Thursday, 4 December 2014

Thursday Movie Picks Meme: Films Adapted From a Play

With all the exams and essays I've had to worry about lately, I've been a bit behind on the Thursday Movie Picks Meme hosted by Wanderer. This week, the theme is movies adapted from a play, which seems simple enough. Unfortunately there is a catch: they cannot be adapted from Shakespeare or a musical.

Casablanca (1942)

Technically, the original play on which it was based, Everybody Comes to Rick's, was never actually performed on stage, but it was originally a play that got turned into a film so it still counts. Casablanca could be seen as an early film noir, as well as a thinly-veiled allegory for America's involvement in World War II. Either way it is an amazing film. Humphrey Bogart delivers a great performance and his supporting cast is full of interesting characters. It's final scene alone has become very iconic, and with parodies and homages far too many to name.

12 Angry Men (1957)

This film is somewhat infamous for its all-white, all-male jury and not without good reason in today's world. There's a reason the later 1997 TV film added some racial diversity and modern productions of the play are re-titled "Twelve Angry Jurors" (it helps that most of the characters are only referred to by their jury number and we only get vague hints at their personal lives, so any one of them can be played by a woman without changing anything).  However, even if it's dated on a sociological level the basic idea underneath is still very relevant today. It's a story about how you shouldn't take anything at face value, in this instance what seems an open and shut homicide case that turns out to have several gaping flaws on closer examination.

Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)

I won't even begin to pretend I understand the source material at all. Apparently Anton Chekhov is an inspired taste, but this particular treatment from the director of My Dinner With Andre starring Wallace Shawn, a young Julianne Moore, and that girl who got kidnapped in The Silence of the Lambs is an interesting experience. It takes on the approach of a group of actors (who are only ever referred to by their characters' names) performing a rehearsal of a play in a run-down New York theater and casual attire. The result is that is becomes hard to tell where reality ends and the performance begins. Characters who appear to be acting casually turn out to be acting, and sometimes you start to feel like you're really seeing the play only for some small detail to ground you back into the reality.


  1. Excellent choices, especially Casablanca and 12 Angry Men, both are classics in my humble opinion.

  2. Not the biggest Bogey fan, but I really like Casablanca.

    12 Angry Men is simply one of my all time favorites.

    Never heard of that last one, but it does sound interesting.

    1. Even if you're not a Chekhov fan, and believe me I'm not (I actually wanted to try and fit in some kind of joke referring to Pavel Chekhov from Star Trek), Vanya on 42nd Street is still an interesting experience in the way it plays with your views of reality.

  3. What can one say about Casablanca that hasn't been said already. I believe the film is better than the play. I love 12 Angry Men. It is one of my favourite films because it is so telling about racism and the personalities that come through. The last one I have no idea:)

  4. I didn't enjoy Casablanca but I did like 12 Angry Men. I think I've even seen the TV movie you mentioned. More recently there was also a Russian adaptation entitled just 12.
    Wandering through the Shelves