Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey (1964)
Sometimes a Great Notion directed by Paul Newman (1971)
When you hear the name Ken Kesey, what comes to mind is psychedelic drugs and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. At least that was what I associated him with. I had no idea he had published a second book, just two years after Cuckoo’s Nest, and this second novel was what he considered his magnum opus and some regard it as one of the “great American novels”.
This was recommended by Charles, a YouTube subscriber who commented on my Hud book vs movie episode because the movie stars and is directed by Paul Newman, who plays the lead in Hud. I am so glad he brought this book and movie to my attention! When we talk of Ken Kesey, more people need to be bringing this book up as part of the conversation.
The title of this book comes from the song Goodnight, Irene by Lead Belly
“Sometimes I lives in the country
Sometimes I lives in the town
Sometimes I haves a great notion
To jump into the river an’ drown”
The Stamper Family
Before getting into the story, I will go through the main characters, to help not confuse things. Henry is the patriarch of the Stamper family, his oldest son is Hank, and 12 years later, when Henry remarries, he has a second son name Leland/Lee. The second wife/Lee’s mom, has died by suicide when the story starts. Hank has a cousin names Joe/Joe Ben/Joby who he has always been close to. And Viv is Hank’s wife.
Taking place in Oregon, along the Wakanda Auga river, the union loggers are going on strike. However, their strike isn’t doing any good, because the Stamper family has a nonunion logging company and they are filling the contract the union men were supposed to fill. The whole town is angry at the Stampers for foiling their strike plans and blame them for the recession the town is in due to most of the men being out of work for as long as the strike lasts.
The Stampers hire their own relatives, and with the strike going on, Joe gets Hank to agree to write to Lee, who lives on the east coast, asking him to come back to Organ because the more men the better. And because Henry had an accident and is now in casts and can’t do much. Plus, he’s old and in his 70’s anyway.
Lee agrees to come back for a few reasons, but a big reason is because he holds a grudge against Hank and wants to return home to get revenge on him because when Hank was in his late teens, he was having sex with Lee’s mom and Lee has never forgiven him for it.
Floyd Evenwrite is in charge of the strike, and has a guy named Jonathon Draeger come up from California to get this Stamper business figured out.
Due to some events involving a severed arm and the death of Joby, Hank gives in to the union wants and decides not to fill the contract.
However, after later having it out with Lee, he is awakened by his stupor and goes back on his word and decides to fill the order anyway.
The book begins at the end, with Draeger going to see Viv to find out why Hank has gone back on his word. As the book goes along, it’s about 650 pages by the way, I was so engaged in the story, that I kind of forgot about the beginning. It wasn’t until Henry loses his arm, that I remembered the severed arm from the beginning and saw how it was all coming together.
I listened to the first half of this book on audible (and I would highly recommend the audiobook, such an amazing narrator) but the second half I physically read and I finished the last 300 and something pages in only two days! I loved the audiobook, but I’m glad to have physically read a lot of it as well because seeing how it was written was interesting with all of the italics and parathesis. The audiobook was surprisingly easy to follow, considering the constant shift in perspective. It also jumps from first person to third person and jumps back and forth through time. The only other book that is written in this complex way that I have read, is Beloved by Toni Morrison. I loved it in Beloved, and I loved it here. Kesey and Morrison are very talented people, because as I said in my episode for Beloved, this could have been so confusing a book with that writing style, but I never felt lost while reading or listening to the audiobook.
The story itself is very character driven, including the perspectives of the main characters as well as side characters, as well as characters that don’t seem to really matter to the story. Specifically, a woman named Simone, while I enjoyed reading her sections, but she didn’t seem to play a part in the overall story at all.
I loved this book though. Even though the events that happen aren’t something that left my jaw on the floor, or even had me feeling overly emotional, I just loved being in this world and with these people and getting to know them. I was curious how things would turn out, and I loved the way everything happened, it just wasn’t like I was amazed with the events and actions of the characters, if that makes sense. That’s not to say it took away from how much I liked the book though. Maybe the fact that things happened in sometimes an anticlimactic way made the story more realistic.
