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Our staff-written blog on all things Southern.

What the Faulkner They Thinking?

Published  December 1, 2011

Clip from The Story of Temple Drake, a 1933 adaptation for the silver screen. 

David Milch, the man behind such TV shows as NYPD Blue and the three HBO series, Deadwood, John from Cincinnati, and the upcoming horse-racing drama, Luck, has struck a deal with William Faulkner's estate allowing his company, Redboard Productions, to create TV series and films based on the nineteen novels and 125 short stories in Faulkner's oeuvre. 

We aren't sure how one goes about adapting Faulkner's world on film, a world that is fluid, and in which characters move about in time and space. Faulkner had an unrivaled storytelling sensibility, and articulated the great intricacies, conventions, and dilemmas of the South and its people better than anyone before or since. We can only hope this newest attempt to reproduce Faulkner lives up to his achievements, and is better than previous attempts (listed below). It must also be noted that Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!, perhaps his greatest work, was released the same year as Gone With the Wind, which he despised for its misrepresentation and romanticizing of the South (perhaps because it eclipsed his novel, too!).

Films:

1. Today We Live (MGM, 1933), 113 minutes. Based on the short story, "Turn About."

2. The Story of Temple Drake (Paramount, 1933), 71 minutes. Based on Sanctuary.

3. Intruder in the Dusk (MGM, 1949), 87 minutes.

4. The Tarnished Angels (Universal-International, 1957), 91 minutes. Based on Pylon.

5. The Sound and the Fury (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1959), 115 minutes.

6. Sanctuary (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1961), 100 minutes.

TV:

1. Tomorrow (CBS-TV, first telecast March 7, 1960), 90 minutes. Based on the short story.

2. Barn Burning (PBS-TV, first telecast March 17, 1980), 41 minutes. Based on the short story.

3. Long Hot Summer (NBC-TV, first telecast October 6–7, 1985), 4 hours. Based on The Hamlet.

4. Old Man (CBS-TV, first telecast February 9, 1997), 2 hours.

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