Friday, September 29, 2006

Another Column

Below is another column I wrote for a local paper this week. I still haven't figured out how often it will appear or exactly what it will be about. Right now, my focus has been on mass media, especially movies, television, and books because that is my forte. However, I'm debating about whether to broaden it into other areas. Also, I'm not sure if I like the title. It's full of alliteration, but it doesn't seem catchy. Let me know if you have any suggestions.
Tidbits from Tom

By: Tom Varner

Last week Steve Zaillian’s long delayed version of All the King’s Men was released. The movie is loosely based upon the 1947 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Robert Penn Warren and stars Sean Penn as Willie Stark. I haven’t seen the film myself, but from the reviews I’ve read and from talking with people who have seen it, I recommend not watching the movie. Warren’s novel itself is loosely based upon the life of Huey Long, the Kingfisher. Long was the governor of Louisiana from 1928-1932 and served as one of Louisiana’s Senators from 1932-1935 and had planned to run for the U.S. Presidency until he was assassinated on September 10, 1935. Apparently, to give the movie a more “universal” feel, Zaillian and Penn didn’t set the film in Louisiana. They also moved the timeline from the Great Depression to the 1950s. Oh, also, instead of sticking to the general themes of the novel, they decided to make the film in their own personal vision and philosophy.

Instead of seeing this latest version of All the King’s Men, you’re better off watching the classic 1949 production starring Broderick Crawford. This version stays closer to the spirit of the novel. It also won the Oscar for Best Picture in 1950. In a strange bit of irony, John Wayne was the first choice to portray Willie Stark in the 1949 version, but wrote a feisty letter turning down the role. Later, Wayne was nominated for Best Actor in 1950 for Sands of Iowa Jima, but lost out to Crawford.

If that doesn’t appeal to you, go read Warren’s novel. There’s a reason it won the Pulitzer Prize. It truly is a piece of classic American literature.

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