Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Hoisted from Comments:"Atlas County"

Commenter Michael Hardesty thinks that the 'Atlas Shrugged' movie would work far better as an epic 'Dallas'-style soap opera, mapping the inexorable philosophic corruption of Mixed Economy USA over many seasons, along with lashings of sex, melodrama and torture sequences.

Working title: "Atlas County"

Here's his casting list:
Jim Taggart - Rudy Giuliani
Dagny - Sandra Bullock
Hank Rearden - David Soul
John Galt - Denzel Washington
Francisco - Morgan Freeman
Lillian Rearden - Christine Taylor
Mr. Thompson - Woody Allen
Floyd Ferris - Alan Alda
Fred Kinnan - Joe Pesci
Eugene Lawson - John Goodman
Orren Boyle -Danny Aiello

Pretty good I reckon. But what about Benecio Del Toro for Francisco? Or if he needs to be smoother, but still a bit dark, obviously Antonio Banderas. He was perfectly ironic in "Femme Fatale".



Daniel Barnes said...

Actually, what would be REALLY good is occasionally, when a couple of characters are having a disagreement over some particular facet of Objectivism, Leonard Peikoff suddenly pops up from behind the couch or a potted plant, and gives them the metaphysically-correct interpretation! Like Marshall McLuhan in 'Annie Hall'.

Michael Prescott said...

This cast is not nearly tacky enough. How about:

Dagny - Bo Derek
Galt - Harry Hamlin
Lillian - Lisa Rinner
Rearden - Don Johnson
Francisco - Erik Estrada
Jim Taggart - Greg Kinnear
Wesley Mouch - guy who played the corrupt president on "24"

I think the new CW Network may have its first winner!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, guys for the helpful feedback. Yes, that was a great
scene at the movie theater in Annie
Hall when McLuhan pops up to correct the arrogant professor.
Actually that is one of the best philosophical films ever made.
Michael, I like your suggestions too, I actually thought of Don Johnson after I signed off here
the last time. Harry Hamlin was
terrific in Making Love with Kate
Jackson. The movie is depressing
to me because I love Kate and can't
see a guy leaving her for another guy...
Bo as Dagny, no I have to veto that one ! The others I'm not too familiar with. I disagree with about 99% of Greg's criticism of
Rand but I do enjoy your site and we are totally in sync on ARI, TOC, probably SOLO & so-called
Rebirth of Reason. Once in a while I agree with something on Objectivist Lying.
Do not think Muslim world would be any danger at all but for US support of Israel and troops in
Saudi Arabia, etc.
Rand was a vehement anti-Arab racist and ARI stupidly follows
her blindly here. Too bad.
Check out ARI Watch.

Michael Prescott said...

Actually I was joking about all my suggestions except maybe Wesley Mouch. I just tried to come up with a list of has-been TV actors, and I threw in Lisa Rinner because she's Hamlin's wife, and Greg Kinnear because I couldn't think of anyone else.

I think the best cast for Atlas would have been the Al Ruddy version in the '70s. Ruddy was rumored to be thinking of Fay Dunaway as Dagny, Paul Newman as Rearden, and Robert Redford as Galt.

Frankly, no matter who is cast in the movie, it will stink. The book is unfilmable.

Since we already know that Angelina Jolie wants to star, maybe her costar should be someone whose lips are as big as hers. This can mean only one thing:

Mick Jagger as John Galt!


Daniel Barnes said...

Michael P:
>The book is unfilmable.

But whadda TV show!

As with Michael H, I think it long past due for recognition of the God-Like Comic Genius of Ken Kercheval!

Anonymous said...

We The living turned out very well in film format and The Fountainhead
was fine, Rand was purportedly dissatisfied but she was quite picky.
No, I think Atlas is doable in TV format, a movie couldn't do justice to that great novel.
God, I'm glad they didn't do the Al
Cruddy version, those were bombs for those roles. I like them in
other roles but no way would they
come off as Ayn Rand heroes.
Bottom line is that a TV version would get lots of people who like
the philosophy once they discover it. The ones that don't are going
to pooh pooh it no matter what.
I've been reading these Rand obituaries going back to Whittaker
Chamber's in NR in 57 and all the way to Lew Rockwell today and they
have all been famously wrong.
There will be NO problem keeping
Peikoff and the ARI Mossad away
because Peikoff sold the rights,
he has no say now.
I am not familiar with Angelina
so I can't comment on her.
Every show could end with a teaser
just like Dallas that would keep 'em coming back for me.
And the critics, well, they will have to pull their pods in frustration. Too baaaaddd !

