the making of the godfather

Here’s another I borrowed on a whim from the Libby app! I’m fascinated by Italian-American mafia culture and stories, and The Godfather is one of my favorite movies (and II). I couldn’t pass up the chance for a little bit of the behind-the-scenes in this essay, The Making of the Godfather by Mario Puzo. Edited from Goodreads:

In this entertaining and insightful essay, Mario Puzo chronicles his rise from struggling writer to overnight success after the publication of The Godfather. With equal parts cynicism and humor, Puzo recounts the book deal and his experiences in Hollywood while writing the screenplay for the movie. Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Evans, Peter Bart, Marlon Brando, and Al Pacino all make appearances—as does Frank Sinatra, in his famous and disastrous encounter with Puzo. First published in 1972, the essay is now available as an ebook for the first time. A must-have for every Godfather fan! Featuring a foreword by Ed Falco, author of The Family Corleone.

I was slightly hesitant to even count this since it’s a long-form essay and not a book (not even a novella). But this was so delightful and it’s my blog so whatever. This essay is more like the beginning of getting the movie made (heh) from the book and his feelings on writing the book, not so much about the actual making of the movie(s). I really enjoyed this essay—Puzo had a great sense of humor! I loved his stories about his writing process and family life, as well as casting and signing on Francis Ford Coppola. This is a short review because the essay is so short, I think it was only about an hour and a half on audio. I’m sure there’s a treasure trove of even more stories out there; I only wish this was longer!

Listened to audiobook in March 2018.

as you wish

Our fantastic indie bookshop Rainy Day Books hosted actor Cary Elwes a couple weeks ago here in Kansas City on his book tour for As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, and I couldn’t resist attending! From Goodreads:

From actor Cary Elwes, who played the iconic role of Westley in The Princess Bride, comes a first-person account and behind-the-scenes look at the making of the cult classic film filled with never-before-told stories, exclusive photographs, and interviews with costars Robin Wright, Wallace Shawn, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, and Mandy Patinkin, as well as author and screenwriter William Goldman, producer Norman Lear, and director Rob Reiner.

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Confession: Fred Savage was my first celebrity crush. [Photo]

Who doesn’t love The Princess Bride? It’s definitely a film I hold dear to my heart, one I’ve seen countless times and bonded over with friends and family. Somehow this movie never gets old! I finally got around to reading the book as a sophomore in high school in one sitting on a plane ride to Europe, and it was just as beautiful as the movie, of course. After reading Cary Elwes’s As You Wish, I had the natural urge to watch the movie again and eventually I’ll have to dig out my copy of the book and reread it.

The book tour event with Elwes was a lot of fun! There was medieval music performed by musicians in period dress, an elaborate sword fighting demonstration, a short documentary, and an hour-long conversation with Elwes before finally a book signing. Elwes was just as charming and good humored as you would expect. He related some of the stories we could expect to find in the book, answered questions, and even did a few impressions of Rob Reiner and André the Giant. When I got up to the table for the book signing, Elwes immediately noticed my Green Bay Packers shirt (it was a Sunday, I always wear a Packers shirt to support the team on game days!) and excitedly gave me a high five! “I love the Packers! Aaron’s a fan.” (Cue cute, irresistible smile.) I had a great time!

As for the book itself, it was the nicest book about the nicest people having the nicest experience making the nicest movie. It’s a sweet, uplifting read, and any fan of the movie or original novel will love going behind-the-scenes with As You Wish. The stories of André the Giant off-camera, the intense preparation for Elwes and Patinkin for the “Greatest Swordfight in Modern Times,” and the saga of getting the film made in the first place especially captured my attention. Now, I can’t say it’s the greatest piece of writing I’ve ever read—the continual praise of everyone and everything hinged on being a bit too saccharine and quickly became repetitive. Elwes would note something in the narrative, then another person on the film (or two) would repeat it in an inset. But I do believe it’s all genuine. This tactic may come across better in the audiobook version—I bet it would be cool to listen to the cast and crew recount all these great memories.

