Tag Archives: Movies & TV

Lights, Camera, Novel: Robert Wilder’s Written on the Wind.

Fortune. Scandal. Romance. Debauchery. Together, they seem like the perfect  ingredients for a surefire box office hit.

No wonder Robert Wilder’s 1946 novel Written on the Wind was selected by Universal International Pictures for its racy plot-line that loosely depicts elements of Zachary Smith Reynolds’ marriage to Libby Holman and suspicions surrounding his suicide. Wilder’s novel was reviewed previously on the blog here. Reynolds’ life and his relationship with Holman also inspired another, earlier musical from 1935 entitled Reckless, which starred Jean Harlow.

The screenplay, which was not adapted by Wilder, revised three key components. All of the characters’ names change. The family tobacco fortune transformed into oil in the film. And, perhaps most significantly, the setting is relocated from North Carolina to Texas. The core focus of the story remains intact — two self-indulgent and self-destructive siblings, a disappointed father, and complicated romantic attractions — and there are many similarities between the two versions, but there are also noticeable absent or altered details.

In the translation from page to screen, Laura Whitfield’s character (mother of Ann-Charlotte and Cary) was lost. Marylee and Kyle’s mother isn’t present. Additionally, Lilith/Lucy is recast from actress to secretary. Despite the change, her character serves the same purpose. The deaths of Cassius/Jasper are different in style, but related in their connection to their daughters. And the endings, novel versus film, are quite different.

The film adaptation, directed by Douglas Sirk, starred Hollywood heavy-hitters like Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall, as well as Dorothy Malone, Robert Stack and Robert Keith. German director Douglas Sirk worked on eight films with Rock Hudson and was known for his melodramas and use of vibrant colors. Written on the Wind was filmed in lush, bright Technicolor and is noted for its artificial appearance and flamboyant performances. Although he reached great commercial success during his career, Sirk only gained greater critical appreciation two decades later, during the 1970s. Written on the Wind was nominated for three Academy Awards and one Golden Globe. Dorothy Malone won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Marylee, the sultry daughter of an oil tycoon.

The trailer from TCM, shown above, includes a variation on the quote that appears at the beginning of Wilder’s novel. Where the original quote says “What a man tells a woman and a woman tells a man should be written on the wind,” the quote in the trailer is a total reversal, “What a woman tells a man… What a man tells a woman… Are words — Too often Written on the Wind.”

To read more about the film, consult Peter William Evans’ analysis, which is available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog, or read Wilder’s original novel, which is likewise available through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library Catalog. Criterion re-released the film in 2001. Robert Wilder’s novel, however, is currently out-of-print.

Sources consulted here: Images JournalRoger Ebert, TCM Trailer, TCMDb — Douglas Sirk and Written on the Wind, Wikipedia

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Filed under 1950-1959, 1956, Wilder, Robert

Rene Gutteridge and John Ward. Heart of the Country. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013.

heartCatherine Barnett’s death in an automobile accident scarred her entire family.  Calvin, her husband, was left with the task of bringing his daughters out of adolescence and into adulthood.  That, and keeping up the farm and his horses, consumed him.  Olivia stayed close to home, marrying and raising her children near the home place in Columbus County, North Carolina.  Faith, who has her mother’s beautiful voice and stage presence, left to attend the Julliard School in New York City.  Faith’s lack of confidence and drive derailed her singing career, but in New York she met Luke Carraday, the younger son of financial wizard Austin Carraday.

When Heart of the Country opens, Faith and Luke have been married four years.  The young couple have tried to find their own way in New York, living in a modest Manhattan apartment rather than on the Upper East Side, and keeping their appearances at big society events to minimum.  None of this pleases Luke’s family, but only when Luke leaves the family firm to buy in with a competitor, the slightly shady Michov Brothers, does the Carraday family unity crack.  Luke’s brother, Jake, is particularly harsh in his judgments–first Luke marries this country girl who must be a gold-digger and then he turn his back on the firm that their father poured his life into.  It’s all Jake can do not to say “I told you so” when the Securities and Exchange Commission comes after Luke and the Michovs, and Faith turns her back on Luke and returns to North Carolina.

