Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Overlooked Movies -- A Simple Twist of Fate

It's once again time for another of those posts about a movie nobody likes but me.  The critics didn't like it when it was released, and it was a box-office flop.  I'm probably the Lone Defender.  

I should also mention that when I was in high school Silas Marner was required reading.  I loved it.  I'm the only person I know who's ever said that.  I don't know if it's still being taught, but if so, it's probably even more unpopular than ever.  So why would anyone, especially Steve Martin, write a screenplay based on it?

I can't answer that, but I can say that the movie does pretty much follow the plot of the George Eliot classic.  Martin plays a guy who finds his wife has been unfaithful and moves to the sticks to make artisanal furniture.  (Okay, I'm very slow, and this is the first time I've noticed that artisanal says that art is anal.  That's true in many cases, I suppose, and it kind of fits Martin's character here.)  Martin collects gold coins, and if you've read Silas Marner, you know the rest.  Coins stolen, foundling discovered, child changes grumpy man into better person, serious complications ensue.  I won't divulge any of the latter, just in case some of you haven't have the pleasure of reading Silas Marner or seeing this movie.  Or the displeasure, considering that I'm the Lone Defender.

Since A Simple Twist of Fate is based on a Victorian work, there are plenty of plot contrivances and coincidences -- simple twists of fate.  They didn't bother me a bit.  The movie's quietly funny most of the way and slapsticky funny at least once.  It's warmhearted and it works out the way I'd like for real life to work out, although it does so all too seldom.  You probably won't like the movie, but that's okay.  My feelings won't be hurt. 

20 comments:

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I've previously mentioned how much I truly loathe SILAS MARNER.

I only watched a little of this one, just enough to assure myself that yes, it was indeed the odious SILAS MARNER with another title.

Yuck.

Bill Crider said...

Will the persecution never end?

James Reasoner said...

I hated SILAS MARNER, but I remember liking this movie. But then, I'm not sure I've ever disliked a Steve Martin movie.

George said...

I don't remember if we read SILAS MARNER. I do know we read Boswell's LIFE OF JOHNSON in 10th Grade which was too young for most teenagers to appreciate. I've never seen A SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE but I'm going to track down a copy. And, I might just read SILAS MARNER, too.

Bill Crider said...

You're a brave man, George.

Henry Melton said...

I vaguely remember the movie, and it was pleasant enough, but I’m biased because I love collecting coins and that alone kept my interest.

Anonymous said...

I went to my library's web site to look for the movie (at this moment I am not going to read Silas Marner) but it was a no go... however, I did discover that Mr Martin has written a couple of children's books which I put on my take-out list.

It is not the same as finding what you are looking for but it was still a pleasant surprise (I also booked out My Blue Heaven which I recall is a Martin film I liked and none of my friends did)... all from a push by you...

- david middleton

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

We got a real kick out of My Blue Heaven, which was written and directed by Nora Ephron. Favorite scene : Vinny (Steve) teaching Rick Moranis the meringue.

Jackie likes it so much she bought the DVD.

Bill Crider said...

As James Reasoner says above, I can't think of a Steve Martin movie I didn't like, though PENNIES FROM HEAVEN is a stretch for me. Anyway, I like MY BLUE HEAVEN a lot, and using the Fats Domino version of the song was a great move.

James Reasoner said...

PENNIES FROM HEAVEN was a stretch for me, too, but still watchable.

Gerard said...

I've not seen the movie or read the book. SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE is the film where Steve Martin met Anne Heche. Heche was later skewered by Martin in one of your previous film posts, BOWFINGER.

Cap'n Bob said...

I haven't seen the movie or read the book. Either I am twice blessed or twice cursed. Probably the former.

Scott Cupp said...

I'm a Silas Marner fan, too.

Bill Crider said...

There are two of us!

Don Coffin said...

Is the Dylan song (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9ZWqit5Gsg) used in the movie? (That alone would make it worth watching, IMO.)

Bill Crider said...

I doubt that it is. I certainly don't remember it.

Stephen B. said...


On my shelf at a given time I have had his L.A. STORY and SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE on dvd.

Actually SILAS MARNER is not an un-enjoyable book. (Far less depressing than, say, McTEAGUE, but I get the era quite wrong in such a comparison).

When I first watched the movie I quickly noticed the story similarities from the miser in the book which it is loosely inspired by.

Bill Crider said...

I MCTEAGUE when I first read it. In a different way from SILAS MARNER, though.

Stephen B. said...



Two movies come to mind that were based on the Norris book McTeague. One is SLOW BURN (the ending scenes of the film have characters cuffed together, a lift from part of the plot ending in McTeague) and a film called GREED.

GREED was said to be a masterpiece, an epic, and a very expensive production of a faithful-to-the-novel take on Norris' book. The studios took the production away from Von Stroheim, and when it was cut down (1924 release), the missing footage was lost for all time.


Director Erich Von Stroheim did appear in SUNSET BLVD. and I later found out he had a richer history in movies.

S.B.

** **
Was it that you meant "I enjoy McTeague when..." or you were going to write "I did not like McTeague...", written above.

Bill Crider said...

I like McTegue. I've even the surviving footage of Greed.