My Movie Business by P-RandomHouseInc


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									My Movie Business
Author: John Irving

John Irving's memoir begins with his account of the distinguished career and medical writings of the
novelist's grandfather Dr. Frederick C. Irving, a renowned obstetrician and gynecologist, and includes Mr.
Irving's incisive history of abortion politics in the United States. But My Movie Business focuses primarily
on the thirteen years John Irving spent adapting his novel The Cider House Rules for the screen--for four
different directors.

Mr. Irving also writes about the failed effort to make his first novel, Setting Free the Bears, into a movie;
about two of the films that were made from his novels (but not from his screenplays), The World
According to Garp and The Hotel New Hampshire; about his slow progress at shepherding his screenplay
of A Son of the Circus into production.

Not least, and in addition to its qualities as a memoir--anecdotal, comic, affectionate, and candid--My
Movie Business is an insightful essay on the essential differences between writing a novel and writing a

The photographs in My Movie Business were taken by Stephen Vaughan, the still photographer on the
set of The Cider House Rules--a Miramax production directed by Lasse Hallström, with Michael Caine in 
the role of Dr. Larch. Concurrently with the November 1999 release of the film, Talk Miramax Books will
publish John Irving's screenplay.

From the Hardcover edition.

The Ether AddictThe plot of The Cider House Rules is far more complicated than the compressed version
of the story and its characters that I adapted as a screenplay (over a thirteen-year period, and for four
different directors). In the novel, I began with the four failed adoptions of the orphan Homer Wells. By the
end of the first chapter, when Homer returns for the fourth time to the orphanage in St. Cloud's, Maine,
the orphanage physician, Dr. Wilbur Larch, decides he'll have to keep him.

Dr. Larch, an obstetrician and (in the 1930s and '40s) an illegal abortionist, trains Homer Wells to be a
doctor. This is illegal, too, of course -- Homer never goes to high school or to college, not to mention
medical school. But with Dr. Larch's training and the assistance of Larch's faithful nurses, Angela and
Edna, Homer becomes an experienced obstetrician and gynecologist. He refuses to perform abortions,

The second chapter of the novel describes Larch's childhood and medical-school years, his first
internship in Boston, and the experiences that have made him "a patron saint of orphans" and an
abortionist. The history of Homer's failed adoptions and Larch's background are not developed in the
screenplay. Larch's ether addiction is developed in both the book and the film, but his sexual
abstemiousness, a feature of his eccentricity in the novel, was never in any draft of the script; instead, in
the movie, I strongly imply that Dr. Larch may have had (or still has) a sexual relationship with Nurse

I wanted to make Larch more normal. There is less time for character development in a film than in a
novel; a character's eccentricities can too easily become the character. In the movie, I thought Larch's
addiction to ether was eccentric enough.

In the screenplay, as in the novel, it is both Homer's conflict with Larch over the abortion issue and
Homer's desire to see something of the world outside St. Cloud's that make him leave the orphanage with
Wally Worthington and Candy Kendall -- an attractive couple who come to St. Cloud's for an abortion. But
in the book, Homer spends fifteen years away from the orphanage -- in that time, Wally and Homer
become best friends, Homer falls in love with Candy, and Wally and Candy get married.

The passage of time, which is so important in all my novels, is not easily captured in a film. In the
screenplay, Homer stays away from St. Cloud's for only fifteen months, Wally isn't Homer's best friend,
and Candy is the sexual aggressor in her relationship with Homer.

And in the novel, Homer and Candy have a son, Angel, who they pretend is adopted. Wally, out of love for
all of them, tolerates this obvious fiction and his wife's infidelity. In the screenplay, there is no child and
Wally never knows about Candy's transgressions. Developing sympathy, not unlike developing character,
takes time; in the movie, I tried to make Homer more sympathetic by making him less responsible for the
affair with Candy. I made less of the affair, too.

But in both the novel and the screenplay, what precipitates Homer's return to the orphanage, where he
replaces Dr. Larch as the obstetrician and the abortionist in St. Cloud's, is his discovery of the
relationship between a black migrant apple picker and his daughter. Mr. Rose, the picking-crew boss on
the apple farm where Wally gives Homer a job, impregnates his own daughter, Rose Rose. In the novel, it
is Homer and Candy's son, Angel, who falls in love with Rose Rose and first makes this discovery, but
since I eliminated Angel from the...
Author Bio
John Irving
John Winslow Irving was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1942. He is the author of nine novels, among
them A Prayer for Owen Meany and A Widow for One Year. Mr Irving is married and has three sons; he
lives in Toronto and in southern Vermont.<br><br><br>From the Hardcover edition.

"Writing a novel is like swimming in the sea; writing a film is like swimming in the bath. . . . This short,
amiable book is John Irving's personal history of seeing--or not seeing--his novels made into movies. . . .
The book digresses charmingly and effortlessly into related subjects. There is a beguiling memoir of his
grandfather, an eminent surgeon; a brilliant and passionate argument for the freedom of women to choose
abortion . . . observations on the origins of his novels, and so on. . . . Irving remains cooly objective, and it
is clear why: he is a novelist, first and foremost, and his attitude toward the movie business is informed
by this security and certainty. . . . Irving has done us [writers] proud."

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