We’ve all used the old adage, “The movie is never as good as the book.” Maybe that’s true. The post previous to this one follows that line. To put it mathematically:
Book > Movie
The book is always greater than the movie. But, what if that’s because the book comes first? What if we were to change the order of the formula:
Movie ~ Book
The movie is approximate to, generates interest in, and leads to the book. In other words, sometimes a movie motivates you to read the book.
Such is the case with the Humphrey Bogart-Lauren Bacall B-movie classic Dark Passage.
I first watched Dark Passage at Turner Classic Movies on Demand and, though it was a tad slow, was intrigued by the story. The most interesting part of the movie is the first-person camera usage through the first two acts, a real feat for its time (or any time, for that matter … who uses extended first-person today?)
In a subsequent viewing, I noticed that the movie is based on a book by David Goodis.
I needed to find the book. Of course, it’s largely out of print, but in a desperate movie, I searched the local library and, lo and behold, there it was.
What a book. I know that when it comes to noir writers there’s Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and then everyone else. However, there’s a whole bevy of writers who churned out pulp during that period and Goodis was one of the best. It’s pretty safe to say that he is probably the best writer no one has heard of.
It’s a shame. The book is a quick read, full of poetic phrasings and protagonist loathing that makes it a real page-turner. The “hero” is no hero, but a self-doubting coward who falls his way through a jail escape. He’s no Bogart.
And yet, while reading, Bogart’s interpretation helped me stay on track. It gave me a comparison point. The movie enhanced the reading process.
So, what movies have motivated you to read? Thumbsucker may be in my future.
Is the movie-to-book process more fulfilling that the book-to-movie formula?