Faith’s return to North Carolina is no joyous homecoming.  Olivia, who is feeling worn out at thirty, resents the attention that Faith receives and she is possessive about their father.  Plus, she is offended by Faith’s failure to bring Luke to North Carolina to meet the family.  The Barnetts wouldn’t know Luke if they walked right into him.  Calvin is just feeling old, too old to care much about the house, the barn, even his beloved horse, Silver.  Lee, the local ER doctor, offers his friendship to Faith, but his special knowledge of her mother’s death stands between them like a radioactive field.

Faith has come back to re-build her life, but she cannot do that without facing up to some truths about herself.  Is she weak–someone who gives up after the first setback?  The way she bolted when Luke was arrested marks her as someone who runs at the first sign of trouble.  But what about Luke, will he survive his  legal troubles, and if he does, will he find a way to win back Faith’s trust?  Heart of the Country explores the pain that exists in even the closest of families and how religious faith and family love can bring about healing.

The film version of Heart of the Country, starring Jana Kramer, was released in 2012.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coastal Plain, Columbus, Gutteridge, Rene, Religious/Inspirational, Ward, John

Kathy Reichs. Bones of the Lost. New York: Scribner, 2013.

Bones of the LostThings just aren’t going Temperance Brennan’s way. At the opening of Kathy Reichs’ sixteenth installment of her best-selling Temperance Brennan series, Temperance is stuck tapping her toes in a very uncomfortable pair of Louboutin pumps at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse. She was called for jury duty and even though her role as medical examiner will exempt her from selection, the inexperienced prosecutor makes Brennan jump through all the hoops first. Because losing more than half a day wasn’t enough, Brennan locks herself out of her car with her purse and cell phone inside. After several unsuccessful attempts to jimmy open the lock and an awkward exchange with an overeager parking attendant turned vigilante, an unwanted savior arrives.

Police detective Erskine “Skinny” Sliddell appears and gives Brennan a lift back to the Medical Examiner’s office. But not before filling her in on the latest case. Early that morning, an unidentified teen was killed in a hit and run. Although the girl didn’t have any form of ID for herself, she was carrying John-Henry Story’s U.S. Airways club card. Story was a businessman who died when a fire broke out at his flea market six months ago. Or at least, Brennan determined that the remains found at the scene fit the profile for Story. Sliddell speculates that the Jane Doe was involved in prostitution, based on her possessions, her estimated time of death, and her location. When Brennan returns to the Medical Examiner’s office, she examines the Jane Doe’s body. Because of the nature of the case (young, innocent victim and brutal death), Brennan struggles to not let her emotions overrule her logic, especially when she rules the supposed accident to be something more sinister. The Jane Doe wasn’t killed by accident, she was murdered.

Brennan is already busy though. She has four sets of mummified dog remains from Peru that she must certify as human or nonhuman. U.S. Customs seized the remains from former Marine, Dominick Rockett upon his reentry to the country. Rockett has a history of smuggling smaller antiques and trinkets out of South America. His usual inventory consists of inexpensive jewelry, crafts, and home wares. But apparently Rockett is expanding his market.  The two crimes run parallel at first, but as Brennan investigates with a keener eye, she identifies that both cases involve illegal trafficking of goods and that some of the implicated figures overlap.

