He wasn't directly associated with the movies, but Kurt Vonnegut was a literary icon whose work and persona often carried over into the cinema, even when he wasn't actually involved. The author, who wrote some of America's funniest and most poignant pieces of fiction and non-fiction, died Wednesday night in New York City, and I have to say that I'm more broken up about it than I have ever been with any celebrity's passing. His wife, photographer Jill Krementz, said that he had fallen several weeks ago and suffered irreversible brain injuries.

A few of his books were made into movies, despite the fact that his prose is more about telling than it is about showing, thereby making his works unlikely candidates for the visual medium. Surprisingly, some, like Slaughterhouse-Five and Mother Night, are terrific. Unfortunately, others, like Breakfast of Championsand Slapstick (Of Another Kind) are completely wretched. There have been others, mostly based on short stories, mostly made-for-television and mostly unavailable. And there have long been talks of adaptations of the novels Cat's Cradle, which Leonardo DiCaprio is trying to make, and Sirens of Titan, which Mother Night screenwriter Robert B. Weide has been interested in for many years.

One of the most random links Vonnegut had to the movies, though, came with the Rodney Dangerfield guilty pleasure Back to School. The writer made one of the most memorable cameos ever, appearing as himself in a sequence in which Dangerfield's character gets an "F" on a paper about Vonnegut. The joke: Vonnegut himself was paid to write the paper. Also, interestingly enough, Back to School co-star Keith Gordon went on to direct Mother Night. Another strange connection came in the late 1990s, when a lot of so-so teen movies were explicitly referencing Vonnegut or his books. I can only remember this definitely being done in Varsity Blues, Disturbing Behaviorand Can't Hardly Wait, but I could swear there were more.
categories Cinematical