This movie is available to watch on YouTube! I kind of freaked out when I couldn’t find it on streaming platforms, but then I thought to check YouTube and thank goodness it was there!
This was the second film Paul Newman ever directed, but he wasn’t originally going to direct. When the first director dropped out, it was offered to Newman and he agreed. He said it was difficult to both act and direct, hence why he never did it again I suppose.
I thought it was well done though. I liked the scenes that show them logging, these scenes are described in the book, but being able to see it in action is always nice. I was also imagining smaller trees, so seeing them as big as they are is really something.
(Fun fact, we went to Seattle last year and signed up to climb a Douglas Fir and it was pretty scary, but also amazing! Considering I did that, I should have known the size of the trees to envision as I read! There is a part where Hank is trying to describe to lee what it is like to be at the top of one of those trees cutting branches and he says how he can tell Lee just doesn’t get it and he can’t understand until he goes up there himself.)
There is a lot to the book, and I will really only be scratching the surface here. I read in a review for the movie, someone saying the book is unadaptable. That is true to a certain extent, because there is so much to this novel. But I really liked the movie and think they did a good job adapting it.
Also, this was Kesey’s second book, but the first adaptation. Cuckoo’s Nest came out in ’75 and became far more critically acclaimed and has had a staying power Great Notion wasn’t able to achieve.
In the summary, I said that Joe and Hank wrote to lee, asking him to come out. In the movie, Lee just shows up. Everyone is surprised to see him, and Hank asks him why he is here, to which he never fully answers.
He does tell Viv about how he tried to commit suicide by turning the gas on and lighting a joint, and while the windows blew out and the house basically exploded, he didn’t die. In the book, it is right when this happens, that a mailman arrives, delivering the letter from Oregon.
In the movie we kind of see early on that he is there for vindictive reasons, when he is talking to Hank and Viv and says how after his mom died, he saw letter from Hank that included money. Kind of showing that there was something going on with that relationship, because Henry, her husband, should have been the one writing to her and sending money if anyone.
He also tells them that no one was at the funeral, and that they received the wreath Hank had set over. In the book, this really is the case, but in the book, he lies and says how there were so many people there and when Hank says he had a wreath sent, Lee lies and says there were so many flowers and wreaths, he didn’t notice one was from Hank.
Throughout this book, Lee interprets everything Hank does as being spiteful in some way towards Lee; he just takes everything too personal lol. Like with the wreath, he assumes Hank sent it as a way to stick it to Lee, when really he was just trying to be nice.
In the book, when he first arrives, everyone is nice to him and glad to see him. He is thrown off and doesn’t trust it. But over time, he is truly happy and enjoys the work and has grown fond of everyone. He decides against his plan, yet he feels he needs to get it off his chest and so he wants to tell Viv what his plan had been, even though he no longer intends to go through with it.
However, that night he and Hank get into an agreement about jazz which turns into a conversation about Lee’s mom. After this, Lee decides to once again go through with his revenge.
In the book, there was always miscommunication between Hank and Lee because they never talked about anything straight out. And when Hank would be trying to explain something, Lee always took it the wrong way because of his pent-up frustration and ideas that he had about Hank. When they get in an argument that night, one reason there is so much pent-up feelings, is that they don’t talk, but also, they never physically fight.
In the end of the book, after Lee “gets his revenge”, they finally do get in an actual fight and this wakes Hank up from the haze he had been in, and it seems they are finally settled and don’t have those pent-up feelings. I’m not saying violence is the answer, but it seems to have helped them out lol.
In the movie they do talk specifically about Lee’s mom which never happened in the book. We see that Lee has pent up emotions, but it was more present in the book.