Meanwhile, Reichs weaves in elements of Brennan’s personal life into the story. Her daughter Katy has enlisted in the army as a means to recover from the grief of her boyfriend’s unexpected death. Katy soothed her mother’s anxieties by reassuring that she would never be sent into combat. Then the US Army lifted the ban on women in combat and sent Katy to Afghanistan. But Brennan gets the opportunity to visit Katy overseas. Her estranged husband Pete, who is pressuring her for divorce papers, pressures Brennan into traveling to Afghanistan to help out an old buddy’s nephew who is accused of shooting two unarmed villagers. Pete wants Brennan to exhume the bodies and take the stand as an expert witness. With the promise of seeing Katy, Brennan boards Turkish Airlines to do a little extra detective work. And, as it turns out, Brennan owes Pete a huge thank you. Going to Afghanistan helps her lace the evidence together and reveal a surprising conspiracy at work.

Browse the blog for other coverage on Reichs’ Temperance Brennan series. You can filter the search by clicking on and navigating through the author category in the top right-hand column. With this view you can see all the past authors we have blogged about and the number of entries available. Or click on the categories and tags below.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Mecklenburg, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Reichs, Kathy, Suspense/Thriller

Kathy Reichs. Flash and Bones. New York, NY: Scribner, 2011.

This image courtesy of www.kathyreichs.com/bones.

Emily Deschanel portrays Dr. Temperance Brennan in the TV show Bones. She poses here with Kathy Reichs (right). Image courtesy of www.kathyreichs.com/bones.

What do NASCAR, missing teenagers, and an audacious tabby cat all have in common? None other than Dr. Temperance Brennan, the brilliant, savvy forensic anthropologist based in Charlotte, NC. In her latest case, Brennan is called out to the nearby Charlotte Motor Speedway to look at a barrel containing human remains. Soon she is caught in a tangled investigation involving the FBI, a dangerous white supremacist group, a local organic farmer, and sweaty, chain-smoking detective Erskine “Skinny” Slidell. But perhaps most dangerous of all, Brennan’s ex-husband, Pete, has asked her to intervene on his behalf with his new fiancée: blonde, bosomy Summer. Driven to hysterics over planning their wedding (and Pete’s disinterest in the ceremony), Summer clings to Brennan for emotional support, calling at all hours of the day and night. Harassed by both FBI agents and dangerous militants, drenched by unpredictable Piedmont storms, and romantically adrift, disgruntled Temperance doesn’t realize that she will soon be more thankful for the needy Summer than she thinks.

Kathy Reichs upholds her winning formula of science, mystery, and a strong female lead in this fourteenth installment of the series that inspired the hit TV show Bones. NASCAR fans will be delighted to watch Brennan’s education in racing , as well as the slew of characters she meets along the way. When she can take a break from the Speedway, Temperance touches base with her daughter Katy, old flame Andrew Ryan, and stalwart feline companion Birdie, although beau Charles Hunt doesn’t make an appearance. But Team Ryan and Team Hunt beware- there’s a new man on the scene providing Brennan with equal parts assistance and annoyance: tall, dark and handsome ex-detective (and ex-con) Cotton Galimore.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Mecklenburg, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Reichs, Kathy, Suspense/Thriller

Kathy Reichs. Spider Bones. New York: Scribner, 2010.

Most of the action in this latest Temperance Brennan novel takes places in Hawaii, but the case originates in the actions of two young men in Lumberton, North Carolina in the 1960s.  Authorities in Quebec are puzzled as to  how an American soldier thought to have died in the Vietnam War could turn up a corpse in Canada  forty years later. Tempe Brennan is called in.  Her visit to the man’s father will introduce readers to Lumberton, but the Vietnam War and drug smuggling are the true subjects of the novel.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Coastal Plain, Mystery, Novels in Series, Reichs, Kathy, Robeson

Robert Wilder. Written on the Wind. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1946.

Money can’t buy you love, but it can buy fancy cars and a whole lot alcohol.  This novel, loosely based on stories about the Duke and Reynolds families, follows the grandchildren of tobacco magnate Andrew Whitfield as each makes a hash out of his or her life.  Grandson Cary is married to the actress Lillith, who truly loves Cary but who has found that she takes second place to Cary’s carousing.  Cary’s sister Ann-Charlotte also lives a fast life; her early start on this contributes to her father’s death.  Only Reece Benton, someone brought into the family circle by Cary and Ann-Charlotte’s mother, seems to have the potential to make sense of his life, but his relationship with the Whitfields almost undoes him.

