Monday, June 1, 2009

The Best Movie taken from a Richard Stark Novel

Gaze (as they say) on this. An unauthorized adaptation of "The Jugger". Westlake was not a good sport and the movie was only recently released here.


Generic said...

"Not a good sport?" Care to rephrase that?

Generic said...

A commenter on the "Thompson on Hollywood" blog explains:

The actual story of the rights issue to THE JUGGLER is a little more complicated. It's not as if Godard simply made a film (MADE IN U.S.A.) without having any rights.

Godard was approached by Georges De Beauregard (who was facing financial problems) to make a film as fast and inexpensively as possible. (De Beauregard had produced BREATHLESS which had been made in that fashion.) De Beauregard had the rights to several novels in the Series Noirs; the rights covered Europe (including Great Britain) as well as Asia (Japanese friends of mine remember seeing the movie in Tokyo in 1969), but not North America. Godard chose THE JUGGLER and proceeded to make MADE IN U.S.A. at the same time as he made 2 OR 3 THINGS I KNOW ABOUT HER (Raoul Coutard shot both in Cinemascope and color).

MADE IN U.S.A. was released in France, but did not do well. And shortly after, as he had feared, De Beauregard had to file for bankruptcy. And the North American rights, which had not been negotiated in the deal with the French publishers, were never cleared.

But people should not act as if Godard simply made the film without proper "permission": the European rights were cleared (which is why the film was released in Europe and Great Britain), but Series Noirs did not have the American rights. And De Beauregard was in no position to make an offer on the American rights to Westlake, because he was bankrupt. And Godard had accepted the movie as a favor to De Beauregard: Godard did not produce it, and he didn't care if it showed in the US or not.

Finally, Bruce Goldstein decided to make an offer to Westlake, and the rights to US distribution were cleared, and i have to say MADE IN U.S.A. looks better than ever (maybe better than it would have had it been distributed in 1970, the year that 2 OR 3 THINGS had its American release). And Marianne Faithful singing "As Tears Go By" a cappella... immeasurably touching and worth the price of admission.

Posted by: Daryl Chin | January 05, 2009 at 09:31 AM

Tulkinghorn said...

More interesting than the rumors. At any rate it'll be available on Criterion at the end of July.

It doesn't follow the book really at all. I don't think Westlake had characters named David Goodis, Richard Nixon, and (my current favorite cultural mash-up avant la lettre) Doris Mizoguchi....