Read it! As You Wish was great fun and conjured up wonderful memories for me.

Read from November 2 to 4, 2014.

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

A little late to the party today! It was a very busy weekend. Saturday night I played an orchestra concert, and last night I went to an author event sponsored by Rainy Day Books: Cary Elwes speaking about his new book, As You Wish, a memoir of behind-the-scenes stories from the making of the now-classic film The Princess Bride. It was a wonderful event! There was a short documentary screening, period-appropriate music, a sword fighting demonstration, and of course a discussion with Elwes about the book and his experiences making the movie. With admission I got a hardcover copy and a place in line for an autograph. When I got to the table, Elwes noticed my Packers shirt right away and gave me a high five, saying “Go Packers!” and that Aaron Rodgers was a fan of the movie, too. So cool! Can’t wait to sink into that book next 🙂

After failing at two classics, this week I am starting two new (and I mean NEW!) books:

First, The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey became available off the wait list from my library’s overdrive, so I downloaded it and will go with that one for my rehearsal commutes the next couple weeks. I like it so far—pretty creepy and it has me curious about what the hell happened in this world to these kids. Fits in with the Halloween spirit, but not so much with my all-women authors accidental theme I had going for October… oh well, who knows, this will likely count for November anyway!

Second, I started Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. It’s been getting high praise from bloggers whose opinions I trust, so I ordered it a few weeks ago. I’ve had very little time to read much lately so I’m only one essay in but it’s already blown me away. Looking forward to having a good chunk of time hopefully soon to really dig in—I feel like I could devour it in one sitting if I had the time for it.

What are you reading this week?

top ten tuesday: book-to-film wishlist

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, a fun way to get yourself thinking and sharing about books and bookish things.

September 10: Top ten books I would love to see as a movie/TV show

This is on the condition that Hollywood would not massacre the original story or its intent… in a perfect world, right?? Here are my picks, in no particular order (click title links for full book reviews):

1. The Dinner by Herman Koch
I just read this one recently and think it would make an excellent film (or stage production). The pretentious fine-dining restaurant and small cast of characters are a great setting.

2. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen
This might be a difficult adaptation, since the “White City” hardly exists anymore, but the juxtaposition of serial killer H.H. Holmes and architect Daniel H. Burnham’s lives at the time of the1893 World’s Fair in Chicago is fascinating. I saw on Wikipedia that Leonardo DiCaprio bought the film rights in 2010… but eh, it’s Wikipedia, so who knows.

3. Arcadia by Lauren Groff
I think this could be a beautiful film, especially the first part of the book on Bit’s childhood at the utopian hippie commune.

4. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
Coastal Italy in the 1960s. Movie stars from Cleopatra. Enigmatic novelists. Love and romance, family secrets… it’s already pretty cinematic—what more could you want in a movie?

5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
It’s a great action/adventure story and with the fantastical virtual world vs. bleak actual world settings, I think Ready Player One would be a great film if done right.

6. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
This has romance (not quite rom-com, though) written all over it. Success for this as a film really depends on the casting—the leads must have palpable chemistry. And the thought-provoking ending would have to be done the same as the book, no changes!

7. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
This book had a quiet cinematic quality to me as I was reading it, much like a few others on my list. Set on a remote fictional island off the coast of Australia, The Light Between Oceans is a family drama posing heavy ethical questions. Again, I liked the ending as is.

8. City of Thieves by David Benioff
Two buddies on a seemingly impossible quest in war-torn Leningrad fighting Nazis? Dark but not depressing? I think this could totally work. And I love Kolya.

9. The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro
Another one mixing history and mystery with a little bit of romance thrown in, a story based Boston’s famous Gardner Museum heist is an excellent setting for a movie.

10. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
This would definitely be the biggest budget film on my list—halftime show with Beyoncé? $$$. But it was a good, kind of heartbreaking story, and Billy Lynn is a very memorable character.

Some honorable mentions that I think are in the process of being made into films: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

What are some book-to-film adaptations you’d like to see?

booking through thursday: dream cast

Do you ever wonder who could be cast as your favorite characters? What actors do you think have done particularly excellent jobs with some of your favorite characters?

This week’s Booking Through Thursday is a tough one for me. I’m not super awesome at identifying actors—not watching current TV much or seeing new movies often—and I honestly don’t imagine real-life actors’ faces embodying a character as I’m reading, but sometimes afterwards I can picture certain actors playing those roles. This is proving to be a fun exercise! Here’s whom I could see cast for some recent reads of mine (tried to pick stuff that hasn’t already been adapted to film):

Lauren Ambrose as Claire Roth in The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro: I could just be thinking this because my husband and I have been watching Six Feet Under, in which Lauren Ambrose played a budding artist, coincidentally also named Claire.

Nelsan Ellis as the Teacher in The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten: As a bassist, obviously I could only picture Victor Wooten playing Victor Wooten! But I could definitely see Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette from True Blood) playing the teacher, who mysteriously appears from time to time to help Victor through his performing, musical, and philosophical issues.

Dominic Chianese as Louie Zamperini in Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: I am not sure who would play the young Louie in a movie version of this harrowing WWII biography, but I can imagine Dominic Chianese playing an older Louie, reflecting back on his incredible life.

Emile Hirsch as Billy Lynn in Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain: I am probably just making this pick because I thought Hirsch did a great job as Chris McCandless in the film adaptation of Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Pasquale Tursi, Charlize Theron as Dee Moray, and Gary Oldman as Alvis Bender in Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter: I know Joseph Gordon-Levitt isn’t Italian, but I think he’d be good in the role of Pasquale (at least, as the young Pasquale of the 60s), and Charlize Theron could be a good Dee. And I just love love love Gary Oldman—he’s one of my favorite actors.

Jake Gyllenhaal as Bit in Arcadia by Lauren Groff: Wouldn’t he be great as sweet, idealistic, romantic, still-innocent adult Bit? Not sure who’d play Bit as a child, though.

Tom Hardy as Will and Anne Hathaway as Louisa in Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: I have no idea if they would have any on-screen chemistry, but I think that, despide his beefy-ness, Tom Hardy could play the outwardly assy but emotionally complex Will and Anne Hathaway has Louisa’s same kind of flawed yet relatable girl-next-door vibe.

What is your answer? What actors do you envision playing your favorite book characters?

day ten | 30 day book challenge

30 Day Book Challenge | Day 10 — Book-to-film adaptation(s): favorite(s), bad ones, ones you’d like to see

Fun! First, the good…

I mean, come on. Of course. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!! I will go to the mattresses defending The Godfather. This movie (and Part II) makes me an offer I won’t refuse. I will take the gun and leave the cannoli. Confession: I have not read the book! High on the list for 2013.

Many exist, but for this post I’m choosing one utterly cringe-worthy adaptation…

wild things are movie poster

<shudder> WHY did anyone think this would be a good idea? How do you make a nearly two-hour movie out of a book consisting of a mere ten sentences? Ugh. All the characters were insufferably annoying. Sure sure, the CGI was excellent and beautiful, but I found this film largely unwatchable.

A few I wouldn’t mind seeing on the big screen… IF done well, of course…

I’m sort of on the fence about Arcadia as a movie, though—mostly I think it would be better if it stayed in my post-read imagination, but on the other hand, I’d be curious to see how it would end up. I saw a fairly boring documentary on H.H. Holmes (the killer in The Devil in the White City), but I think Hollywood could maybe do the story one better. And I’ve read rumors that Gone Girl is actually in the works… so we’ll see how it goes!

What are your favorite book-to-film adaptations? What would you like to see made for the screen?