movie ruined the book

Mullins, Bill CIV (US) william.d.mullins18.civ at MAIL.MIL
Wed Jul 31 02:08:14 UTC 2013

I first got interested in the quote here:

As I say there, I associated it with King.  I'm pretty sure he said it,
without attribution, in either an introduction or post script or
interstitial material in one of his novels or short story collections.
But he said it with attribution to Cain here:

and even sort of identifies a source -- an interview with Cain in a
college newspaper, near the end of Cain's life -- here: .

Cain died in 1977, which puts a bound on the interview.  But I suspect
that if it did originate with Cain, it goes back to the 1940s, when
Mildred Pierce and Postman and Double Indemnity were released as movies.

(Maybe King will google himself one day -- we've all done it -- and run
across this thread and step in and tell us.  It could happen . . . )

I wrote to Charles Ardai (cc'ed on this note), who edited a previously
unpublished novel from Cain for the Hard Case Crime series: Cocktail Waitress

in hope he could source the quote, but he wasn't able to do so.  He did
mention that it appears in Roy Hoopes's 1982 biography of Cain,
attributed to Cain but without specific sourcing.

Hoopes is passed on, so I can't ask him.

John Landis gives it to Stephen King:

NYT 3/2/1969 p BR2 col 3 (Book Review Section) in an article about Cain,
quotes him:
"People tell me, don't you care what they've done to your book?  I tell
them, they haven't done anything to my book.  It's right there on the
shelf.  They paid me and that's the end of it."

