Wednesday, May 29, 2024

“Endless Love,” A Great Novel Killed TWICE in One Lifetime by Hollywood


Poor “Endless Love.” Scott Spencer’s 1979 novel was superb. It was about obsession and class. Two years later it was turned into a terrible unwatchable movie by Franco Zeffirelli. Its two redeeeming features were a) Don Murray as the father of the girl, Jade, with whom the main character, David Axelrod, is obsessed and b) the title song, sung by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie. It was a huge hit, maybe the biggest the real Motown label ever had.

So that should have been it. “Endless Love” should have been returned to the bookshelves. Scott Spencer is one of our best, most underrated novelists of the last 35 years. His language is rich and his images are powerful. He may not be meant for movie translation. The movie, if it had just died, would have left no memory.

But now, of course, the prospect of killing “Endless Love” a second time was just too tantalizing. What could the producers have said to Spencer besides, “Here’s the check”? Did they promise a great director, a sensational script, a way to redeem the novel from the first movie?

The new “Endless Love” is apparently a bomb. I won’t see it. I can’t see it. It’s too painful. The writers who contribute to have given it an 18 out of 100. That’s very very bad. The review are terrible. What did Scott Spencer do to deserve this? Alex Pettyfer? And the girl looks like a Barbie doll. Only Bruce Greenwood, playing Hugh, is said to rise to the occasion. I can see it. He’s a great actor. But one of them will not make a whole movie work.

What a sad ending. No redemption. Skip the movie. Buy the book and read it this weekend. It stands up. Take a look at Scott Spencer’s other books. Don’t blame him. But please, no more remakes of this movie. It’s too nuanced for a big studio production.

Oh and one other thing: you knew once the producers decided not to use the song, this was all over. What idiots. They could have had a monster hit with, say, John Legend and Christina Aguilara replacing Lionel and Diana. I can’t imagine what happened.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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