New! – Your Least Favorite Movies and Books

Here are some of mine:


Death In Venice – I walked out of this one in college. A middle-aged man’s erotic infatuation with an adolescent boy simmers, it is suggested, beneath the surface. In reality nothing ever happens. The action is all silence, furtive glances and views of dramatic sunlit esplanades. Hard pass.

Whale Rider – A politically correct, tear jerking piece of crap. It’s got the exploited-native-peoples angle, the anti-Anglosphere culture angle, the You Go Girl! feminist competition-fantasy and anti-male angle. And of course those stupid whales. What’s not to dislike?

The Help – Essentially a cartoon in which the white characters are crass, stupid, racist jerks and the black characters are smart, kind and wise. In case you don’t get the point, the disgusting white people are all southerners with strong southern accents. We must fight stereotypes – except, it seems, the ones that serve our argumentative purposes. Run, don’t walk.


The Magus – The worst book I’ve ever read. The protagonist is unappealing, the plot silly and incredible. This one-star Amazon review tells the tale:

A reminder of how terrible writing can be
Perhaps the worst book I’ve ever read. I’ve seen Scooby Doo episodes more plausible than this mess. Suggestion for the author: if your plot turns on its head not only every chapter, but practically every page, readers will realize the story is contrived garbage and stop caring.
What is contrived here? Maybe the endless scenes of naked people running around wearing antler masks, the star chamber of evil academics from the Sorbonne watching naked prisoners whip each other on racks, oh just remembering the juvenile and ludicrous “plot” makes me wet with embarrassment. The author admits in the preface that this book was an unsuccessful and sophomoric effort, and that’s the only convincing thing in the whole book.
[. . .]

(True story: I was once at a social gathering when someone asked someone else to name the worst book he had ever read. I immediately thought about this book. It was the other guy’s choice too.)

What are your least favorite movies and books? Feel free to share in the comments.

57 thoughts on “New! – Your Least Favorite Movies and Books”

  1. Sigh. About ten years ago (maybe longer) I got into providing reviews of books and movies. Several sometime providers of linkage and stuff offered gigs reviewing movies, later branching out into books for other web enterprises. I think the motivation for the first provider was – ‘Hey! Free Movies For Review’ and honestly, I did manage to score a good few copies of DVDs and printed books for review, although I only went for the ones which interested me. For movies – only those I was interested in anyway … and for books, I learned early on to check the sample chapters offered on Amazon before committing to do a review. I honestly did not want to write reviews saying basically, “This book/movie sucked with the force sufficient to reel in small asteroids and moons,” and give the whys and analysis. Giving a bad review on that basis was too much like stomping kittens and puppies; needlessly cruel and a waste of my time reading enough it to be honest. But the very worse book I ever read for review … gads, was that a groaner.
    Seriously, the worse book I ever read willingly, and I was an English major.
    I bailed on that book about a third in, where the author described a seeecret underground chamber insulated with Styrofoam…

    The second-worst was this one, where I fell for the write-up and didn’t take care to check out the sample chapters.
    It’s appalling – basically a late 20th century soap opera, all dressed up in mid-19th century garb.
    And no, the author did not capture a single element of the 19th century vibe.

  2. I dunno… Lately, it seems that it would be a hell of a lot easier to list that which was really good or worthwhile than that which is utter dreck and craptastic.

    I honestly can’t remember the last time I picked up a mainstream work of fiction or watched a movie or TV series that was really good. The majority of the time, I start reading it, realize I can see where the author is going, skip to the end of the book to find out if I was right, aaaaand… We’re done. About the only thing that gets me to go back and actually read the damn thing is if the characters were interesting and there’s an unexpected outcome there at the end.

    So much crap, so little time. I suspect that if our era is remembered, it will be reviled for the sheer amount of crap we added to the legacy of our ancestors, while simultaneously erasing our heritage in the name of social justice and political correctness.

