Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Any Clive Cussler fans out there?

Last week we watched the old Humphrey Bogart warpic, "Sahara," so we decided to continue the theme this weekend and rent last summer's big budget action flop, "Sahara," even though we knew it wasn't a remake.

The new "Sahara" is a great picture! Part James Bond, part Indiana Jones, only the female lead (Penelope Cruz) is actually important to the plot -- meaning she has something to do besides scream and be rescued -- and the two-fisted action hero is anchored in reality by a terrific Sancho Panza sidekick (Steve Zahn). This movie was really fun to watch!

So then, as I'm watching the credits, I see that it's based on the novel by Clive Cussler, and I think, "Is this the same Clive Cussler who wrote that awful clunker, Raise the Titantic!, that I hated so much 25 years ago that I never looked at anything else he ever wrote? Have I been giving him short shrift? Should I be reading his books?" So I look into it a little further, and I find out that Cussler hated this movie, sued Paramount to block its release and get his name taken off the script credits and all the promotional materials, and that's what delayed the movie's launch date and screwed up the advertising campaign.

So here's my question: is there anyone out there who's both read the book and seen the movie? Is the book really that much better than the movie, or is this a case where the movie improves on the book by mercilessly editing out the author's ego? I mean, when I learned that one of Cussler's objections was that the filmmakers had cut out the subplot in which it is revealed that the whole Ford's Theater thing was a cover-up, and that the Confederates had actually kidnapped Abraham Lincoln and taken him to Africa, where, thanks to the dry desert winds, the hero is able to find Lincoln's dessicated but still identifiable corpse...