Re: Chandler below -- I can easily see Burroughs misremembering Cain as
Chandler, given that they both worked in the same genre.  But it is also
possible that Chandler originally said it, and that it has been
misremembered as Cain.  Chandler also had works adapted to film in the
1940s (The Big Sleep; Murder, My Sweet).  In fact, Chandler adapted
Cain's Double Indemnity for the screen, and makes a cameo appearance in
the movie, sitting on a bench as Fred MacMurray walks by.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On
> Behalf Of ADSGarson O'Toole
> Sent: Saturday, July 27, 2013 2:04 PM
> Subject: Re: movie ruined the book
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> --------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: movie ruined the book
> --------
> Below are some more citations for the idea: The movie did not ruin the
> book because the book is still on the shelf.
> If some list member can locate and share a citation before 1978 that
> would be excellent. Also, a citation from Stephen King (or other
> authors) would be interesting.  Thanks.
> In 1991 the book "Naked Lunch" by William S. Burroughs was made into a
> movie via transmutation and re-hallucination by the filmmaker David
> Cronenberg. When William S. Burroughs was asked about the movie that
> was constructed from the remnants of his opus his reply was recorded
> and presented.  Burroughs apparently mutated James M. Cain into
> Chandler:
> Title: Everything Is Permitted: The Making of Naked Lunch
> Author: Ira Silverberg
> Year: 1992
> Quote Page: 15
> (Google Books snippet view; data may be inaccurate; verification on
> paper required)
> [Begin excerpt]
> I hope that my readers will judge the film as something quite apart
> from my novel, and that I may perhaps find some new readers thereby.
> Raymond Chandler was once asked, "How do you feel about what Hollywood
> has done to your novels?" He reportedly answered, "My novels? Why,
> Hollywood hasn't done anything to them. They're still right there, on
> the shelf."
> [End excerpt]
> When David Cronenberg was questioned about his film "Naked Lunch" he
> presented a version of the Raymond Chandler anecdote which he
> attributed to William S. Burroughs.
> Website:
> Transcript of: Discussion with David Cronenberg Description from
> website: A Pinewood Dialogue following a screening of Naked Lunch,
> moderated by Chief Curator David Schwartz Date given on website:
> January 11 and 12, 1992
> [Begin excerpt]
> CRONENBERG: The insect typewriters are my invention.
> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Absolutely brilliant.
> CRONENBERG: Thank you. Well, I have to say that Burroughs himself
> them, wanted to take them home off the set. And he does have a mugwump
> in his bedroom, I can tell you that, and-it's tied up, though.
> It's okay. And said that he thought any writer could relate to those
> typewriters, which was a huge compliment. And I must say that
> was totally supportive and very easy about the making of the film. I
> mean, he always, as he's written in the preface to the-there's a book,
> The Making of Naked Lunch, as well, which is not out yet, but it will
> be in about a week. And in a preface that he's written, he mentions a
> story about Raymond Chandler when people said, "Aren't you appalled at
> the things that Hollywood has done to your books?" And he said, "Well,
> Hollywood hasn't done anything to my books. They're right there on the
> shelf." And I think that's really Burroughs's approach.
> His work is his work and nothing that I could do would ever change it,
> really.
> [End excerpt]
> In 2001 an interview with comic book author Alan Moore was released on
> "The A.V. Club". Several movies have been based on works by Moore.
> Article: Interview with Alan Moore
> Webbsite: The A.V. Club
> Date: October 24, 2001
> [Begin excerpt]
> I suppose that the way I keep all that straight in my head is by
> keeping this kind of detachment, and by realizing that the film and
> book are very different entities. Apparently, someone asked Raymond
> Chandler once what he thought of Hollywood ruining all of his books.
> And he took them into his study and pointed up to the shelf where they
> all were, and he said, "Look, they're there. They're fine.
> They're okay." That's the attitude I have to take. The film hasn't
> ruined my book.
> [End excerpt]
> In 2001 a commentator at the website "The Straight Dope" asserted that
> James M. Cain made his remark about books and movies in 1948. The Cain
> citation I gave yesterday was from 1978.
> [Begin excerpts from forum discussion]
> Comment from Interrobang!?
> Timestamp: 12-02-2001, 06:07 PM
> Someone asked about "movies ruining the books," and Ellroy basically
> said that a movie can't ruin the book, because the book is still there
> on the shelf, waiting to be read, once the movie's made.
> Response from Ukulele Ike
> Timestamp: 12-02-2001, 07:54 PM
> Yeah.
> He stole that from James M. Cain, author of THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS
> TWICE, DOUBLE INDEMNITY, and MILDRED PIERCE (among other novels). Who
> said the same thing back around 1948.
> [End excerpts from forum discussion]
> In 2003 the prominent science fiction author Larry Niven answered
> questions collected from participants at the website
> Niven employed an instance of the saying.
> Website: Slashdot
> Title: Ladies and Gentlemen, Dr. Larry Niven Posted by Roblimo
> Timestamp: March 10, 2003 @01:02PM
> gentlemen-dr-larry-niven
> [Begin excerpt]
> Yes, I would like to see my works made into movies. All of them. Short
> stories as well as novels. Why not? A movie doesn't ruin a book; the
> book is still there, unchanged, and may even see a larger audience.
> See Vince Gerardis of Created By, my agent, if you've just won a
> lottery.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
> On Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 9:09 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole
> <adsgarsonotoole at> wrote:
> > Thanks for broaching this interesting topic, Bill. Below is a 1978
> > citation for a Paris Review interview with James M. Cain. Comic book
> > auteur Alan Moore ascribed the remark to Raymond Chandler during an
> > October 2001 interview at The A.V. Club. Could you share some more
> > details about what you have found?
> >
> > Periodical: The Paris Review
> > Date: Spring-Summer 1978
> > Number: 73
> > Article: Interview: James M. Cain, The Art of Fiction No. 69
> > Interviewed by David Zinsser
> >
> >
> 69
> > -james-m-cain
> >
> > (The topic was Double Indemnity by James M. Cain)
> >
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > Did you ever go and see the film? What did you think of it?
> >
> > CAIN
> > I don't go. There are some foods some people just don't like. I just
> > don't like movies. People tell me, don't you care what they've done
> to
> > your book? I tell them, they haven't done anything to my book. It's
> > right there on the shelf. They paid me and that's the end of it.
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > Garson
> >
> > On Thu, Jul 25, 2013 at 12:07 PM, Mullins, Bill CIV (US)
> > <william.d.mullins18.civ at> wrote:
> >> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------
> >> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> >> Poster:       "Mullins, Bill CIV (US)"
> <william.d.mullins18.civ at MAIL.MIL>
> >> Subject:      movie ruined the book
> >>
> -
> >> ----------
> >>
> >> Fan/Critic to Famous Author:  "The movie ruined your book!"
> >> =20
> >> Famous Author:  "No it didn't, the book is fine, right there on the
> =
> >> shelf."
> >> =20
> >> =20
> >> I associated this quote with Stephen King, probably from the intro
> to
> >> = one of his novels.  But a little Googling shows that Allen
> Ginsberg
> >> and = Larry Niven have said more or less the same thing, and that
> >> James M. = Cain may have said it first.=20
> >> =20
> >> Does anyone know the original?  Is is Cain?
> >>
> >> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >> The American Dialect Society -
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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