Michael Prescott said...

>We The living turned out very well in film format and The Fountainhead was fine

I agree that We the Living is a good film, though a bit slow-paced for my taste. As for The Fountainhead, back in my Objectivist days I arranged to have it shown at my college. We got a pretty good turnout, but the audience started laughing at the movie soon after it began. At times the laughter was so uproarious that you couldn't even hear the dialogue (which might have been just as well).

Atlas would be even harder to film than The Fountainhead. It's set in some weird parallel "future" where railroads and steel are still the mainstays of American commerce. The plot is deliberately over the top, with a secret utopia hidden in the wilds of Colorado (now a densely populated state), a motor that runs on static electricity, a secret weapons program called Project X, and a climax in which the hero is tortured by government bureaucrats before being rescued by heroic industrialists (and a Viking pirate).

Sorry, but I can hear the laughs already.

Anonymous said...

College kids are morons, I had a similar experience at the U of MD
in the late 60s, I ignored the buffoons and enjoyed it anyway.
It wasn't a great film but it was good. The dialogue was fine, particularly Roark's courthouse
speech and Ray Collins was great as
Roger Enright, Ray later was Lt. Tragg on Perry Mason, a great show.
Undertand We The Living is slow paced for most Americans but a
great film even without the missing
car chases. AS is actually set in the past when we had a thriving private railroad and steel industries. That's why I suggested
a combo plane-train company, jesus, don't get hung up on the concretes, you can always change those. Get those yokels' laughs out of your skull, I understand
there are lots of people like that,
ballast as Ayn put it, six trillion turds just equal a lot
of excrement. These mongoloids are
supposed to be the arbiters of our
taste in what to produce or not ?!
Any who laugh in my living room will get the Joe Pesci treatment, ever see Casino ?
Torture scene can be cut, again hardly an essential, something else
could be put in its place.......
I take it you don't write screenplays for a living.......

Michael Prescott said...

>I understand
there are lots of people like that,
ballast as Ayn put it, six trillion turds just equal a lot
of excrement. These mongoloids ...

Ah, there's that exalted sense of life.

>I take it you don't write screenplays for a living....

I used to write screenplays. Now I write suspense novels. My professional opinion, based on 25 years of experience, is that Atlas is unfilmable. But I'd be happy to be proved wrong. I actually like the story for its operatic highs and lows, its larger than life characters, and its uncompromising vision. In some respects it's a great novel. Unfortunately, not all great novels make great (or even good) movies. In fact, few do.

I suppose if the people making Atlas are the equals of David O. Selznick, they can make another Gone With the Wind out of it. I hope so. But I expect it to be bad. Very bad.

No, scratch that. What I really expect is that it won't be made at all. As Chris Schiabarra said when interviewed about the "upcoming" movie, "I'll believe it when I see it."

Anonymous said...

It will be out in 2008 . . . .

Anonymous said...

Michael, you have given me an idea for a great screenplay, The Silence Of The Laughs, it's about an extreme social metaphysician with advanced self-consciousness who can't stop hearing the laughter of morons. Every time he thinks of the exalted, those laughs come back to haunt him. When he's reading Atlas, watching The Fountainhead, listening to Bach or on his Wedding Night the laughter from the mongoloids, those supreme arbiters of esthetic reality, come back to haunt him. Finally he goes to a great psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Baltimore to get the cure. Now the names are changed to protect the guilty. Lecter finally eats him after consulting the epic
work How To Best Serve Our Fellow Man by the United African Delegations to the United Nations.
It was for the best as his therapy was going nowhere.
Robert Blake will play you.
Anthony Hopkins might do a pro bono for the Foundation To Eradicate Social Metaphysics, the
number one mind killer of our day.
And Michael, please let me know when those laughs stop.

Anonymous said...

so what screenplays did you do, Mr. Prescott ? how come I've never heard of you ? your adversary here
keeps agreeing it shouldn't be a theatrical movie but a tv series,
so why keep flogging that dead horse ? sometimes the movies are an
improvement over the novels, this was true in the case of The Bonfire
of The Vanities and in several movies based on Grisham and Patterson novels. what novels have you published ?