    I really hope there’s a secret society of librarians out there, preserving copies of everything that their peers are sending to be pulped as they work through the card catalogs. If not, I suspect that virtually everything of real worth is going to be lost and forgotten by about 2100.

  3. Worst Movie – Alien3

    Worst Book – The Last Sherlock Holmes Story, in which it is revealed at the end that Holmes has a double personality, the other being Jack The Ripper. I threw the book across the room.

  4. Worst movie was “Thin Red Line” which I saw with my son and dil. I was sitting there trying to figure out who the characters were when I noticed people leaving and not returning. I had assumed they were going to the bathroom of for a drink but they never came back. Pretty soon we were among the few left and I suggested it was time for us.

    Naturally it was nominated for Best Picture.

    I walked out of “No Way Out” back when it first came out. Coincidentally, I was with that same son but he wasn’t married yet. I saw it again later and it was OK.

    Books, the later WEB Griffin novels are bad. I loved his work but he got old and his son started to take over. The same thing happened with Stephen Ambrose.

    I have a new novelist I am working my way through all his books. Andrew Wareham. Most of those novels are about the Industrial Revolution in England in late 18th and 19th centuries. He also has a great series about the WWI RFC. He has begun a sequel series about the RAF in WWII. His technical detail, which I also loved about WEB Griffin, is excellent. For example, most airplane engines in WWI were rotary. The entire engine rotated around the shaft which was fixed.

  5. Movies, limiting to ones I saw on the theater:
    Batman Returns–the original sequel, with Danny Devito as Penguin and Michelle Pfeifer as Cat Woman, iirc. Tim Burton is a terrible, terrible director.
    The English Patient–utter dreck.
    American Beauty–blah blah, the mean, masculine, hyper-American Marine is secretly gay. How trangressive. Yawn.
    Red–from the Three Colors trilogy. I’m still convinced the subtitles must have been from a different movie.
    Erin Brockovich–Julia Roberts plays a loathsome vile woman who we’re somehow supposed to sympathize with.

  6. Mike K…I’m currently reading Wareham’s ‘The Earl’s Other Son’ series, which you recommended. Very good.

    I’d initially expected the protagonist to be a Flashman-type character, but he takes his profession a lot more seriously than Flashy did.

  7. Worst movie:
    Chariots of Fire
    One of the very few movies I have ever walked out on… and I have seen LOTS of “straight to drive-in” movies… so this is saying A LOT. I’ve probably seen somewhere between 5000 and 10000 movies.

    Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo boring (add more o’s… many many more o’s)

    Honorable mention:
    The Abyss
    This one was all on Cameron, whose editing was atrocious. It’s an important film because it first made use of the morphing effect used to so much better effect in Terminator 2. There are at least two scenes —
    1 – the opening scene, where they mention that it will take hours to get acclimated to the pressure @ depth… Then they pop into the capsule and then right back out of it, with nothing to suggest the passage of time… there are so may tropes for this — spinning clock, a few successive pix of a clock with time advancing… that the lack of ANYTHING is just jarring.
    2 – And this is the worst one… There is a point where the female lead has drowned, and Ed Harris is trying to revive her. It’s a fine dramatic scene, but it’s cut like crap, it’s far far far far (yes: add many many more ‘far’s) too long. Despite the intention to be dramatic, it goes on, shoots past melodrama and gets to low comedy. Yes, the audience was snickering and laughing at this one before the end.
    This film gets its honorable mention because of the level of talent involved… Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Cameron… Plus the fact that it’s got a decent movie at its core.

  8. Well, the most disappointing movie that had a good cast was Monkeybone with Brendan Frasier.

    Another one – staring John Belushi and Dan Akroyd that was a bomb – I walked out on – was Neighbors. It stunk.

    You see a movie with Belushi and Akroyd and you expect to laugh. This was billed as a “dark comedy”.

    It was dark all right. Not a laugh to be heard in the theater.

    Books? Well, one that comes to mind was on the Monuments Men. Maybe it was **the** book on the Monuments Men.

