Mangle-ing The Classics

by kpmautner

Everyone’s heard my diatribe on the movie version of the Hobbit. It’s a short book, as Tolkien’s works go, and could have been shorter. To turn it into 3 separate movies – and including guurrls – is ridiculous …. LOTR three-parter was at least folllowing the outline of the books, although the movies included much (guurrls again …) that wasn’t in the text and left out a lot that was.

What really set me thinking about mangling of classic written works was something that came up in the A-Z series I just ran. I was thinking of going for either “N” (National), “V” (Velvet) or “P” (Pie) for one of the letters. Now the problem there was the difference between the Enid Bagnold book “National Velvet” and the film starring a young (very young) Elizabeth Taylor and the late (may he rest in peace) Mickey Rooney. One major, major problem with the film, which is, by the way, a perfectly lovely film all by itself. BUT: The BOOK’s main premise (and remember this because it’s the whole underlying theme of the book) is the truism that in order to win the Grand National, the horse must be a Thoroughbred (stamina, courage, jumping ability, speed). The Grand National is the granddaddy of all jump races. I walked the course once while I was living in England, and you could not PAY me to even ride toward those fences.

The point of the book is that the Pie is a piebald (hence, logically enough, his name). Thoroughbreds cannot be piebalds. Or at least that’s what the Jockey Club registries both here and in England maintain. (By the way, so does the AQHA – the American Quarter Horse Association: if the horse has paint markings, it’s not eligible for registry as a Quarter Horse). If it’s piebald/skewbald/pinto/paint, what-have-you, it’s not a thoroughbred.

Velvet and her trusty sidesick (who in the book is a Henry Dailey – type figure, not a young ‘un) set out to prove this wrong. (As a sideline, also, Velvet disguises herself because guuurllls can’t ride in the Grand National – way too strenuous for our delicate constitutions.) And since it’s classic kiddie lit, there is a happy ending, proving that you don’t have to be an aristocrat to do great things.

This is what set me off about the film: The horse playing The Pie is a (get this) gorgeous chestnut thoroughbred.