Monday, April 02, 2012
Please Mr. Hollywood Producer, Make This Movie For Me
There are a handful of books I remember reading in my youth, ones that really stuck with me such that thinking about them - or rereading them - puts me back in a very specific time and place in my life. One such book was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, which I read when I was around 13 years old and remains my all time favorite book ever to this very day.
But a close second is the classic Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. The edition pictured above is the one that I read when I was young, and I still own this book today. The pages are yellowed and the cover is so worn it's cloth-soft. There are more recent editions with way cooler covers, but I prefer my copy. The other day, at the library, I found Johnny Tremain on CD which I checked out to listen to in 10 minute bursts in the car as I zipped here and there during the week. But these snippets were too much of a tease, so I broke out the book and reread it again.
And again, I was completely captivated by the story of Johnny and his experience during the early days of the Revolutionary War. If you haven't read this book, do so. You won't be sorry.
Disney made a movie. It was horrible. Well, maybe not horrible for the time - 1957. But now, it's excruciating to watch a single second of it. The acting is amateurish, the dialogue just silly. The colors are over-bright and over-saturated. The costumes are laughably inaccurate (check out Johnny's Davy Crockett fringe jacket). The depiction of mid-1770s Boston is too clean and sanitized. And the Disney-fied version holds none of the dark, haunting undertones of the book. It's like what would result if Disney created an amusement park ride called The Wonderful World of Revolution!
Which leads me to beg anyone who reads this and who has any connection with the Hollywood Movie Making Machine (6 degrees of separation put into action), please, please, please - this movie is begging for a remake. It needs the Last of the Mohicans or The Patriot treatment. It needs to be made real, with dirt and blood and brooding.
Mostly, it needs a fantastic actor to play Johnny Tremain. Because Johnny (along with Ponyboy Curtis) is the first fictional character who ever haunted me for days and weeks after I'd finished his story.
Heck, years and decades later, I think about Johnny Tremain. I remember when I first read this book oh so many years ago, the song Into the Night by Benny Mardones was in rotation on the AM radio dial. To this day, when I hear this song, I think of Johnny Tremain. Not that the song or lyrics have anything at all to do with a young man in the time of the American Revolution. Just that the book made such an impression on me at the time, other aspects of my life latched on and became permanently connected with the experience.
That's one powerful character.
(Side note, and nothing to do with Johnny Tremain, but the song My Eyes Adored You by Frankie Valli reminds me always of Laura Ingalls Wilder because I was reading These Happy Golden Years when it was popular on the radio. Am I really weird?)
So I'm officially starting the petition. With all of the remakes and remakes of remakes out there, Hollywood is clearly hurting for ideas. Johnny Tremain is a fascinating story about an amazing time in our country's history. It contains tragedy and heartbreak, love and romance, war and violence, villains and heroes, oppression and victory.
No car chases.
But there are a couple of close calls with pitchfork-and-torch-bearing mobs chasing down Tory carriages that might appeal to that male ages 13-25 demographic.
It's a guaranteed blockbuster. I promise.