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The Player: 03/18/07
The Player is one of my favorite films and probably one of Robert Altman's best films. I've read the screenplay for college (back in 1994) so was curious to read the book that inspired the film. Interestingly Michael Tolkin wrote both the book and the screenplay and produced the film.
With Tolkin having worked on both versions of The Player it is interesting to see how different the two versions are. While the basic plots are the in that a producer murders a writer and gets away with it, there are some significant changes to the nuances of the story.
Take for instance June. In the book her last name is Mercator, not Gudmundsdottir. She works for a bank but once dreamt of being a painter. In the film she's a mysterious painter and claims to be the dead writer's sister (instead of his lover in the book). She goes from being a rather plain love interest for Mill to being one of the most interesting and mysterious characters in the film.
Reading the book was like reading a rough draft of the film. Plot threads that were introduced but allowed to drop in the book are followed to conclusion in the film. While it was interesting to see the grain of sand that would become a pearl of a film, The Player as a novel falls flat as a parody of the Hollywood film industry. It needs the medium of film to really come alive.