November 26, 2011

A film adaptation the world may never see: The Catcher in the Rye

The Catcher in the Rye is one of the world’s most beloved and revered novels. The plot is a little thin, but that doesn’t matter – because The Catcher in the Rye is a true character story; the appeal is in the novel’s honest insight into the innermost workings of an angst-ridden teenage mind.

Since it was published in 1951, filmmakers have persistently pursued the film rights to The Catcher in the Rye. However, each offer to adapt the novel was stiffly and obstinately refused by its author, J.D Salinger.

You see, like the novel’s central character Holden Caulfield – “If there’s one thing that I hate, it’s the movies” – J.D Salinger despised the prospect of his work being adapted to the big screen.

J.D Salinger
At one stage Salinger was willing to consider The Catcher in the Rye as a film, but being displeased with the film adaptation of his short story Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut (renamed My Foolish Heart) in 1949, he put a stop to that.

In the ensuing years, Salinger turned down offers from Sam Goldwyn, Harvey Weinstein and Steven Spielberg and many, many others. The role of Holden Caulfield is so coveted that Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Jerry Lewis, Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson have all put their hats into the ring over the years – but to no avail.

John Cusack once commented that his one regret about turning twenty-one was that he had become too old to play the part – perhaps Salinger had the same regrets. In the 1950s, the author considered bringing The Catcher in the Rye to the stage, but only if he could play the lead role himself.

Ezra Miller
Salinger’s death in 2010 invigorated the hopes of many, as Salinger once suggested that he would leave the unsold rights to his wife and daughter in case they encountered any financial hardship – however that seems unlikely when 250,000 copies of the novel are still sold each year.

It seems like this book will forever stay on the shelf, but it doesn’t hurt to dream. Since seeing We need to talk about Kevin, I could picture Ezra Miller as Holden Caulfield. Who would you cast?

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