Hank kind of reminded me of Hud from Hud/Horseman, Pass By as well as Phil from The Power of the Dog. However, Hank is more likeable and not as selfish, heartless or mean as Hud and Phil. But Hank is naturally very talented and skilled. He is smart, but also excels in every physical activity. He is tough, and isn’t one to back down from a fight, and always gives his all. He is loyal to the family and is well respected. He can also be stubborn and isn’t a team player in the long run. Telling Draeger that he fought for America, and if Oregon went against California he would fight for Oregon and when it comes to him versus the town, he fights for himself.
He and Lee have an interesting dynamic because Lee has always felt inferior to Hank, because of his skill and success, plus the fact that Hank is sleeping with Lee’s mom. Lee sometimes comes across like a wimp, even though he says that his biggest fear, is to come across as fearful. Hank really isn’t a bad guy and he tries with Lee, both when Lee is a kid and when Lee is an adult, but Lee’s own insecurities and hate for Hank cause him to often misinterpret what is being said.
This attitude of Hank’s does come across in the movie, and we see in some ways how Lee feels inferior to him. We don’t see anything from Lee’s childhood though the way we do in the book. There is also a scene where Lee almost drowns, because people were trying to drown him for being a Stamper, but when Hank shows up, they get scared and run off. Lee comes across kind of wimpy initially, but then he later doesn’t seem bothered which impresses Hank.
Henry’s family moved to Oregon when he was a kid and his dad, Jonas, ended up hating it there and abandoning them. I want to share a quote that talks about how the dad had felt about Oregon and the imagery is so amazing, so I will quote it, “For this land was permeated with dying; this bounteous land, where plants grew overnight, where Jonas had watched a mushroom push from the carcass of a drowned beaver and in a few gliding hours swell to the size of a hat—this bounteous land was saturated with moist and terrible dying…He was being smothered. He was being drowned. He felt he might awake some foggy morn with moss across his eyes and one of those hellish toadstools sprouting in the mist from his own carcass.”
Years later, when Henry is in his adulthood, he gets word of his dad’s death and the body is sent to them along with a plaque the dad had wanted sent that had a scripture engraved. Henry painted over the scripture verse and writes over it “Never give a inch” which was his motto.
And he lived by this quite literally. We hear at the beginning how the river moves its way up and swallowed the houses of the early settlers. People than learned to build a ways off from the bank, to make room has the river gets closer. But not Henry Stamper, they did what they had to, with different rigs and cables and sandbags to keep their house right where it is.
Most of the events of the book take place when Henry is in his 70’s and has a broken arm and leg. He is still a lively fellow and will often go to the local bar and come home drunk. Henry Fonda plays Henry in the movie and he was amazing in the role, just so perfect. Henry in book and movie just has so much character and is so lively and funny and stubborn.
In the movie, after he loses his arm, he dies soon after. In the book he lived for a while longer, and that too I loved. He was this old man who was physically falling apart, yet he was still witty and didn’t lose his spirit. That is, until he hears the news about Joe Ben and the WP contract.
The movie was actually released at times under the title Never Give a Inch, and I read the VHS release is titled that. It’s a fitting title, but I love the name Sometimes a Great Notion even more.
Joe Ben is such an amazing character in the book, and Richard Jaekel was nominated for his role as Joby. He really did capture the lighthearted, kind, funny, hardworking character of Joe.
I saw a reviewer call Joby “dim-witted but kind” or something like that. I don’t agree with that at all! Joby was smart and insightful. Just because he was genuine, without a mean bone in his body and always positive, doesn’t make him dumb. Just like the movie Everything, Everywhere, All at Once teaches us, just because someone is always seeing the bright side doesn’t mean they do so because they are too dumb to see the negative.
At one point in the book, Hank is feeling down about everything, and Joe Ben starts talking about how they can’t fail and is getting so worked up about it, and being over the top in his way, Hank inevitably gets in a better mood.
There is also a part in the book when townspeople keep calling and being rude. Hank and Lee had been answering and when Joby offers to take the calls, he is told he doesn’t know how to talk nice while actually telling a person to screw themselves, and therefore isn’t fit to take the calls.