When it was published the book , a racy melodrama, was recognized as natural movie material.  In 1956, the novel, set now among the oilmen of Texas, was made into a film staring Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall, Robert Stack, and Dorothy Malone.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1940-1949, 1946, Wilder, Robert

Kathy Reichs. Bare Bones. New York: Scribner, 2003.

Medical examiner Tempe Brennan never gets to take a break! She is back in North Carolina and planning on taking her first non-family vacation in years (with her Montreal detective-boyfriend, Andrew Ryan), but those plans are ruined by the appearance of a string of bodies that may be connected. The first is a baby found in a drug dealer’s house, and then human and bear remains surface while she is at a pig pickin’ with her daughter. A small plane crash and the discovery of more human and bear bones increase the mystery. Brennan’s dog features prominently in this novel, the 6th in the Temperance Brennan mystery series.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Mecklenburg, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Reichs, Kathy

James Patterson. Kiss the Girls. Boston: Little, Brown, 1995.

As an expert in abnormal psychology working for the FBI, Dr. Alex Cross is used to calmly solving gruesome crimes, but in Kiss the Girls the case is personal.  His niece–a law student at Duke–is kidnapped while on campus, and he comes to the Triangle to try to help find her.  The North Carolina police and FBI are dealing with “Cassanova,” a man who is collecting beautiful and talented female victims.  There is also a second predator on the loose, a killer on the west coast with the nickname “The Gentleman Caller.”  A break in the case comes when one of Cassanova’s victims, a UNC med student, fights her way free of her captor.  This is the second book in the Alex Cross thriller series and the only one set in North Carolina.  It inspired a 1997 film of the same name starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1995, Durham, Novels in Series, Orange, Patterson, James, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Alexander Key. Escape to Witch Mountain. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1968.

Tony and Tia are teenagers with special powers: Tony is telekinetic and Tia–who speaks using an ultrasonic communication only her brother can hear–can unlock doors and talk to animals. Unfortunately, they also have no idea where they came from and after their foster “Granny” dies the teens are sent to a bleak juvenile detention home. When a creepy man shows up falsely claiming to be their uncle, the children begin to remember their history and they run away. Following a map they find in Tia’s star box, they travel toward Witch Mountain in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, hoping to find answers at the end of their journey. Helping them along the way are the kindly Father O’Day and Tia’s cat, Winkie. To date, Escape to Witch Mountain has inspired 5 films: Escape to Witch Mountain (1975, remade in 1995), Return to Witch Mountain (1978), Beyond Witch Mountain (1982), and Race to Witch Mountain (2009).

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1960-1969, 1968, Children & Young Adults, Key, Alexander, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Science Fiction/Fantasy

Catherine Marshall. Christy. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967.

After hearing a missionary doctor speak about his work in the Great Smokies, nineteen year-old, Christy Huddleston volunteers to be a mission teacher. She leaves her home and well-to-do family in Asheville and travels to the remote Cutter’s Gap, a place that does not take easily to outsiders. She faces numerous challenges related to both the place and the people of rural Appalachia–including the lack of modern conveniences, the influence of folk beliefs and superstitions, moonshining, and the community’s abject poverty–but her faith sustains her. Miss Alice, the missionary who founded the school, helps her and she is romantically torn between two men: minister David and the locally-born Dr. MacNeill. Most of the book’s action takes place in Cutter’s Gap, which is actually based on the community of Morgan Branch, located just over the border in Tennessee in the Cherokee National Forest. Based on the life of the author’s mother, Christy has inspired a television series of the same name, as well as several TV movies.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 1960-1969, 1967, Buncombe, Historical, Marshall, Catherine, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship