Sometimes, very rarely, but sometimes, I read a book that should be made into a film, a book that would be as good or even better in a visual medium. The first such book that I remember, though there may have been others that I have now forgotten, was Matthew Lewis’ Gothic romance, The Monk, a tale about a perfect Priest who descends into everything from murder to incest to pacts with the devil. There have been several other books that I have since imagined on the screen, most notably Franz Kafka’s The Trial, which Harold Pinter, I later discovered, had already made into a film that starred Anthony Hopkins as the priest, precisely as I had always imagined.
I bought another such book for a quarter yesterday: Kingsley Amis’ The Green Man. I have long claimed to dislike Amis, though this opinion was based solely on my reading of The Biographer’s Moustache, a novel that lacks the substance even to justify the time it would take me to critique it. The Green Man, however, is something different and, to my taste, something better. It is not great literature, certainly, and it has many of the elements that I disliked in my first reading of Amis, but it is at least good fantasy, much better than most of the offal that the genre usually affords, and it is, I think, the perfect sort of story to adapt into film. It is essentially a ghost story, though it also has some elements of a mystery story and of the satirical comedy story that Amis writes most often. It is effective because the ghost story is engaging enough that it does not ever permit the narrative to stagnate too long in the satirical elements, which, in turn, never permit the ghost story to become a mere genre horror.
The story centres around a middle-aged, egotistical, vaguely alcoholic innkeeper named Maurice, whose life circulates around keeping his hotel running smoothly, on finding his next drink, and on convincing his mistress and his wife to join him for a threesome. None of this should be surprising in an Amis novel. Maurice’s more or less average life becomes interrupted, however, when the inn’s storied ghosts and monsters, which have been quiet for a hundred years or more, return to haunt him. The resulting events contain enough mystery, suspense, horror, comedy, and eroticism to make any and all movie producers drool into their martinis.
So, what I need is for somebody to write the screenplay of The Green Man, and of The Monk as well if it can be managed. I am most definitely not the person for the task. Assuming that I had the interest, I lack even a basic knowledge of the form, and my writing style is not exactly conducive to writing popular entertainment. Someone else will have to do it, and that someone may as well be you, so consider yourself commissioned.