Book Vs. Movie is the podcast that ponders the question: "Which was better...the book or the movie?" We spoil away the details, uncover the plot points, discuss casting choices and shower with praise (or pummel with snark) as we see fit. Hosts are Margo P. (She's Nacho Mama's Blog) and Margo D. (Creator of Brooklyn Fit Chick.com) and we are not afraid to tell it like it is!
Duel (1971) Steven Spielberg, Dennis Weaver, & Richard Matheson
Book Vs. Movie: Duel
The Richard Matheson Short Story Vs. the Steven Spielberg TV Movie
In 1971, a 24-year-old budding director named Steven Spielberg was given a story by his assistant. This fiction story appeared in a recent issue of Playboy magazine, written by one of his favorite Twilight Zone writers, Richard Matheson. The story Duel was about a man driving through the California desert being chased by an evil trucker with a big rig with murder on its mind.
Matheson based it on an incident on November 22, 1963, when he was tailgated by a truck on his way home from a gold game. For years he tried to sell the story to TV but was turned down everywhere he pitched. To prepare for the short story, he drove from Los Angeles to Ventura, California, and recorded everything he saw.
Our protagonist is never named in the story, and we have no idea why the driver is chasing him.
Spielberg was looking to direct TV movies that were giant rating machines then and managed to get the gig with a $450,000 budget and only ten days to make it all work. In the end, he made a masterpiece that became a sensation in the early 1970s, including a 90-minute version released in Europe soon after.
Dennis Weaver gives an intense performance, and the stunt work by Dale Van Sickel and Carey Loftin help make this film a “must-watch” for all fans of Spielberg and/or movie thrillers
In this ep the Margos discuss:
The backstory of Speilberg’s early television careerThe outdoor shooting and stunt driving involvedThe influence Duel had on movie makingThe cast: Dennis Weaver (David Mann,) Jacqueline Scott (Mrs. Mann,) Eddie Firestone (cafe owner,) Lou Frizzel (bus driver,) Eugene Dynarski (man in cafe,) Lucille Benson as the “Lady at Snakerama.”
Dennis Weaver (talks to himself at the cafe)Duel original TV spot Dennis Weaver confronts a truckerDennis Weaver at the phonebooth sceneSteven Spielberg (behind-the-scenes interview)The truck crash scene and soundsMusic by Billy Goldenberg
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12 Angry Men (1957) Henry Fonda, Jack Klugman, Martin Balsam, Reginald Rose, & Sidney Lumet
Book Vs. Movie: 12 Angry Men
The 1954 Teleplay Vs. the 1957 Classic Film
The Margos close out a month of theatre vs. films with 12 Angry Men, which began as a teleplay in 1954 and was adapted to film by Sidney Lumet, with Henry Fonda serving as the lead actor and producer of the 1957 movie. The story centers on a young man who is accused of stabbing his father to death, and a group of 12 jurors must decide if he is guilty of premeditated murder, which carries a death sentence.
Writer Reginald Rose came up with the idea while serving jury duty in New York City and found the process “solemn” and “impressive.” The first airing on Studio One was September 20, 1954, with stars Robert Cummings, Franchot Tone, George Veskovec, Joseph Sweeney, and Norman Fell. Rose won an Emmy Award for his screenplay.
Henry Fonda produced the wok in 1957 with Sidney Lumet, and the low-budget affair failed to make a profit. Until he died in 1982, Fonda never received any money for his work or performance. But he rightly considered it one of his best.
The film stars some of the best character actors of the time and earned multiple Academy Award nominations (Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay) but competed in the same year as The Bridge on the River Kwai, which swept all of the major awards in 1957. In this episode, the Margos discuss the significant differences between the teleplay and the movie and try to decide which we like better.
In this ep the Margos discuss:
The backstory of the original TV productionThe strict demands of filming on one setThe case being tried and how it is picked apartThe cast: Martin Balsam (Juror 1,) John Fielder (Juror 2,) Lee J Cobb (Juror 3,) E.G. Marshall (Juror 4,) Jack Klugman (Juror 5,) Edward Binne (Juror 6,) Jack Warden (Juror 7,) Henry Fonda (Juror 8,) Joseph Sweeney (Juror 9,) Ed Begley (Juror 10,) George Voskovek, (Juror 11,) and Robert Webber as Juror 12.
The first count12 Angry Men 1957 trailer The knife sceneKids these daysThese daysMusic by Kenyon Hopkins
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Casablanca (1942) Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Peter Lorre, & Dooley Wilson (Play Vs Movie)
Book Vs. Movie: Casablanca
The 1940 Play Vs. the 1942 Classic Film
This January, we are saluting plays that were turned into films, and this episode covers one of the most beloved and celebrated films of all time--Casablanca. Yes, it was a play first by playwrights Murray Burnett and Joan Allison, who was offered $20,000 in 1940 (over $300,000 in today’s costs) for their story about a cafe in Africa helping refugees seek asylum in America during WW2.
