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Book Vs Movie Podcast

Apr 8, 2021

Book Vs Movie: “The Man Who Fell to Earth”

Our first Walter Tevis novel & the cult David Bowie Film

Author Walter Tevis created some of the most interesting and unique protagonists in fiction including Beth Harmon in The Queen’s Gambit and Eddie Felson in The Hustler. His Jerome Newton of The Man Who Fell to Earth is a humanoid alien from The Altheans who appears to be human (with a drinking problem and large business ambitions) but has a hard time connecting to people on earth emotionally. 

The 1963 SciFi novel by Tevis resembles closely his own life as he was a man who often felt alienated from his own life. He was born to immense wealth and later lived in poverty in Kentucky. He left his wife and children for another woman and had a drinking problem that lasts over two decades. All while achieving his goal to be a working writer who did not have to have a day job to support himself. 

Newton leaves The Altheans to come to earth and make enough money to return home and save his family from death via lack of food & water. He makes a home in Kentucky uses his space technology to make millions in hopes of building a craft to escape this world. 

In the meantime, a woman falls in love with him (he does not return her emotions) and he develops a friendship with a fellow drinker--Nathan Bryce. 

What happens to him when the FBI investigates his background is sad and tragic. This book is a bummer but the writing is beautiful. 

Nicolas Roeg directed the 1976 movie which had a terrible release at the time (multiple film studio issues) but is now considered a cult classic taught in colleges around the world. David Bowie (who was at the Zenith of his fame) plays Newton and gives the best performance of his acting career. 

In this episode, we get the behind-the-scenes trivia from the set, the differences made in the film, and how musician John Phillips wound up creating the soundtrack. 

So between the book and the film--which did we prefer? Have a listen and find out! 

In this ep the Margos discuss:

  • The life story of Walter Tevis and how he inserted his own foibles and history into his main characters 
  • The casting of David Bowie and what his career was like in the 1970s
  • The soundtrack and whether or not Bowie’s estate will release his supposed version 
  • The behind-the-scenes gossip and trivia
  • The cast: David Bowie (Thomas Jerome Newton,) Rip Torn (Nathan Bryce,) Candy Clark (Mary-Lou,) Buck Henry (Oliver Farnsworth,) and Bernie Casey (Peters.) 

Clips used:

  • Nathan and Thomas meet
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth trailer 
  • John Phillips music
  • Mary-Lou is angry at “Tommy”
  • Outro Music by Louis Armstrong Blueberry Hill

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