The Elephant Man, another true story, is likewise adapted from multiple sources. Following the true story of famously deformed Victorian personality Joseph "John" Merrick, the film's main inspiration is the memoir by Merrick's physician, Dr. Frederick Treves - yet it also takes from the anthropologist Ashley Montagu, the man appointed by UNESCO to investigate The Race Question. It bears no relation to the stage play of the same name, which was contemporaneously running on Broadway, a fact that stuck in the craw of the show's producers.
Ordinary People is straightforward, based as it is on Judith Guest's debut novel about a family dealing with the aftermath the death of one son and attempted suicide of the other. No confusion there, especially as it became a critically-acclaimed bestseller. But I do want to point out: it was later adapted into a stage play by Nancy Gilsenan. Mind, that was after the film won its Oscars - including this one.
Coal Miner's Daughter comes from the same-titled autobiography by Loretta Lynn (co-authored with George Vecsey), following the life and sometimes tribulations of the First Lady of Country Music. Loretta remained very hands-on, hand-picking Sissy Spacek to play her - and it doesn't end there! Last year, it was announced that Coal Miner's Daughter was heading to Broadway, and once again Ms. Lynn picked the new her: Zooey Deschanel.
The Stunt Man is the only nominee to stay away from the stage - for now. Based on Paul Brodeur's novel, the film follows a fugitive who hides out on a movie set, only to discover the director may be a greater threat to his physical and mental well-being than any cop. Don't expect to see this on 42nd Street any time soon - the flick is pure cinema.
And do those screenplays do their sources justice? Read on...
Jonathan Hardy/David Stevens/Bruce Beresford, story editor Harold Lander
adapted from the play by Kenneth G. Ross, with additional material from The Breaker by Kit Denton
Coal Miner's Daughter
adapted from the autobiography by Loretta Lynn with George Vecsey
The Elephant Man
Christopher De Vore/Eric Bergren/David Lynch
adapted from the memoir The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences by Sir Frederick Treves
adapted in part from The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity by Ashley Montagu
adapted from the novel by Judith Guest
The Stunt Man
Lawrence B. Marcus, adaptation by Richard Rush
adapted from the novel by Paul Brodeur
The Oscar went to Ordinary People, but my dears, my loves, I surprise myself by awarding my vote to a film that got little love elsewhere - so here's to...
JONATHAN HARDY / DAVID STEVENS / BRUCE BERESFORD
Tomorrow, we take a listen to the films nominated for Best Original Song: The Competition, Fame, Honeysuckle Rose, Nine to Five. What fun it will be!
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