    Which is a fascinating subject, how a small Army unit of a couple 100 Phd Privates and Captains came in near the front lines, found Goring’s stashed treasures looted from Europe’s Museums and Jewish owners, and saved Europe’s cultural heritage.

    Can’t readily find the book on Amazon although I wrote a review. It was written by a woman from Oxford? Cambridge?

    Don’t get me wrong, it was hundreds of pages – 800? Chock full of detail.

    Too much detail.

    I was fascinated to learn that a Parisian art dealer, in fleeing Nazi Paris, fell in a cargo hold of a ship and died.

    I really hate “scholarly” books.

    Just because you know it doesn’t mean the reader might be interested.

    There are other books and movies, but those are off the top of my head.

  9. Most hyped movie that disappointed? Well, I am going back aways but it was a real dud.

    Two Lane Blacktop with James Taylor and the Beach Boy’s Dennis Wilson.

    It was about 2 drag racers going across the US in a ’55 Chevy.

    Esquire Magazine just raved about it – couldn’t give it enough superlatives.

    The only noteworthy performance in that movie was the Chevy, which went on with Harrison Ford 5 years later to superstardom in American Graffiti.

  10. In younger days I had a sense of obligation to finish books that I started. Life is short, and I’ve learned better.
    But I wish I had the time back that I used for The Magus, and for Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast series. “dislikes the good people in it, is indifferent to the others, and wishes they would all get drowned together.”

    [The worst book was a local self-published “effort” that I had to review for the local sci-fi fanzine. Don’t ask. When a friend told the author it was too long, he cut out the only chapter with significant action.]

    Movies were bigger ticket items and I saw fewer.

  11. I try to avoid nostalgia if at all possible, but I do occasionally get sentimental about sports. I liked Field of Dreams, mostly because it conveyed the simple yet overlooked way that sports and its rituals connect one generation to another. It’s nice to be occasionally reminded of continuities that show we are not all completely doomed. For his part, Costner did a decent job representing something many people genuinely felt at the time.

    Having said that, the book in which Field of Dreams was adapted from, ‘Shoeless Joe’, was just God-Awful. While the movie was able to turn a big deficiency into something positive – stereotypical narcissistic juvenile tendencies of Baby Boomers – the book amplified them and took it to an incredibly new and dumb level. I can’t even look at a JD Salinger book ever again. If Salinger didn’t sue the author for associating him with this trite then he should have.

    A movie that comes to mind that everyone seemed to like but I found extremely disturbing was Million Dollar Baby. I was under the impression that I would be watching a rough-and-tumble, rags-to-riches morality play, but instead it was cartoonish fighting transitioning into an advertisement for euthanizing the disabled. It was about then I began to suspect that Hollywood types didn’t just dislike ordinary folks, which had been obvious for years, but they also hated humanity in general.

  12. In general, I won’t read a book unless it is actually written by the ostensible author. (Biographies not withstanding.) I’m looking at YOU, James Patterson. And “Tom Clancy”. Also, if the writer clearly does not know what they are talking about (David Baldacci). If I’m reading an author for the first time, and his book sucks, I don’t give him a second chance. You already stole my money. I’m more patient with authors who’ve established cred with me, but have suffered a loss of direction / quality (Michael Connelly, “13 Monkeys” … Really? You have Bosch gunning his way across Commie Hong Kong and Kowloon? *eye roll*)

    Movies, I pretty much completely avoid. I’ve seen two in probably the last 10 years (“Only the Brave”, not ashamed to say I cried, and “Joker”, which was excellent.) Why? Because I don’t like being preached to, nor giving money to those that hate me.

  13. probably in the first category, mark jacobsen, wrote a a short book about godzilla, gojiru from the monsters view, didn’t finish it, there was a longer former book that was a series, which was a booker prize winner, it was a mystery that ended up a 1,000 page screed about the iraq war.

    the last series of butterworths is a mash like picaresque set in germany in the start of the cold war, with a thinly disguised kissinger among the characters, so in that light, they aren’t that bad,

    Strange days, the techno noir mystery was one I almost walked out of,

  14. I’m pleased to say that I skipped the movies that others hated. “Million Dollar Baby” along with”The Mule” are two Clint movies I skipped.

