APPLES AND ORIGINS
MOVIE CONCEPTS, BEFORE AND AFTER
A funny thing happened on Exit to Eden’s way to the movies-its original premise was significantly altered. Here’s a look at some other projects that, according to their creators, got gelded. *Coming Home (1978, MGM/UA) Original premise: In screenwriter Nancy Dowd’s Buffalo Ghost, a wife befriends a bitter paraplegic veteran when her husband goes off to Vietnam. Finished product: Rewriters diluted the anger and the politics, turning the friendship between the wife and the paraplegic into an affair, replete with liberating orgasms. Creator’s comment: ”It was the kind of experience that could leave one pretty bitter about the industry,” Dowd said.
*The Natural (1984, Columbia TriStar) Original premise: Bernard Malamud’s novel examines baseball’s dark side through the career of pitcher Roy Hobbs. In the end, Hobbs weeps bitterly after throwing a game. Finished product: The filmmakers lightened up the vision with corny camaraderie between players and glamorous close-ups of Robert Redford and Glenn Close. In the end, Hobbs hits a triumphant slo-mo homer. Creator’s comment: Said Malamud cryptically: ”Those who read the book know what it means.”
*About Last Night… (1986, Columbia TriStar) Original premise: In David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago, Debbie and Danny’s one-night stand takes a back seat to a despairing look at the singles scene. Finished product: Debbie and Danny’s relationship became a full-fledged romance with a happy ending. Producers retitled the film when TV stations and papers refused to advertise it. Creator’s comment: ”The property was purchased by a bunch of speculators who subsequently sold it to another bunch of speculators,” Mamet said. ”I wish them strength and fortitude in their trials.”
*Pretty Woman (1990, Touchstone) Original premise: The heroine of screenwriter J.F. Lawton’s 3000 (the title refers to a call girl’s fee) is a drug-addicted prostitute who gets tossed back into the streets when her romantic fling with a sophisticated gentleman ends. Finished product: When director Garry Marshall (Exit to Eden) and Disney got done with the script, the drugs and the downer ending got the hook. Creator’s comment: ”(My script has) become the Turner & Hooch of the ’90s,” Lawton said.