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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Books: Adaptation Auteur Ira Levin Dies at 78

Ira Levin, who wrote a series of high concept airplane reads that in turn spurned a series of high concept films, died on Monday in Manhattan. The most successful critical and commercial adaptation was Rosemary's Baby, published as a novel in 1967 and adapted into Roman Polanski's classic psych-horror the same year. There was also A Kiss Before Dying, done once with Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter, Joanne Woodward and Mary Astor in the late 50's and then again in 1991 with Matt Dillon, Sean Young and Max Von Sydow -- The Stepford Wives chillingly done in 1975 and then stupidly done with Nicole Kidman in 2004 -- The Boys From Brazil's bravura scenery chewing from Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier -- and the execrable Sliver done with Sharon Stone and one of the lesser Baldwins. He also was a prolific playwright best known for Deathtrap which also made it to the big screen with Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve.

As the list above suggests Levin was a kind of proto-Michael Crichton, boldly jumping into futuristic ideas like robotics and surveillance buildings while also dealing with bogeymen like the devil and cloned Nazis. Here is the New York Times obit.

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