He also sees what is happening with Viv, Lee and Hank, and when Lee refuses to work because he is sick, he convinces Viv to have Lee go into town with Henry to see the doctor. Viv isn’t sure why he is being so insistent, but she goes with it because she knows Joby never has selfish intentions and he can be trusted.
At one point, near the end of the book, I had the thought that Kesey might kill Joe off. Authors love to make you love a character, and then kill them! And that is indeed what happens.
In the book, Henry and Lee go into town-Lee to go to the doctor, and Henry to go to the bar. While they are there, Hank and Joby are cutting trees, while Andy is at the mill getting the logs they send down. At this point, all the other Stampers have stopped showing up for work (don’t worry, we will be getting into the strike details in a bit). They are working to fill the WP contract, and Henry shows up. He realized there is a flood going to come in and he says they need to work double time and get the order in early before the flood. Hank is so exhausted by it all, and Henry, showing his years of experience, takes the lead on telling them what to do. I love this section that describes what this was like as they all worked, “Few words actually passed between them; they communicated with the unspoken language of labor toward a shared end, becoming more and more an efficient, skilled team as they worked their way across the steep slopes; becoming almost one man, one worker who knew his body and his skill and knew how to use them without waste or overlap.”
Hank is mentally exhausted, as I said, but Joby is loving this team effort and the excitement of having to work faster and harder. I could relate to this part because I love working as a group to accomplish something.
However, a tree that Hank is sawing falls the wrong way and gets Henry in the arm, and then rolls onto Joby, pinning him in the water.
In the movie, this scene plays out the same, but Lee is there too and there is no hurry to fill the order before the flood, it is just a normal work day.
In both, Hank tries to get Joe Ben out from the log but he can’t saw it because the water is getting in the saw and it won’t work. The water keeps rising, but with the way the log is facing, when it rolls off, it will roll over Joe rather than away from him. Hank stays with him for hours, just chatting, Joe staying positive as they reflect back on fond memories. Before long, the water gets too high, and Hank says he can give Joe mouth to mouth and that can keep him alive. This requires Joe to stay calm under the water though, otherwise he will drown. Ultimately Joby does drown, despite Hank’s best efforts.
I loved this scene so much in the book and movie. I love that Kesey chose to have Hank give him mouth to mouth as Joby is underwater, as a way to get fresh air to Joby. It is such an intimate scene between these two heterosexual men who have such a close bond and a love for each other. The movie really captures this tragic scene, and most people who watch the movie, this is the scene they will talk about.
In book and movie, but especially book, we see that Joby is a devote Christian. He is what a Christian should be, truly caring and without guile. At his funeral we see his pastor person talking to other people saying how he liked Joe, but it is good God took him because that was the only way to get Hank to give in. This is sad, and shows the heartlessness of the pastor by saying such a thing.
Viv and Lee
Lee’s grand scheme to get revenge on Hank for having sex with Lee’s mom, is to have sex with Hank’s wife, Viv. This is so annoying but isn’t a surprising tactic. It is a psychological game he is playing, as we will soon see, and it does seem that he falls in love with her to some extent. But this whole thing makes it seem like Lee sees women as possessions belonging to men, rather than their own beings. This is fitting for the time, and even in a show I watched from the 2000’s has this same thing. A guy is mad that his friend had sex with his mom, so he wants to get revenge by having sex with the friend’s mom. I hate it so much because it makes it seem like the women are property rather than individuals who made the choice to have sex with the guy they had sex with!
Anyway, in the end of the movie, Lee says how he would love to see Hank be splattered on the sidewalk, the way his mom was. And Hank says that Lee should consider the fact that Hank had been 14 at the time it started and she was 30, “so who was really banging who?”. Quite a powerful scene that shows the relationship in a whole new light as Hank as someone who was sexually abused. In the book we know he was a teenager, but I had assumed he was in his later teens. Regardless, he was still much younger than her and if anything it was her who was taking advantage of him.
