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Mark Atwood
fallenpegasus
fallenpegasus
Trivia: Iconic literary characters who don't resemble the film versions
I stole this from this USENET article, with the answers here.

How many can you get?




1) He doesn't wear a cape or fancy evening dress, sunlight doesn't harm him, and he has white hair and a white mustache.

Count Dracula. The cape is something that was invented for depictions of THE VAMPYRE's Lord Ruthven on the 19th century stage (Polidori's Byronic charmer was actually far more like the popular image of Dracula than Stoker's character is), as it allowed the actor to disappear through a trap door, leaving the stiffly wired cape behind. The 20's stage version of DRACULA (which, of course, was the real impetus for the Lugosi film) revived this venerable gimmick.

2) He's a veteran of WW2 with a prominent facial scar he got from the SS. After his wife is killed, he's deliberately drinking and smoking himself to death.

James Bond. The self-destructiveness is most prominent in the latter books, as is Bond's increased sense of ironic humor, his warmth towards (selected) others, his doubts about his profession and even his Scottishness. The Bond of the first couple of books is a humorless professional who is more like a handsome, ruthless Joe Friday with a sex drive and no particular moral qualms about what he's doing. Some pop historians have made a big deal of the fact that the heroine of the first Bond novel thinks Bond looks like Hoagy Carmichael, but this may be a mistake. Bond himself can't see the resemblence (the first real description we get of him, when he looks at himself in the mirror, actually is more suggestive of Connery or Dalton than Carmichael) and I don't believe it's ever mentioned in the subsequent books. Plus, since Bond's personality changed over the years (and he became more Scottish after Fleming met Connery), it's possible his appearance did, too.

3) She's blonde and from a rural Southern background. She lives in WW2 era New York and uses words like "dyke" and "jap" and even "fuck" (okay, "f**k"). She doesn't end up with the narrator, since he's gay.

Holly Golightly. The slim novel is rather darker and sadder than the film of BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, with a real feel for New York in the 40s.

4) She's an overweight teenager with a religious fanatic mom.

Carrie White from CARRIE

5) He's several inches taller and (for most of his adventures) at least a decade younger than almost every adult actor who's ever played him. He has no particular preference for any style of hat and is seldom if ever described as wearing a cloak. He can knock out a village tough with one punch and bend steel pokers and he's proficient in a syncretic British combination of jiu-jitsu and "Chinese boxing" called baritsu. While not as fond of smoking a pipe as his various cinematic incarnations, he is addicted to a cocaine/morphine solution.

Sherlock Holmes (of course). The cerebral Holmes, whom most people don't think of an action hero, actually punched out more bad guys than Phillip Marlowe ever did. Christopher Lee is probably the only actor to have ever played him who had both the right height and the right suggestion of wiry physical power. You can imagine the younger Lee bending a steel poker with his bare hands, but Rathbone? Cushing? Jeremy Brett?

6) He has delicate features, sleek black hair, maroon eyes and a sixth finger on his left hand.

Hannibal Lector

7) This criminal mastermind with an army of thugs and dacoits has "a face like Shakespeare and a brow like Satan" but is clean-shaven.

The Insidious Doctor Fu Manchu (the "clean-shaven" is important, since his name now describes a style of mustache)

8) He's physically quite small, almost a dwarf, and while he's not bestial looking or obviously deformed and has no unusual features, there's something unpleasant about his face that nobody who meets him can quite put their finger on. His relationship to the other title character isn't revealed until the end of the book.

Mr. Edward Hyde. Alan Moore cleverly got around the size issue in LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN by having Hyde point out that Jekyll used to be a "big strapping chap" and Hyde was almost a dwarf, but as Hyde got stronger via Jekyll's unleashed desires, he grew and Jekyll dwindled.

9) He has a jagged lightning-bolt-shaped scar on his forehead, speaks perfect English and French, spent some time working for British intelligence, has a son who grows up to be a pilot in WW1, and lives on an African plantation that's worked by his faithful native tribe.