    The books Tom Clancy wrote were terrific but the franchise died with him. Back un Usenet days there was a Tom Clancy group that he would post comments in. He scolded me one time for criticizing the old black Congressman crook who had Powell’s seat in Harlem because he had been a sergeant in Korea.

    “Rainbow Six,” his last, was only so so but he sure predicted the environmental movement well.

  15. OK.

    Just yesterday I was sucked into a sci-fi movie called “Skyline”. I had seen a short clip from an earlier showing and thought it looked interesting. Boy was I wrong! Another recent sci-fi movie I lost 2 hours to was “Ad Astra” with Brad Pitt which is almost unwatchable.

    I agree Mike K about the “Thin Red Line” which was terrible.

    Here are a couple of Tom Hanks (gasp!) movie that are terrible, “Cloud Atlas” where you walk away asking just what that was supposed to be, and easily Tom’s worst film “Joe versus the Volcano”! Tom must have owed somebody big time to have agreed to being in that awful movie. Just a little slice for you, Tom and Meg Ryan (Yes Meg’s in this too!) are floating in the South Pacific on a raft they made from steamer trunks!

    Here are a couple oldies but goodies: the movie “Reds” with Warren Beatty. I walked out of this one because I kept falling asleep. AND how can we forget “Ishtar”!

    Books: I really struggled to read “The Jungle”. I have never been able to finish “A Catcher in the Rye” and I can’t really give a reason. I found “20,000 Leagues under the Sea” to be very dry and boring. Not at all what I expected.

  16. Rarely watch movies anymore. Won’t sit through a bad one.

    That said, I was constrained to watch Thelma and Louise, which was idiotic and an insult to the viewer’s intelligence.

    Books, same, really. I’ll toss it if its bad. Can’t remember the last bad one I read.

  17. ah skyline, that was ‘so bad it’s good’, cloud atlas, that was a rolling dumpster fire, and the book wasn’t much more coherent, david mitchell could do with an editor, or a hacksaw same difference,

  18. I remember reading about a confrontation Hanks had with his agent about “Volcano.” The gist was “No more Volcanoes!” I have mostly liked his movies. Too bad he also got political. The old time actors knew better. Bogart was furious he got roped into a Hollywood trip to the UAC hearings. Sterling Hayden was an old time lefty but he did good in WWII with the OSS and I loved his sailing book.

  19. Any Clint Easstwood movie is going to be vastly overrated, but the worst is probably Ford Torino. The Matrix is both boring and incomprehensible. Gone with the wind, even beyond the racialist part, is truly the worst movie every made in the US. Just awful.

  20. Worst movie was “Thin Red Line” which I saw with my son and dil. I was sitting there trying to figure out who the characters were when I noticed people leaving and not returning. I had assumed they were going to the bathroom of for a drink but they never came back. Pretty soon we were among the few left and I suggested it was time for us.

    I saw that on DvD and wondered how you could make a movie about Guadalcanal boring. But they did.

    Then Sean Penn in an Army unit?

    A converse of this topic would be the movies we saw that were panned by the critics that you liked. For me, I am almost a contrarian – if the critics don’t like it it is worth a look.

  21. I’ll second (or fourth or fifth) The Thin Red Line. It’s not just that it was bad, it’s that it was a total mismatch between what the critics thought and what I saw. It looked visually beautiful, but it was just bad. American Beauty fits in the same category.

    They probably are not worse that most Adam Sandler movies, but those are supposed to be bad.

  22. Worst movie.. I once saw a movie at a Mexican/Spanish language cinema in Houston which featured a villainous Gringo employer in Mexico. The movie really piled it on. Talk about Manichean! Pure propaganda. All the Mexicans flooding into the US for the last century have a rather different take on villainous Gringo employers. I say the last century because a neighbor told me his grandparents came to the US to flee the Mexican Civil War.It is estimated that 2 million Mexicans, 10% of the population, lost their lives in the Mexican Civil War.