But, back to Viv. Lee is able to get these moments alone with Viv and they connect. Hank is uneasy with this and doesn’t like them being alone together in the book, in the movie he doesn’t seem to think about it.
Then, the day he is in town at the doctor (the day Joby dies) he walks home from town and it is just him and Viv. He chickens out on making a move and is crying in his room when Viv walks in and they then have sex. Lee thinks he will have time because when Hank gets home, he will be across the river and will have to ring the bell, giving them time to hide what happened. However, Hank ends up just swimming across! Lee is surprised, but then realizes maybe this makes the revenge even better. He knows Hank is in the room right by them, but I guess Viv doesn’t notice. He then tells Viv he loves her and gets her to say it back to him, hoping Hank hears. This was so conniving and terrible on Lee’s part! Using her as a pawn in that way.
Anyhow, when Viv hears Hank in the bathroom she gets dressed and goes to see him. Lee walks in later and has a smug line he is ready to say. He doesn’t get to say it though, because the news is given that Joby is dead and Henry is in the hospital.
In the movie, we don’t see Viv and Lee have sex, but it is implied. However, they have sex after she has packed up and is ready to leave Hank and she is gone before Hank gets back.
In the book, she stays with Hank because she does love him too, and now that times are so hard and he is depressed, she feels she can’t leave him.
In the movie Lee had been there and saw what happened to Joby and Henry, yet when he goes back home he still has sex with Viv! Granted, she was getting ready to leave Hank anyway, but it still seems pretty heartless to go through with your revenge considering what had happened to Joe Ben and Henry.
In the movie Viv comes across much more as the oppressed woman who has no voice. She never speaks her opinion, because she feels she won’t be listened to if she tries. Lee talks to her and takes time to get to know her, and thanks her when she serves him food. She is also able to confide in him and he in her. He is so different from the other men, that she can’t help but like him.
In the book, Viv was unhappy with where things ended up in life. And in book and movie we know she was pregnant but lost the baby. The movie also does a good job showing us her backstory with how she met Hank through a conversation she has with Leland, whereas in the book we see it first-hand.
Anyway, in the book Viv was more playful and wittier. She and Hank have a more playful relationship and she and Lee had a witty banter.
In the book she doesn’t talk about leaving the way she does in the movie. And when she has sex with Leland, she hadn’t been packed to go like she was in the movie.
After they have sex, Lee goes into town and stays at the hotel for a couple days. Hank and Viv have the house to themselves and Hank notices how quiet it is without everyone else around. They also aren’t quite as easy with each other in conversation, because of the events with Lee (plus everything else) and he thinks how he’s got to hand it to Lee.
Lee ends up showing up to get an insurance paper so he can get money when Henry dies. While there he gets time alone with Viv and asks her to come away with him and how he needs her more than hank does. She still tells him no.
Later, when she goes into town to get Lee and tell him Hank is going to run the logs, she stays in town. She thinks about the life she had wanted, the kids she had hoped she would have, and how she wanted to marry a man who would be fine with her cutting her hair short-which Hank didn’t want her doing. She takes Lee’s bus ticket he had left, but before getting on the bus and leaving town, she borrows a knife and cuts her hair off.
As I was reading, I was worried Kesey would have her commit suicide, which I didn’t think would be fitting for her at all. Thankfully he thought the same and had her just leave town instead which I thought was a good end for her.
Okay, let’s get to the strike. The logging company goes on strike and won’t fill the logging contract with Wakanda Pacific (WP). WP doesn’t care about the strikers demands though because the Stamper company, which isn’t union, has agreed to take over the contract.
As said, the whole town is against the Stampers but Hank doesn’t seem to care what his actions are doing to the town. Evenwrite tries to take things into his own hands and tries to sabotage the Stamper business but nothing he does seems to make a dent. Draeger, the union big wig, is talking with Evenwrite in the bar and says they have money to buy the Stampers out. They say they are going to go make the offer to Hank and leave, but actually just go to the hotel. They just need everyone thinking they made an offer to Hank.
