Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Can anything now be source material for movies?

You would have thought that Battleship answered that question in the affirmative. After all, what could seem less likely inspiration for a film than a kids’ game played with paper and pen. They told us it was inspired by the …

Sun, Jun 10, 2012, 19:45

   

You would have thought that Battleship answered that question in the affirmative. After all, what could seem less likely inspiration for a film than a kids’ game played with paper and pen. They told us it was inspired by the Hasbro game, but we know the true source. This was rather like basing a thriller on noughts and crosses or consequences. Come to think of it, many Hollywood scripts, written by teams, do rather look as if they were constructed in the manner of that last parlour game. Man walks into bar and, er?, um?, meets an alien who, ehh?, invites him to rob a bank on the moon. You know how they go these days.

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A few weeks ago, we reported on the news that Warner Brothers are basing a film on Lego. Movies derived from beer bottles and cigarette packets are surely on their way towards us in the near future. Before then, if Deadline is to be believed, we should get a film version of The Guinness Book of World Records. Actually this notion has been floating around for quite a while, but it seemed so ludicrous that we paid it no great attention. It still might not happen. As Deadline points out, a version of Ripley’s Believe it or Not was also on the table for quite a while. That was a different business, however. The film was allegedly going to tell the tale of Robert Ripley, founder of the chronicle of bizarre happenings. Warners (it’s them again) are surely not going to run through the story of Ross and Norris McWhirter’s efforts to set up their durable reference work. Who would play Roy Castle? Would they consider Jedward for the twin central roles?

We should, in a sense, be surprised that it has taken so long. The Guinness book remains one of the biggest selling tomes of all time. It has recognition factor. And movies have been made of self-help books such as What to Expect When You’re Expecting, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying and Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask). It shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to work a story around tall men, fast cars, deep ocean trenches and birds with large wingspans. Should it?

Still, the story does set the mind pondering as to what entities still demand movie adaptation. They’ve done video games. They’ve done telly. They’ve done comic books. What about songs? I can think of Frankie and Johnny (the Elvis version) and Alice’s Restaurant, but then the mind grinds to a halt. The famously awful Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was based on the album, rather than the song. I fancy a cinematic take on Bob Dylan’s Desolation Row or the same singer’s Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands. Now there’s material to conjure with. No, it’s a stupid idea. Forget I said anything.

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