Daniel Barnes said...

>this was true in the case of The Bonfire
of The Vanities

Wow, someone who actually *liked* the Bonfire movie.

I enjoyed both. But DePalma's movie is seriously underrated.

Anonymous said...

except for my aunt back east who strongly preferred the book, most people i know actually liked the movie because the ending wasn't such a downer and also a good screenwriter or tv writer can cut
a lot of the duplicative dialogue
as they could for Atlas. a very different medium and people can honestly disagree but I've seen
a number of films where the message
came across much clearer than in the books.

Michael Prescott said...

>how come I've never heard of you ?

I don't know. How many writers have you heard of? Most people can only name the Big Names, like Stephen King and John Grisham. My sales aren't anywhere close to their league, but I soldier on.

>so why keep flogging that dead horse ?

Guess I'm just bored. I'll stop now. Actually I thought I was being pretty conciliatory by saying that I hoped the movie would be good, and that I like the novel in many respects.

>what novels have you published ?

Here's my bio and bibliography, for those who care.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the bio info, Michael.
We can't have you as a writer on The Silence Of The Laughs, too much
conflict of interest potential.
What movies did you do ?
How do you like Arizona ?

Michael Prescott said...

>What movies did you do ?

Only one that got made, and it was such a total stinker that I won't even mention the title. Luckily it died a quick death and is not even available on video. It was a low-budget thing shot in Spain with an American cast and a Mexican director who did not speak a word of English. A quality production all the way. And the script was garbage, too.

>How do you like Arizona ?

It's great from October through April. May through September in the desert can be rough. Triple-digit temps nearly every day, relentless blazing sun, no shade, little water. I spend that part of the year on the NJ shore. But in most other respects Arizona is very nice - reasonably low taxes, more-or-less affordable housing, not too much traffic, and some spectacular scenery. Surprisingly, many people in AZ have allergy problems from the dry, dusty air. This can be a shock to people who move there specifically to get away from allergy/asthma conditions.

Anonymous said...

My partner and I were thinking of moving or eventually retiring there, we're in early 60s. I was
thinking more of Flagstaff-Sedona area but I understand Gilbert and
a few places around Phoenix are nice. We're tired of the Bay Area.
Where in NJ ? I have an old friend that lives in Brick, I think that's
near the shore.

Michael Prescott said...

>I was
thinking more of Flagstaff-Sedona area but I understand Gilbert and
a few places around Phoenix are nice.

Flagstaff is beautiful but gets a lot of snow, something like 100" a year! I haven't been to Gilbert. The mountain areas are completely different from the desert - they offer a four-season climate, skiing, etc.

Phoenix is very hot, smoggy, and congested, though it has its nice sections - Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, for instance. Tucson is, I think, a good compromise between the big-city ambiance of Phoenix and the rural scenery of the desert.

My advice: Don't move to the desert without visiting in the summer to see if you can stand the heat. June is typically the hottest and driest month. It can be a little surreal until you get used to it - especially if you're acclimated to San Francisco's mild marine climate.

>Where in NJ ? I have an old friend that lives in Brick, I think that's near the shore.

Brick is very close to me, only a few miles away. That area is extremely built up now, and they are widening the roads and bridges to accommodate the crush of traffic. There's some good shopping in Brick - if you can find a place to park!

Anonymous said...

The high-desert corridor along Highway 69 between Cordes Junction and Prescott, Arizona, offers a pleasant climate. I happen to live here.

Anonymous said...

Micheal Prescott is right: AS is unfilmable -- unless, that is, you are willing to do something really imaginative with it. And so, to make a film that would be worth seeing, I suggest handing the whole project over to Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman, the perpetrators of "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaption" (the latter one of the zaniest adaptions of a book ever). Give them free rein, whether to mute the message of the book, amplify it, twist it back on itself -- who cares, as long as the film is entertaining and imaginative. In any case, doing a "straight" version would be a disaster and would immediately become a kind of cult classic in the way the Ed Wood's films are cult classics.

Daniel Barnes said...

Greg Nyquist:
>In any case, doing a "straight" version would be a disaster and would immediately become a kind of cult classic in the way the Ed Wood's films are cult classics.

If they do it seriously it's certain to end up in "Showgirls" territory.

Michael Prescott said...

