'Endless Love' Author Trashes Remake: 'Stick With the Paperback'

Scott Spencer advises people who might celebrate Valentine's Day by seeing the new film version of his 1979 best-seller to avoid it instead.

Endless Love, the 1979 best-seller by two-time National Book Award finalist Scott Spencer that was adapted for a 1983 Brooke Shields movie, opens Feb. 14 in its second movie adaptation, starring Gabriella Wilde and Alex Pettyfer.

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The 2014 version scored 13 percent on Rotten Tomatoes — even worse than the Brooke Shields original (25 percent), but better than Winter's Tale, the new adaptation of Spencer's fellow Guggenheim Fellow Mark Helprin's 1983 literary hit, which scored 12 percent.

On the basis of just the trailer for the new Endless Love, Spencer wrote the following for The Hollywood Reporter:

I presume you have had the experience of having something you said repeated to a third party, attributed to you but mangled beyond recognition. I think it’s a common phenomenon, especially when relationships are unraveling — and one ends up sounding a bit hysterical as one insists, "But that’s not what I said! I never said that! I would NEVER EVER say that!"

This is why it’s a comfort to write down what you want to last.  

Endless Love was botched — misquoted, as it were — once in 1981, when Franco Zeffirelli tried to make a movie out of it, and it seems as if it has been even more egregiously and ridiculously misunderstood in the movie Universal Pictures is releasing. (I gave up control of the movie rights to my novel in 1980.) I had brief contact with the first filmmakers who tried to adapt my novel, and I had no contact whatsoever with the second wave. But now I don’t really need to raise my voice and say, "No, no, that’s not what I said." I can take my cue from James M. Cain who, when asked what he thought about what Hollywood had done to his novels, said something to the effect, "They didn’t do anything to them; my books are right there on the shelf."

God, I hope I’m not misquoting Cain, garbling his meaning as I adapt his words to my essay. Luckily, somewhere or other what he actually said is printed and bound, somewhere there is a permanent record. Just as there is a permanent record of what I was thinking when I took four years out of my life to write hundreds of pages about the consequences of a relationship between a seventeen-year-old boy and a fifteen-year-old girl. My intentions are discoverable, word for word, in paperback, in ebook, or in hardcover — though hardcover copies will have to be obtained from used book dealers, which doesn’t do the author much good, so, if I were you, I’d think twice about that. Stick with the paperback or the ebook,  and you can quote me on that.