"The Catcher in the Rye" film version – should it happen?
"The Catcher in the Rye" as movie? Some fans go on hoping, while others are horrified.
To many fans, the mere idea of J.D. Salinger's classic "The Catcher in the Rye" being turned into a movie seems wrong. After all, didn't protagonist Holden Caulfield very clearly state: "If there's one thing I hate, it's the movies. Don't even mention them to me"?
But since Salinger's death in January of this year, speculation has been brewing. While Salinger definitively shut the door on the idea in his lifetime (he once wrote to a movie producer that “Holden Caulfield himself, in my undoubtedly super-biased opinion, is essentially unactable”), he did also add in the same letter that he might think of "leaving the unsold rights to my wife and daughter as a kind of insurance policy."
Will his heirs take the bait? There has been further speculation this year that questions about a tax loophole might pressure them to do so – and do so quickly.
A new survey by vote-by text poll site Predicto indicates that 65 percent of voters believe that a film version will be made.
Those who say yes are, perhaps, hoping for a miracle along the lines of "To Kill a Mockingbird," in which a great book was turned into an equally great movie. But how many times in the average lifetime does such a thing happen?
Already, pundits are pleading for Hollywood to keep its hands off Holden. "Is 'The Catcher in the Rye' really unfilmable?" asks Stuart McGurk in The Guardian, only to conclude that, when it comes to casting Holden, "even the more realistic candidates don't feel quite right." Matt Zoller Seitz, writing for Salon, is even more definitive. Even after conceding a film probably will be made, Seitz declares: " 'The Catcher in the Rye' should never be made into a movie. Period."
You have only to go on YouTube, of course, to see one or two of the visions that some have had for such a project. Whether these horrify or entice you – well, that's probably a personal matter between Holden and you.
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.