Can they make a good Heinlein Movie?

I would love to see a well-done Heinlein movie.
Which books could be best adapted in 2005?
I keep thinking there must be some way to make “Moon is a Harsh Mistress.”
I think the story would hold up.
I thought “Puppet Masters” was very disappointing.
“Starship Troopers” was okay but not great and not much like the book.
“Dave” was based on Double Star but very loosely.
“Glory Road” would be fun, but would it find an audience?
Would they dare to make “Stranger”?
I Grok that the very negative press and protest from the religious right should help promote the movie at least.

Well what do other fans think?

I’d love to see Stranger done. But it’d probably never happen with the religious right wielding so much power.

Starship Troopers, on the other hand, could easily be remade into a badass film if they actually followed the plot and gave them powered armor!

I’d love to see a well-done version of Podkayne of Mars. I bet at least one other Doper would agree.

I’d love to see Stranger in a Strange Land made.

The next two on the list (though probably not terribly popular choices) would be Job and Number of the Beast.

They both would translate well into Hollywood rollercoaster “What next?” type things, and they both have the element of “fluffy metaphysics as entertainment” that has been an easy sell ever since The Matrix and the PKD revival.

The ending of Number of the Beast would probably draw unwanted litigious attention from a certain cult, though, and will therefore probably never be made.

In order, I would like to see good (ie faithful) movies made of:

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress
Starship Troopers
Glory Road

Citizen of the Galaxy
The Door Into Summer
Tunnel In The Sky
The Star Beast

Was there every really a Philip K Dick revival? I figured that his books have pretty steadily been made into movies as time went on.

Goddamn… I don’t know how that Y snuck in there. I’m gonna take a nap.

I’ve only read a few Heinlein books (Space Cadet, Have Spacesuit Will Travel, Starship Troopers, Citizen of the Galaxy and The Star Beast). I think any of those could be adapted into a decent movie, if someone put their mind to it.

I’ve said it before on the boards somewhere, I think that Double Star would make a fantastic movie.

Also, as mentioned up-thread The Moon is a Harsh Mistress and The Door Into Summer would make good movies.

It’s not exactly exponential – but it sure hasn’t been steady, especially when you consider that not a single movie was released during his long and storied career. Used to be seven years or so between adaptations. Then, after the phenomenal success of The Matrix, which was understandably described as “Philip K. Dick-ish”, we soon had Minority Report, Paycheck, and Imposter within a one-year period. Next year, we get Keanu in a A Scanner Darkly and Nick Cage in The Golden Man.


To directly answer the OP: No, they can’t make a good Heinlein movie! The script-writer would never admit that the Old Man had better ideas on the crapper than the script-writer ever had in his miserable existance. Then the director would crap all over the movie, inflicting his “vision” on the story. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Verhoven!)(Hi** lissener**, wherever you are! :smiley: ) Next, the actors, none of which have ever read Heinlein, would totally miss the point, motivation, and meaning of the characters. Then the Suits would insist on adding a love interest and sex scenes to a story written for Boy’s Life in the 50s. Finally, the studio would totally mishandle the ad campaign, and the movie would stiff.

10 years later, someone on a message board would ask: Can they make a good Heinlein movie? and the Circle of Life would begin again.

Yo. :smiley:

silenus has it exactly right.

Heinlein’s young adult novels or short stories would make better movies than MIAHM, Troopers, etc. Those books are all long and didactic, page after page of expository prose as he explains things. Don’t get me wrong, that’s part of the attraction to his work for me: it’s part philosophy, part outer space cowboy. But it doesn’t lend itself to Hollywood movie making very well.

The YA stuff tho: Podkayne, Space Cadet, Have Spacesuit… that stuff would make a great flick. But it won’t happen, as per silenus.

I’ll keep crossing my fingers and hoping everytime they wanna try tho :wink:

Did Heinlein ever do movie or TV work (scripts, story treatments, anything)? I know many of his contemporaries did in the 50’s and 60’s (e.g., all the SF writers who contributed to The twilight zone and Star Trek TOS).