The Kaufman approach would be interesting, if only to hear the screams of protest from Irvine, California (home of ARI and Leonard Peikoff). But the script is being written by Jim Hart. His credits are here.

Like most screenwriters, he has worked on an eclectic variety of projects. He adapted the Carl Sagan novel Contact, which made a very good movie, I thought, with an intelligent, sensitive script. He also wrote the adventure film Sahara, which, as I recall, got good reviews and did pretty well at the box office. And he wrote Coppola's version of Dracula, which was uneven but had a lot of good things in it.

A lot of his other projects are aimed at younger audiences - Treasure Island: The Adventure Begins, Muppets Treasure Island, Jack and the Beanstalk, Tuck Everlasting, and (unfortunately) Hook, a very bad Steven Spielberg movie about a grown-up Peter Pan.

He also received a story credit on the execrable sequel to Tom Raider, but since he didn't write the actual script, he should not have to take any blame for that one. Nor should he be blamed for his first film, T & A Academy 2(a.k.a. Gimme an F), which was obviously an assignment he took just to get his foot in the door.

Overall, he seems like a straightforward, irony-free writer who has been hired to tell the story straight.

Michael Prescott said...

Oops. Should have been Tomb Raider, not "Tom" Raider. But you already knew that.

Anonymous said...

Belated thanks to Michael for the Az info. I had no idea that Flagstaff had so much snow !
I've heard good things about Tucson and mostly bad about Phoenix, another LA and a Nazi Sheriff. Thanks to Mark for suggesting another area.
Sorry to hear Brick but I guess the whole East Coast is overloaded now.
For reasons already stated I think
a TV series for Atlas would be great, not a movie.

Anonymous said...

Michael Hardesty said
“Check out  ARI Watch.”
but without the link here provided.

If you take a look at “ARI Watch” you’ll see that at base it opposes this blog.

Though Ayn Rand’s work isn’t above criticism – personally I could argue she was mistaken about this and that detail, or didn’t qualify some statements which needed qualifying – even after proper criticism there remains a monumental achievement deserving of some admiration and respect.

Enough respect that if the regulars here chose their words more carefully they would have a better chance of persuading someone who uncritically accepts everything Ayn Rand said.

For example, in another thread someone presents an argument that Ayn Rand was wrong about something or other, then uses the adjective “pretentious.” It wasn’t enough to argue that she made a mistake – let’s just assume that in this case she really was wrong – he had to insinuate meanness behind the making. This blog reeks of that sort of thing. You won’t like “ARI Watch.”

Daniel Barnes said...

>For example, in another thread someone presents an argument that Ayn Rand was wrong about something or other, then uses the adjective “pretentious.” It wasn’t enough to argue that she made a mistake – let’s just assume that in this case she really was wrong – he had to insinuate meanness behind the making.

Hi Anon,

I think "pretentious" describes a lot of Rand's pronouncements rather well. That is, she pretends an intellectual authority on many issues that she simply does not possess. Perhaps if she had been more open and speculative in her writings she would deserve the epithet less. But she was not, and thus does not. If, as a Rand admirer, you think calling her work such makes this blog "reek" of "meanness" I am surprised at such delicate sensibility. Take a look at most Objectivist websites and you will find a Noah's flood of vituperative condemnations of some of the most important philosophers, artists, and scientists that have ever lived - and usually completely ignorant condemnations at that. The source of this torrent is, of course, the work of Rand herself. To worry about us calling her stuff "pretentious" in comparison is surely choking on a gnat. Personally, I have no problem with a bit of vituperation now and again...;-) It's the ignorance and pretentiousness that ticks me off.

I personally think there is little chance of "persuading someone who uncritically accepts everything Ayn Rand said" of anything at all, for that very reason. We are critics, not deprogrammers. A critical-minded Objectivist is unlikely to remain such for long anyway. This blog is not for that purpose. It's simply to a) talk about the book, b) extend some of Greg's points a bit further and c) over time, provide a handy reference point for Objectivist criticism on the net.

JayCross said...

I would also add that someone who "uncritically accepts everything Ayn Rand says" would be despised by Ayn Rand. At least that's what she wrote.

Ellen Stuttle said...

It's what she wrote. In practice she wanted intelligent questioning which soon concluded that she was right.


Daniel Barnes said...

LOL, Ellen.

JunusJunior said...

Its sad, yet quite amusing, how you belittle her. This post made my day.