    Which leads me to worst books. The propaganda drill of that Mexican movie reminds me of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. I liked the book when I read it in high school.When I read it several years ago, I had a different reaction. Sinclair’s depiction of conditions in the stock yards is probably accurate, but what turned on the propaganda designation for was that everything that happened to the Lithuanian immigrant protagonist outside the stock yards was also the result of villainy.Piling it on. Complete victim. Though it was written tongue in cheek, this song from the Prairie Home Companion is an example of “piling it on.”
    The Ballad of Peanut Butter

    One day a child came home from football
    Where he had fumbled, was jeered and booed.
    His mother saw that his heart was breaking,
    So she made him his favorite food.

    She did not make him a bowl of garden salad greens,
    She made no whole wheat toast, or a pile of beans,
    She made a sandwich of toasted white bread,
    With peanut butter, creamy style.

    The years went by and he was a loser;
    He led a useless and wretched life.
    But she never criticized him;
    She smiled as she got out the knife.


    Then he decided, upon the basis
    Of a book he read one fall,
    That his problems had resulted
    From excessive cholesterol.

    He ate a great big bowl of garden salad greens,
    He ate that whole wheat roll, and that pile of beans,
    He gave up sandwiches of toasted white bread,
    With peanut butter, creamy style.

    That night his dog died,
    He smashed his pick-up,
    His sweetheart left him,
    He lost his hair,
    His house caught fire,
    He went to prison,
    His poor old mother
    Came to him there.

    Bad book. Read something Noam Chomsky writes where you know something about the subject.Chomsky’s Year 501: The Conquest Continues is about Latin America. For all the bad things that have happened to Latin America, it is no accident that Chomsky makes several references to the American Civil War, but no mention of the Mexican Civil War- and the book is about Latin America. The high death toll from the Mexican Civil War was apparently not something Chomsky wanted people to know about. On Pinochet’s Chile, Chomsky piles it on. His stats are selective- such as taking out the hyperinflationary year of 1973 in discussing economics of the Allende administration. Chomsky quotes the UN informing us that Cuba’s Infant Mortality rates compare with Europe and the US. But he never informs us that the Pinochet regime had a better record than the Castro regime in reducing Infant Mortality.

    From 1977 to 1983, a span of 6 years, the Pinochet regime reduced the Infant Mortality rate(per 1,000 live births) from 41 to 20.7 (A reduction of 20.3).
    From 1965 to 1977, a span of 12 years, the Castro regime reduced the Infant Mortality rate(per 1,000 live births) from 42.1 to 21.7 (A reduction of 20.4).

  23. Any Clint Easstwood movie is going to be vastly overrated, but the worst is probably Ford Torino. The Matrix is both boring and incomprehensible. Gone with the wind, even beyond the racialist part, is truly the worst movie every made in the US. Just awful.

    Well, here we have the contrary opinion. I would say the “Dirty Harry” is a bit over rated. Gran Torino is excellent. I never saw “The Matrix.

    “Gone with the Wind” is a great movie but typical of the “lost Cause” movement in the south.

    Sounds like political more than artistic judgement. You aren’t the “Howard” from Althouse by any chance?

  24. Now that we have gotten that opinion out of the way, there are a few I’ve seen recently that were good. “They Shall Not Grow Old” was magical. We saw it twice and I have the DVD. “Cold Blue” is the out takes from the making of “The Memphis Belle,” the original one, not the inferior remake. “Unplanned” is political but well done. The Clarence Thomas documentary is well done. “Dunkirk” is OK but has quite a few lapses in technology. The Albert Finney “Churchill” role in “Gathering Storm” is excellent.

    Mostly I watch classics on DVD. “The Big Sleep” the other night. “My Man Godfrey” and the Thin Man movies. I love “To Catch a Thief,” although my wife is sick of it. I know that area of the French Riviera and love the scenery.

