote’s earnest adaptation condenses all of issues concerning prejudice and injustice without losing any of the power or sincerity. Dealing directly with controversial topics, both the film and the book are overwhelming successes. Lolita, on the other hand is a much more sordid affair, dealing with taboo and whilst still a success should be considered on a different level. Although Nabokov is credited with the screenplay, Kubrick and Harris had a greater hand in the adaptation. Unlike Mockingbird, Lolita the films is greatly changed from the book – mainly to avoid the wrath of the censors with most of the explicit stuff made subtext rather than clear and present. If anything this gives a more sinister undertone to the action. William Gibson worked closely with Arthur Penn on the adaptation of The Miracle Worker which is based on Helen Keller’s autobiography, but it is the performances rather than the words which give the film its power. Dealing with similar issues, Eleanor Perry’s adaptation of Rubin’s David And Lisa is fine if a little sugary. Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson’s take on the life of T.E.Lawrence pays the necessary liberties to bring a coherent, dramatic tale to the screen.

My Winner: To Kill A Mockingbird

 foote

My Nominations: Lawrence Of Arabia. Lolita. To Kill A Mockingbird. The 300 Spartans. The Day Of The Triffids. The Trial. The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm. Dr No.

Quite a few additions to the various official nominations which made it over to my list – with a mixture of history, science fiction and more literary giants making the grade. The 300 Spartans isn’t simply a nonsensical action film – the various writers merging chaos to create something stirring and topical (Cold War undertones), while David P Harmon, William Roberts, and Charles Beaumont’s screenplay does well with the gigantic task of bringing together the many Grimm’s fairytales to make a fine standalone story. Bernard Gordon changes many elements of Wyndam’s The Day Of The Triffid’s to again create something unique from the novel and while it is a much more simple tale, it creates enough drama to still be watchable today, while Maibum, Harwood, and Mather’s script for Dr No is much more faithful to the source material and set the standard for every Bond film to come, not to mention a host of imitators. My final choice has probably the most interesting adaptation – with Orson Welles giving his own twist on Kafka’s The Trial, bringing it up to date and playing around with certain details and plot points.

My Winner: Lolita

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