“What’s Up, Doc?”

“What’s Up, Doc?” by Carole Smith is a novel based upon one of my favourite movies. As a child I loved to watch this movie on television and I jumped at the chance to get it when it came out on DVD.

The novel was based directly on the screenplay as the shenanigans involving the various overnight cases and hotel rooms were lifted from what appeared to be a succession of stage directions. No novelist would have rendered the ins and outs on a hotel floor so clinically. I tried to keep the rooms straight along with the guests who were staying in them, but after a while the room numbers (compounded by the fact that they were connected internally) all blended together. The likely reader of this book would have seen the movie first, and relived it via the printed page, and it would have all seemed clear. In spite of knowing the movie off by heart (I could anticipate Streisand’s one-liners) it did get confusing. When reading a brief (159 pages) book like this, it’s not worth overthinking it and I just left the room numbers as is, without envisioning the logistics of surreptitious room-swapping. Last night I watched the movie again after finishing the book and can confirm the dialogue was lifted directly from the movie, including Kenneth Mars’s ad-libs. People sure smoked a lot fifty years ago; in the movie people were smoking in drugstores, hotel rooms and airports.

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