  25. I liked the original Dirty Harry, but the rest of them got progressively worse. Clint’s movies have been up and down. He’ll hit on a good formula, then overuse it phoning in a lot more subpar work.

    An author who is overrated is John Steinbeck. His Depression-era naturalism was a big part of high school curriculums for a long time. Dull, stilted characters that beat you over the head with their utilitarian-slanted biblical allusions. I think they must have been thinking of “Of Mice and Men” when they devised the horrible ending to Million Dollar Baby”.

  26. I read most of Bernard Cornwell’s “Saxon Chronicles” and have most of his “Sharpes series” on audio books. The audio have a problem because the reader is so good at accents, he goes from English, to Scottish, to Indian so well and so fast I sometimes need to read rather than listen. Part of the series is set in India with Wellington. He is a favorite although I am getting into Wareham’s series. Somebody said they are reading “The Earl’s Other Son” series about China and the Boxer Rebellion. They are great and he has a good series on the British Army in the Napoleonic period. Called “Man of Conflict” and starts with one called “Soldier Brat.” Also excellent.

  27. I thought Ford v Ferrari was excellent. A few minor things they got to “embellish” but the main things were right. And the real story involved 3 people – Shelby, Miles, his test driver, and Phil Remington, his engineer – who made everything work. Shelby said that he couldn’t have done it without Remington.

    But the movie was about the friendship of Shelby and Miles.

    Agree with you on They Shall Not Grow Old and Cold Blue. The effort Peter Jackson made into making Old was unreal – down to hiring lip readers to create dialogue that hadn’t been heard from those soldiers in 100 years. That technology is amazing.

    Along those lines, another amazing short film – I believe this came from the “lost footage” George Stevens made for personal use only to be discovered by his son in the attic after he died. What this German company did was amazing – shots of immediate post war Germany. They added a few sound effects.

    I thought that the remake of Memphis Belle (1990) was good, too. The producer incidentally was the daughter of William Wyler, who made the original and was one of the 5 directors who went to the front lines in WW2.

  28. Yeah, I liked Ford vs Ferrari too.

    Willy Wyler ended up deaf from making Memphis Belle. I have the book about those 5 guys. The remake had a number of inaccuracies that bothered me.

    The guy that played the Pilot, Matthew Modine, made a very good sailing movie called “Wind.” Very few sailing movies are well done.

    They made one awful one from a book that was good, called “Overboard.” Not too many good books about modern sailing. That was one. The other was called “The Ship killer,” and was terrific but dated. “The Riddle of the Sands” was a good one from 1910.

  29. ditto with ford vs ferrari and 1917, the big sleep was a very good threadng the needle, Howard Hawks softpedaled some of the material that obviously couldn’t fly with the Hays code, and little touches like the scene in the bookshop with dorothy malone, some of the other chandler adaptations like the lady vanishes where marlowe is out of the camera’s way are interesting, sunset boulevard which I’ve seen quite a few times, (I always saw the carole burnett take, back in the 70s)

  30. I agree about the film “They Shall Not Grow Old”. It was fascinating and moving.

    How about 2 really bad Sean Connery movies, “A Good Man in Africa” and “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. Africa is just a waste of time and talent. League is bad in so many ways that I don’t know where to even start. Awful. Period.

    Another book that I had trouble with was “The Inferno” by Dante Alighieri. That’s a tough read.

  31. Raymond Chandler wrote about the Los Angeles of the 30s, which was still there in the 50s when I arrived. His novels are similar to Dashiell Hammet’s about SF. Both tell the stories of those cities before they were destroyed by modern times, LA more than SF although I have not been in SF in ten years.

    I was staying in small hotel in SF about 25 years ago when I realized that the hotel faced the spot where Bridget O’Shaughnessy shot Miles Archer in “The Maltese Falcon.” The streets and the embankment were still there.

    Few of Chandler’s locations still exist.

