Anne here, responding to a question from one of our readers. JaneAnn asked, "Why can't we see more books go to TV movies? Although I predominately read, I do like a good movie —generally after I have read the book. TV stinks so my nose is always in a book of one kind or another. I like them all, if well written. Live to read and read to Live." ( JaneAnn will receive a book for the question)
JaneAnn, it's an interesting question. Of course, authors aren't the ones who make the decision about whether to turn a book into a movie, but it's also an issue that's been niggling at me lately. Quite often contemporary romances get made into movies, but I don't know of many (any?) historicals — and given the current popularity of costume dramas, I think that's a pity. Is it maybe because movie producers don't know about the wealth of stories out there, or are there too many to look at, so they don't look at any?
I love Jane Austen, but lately I've been wondering how many more Jane Austen movies, remakes and spinoffs can we bear? Don't get me wrong — I've enjoyed every version of Pride and Prejudice I've seen, from the old black and white version with Greer Garson as Lizzy and Sir Laurence Olivier as a wonderfully stiff Darcy, to the Colin Firth wet shirt series and I even enjoyed the Keira Knightly / Matthew Macfayden version with the peculiar pig-wandering-through scene (what were they thinking of?) I've liked them each for each for different reasons, though the series was the only one that could live up to the book, simply because of its length. And that's just from one title. But really, I think it's time to give Austen a little rest — look around, movie makers and TV producers — there are many more wonderful books out there that would make wonderful costume dramas.
For instance, Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters, North and South (with Richard Armitage, sigh,) and more recently, Cranford have all been excellent.
But I would love producers and directors to look wider afield, not just at nineteenth century novelists, but at some more recent novels set in historical times.
In particular, I would dearly love to see Georgette Heyer's books made into movies. Her books are superb — witty, fast paced, well plotted, with brilliant characters. There have been just two of her books filmed, as far as I know — a German version of Arabella, about which I know nothing, and a British adaptation of The Reluctant Widow in 1950 which was so bad that Heyer was reportedly horrified and refused to allow any more of her books to be turned into films.
I've seen that film — it turns up on late night tv reruns from time to time. It was made as a gothic adventure and the hero was acted by a tall, cadaverous fellow with long gangly legs and a very strange hairdo. Not my image of a hero at all! And the movie heroine was a helpless wimp, not at all like Heyer's Elinore, who was a woman of humor and character. The script writers had no understanding of the appeal of the novel, so they culled all the humor, characterization and subtlety from the book, keeping only the bare bones of the mystery plot. So I can understand Heyer's distress and her subsequent ban.
But fifty years has passed since that debacle, and as far as I am concerned the time is ripe for Heyer books to be filmed, hopefully by the people who did such a superb job of the Gaskell books, or the people who made P&P the series (cue to wet shirt) and not by screen adaptors who don't understand the appeal of the original.
But it's not just Heyer, there are dozens more, probably hundreds of historical romances I can think of that have the qualities necessary to make great movies — action, lively, sparky dialogue and a rattling good yarn, and written by (gasp!) living writers.
I'd love to see Elizabeth Lowell's 3 connected medieval historicals (Untamed, Forbidden and Untouched) made into movies. Amanda Quick's stories would easily adapt to the screen, I think. Mary Jo Putney and Jo Beverley's books are so meaty and complex they'd make brilliant mini series. I'd love to see Laura Kinsale's Flowers from the Storm made into a movie, and Eva Ibbotson's books would, I think make excellent films. And I would probably kill to see Loretta Chase's Mr. Impossible in a movie, though I'm not sure who'd play Rupert…
And the list goes on as more and more titles spring to mind…
So if you had the power to make just one historical into a movie or TV series, what would it be, and why?
And if you were able to cast a movie for Mr Impossible, who would you choose to play Rupert?
And if you know any movie producers, please, hand them your favorite historical romance.