2019 was the year of the reread for me. I read some great new releases, but more often than not, I plucked books off my shelves and indulged in my favorites. I also made a point to watch films adapted from books. So with that said, here are my top five book-movie combos from 2019.
1. A Streetcar Named Desire — Tennessee Williams is my favorite writer. His work is lyrical, humorous, and beautifully tragic, and I just can’t think of anyone who has a deeper understanding of humankind. Obviously, Streetcar is a landmark piece, both as a play and a film, but you can’t go wrong with any work by Williams. I also watched/read Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Baby Doll, Night of the Iguana, and The Fugitive Kind.
2. In a Lonely Place — Here Dorothy Hughes is showing the boys how it’s done by reversing traditional noir roles and creating a “femme fatale” in serial killer Dix Steele. The film strays from the novel’s plot but is a classic staring heavy hitters Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame.
3. The Picture of Dorian Gray — People way smarter than me could give you better insights into Oscar Wilde, but I can tell you that I adore his decadence, humor, and sneers at social morality. The film has George Sanders bringing the charismatic Lord Henry to life and should titillate any gothic or horror fans.
4. The Big Sleep — Here’s one that could quickly evolve into a tribute post. With Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler created the quintessential anti-hero with a faulty but intact moral compass. The film stars the indomitable duo of Bogey and Bacall and is a noir classic.
5. Lolita — light of my life, fire of my loins. Never has a character charmed and repulsed me more than Humbert Humbert. It’s easy to see why Kubrick, an indisputable kingpin of cinema, would choose Nabokov’s audacious and provocative story for a film. If art is supposed to take you to unknown and sometimes uncomfortable places, then it’s a big W for Nabokov and Kubrick.
So, that’s a fairly good dissection of my literary and cinematic tastes. I’ve never been one for a feel-good story, but I’m interested in the ones that can capture life’s tragedy and laugh at it--a little.