  32. I haven’t seen the first one, the second made connery quit the business, it was a rolling dumpster fire, much like the avengers movie, where he played the villain against type, it is said the characterization of nemo was correct, he wasn’t supposed to be played by james mason, but more a maharajah type akin to fu manchu in a different field,

  33. Heh. Come to think on it, one highly-rated movie (and based on an equally-lauded novel) left me pretty well disgusted. A raft of good actors, cinematography was simply awesome, but the basis of the plot left me saying repeatedly ‘huh?’ That was “The English Patient”. Romantic desert explorer gives up a set of maps to aid the Germans in advancing through North Africa in WWII in exchange for help rescuing his lover (unsuccessfully, as it turns out), crashes his plane and is horribly, horribly, disfiguringly burned … and then the staff of a military hospital in wartime drags his burnt a** to another front after two years in that condition … and he expires in scenic Italy at the very end of the war. What was he, some kind of souvenir? “We went to North Africa and all we got from it was care of this traitorous crispy critter, so we took him to Italy with us?” W-T-everlasting-F …

  34. well count almasy was a real person, a nazi sympathizer, not that much of a lady’s man. as it turns out, oondatje the author comes from sri lanka, so he’s jaundiced about all colonial enterprises including the allies campaign, so the italian campaign looks purposefully murkt,

  35. >i>Heh. Come to think on it, one highly-rated movie (and based on an equally-lauded novel) left me pretty well disgusted. A raft of good actors, cinematography was simply awesome, but the basis of the plot left me saying repeatedly ‘huh?’ That was “The English Patient”.

    I’m with Elaine (and Sgt. Mom)

  36. The only positive thing about “The English Patient” was the full frontal nudity of the actress, including pubic hair. Not that I haven’t seen it before but it was a plus for the movie.

  37. Forgot about the English Patient. A terrible movie. Saw it with my mother, full frontal nudity included. She had an astute observation. She said that the romantic or really merely sexual relationship between the two leads was so lifeless, with so little chemistry, that it seemed that the male lead was playing a homosexual going through the motions. The whole movie was like that, an animated corpse of a movie, a simulacrum of living characters. Notably, it is the anti-Casablanca, a movie about putting personal relationships ahead of political and military duties, even when the enemy is Nazi Germany. An atrocious film at all levels, made worse by the competency of the sets and costumes. A malevolent movie with an evil message.

  38. Notably, it is the anti-Casablanca, a movie about putting personal relationships ahead of political and military duties, even when the enemy is Nazi Germany.

    The television series MASH was like that.

  39. I never watched the TV series. I shocked some people by telling them that the movie MASH was one of the best about surgery. The surgery scenes in “Bullet” were also so good I thought the black surgery resident was really a surgeon.

    Very few good movies about surgery just as very few good ones about sailing. Two things I know abnout.

  40. I’ll agree Mama Mia was pretty bad – not the worst I have seen. Can’t get the sight of Pierce Brosnan on tights out of my mind. Made me think of the 2nd movie remake of The Producers.

    Now the movie, made in 1968 was OK. Many say it should have had more success than it did but there was a lot of competition that year – like 2001, a Space Odessy (although did anyone get that goofy ending? No they didn’t either at the premier in 1968 in in LA).

    The play – the Producers – knocked it out of the park. Managed to see it in Manhattan in 2006, although by then most of the original cast, like Mathew Broderick, had moved on. Still, you haven’t lived till you see a statuesque blond showgirl come down with a headdress of a 3′ bratwurst.

    So they tried to make a movie….of the play. The movie was simply the play put to film.

    For me, that didn’t work.

    Which is why also, for the most part, you can’t follow a book and use it as a screenplay. Two different mediums.

  41. I forgot to add, the movie Mamma Mia had the same bad recipe as the 2nd remake of the movie the Producers. Saw the play Mama Mia – it was sold out in NY for some years – and if you are an ABBA fan – it was great. Silly plot but it had a plot.It was all the music. People would be dancing in the aisles.

    So they tried to make a movie….of the play. Same results as The Producers.

