Debates and Discussions

Reader: I wasn't disappointed by On the Road

For fifty years, fans of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, an ecstatic recount of crossings and recrossings of North America in the late 1940s that provided a road map for the Beat generation, have been waiting for a movie of the book. Fans in Denver have a particularly interest: Muse Dean Moriarity was based on Neal Cassidy, a reform-school kid who grew up on the streets of Denver -- and is memorialized here in a letter he sent to a pal asking him to clear his bill at Paul's Place, today My Brother's Bar.

Now there's finally a movie of On the Road, but in his review, Nick Pinkerton suggests it would have been better to keep waiting. See also: - In On the Road, Kerouac's classic becomes a fraud - Jack was here: Showing you the spots where Jack Kerouac once was - Denver: Jack Kerouc shlepped here

But some fans disagree with Pinkerton. Says jmpmk2:

Strangely enough, I saw this last night and came away with the impression that it was filmed about as well as it could have. Yeah, my first thought, too, was that the dude playing Paradise didn't have me convinced -- tried too hard with the vocal inflections, and didn't exude Kerouac's confident social personality. However, I didn't feel it was much of a distraction overall. I just accepted the interpretation of the character and went with it.

The pacing of the movie accurately represented the book, the scenery was great, and the auxiliary characters were all spot-on (surprised at how close they matched my own imagination). Though, I was probably most impressed at how the screenwriter took subtle themes from the text and highlighted them to create a more interesting story arc.

I just don't envy trying to turn a book, not known for a remarkable plot, but its extraordinary writing style, into a feature film. Considering that, I say they did it about as well as possible. I wasn't disappointed.

Are you familiar with the ties that On the Road has to Denver? What are your favorite landmarks here? And will you see the movie?

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun

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