The picture above is just one example of the how the words of John Steinbeck have found their way on-screen. What is wonderful about the translations I have seen, for the most part they properly evoke the heart-wrenching, joyful, all around emotions I experienced when I read the novel. In the case of The Grapes of Wrath, I must admit I never read the novel to its completion; the opposite is true of another of Steinbeck’s work, The Pearl, of which I have not seen any of the cinematic adaptations.
The other works I Steinbeck that I have read are Of Mice and Men, The Red Pony, and East of Eden (took me nearly three years with a series of stops and starts in the middle). Although I have read these novel/llas and seen these films, there is not much I recall of The Red Pony on the screen.
There is not much to say about East of Eden except that I loved the book and I really liked the movie. The film, directed by Elia Kazan, is a very good example of what can be done when amending the source material to fit the cinematic medium. The book is so rich in detail and history that it would be next to impossible to compress it into a film. I have the feeling that even a mini-series would not properly do it justice. Because like, in the book, the real action does not start until we are well into the narrative.
(UPDATE: Check this out. Looks like East of Eden will be getting something of a makeover)
It may interest some readers of this blog that Steinbeck also wrote Hollywood screenplays. Of particular interest to me is the great character study contained in Alfred Hitchcock’s WWII drama Lifeboat. He was even seen onscreen as the introducer of the short films presented in O’Henry’s Full House, another personal favorite/gem of mine mainly because it contains two of my favorite short stories, The Last Leaf and The Gift of the Magi.