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The Gripe

The Baltimore Sun

The current run of disappointing adaptations (today: Feast of Love) and remakes (next week: The Heartbreak Kid) suggests that moviemakers might be better off using the original properties as jumping-off points rather than blueprints or templates.

After all, a filmed or written work of fiction often becomes distinctive because it conjures mysteries beyond the movie frame or between the lines.

Billy Wilder said that when he watched David Lean's poignant extramarital romance Brief Encounter, what intrigued him was the character of the man who lent the would-be lovers his flat - that's what led Wilder to make his award-winning The Apartment.

When Howard Hawks adapted Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not, he tossed the novel out and created histories for the characters that explained what made them who they were in the book.

And instead of twisting a movie milestone into a pretzel or creating a bloated celluloid precis of a novel, they created a couple of classics of their own.

michael.sragow@baltsun.com

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