The Stamper people hear the rumor and are glad because they will get a cut, plus it means the strike is over and the town won’t hate them. (by the way, the Stamper company only hires family, so everyone who works there is connected to the Stamper family in some way.)
When they find out Hank isn’t selling, they are upset and slowly but surely, they all stop showing up to work.
The movie has Draeger but he doesn’t do as much as he does in the book. We do get that meeting when Draeger and Evenwrite go talk to him and that’s when he says the whole thing about how he isn’t on anyone’s side but his own. In the movie, the other Stamper’s stop showing up to work, but it isn’t due to the rumor of Hank selling, and then being disappointed. They just stop showing up because they are tired of the town hating them.
In book and movie, we have the character of Willard. He is a man most people think of as being spineless and we learn he had an affair with a black woman that was working with him. She had his son and moved up to Seattle. For the past year or so, he was able to send money to her and the son but with the strike going on, people don’t have money for his services anymore and he therefore doesn’t have money to send her. She tells him she is going to have to get married, so she can have that financial stability. Willard doesn’t want her to marry and decides his only choice to is to commit suicide, make it look like an accident, and leave all of his money to the woman and son. (He has a wife in Wakanda, but they don’t have a good relationship).
In the book, he decides to call Hank and tell him what he has to do due to Hank’s actions. He calls at like 12:30 at night and Hank has been dealing with rude phone calls all evening. When Willard calls, Hank is kind of out of it, and seems to not really care. He tells Willard he believes him, but at the moment he is too out of it, so telling Willard “good luck” is just about the best he has to say.
Willard then gets in a car crash on purpose. When he hears of Willards death the next day, he is shaken up about it but doesn’t tell anyone about the phone call.
In the movie, Willard approaches Hank when Hank is in town and tells him the same thing but in person, and Hank responds the same way. In the movie, Viv also hears and when she hears the next day that he has died, she tries to get Hank to stop. However, Hank keeps working.
In the movie, Evenwrite’s men messed up the Stamper equipment and the next day Hank is in town getting his saw fixed. He walks by Evenwrite’s Union office and makes a spur of the moment decision to go in and saw Floyd’s desk in half. It is after this that Willard talks to Hank.
Hank canceling the WP contract
Hank experiences a number of things in a row-he gets beaten up in town (though he beats the other guy worse); his own family no longer supports the main Stamper family; the death of Willard; the death of Joe Ben; Henry losing his arm; getting beat up once more; seeing/hearing Lee and Viv having sex. All of this puts him in a depressed fog and he is just so tired of being the villain; so he cancels the contract.
In the movie, Henry also dies so that is another thing getting to Hank. Plus, Viv has left him.
In the book, a few days later, Lee stops by the hospital to see Henry who isn’t doing well. The doctor and the guy who owns the store (who had been a long time “friend” of Henry) are very condescending, saying they will give free food to Hank and telling him to tell Hank to put the usual signs out front for the grocery deliveries.
When Lee goes back to the house, he tries to get Viv to come with him but she won’t. Hank then takes Lee over the river and while on the other side, he sees Viv looking at them through the window. He then tells Hank about what the doctor and grocer said, being very condescending himself, trying to get hank so upset he will hit Lee. Lee isn’t planning on fighting back, and Viv will see what a bad guy Hank is.
Hank does indeed hit him, but then Lee fights back and they beat each other pretty good. Once they decide they are done, Hank has become clear headed, and Lee heads back into town, feeling pretty good himself.
Running the logs
In the movie, hank is feeling down, but then he gets a call from someone in town being condescending and this sets him off to run the logs. Lee has been hanging out across the river, and heads over when he sees what Hank is up to and they run the logs together.
When people from town gather to watch, Hank goes and grabs Henry’s arm, puts the middle finger up, and ties it to the tugboat they are using to bring the logs in.