Heinlein did the screenplay for Destination Moon, and worked as a technical advisor on the production.

The Puppet Masters isn’t really that bad of a Heinlein adaptation. It’s chief fault is that it had a low budget. But I thought Donald Sutherland made an excellent “Old Man”, and it’s clear that he read the book and pretty much understood the character.

b]The Moon is a Harsh Mistress** is in pre-production right now. The Script has been written by Tim Minear, who was one of the creative forces behind Firefly (he wrote several of the episodes). I think Firefly has a very Heinleinesque feel to it, and that may be Minear’s influence. So that give me hope for the movie.

This is what he says about it:


It’s been a pet project for Minear to adapt Heinlein’s difficult Hugo-Award-winning 1966 book, about the rebellion of a former lunar penal colony against the Lunar Authority that controls it from Earth. “[It’s] very difficult to adapt,” Minear said. “It’s interesting. I kept a lot more from the book than people may have expected. The light marriages are still there. The free trade with Earth is still there. The catapult is still there. And, you know, it’s not a silly arm on a fulcrum or something. The idea is this sort of Ferris wheel thing that takes it up over the gravity well and drops to Earth. The thing that I changed from the book is that Mike, the computer, manifests himself visually, so he’s not just a voice. But what I’ve done is I’ve given the citizens of Luna ocular ‘ident stamps,’ which are the equivalent of prisoner tattoos, and Mike finds a way into the personalized signature of people, so he can show himself to you, but no one else can see him. So that’s maybe the thing I added.”


Changes to Mike worry me - he’s the best character in the book. But Minear is a real Heinlein fan, and he won’t do a hatchet job like Starship Troopers.

I think Heinlein’s juveniles would make great animated films. Maybe Anime. Not cutesy kids films where they have to insert a pet dog or something, but a more mature film aimed at older family audiences. They would also make a great aniimated miniseries, with a potential for being very profitable as a DVD box set.

Minear is a good choice. We’ll see if he can make it work. I stand by the rest of my fears, though.

Hmmmm…this could start a whole new “Casting” thread. Who would you cast as Professor de la Paz? Manny? Wyoh? Hazel? Stu?


Personally, my favorite of his is ‘Moon is a Harsh Mistress’ and I would love to see it made, but unfortunately his material is very cold war and most sprouts today just don’t understand, having not really grown up in the cold war years.

I think it would be great made in a ‘futureistic’ style appropriate to the year it was actually written - 1966 … like the way they saw the year 2050 [or whatever year the book takes place in] I think as a ‘period piece’ it would work. One of the worst things they can do to a book is ‘update’ it to todays sensibilities. AS a sort of example, I find it jarring to see Hamlet set in 19th century Denmark, or Midsumer Night’s Dream in Edwardian england…to me shakespear is Elizabethan =\

Back in the barrel until they recognize his genius. stands by with cork

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress could work! I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “cold war,” though. It was still on when I read it and I got more of an American independence thing out of it.

Anyway, if it does work, I guess we can count on The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, too, if the studios are brave enough to go with the non-ending. Yeah, I won’t hold my breath, but it would be cool.

I can’t see anything to stop The Door into Summer from being a good movie – it’s got intrigue, time travel, futuristic stuff, a love story…

It’s the FX that worry me. No, not that they’d screw them up, but that they’ll concentrate more on blowing crap up, than getting the story right. Let’s face it, movies like War of the Worlds, The Day After Tomorrow, and Armageddon (to name but a few) are simply disaster pr0n, and that’s what Follywood wants to produce, not good stories. Because you can show someone a couple seconds of buildings blowing up, and get them to pony up money, but if you’re going to be concentrating on the story, you have to spend a long period of time explaining things to them, and that means they can’t play golf or get sushi enemas or whatever else is the current rage in Follywood, because they’re stuck listening to you ramble on.