  42. Many say it should have had more success than it did but there was a lot of competition that year – like 2001, a Space Odessy (although did anyone get that goofy ending? No they didn’t either at the premier in 1968 in in LA).

    The ending of 2001 was not seen by a large part of the audience. They were all in the bathrooms smoking weed. I saw it in the first run in Pasadena and the MJ fumes were over powering.

    “The Maltese Falcon” was the novel word for word. “12 o’clock high” was the novel with a few scenes deleted, like the love interest.

  43. Another book that I had trouble with was “The Inferno” by Dante Alighieri. That’s a tough read.

    I had no trouble and I’m not even Catholic. :-)

    But have you read the updated version by Niven and Pournelle? Most of the people the narrator meets in Hell are 20th Century figures who committed 20th Century sins. Good book, very readable.

  44. The ending of 2001 was not seen by a large part of the audience. They were all in the bathrooms smoking weed. I saw it in the first run in Pasadena and the MJ fumes were over powering.

    I forget where I read this Mike but at the end of the premier – with all these movie stars and industry people, it was almost dead silence.

    To this day that ending makes no sense to me.

  45. The ending of 2001 is made clearer in Clarke’s story and novel, and in the original script, available online, which had narration which was wisely omitted from the final film. The aliens who built the beacon on the Moon also built a transit machine of some kind, which the signal from the excavated monolith on the moon was directed to. The humans send their ship there, and Bowman enters it and travels through it out of the solar system to … something. He is then in the hands of totally alien beings millions of years more evolved than us, who we never see. He is housed in a simulacrum of human surroundings by these beings for the rest of his life. Then, just as the primates made a leap to humanity in their first encounter with the aliens, the humans make a leap to post-humanity, apparently with some of Bowman’s DNA in the mix, since the fetal superman looks a little like him. Humanity as a species begins and ends in the movie.

  46. Thanks Lex – a 52 year old mystery solved! Just watching the movie, I never would have imagined…

  47. So they tried to make a movie….of the play. Same results as The Producers.

    It CAN work. It does happen. Equus comes to mind, which shows what a truly great actor Burton was.

    There are others that can manage to work as either play or movie — 12 Angry Men comes to mind. The Big Kahuna is another.

    You have to cast them well, and shoot them well, but it CAN be done. The latter two, of course, are talking heads pictures, able to be done in a single room.

    Hitchcock’s Rope is also based on a play, and has that latter in common.

    Then there is Cabaret, which is still one of the best musicals of all time, and originally a play (no idea how good the play was).

    I think the fewer locations required by a play, the better it will do as a movie. And vice versa… because they don’t need a lot of modification for the screen and vice versa.

  48. OBloodyHell – you are right and Mike – about making movies true to the play or the book – but they are pretty rare.

    I thought the original Producers was fine – not spectacular – and here is the mystery – the play really didn’t deviate from the move script – I mean, wouldn’t you think a play (that the Producers was all about) entitled “Springtime for Hitler” would bomb? (the premise for the screenplay/play by a washed up producer).

    But the play was hilarious. The original movie funny. The 2nd movie – to me – was just a bomb.

    Was it the sets? The music? The 2nd movie used the music from the play.

    Maybe some screenplays are better as theatrical plays and vice versa.

    Or maybe the legendary screenwriter William Goldman was right about Hollywood – “Nobody knows nuthin'”

  49. Got to the party late.

    One movie not yet mentioned is “Sideways”. Awful characters doing awful things to each other. A stunningly bad movie with nothing to recommend it.

  50. Book: Handmaid’s Tale (well I couldn’t get through it, but doubt that it improved)
    also disliked Sideways
    naturalists used to drive me crazy; all that fatalism and man as a tiny speck – London & Dreiser, esp.
    Harris’s casting of the leads in Camelot is particularly awful when youtubes are available of parts with the Broadway cast – Harris is no Burton, Redgrave no Andrews, and Nero no Goulet – apparent in a small bit on Ed Sullivan alone.

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