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Stephen King on Film

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Thought I'd take a look at Stephen King and steer you to some of his better film adaptations. The prolific Mr. King (over 70 titles and still counting) has had more than 20 films made of his novels, short stories and novellas, (6 more currently in production or post production) with varying degrees of success. There are several reasons for this, but I think mostly it is because his characters are well thought out, interpersonal relationships are strong and his plots are rich and well developed---and they need more than a 90 minute 'blood and gut fest' to do them justice. King himself prefers to have his books done as mini-series and doesn't always feel he has been served well. But don't feel too bad for King. He has been known to sell the screen rights for $1.00 on the understanding that he gets a % of the box office returns. By his own reckoning he estimates that he made over $20 million on The Green Mile alone. And that's not counting the book sales! He appears in the Guiness Book of Records for 'the highest number of motion picture adaptations by a living author', has been translated into 35 languages and has sold an estimated 350 million books. I prefer King in print, but following are the movies that in my mind work, and work well....and if you thought King only wrote horror, you may be surprised by a couple of the titles.

Green Mile

Starring Tom Hanks and James Cromwell, this tells the story of inmates awaiting execution on death row in the 1930's. Prison Guard Paul Edgecombe (Hanks) tries to provide a little dignity to their final days, and in the cases of the more deviant, keep things from progressing to anarchy. A giant of a man awaiting execution for the brutal slaying of two little girls falls under Edgecombe's care. But it soon becomes apparent that all is not as it seems.

Kathy Bates is romance writer Paul Sheldon's (James Caan) "#1 fan" and is willing to do anything to prove it. He will do anything to escape her unwanted attentions. With most of the film revolving around just the two actors, this is delightfully tense. Bates won the 1991 Oscar for Best Actress for her performance. It was well deserved- she is utterly chilling. Misery.

Shawshank Redemption

Stephen King you say? Absolutely. Based on an early novella, this is another one that attracted a lot of nominations, including one for Best Picture (losing to Forrest Gump). Another prison scenario, this time we see life through the eyes of the inmates rather than the guards. Over the course of decades of incarceration in a Louisiana prison, Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman forge a bond of true friendship.

Salem's Lot

This is a made for t.v series from 2004. Starring Rob Lowe (pre West Wing) as a man determined to overcome the memories that have plagued him since the day he entered a haunted house as a child. Now an adult, he returns to his hometown, where much more is going on than just bad memories. This is not your good looking, dreamy, steamy Twilight vampire- this is a blood-sucking, soul-destroying ancient evil.

Although we don't carry the following titles, here are four more of my favorites that are definitely worth a look: From 1980 The Shining with Jack Nicholson---doing what Jack does best---being equal parts manic, frightening and charismatic. 1995's Dolores Claiborne, again with Kathy Bates. From 1983 The Dead Zone, with the always bizarre Christopher Walken and the quintessential coming-of-age story, Stand My Me. You might also try the following books which are about Stephen King rather than by him.

Stephen King goes to Hollywood

Science of Stephen King:

The Complete Stephen King Universe.

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