Saturday, January 30, 2010

Charles Dickens

One of the movies TCM showed last night as part of its salute to Jean Simmons was a 1946 adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations. I read the book in one of my English classes back in junior high or high school many years ago, but had never seen the movie before.

I'm not certain if it's the best adaptation of a Dickens novel out there. I argued when I recommended Chariots of Fire that one thing latter-day moviemakers have an advantage in is location shooting being able to make pictures look more authentic. I mentioned the Merchant/Ivory movies and that period of British history in connection with Chariots of Fire, if only because most of those stories are set in the interwar period. But I think the point also holds with works from the Victorian era and earlier. TCM is showing the 1939 adaptation of Wuthering Heights this evening at 8:00 PM ET and, while it's a well-made movie, there's something about it that seems wrong. Well, maybe not wrong, but studio-bound or limited in some way compared to things like the more recent adaptations of Jane Austen's works (yes, I know Wuthering Heights wasn't written by Austen).

Getting back to Dickens, TCM is showing another adaptation of a Dickens work: the 1958 Dirk Bogarde version of A Tale of Two Cities, at 8:00 AM Sunday. Dickens has proved to be one of the more popular writers to adapt as well, with everything from short movies to TV miniseries. Which is your favorite film adaptation of a Dickens work?

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