John Clayton, Lord Greystoke, aka Tarzan of the Apes. As someone pointed out elsewhere, it may have been French Intelligence that he was working for in THE RETURN OF TARZAN. TARZAN OF THE APES ends with him denying that he's the late Lord Greystoke's heir, as he thinks Jane loves the current Lord, Jack Clayton, and he doesn't want to strip the man she loves (and thus her) of the title. Early in THE RETURN OF TARZAN, he's nursing his emotional wounds and working for the French on the Ivory Coast (after he fights a duel in France) as "Monsieur Jean C. Tarzan, of Africa." Some books later, after he and Jane have sorted everything out, married and sired a son, they're living together on his African plantation, not in some treehouse.

10) This swaggering "man of gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth" is Celtic, not Germanic, with "Black Irish" looks and temperment. He swears in Gaelic and is prone to moods of bleak depression. Once he becomes king, he's a patron of the arts, with a deep respect for poetry.

Conan the Cimmerian. Casting a German actor misses out on the Celtic part (according to Tacitus, the imaginary Cimmerians were the ancestors of the Celts, and every Robert E. Howard hero who lived in an actual historical period was Irish -- I should say, every white Howard hero, as he wrote some stories about a black boxer, who was portrayed more sympathetically than blacks tended to be in the Conan stories). The fits of black depression are something that everyone who's written posthumous Conan stories has left out (for that matter, so are King Conan's feelings about poetry).

11) He is at least 8 feet tall, maybe even 10 feet, with long straight black hair and pearly white teeth, but also withered translucent yellow skin and yellow eyes. He's given to very long speeches.

Victor Frankenstein's nameless creation. I still think that Michael Jackson in THRILLER is the best (albeit unintentional) visual representation of the novel's description, especially if you imagine LotR spfx making him look 10 feet tall. The size is an important issue, btw. It's no good to have the creature merely look like a deformed or disfigured man, as DeNiro does in the Brannagh film. He should look superhuman and demonic.

12) He's the son of a Greek immigrant who changed/shortened his last name. When he marries into money, he gives up being a private detective for a life of serious drinking. His fox terrier is a bitch.

Nick Charles (nee Karlopolis or something like that) from THE THIN MAN. The movie is a pretty accurate adaptation, minus Nora's infamous question about whether Nick got an erection while wrestling with a sexy moll, which helped make the book a bestseller. Still, one doesn't readily see William Powell as a 2nd generation Greek.

13) He's a big guy who looks like a "blonde Satan."

Sam Spade. Both Spade and Marlowe are big and conventionally hunky guys, whereas Bogart, of course, was neither.

14) He's almost seven feet tall and says "bein' an idiot ain't no box of chocolates."

Forrest Gump

15) This psychotic murderer is homely, middle-aged and stout.

Norman Bates, whom Robert Bloch envisioned as Rod Steiger

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Comments
shsilver From: shsilver Date: December 29th, 2003 10:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Neat quiz. I sussed about half of them. The Tarzan description brings such strange Tarzan/Harry Potter thoughts.
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: December 29th, 2003 12:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey - I saw the episode where Jeremy Brett's Holmes bent the poker and it worked very well. Brett has an air of quiet power and at times barely restrained menace. Having read the books several times I thought Brett was *the* Sherlock Holmes.
lionmage From: lionmage Date: December 29th, 2003 12:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh... thanks for posting this, hon. Although the bit about Sam Spade... when I was researching detective fiction for a term paper in high school, I remember his description as being that of a "cheerful Satan" — though I have no doubt that he was blonde as the author originally envisioned him.
lionmage From: lionmage Date: December 29th, 2003 12:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, another piece of literary trivia. Huckleberry Finn had red hair. Most people get this detail wrong, but to be fair, Mark Twain didn't offer this detail until well into the novel Huckleberry Finn.
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