The timing between the movie’s release in 1942, as the war effort in Northern Africa, was gaining and America was no longer playing neutral in the international crisis with Germany and Japan, was not a coincidence. The film was rushed into production to promote America’s armed forces and the people fleeing Europe from the Nazis.
Everybody Comes to Rick’s has the basics of the film’s plot, with two former lovers meeting again at Rick’s cafe. Rick and Lois met in Paris before the Germans invaded France and became illicit lovers. Two years later, Rick has a “gin joint” in Casablanca (Rick’s Cafe) and assists people looking to exile into America. His friend is a piano player who goes by the name “Rabbit,” and he gets visits from former Parisian residents like Luis Rinaldo. Lois is married to a man named Victor Lazlo, and they are fleeing from the Nazis.
They have a song, As Time Goes By, and reminisce about their affair in Paris. In the end, Rick helps Lois and her husband leave Casablanca while he takes off for parts unknown with Italian buddy Luis Rinaldo.
Burnett and Alison could not find a Broadway producer for the play, so they sold the rights and went on with their lives, not realizing the movie would go on to be a Hollywood classic, winning several awards and with a screenplay people quote 80 years later. Worse, their contributions would not be recognized. Eventually, they were able to put on their play in 1991.
The film stars Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine and Ingrid Bergman as his love interest--Ilsa Lund. The rest of the cast includes dozens of immigrants and refugees who felt passionate about the project. Casablanca is considered one of the best examples of propaganda in American film. We feel silly justifying how wonderful it is, but that is what we do at Book Vs. Movie!
In this episode, the Margos discuss the significant differences between the book and the play and try to decide which we like better. (It’s not going to be close!)
In this ep the Margos discuss:
The backstory of the play and movieThe international cast and what the world was like during filmingThe differences between the play and the movieThe cast: Humphrey Bogart (Rick,) Ingrid Bergman (Ilsa,) Paul Henreid (Victor Lazlo,) Claude Rains (Captain Louis Renault,) a href="https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0891998/"...
Biloxi Blues (1988) Matthew Broderick, Christopher Walken, Neil Simon, and Mike Nichols
Book Vs. Movie: Biloxi Blues
The 1984 Neil Simon Play Vs. the 1988 Mike Nichols Film
The Margos continue their month of plays in January (we have “Musicals in March”) with Neil Simon’s middle offer of the “Eugene Chronicles” with 1984’s Biloxi Blues. The story is a fictionalized version of the life of Simon about Eugene Morris Jerome of Brooklyn, NY, and his time as an enlisted soldier in Biloxi, Mississippi.
Starring Matthew Broderick (who played the role of Eugene in every chapter), the play was an instant hit earning Tony Awards for Best Play and Best Featured Player to Barry Miller (Arnold Epstein.) Broderick was awarded his first Tony Award as Eugene Jerome in Brighton Beach Memoirs in 1983. Miller also won the Theatre World Award and the Drama Desk Award in 1985 for Biloxi Blues, which may be why he was NOT invited to the movie. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert would later pan the film for not hiring Miller.
The critics loved the comedy and performances, as well as Simon’s outward discussion of the treatment of Jewish people at the time.
Mike Nichols directed the 1988 film that was a huge hit as part of a wave of 1980s films set in the military. (See Stripes, Private Benjamin, and Good Morning, Viet Nam.)
In this episode, the Margos discuss the significant differences between the book and the movie and try to decide which we like better.
In this ep the Margos discuss:
The work of Neil Simon & the “Eugene Trilogy.”The controversy of not casting Barry MillerThe significant differences between the play and the movieThe 1985 Broadway play: Matthew Broderick (Eugene Jerome,) William Sadler (Sgt. Toomey,) Barry Miller (Arnold Epstein,) Penelope Ann Miller (Daisy,) Randall Edwards (Rowena,) Matt Mulhern (Wykowski,) Alan Ruck (Carney,) Geoffrey Sharp (Hennesey) and Brian Tarantina as Selridge.The 1988 film: Matthew Broderick (Eugene Jerome,) Christopher Walken (Sgt. Toomey,) Markus Flanagan (Selridge,) Matt Mulhern (Wykowski,) Corey Parker (Epstein,) Casey Siemaszko...
Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf (1966) Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Edward Albee & Mike Nichols
Book Vs. Movie: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf The Edward Albee 1962 Play Vs. the 1966 Mike Nichols Film
The three-hour anger fest that is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf is one of the most celebrated and controversial of the 1960s. Edward Albee’s 1961 play is about middle-aged couple George & Martha, who have been drinking and battling for years, and one unfortunate evening they have with new friends Nick & Honey. It caused a stir at the time for its “racy” language, the three-hour runtime, and its intense performances by Uta Hagen, Arthur Hill, Ben Piazza, and Melinda Dillon.
The play was a sensation and broke box office records. So much, so that afternoon performances were added to meet the demand. It won the Tony Award and the New York Drama Critics Circle in 1963. The same year, it was up for a Pultizer Prize for Drama but lost due to its “profanity and sexual themes.” (There was no prize given that year.)
Mike Nichols directed the 1966 film with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, who ate up each scene with their unique partnership of love, hate, and movie-star charisma. (Their real-life love story is another whirlwind of multiple marriages, addiction, and pain.) George Segal and Sandy Dennis play Nick and Honey, and the entire cast and most of the production received Academy Award nominations. (Taylor and Dennis won)
Jack Valenti of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) said this was his first controversial film under his reign. Words like “screw” and “hump” were considered scandalous and had to be deleted from the script.
The story of George and Martha is one of the significant cultural landmarks of the 20th Century, with several productions over the past 60 years and several parodies, from The Carol Burnett Show to The Simpsons.
In this episode, the Margos discuss the original play and the 1966 adaptation and try to decide which we like better.
In this ep the Margos discuss:
The work of Edward AlbeeThe legend behind the title of the playThe significant differences between the play and the movieThe 1966 cast: Elizabeth Taylor (Martha,) Richard Burton (George,) George Segal (Nick,) and Sandy Dennis as Honey
Opening ClipWho's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? 1966 trailerMartha degrades GeorgeGeorge “shoots” MarthaMartha and Nick danceNick talks about boxing“I swear if you existed, I would divorce you!”One day it snaps…Music by Alex North
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The Poseidon Adventure (1972) Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, & Shelley Winters (Replay 2019 ep)
Book Vs. Movie: "The Poseidon Adventure" (1971)
The differences between the super gross book and the entertaining movie (We are not going to hide our bias here!)
At Book Vs. Movie, whenever people say, "Duh--the book is always better than the movie!" the Margos would say, "yeah--have you ever read Jaws?" Well, now we have another book-to-movie adaptation that features a horrible, racist, sexist, homophobic, and misogynistic novel that became a fun hit film.
Sportswriter Paul Gallico helped many stories become excellent films, including Pride of the Yankees, The Snow Goose, and the musical stage Carnival! He wrote over 40 books, numerous short stories, and dozens of T.V. and movie scripts. He began his career working for the New York Daily News sports desk and later became a prolific travel writer spending 10,000 miles on the road in the U.S. for Reader's Digest.
In 1969, he published The Poseiden Adventure to little fanfare. The tale of a wayward ship sunk while traveling to Africa features some of the most loathsome characters we have ever had the displeasure of reading. (The audiobook featuring narration by actor Dylan Baker makes it slightly more palatable.)
Trigger warning: This story features a character being raped who then comforts her attacker and wishes she was pregnant by him. (Seriously!)
The movie by producer Irwin Allen and director Ronald Neame became an instant classic which began a slate of many disaster films in the 1970s. It would become the highest-grossing film of 1973, grossing over $125 million worldwide. It won an Academy Award for best special effects and best original song "The Morning After."
Our lead actor is Gene Hackman as Reverand Frank Scott who is a renegade preacher who turns into a hero for the passengers of the S.S. Poseidon (partly filmed on the RMS Queen Mary.) at the time, he was a hot property after the success of The French Connection, and his performance is very passionate. Co-star Shelley Winters won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Belle Rosen--a middle-aged swimmer who gives her life to protect the survivors. (Spoiler!) Please listen to find out our real feelings between the book & movie, as this one will go down as one of our biggest takedowns of a horrible piece of work. In this ep the Margos discuss:
The writing career of Paul GallicoHow genuinely terrible this book is and why you should not read it.The special effects of the film and how it changed disaster films of the futureThe cast: Gene Hackman (Reverand Frank Scott,) Ernest Borgnine (Mike Rogo,) Red Buttons (James Martin,) Carol Lynley (Nonnie Parry,) Roddy McDowell (Acres,) Stella Stevens (Linda Rogo,) Shelley Winters (Belle Rosen,) a href="https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0016776/" target="_blank"...
This podcast is so well done. They need their own tv show!
Love Love Love
Listened to What a Creep and Dorking Out and heard about this podcast and I have binged a ton in the last 3 days. Such good banter and just f’in funny comments.
Vicki was jealous of Maggie going camping/being alone with Mitch. The girls knew Vicky was not an outdoor type.