Book Vs. Movie: The Chocolate War
Robert Cormier 1974 YA Novel Vs. The 1988 Keith Gordon Film
This September, the Margos are going to cover books that have been placed on “Banned Books” lists at schools and libraries in America over the last 100+ years, starting with The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, which has consistently been banned in high schools for language, religious questioning, and sexual imagery since its publication.
The story of Jerry Renault, a lonely high school freshman at a Catholic school mourning the loss of his mother and trying to figure out how to find his way in life while maintaining his individuality. The main high school clique, the Vigils, run by creepy Archie, wants Charlie to refuse to sell chocolates to make him stand out (badly) to Brother Leon. Leon needs to sell 20,000 boxes of chocolates because he borrowed too much cash ahead of time and the school administration is close to finding this out.
When Jerry is “allowed” by the Vigils to sell the chocolates, he continues to refuse to cause an escalation of destabilization and violence at the school. Was it worth it for him to “disturb the universe?”
The film, directed by Keith Gordon, was made for a tiny budget (used mostly for the kickass 80s soundtrack featuring Kate Bush and Yaz) and made little impact at the time. It is now having a revival due to the popularity of Bush’s Running Up That Hill feature on the Netflix show Stranger Things.
So between the book and the film, which did we like better?
In this ep, the Margos discuss:
- Banned Books and recent U.S. issues with this at schools across the nation
- The themes of the book
- Why this movie may be controversial and why it also strikes a chord with readers
- The cast: John Glover (Brother Leon,) IIan Mitchell-Smith (Jerry,) Doug Hutchinson (Obie,) Wallace Langham (Archie,) Corey Gunnestad (Goober,) Brent Fraser (Emile,) Robert Davenport (Brian Cochran,) Jenny Wright (Lisa,) Bud Cort (Brother Jacques,) Adam Baldwin (John Carter,) and Ethan Sandler as David Caroni.
- Jerry refuses to sell the cookies
- The Chocolate War trailer
- Brother Leon harassed Bailey
- Lisa meets Jerry
- Archie and John Carter know they need to sell more chocolate.
- Archie and Carter at the boxing match “Greedy and Cruel.”
- The Chocolate War soundtrack
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