In the book, when Hanks gets home from the fight with Lee, he decides he is going to run the logs today to make the WP deadline. Before heading out, he gets Henry’s severed arm and makes it so the middle finger is sticking up and put it outside the house where they usually put the different flags and signals.
Lee, who in town had been looking through the box of documents, sees the letters his mother had written Hank and gets all the anger all over again. She had also sent Hank some of the poetry Lee had written and he us upset about that, feeling like it was. a violation of his privacy. When Viv comes in to tell him Hank is going to run the logs on his own, Lee is angry that Hank is once again going to be the hero (not the hero to the town, but once again doing something so impressive). He says it isn’t over between him and Hank and he is going to run the logs with him, so Hank can’t get all the credit himself. I liked this ending with Lee and Hank, basically showing their back and forth is still not over and will most likely take a while before Lee is able to actually move on.
Book ending vs movie ending
Both endings have the same basic thing happening-Hank making a comeback, surprising the town and showing them he’s still got it. I also love that he uses Henry’s arm to flip them off. In the movie, I was worried that wouldn’t be included, but I was so glad they had it and I think it would be impossible to watch that scene and not grin. Just such an awesome moment.
In the movie, Lee and Hank seem to be on better terms which is nice. Whereas in the book Lee goes to help him out of jealousy and anger more than a sense of family loyalty or love. I really liked that with the book though and it was a fitting end to their relationship in the book, showing us that this tug of war will continue.
There are a lot of characters in the book that aren’t in the movie, but the only one I will talk about it an indigenous woman named Jenny who is a female prostitute. She was insulted by Henry years before, and since then has a hatred, but also a kind of obsession with him.
We often are taken to her perspective and see what she is up to. In the end, we see her rolling shells, doing some type of magic and the shells resemble a face. Then in the end of the book, a man appears, and that’s the end of the book. I honestly didn’t understand this part of the book. Was this some version of Henry that is like reincarnated after Henry has died? If you have ideas on what this last scene represents, let me know!
Some other changes
In the movie we see them go to this lumberjack picnic thing where Hank races his motorcycle and there is a game of football. This wasn’t in the book, but I think it was a fine scene in the movie.
In the book, Joby had a face that was all scared up (I can’t remember why…) whereas in the movie he has a normal, good-looking face.
There is a scene in the movie when Hank gets drunk and Newman plays a drunk person very well!
The music in the movie is done by Henry Mancini and it was more playful at times than I expected, but overall I enjoyed it.
In the book, Lee sees a psychiatrist on the east coast, thinking he is going crazy but he is told, ‘“No, Leland, not you. You, and in fact quite a lot of your generation, have in some way been exiled from that particular sanctuary. It’s become almost impossible for you to ‘go mad’ in the classical sense. ..you are too hip to yourself on a psychological level. You all are too intimate with too many of the symptoms of insanity to be caught completely off your guard. Another thing: all of you have a talent for releasing frustration through clever fantasy. And you, you are the worst of the lot on that score. So … you may be neurotic as hell for the rest of your life, and miserable…but I’m afraid never completely out.”’
Book vs Movie
I love this movie, and I think someone watching it who hasn’t seen the book, probably wouldn’t have too many complaints about it. When you compare it to the book, there is just soooo much left out, plus you miss out on the amazing writing style and the descriptions. The book was also a bit more of a family epic than the movie is.
Of course, I think the book wins, but all in all, I do think this is a solid adaption and is doing the best it can with its 1 hour 54-minute run time, as it tells the story from a 650 page book! Honestly, I almost prefer when we get movie adaptations versus tv show adaptations. I know shows are able to include so much more, but sometimes we don’t need every little thing, ya know?? So, I don’t mind that the movie shortened it up so much.
I also just love Paul Newman and he is excellent here as Hank. Even though Hank has some similarities with Hud, Newman plays the two people differently, so I never felt like, oh Newman is just playing the same character all over again.
This is a book and movie I would highly recommend!