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12 American Literary Classics Which Need Entirely Unnecessary 3D Films

Last night, director Baz Lurhmann was asked by Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report why on Earth his new Great Gatsby film is in 3D.  Based on Lurhmann’s rather cagey response, in that he completely ignored the question, maybe he too thinks making the movie 3D is a pretty stupid idea.  He did not, however, sidestep the question when presented to him by the New York Times in 2012, explaining a desire to use 3D to enhance the film’s intimacy, reasoning, “How do you make it feel like your inside the room?”  However, the early indication is the film’s utilization of 3D is largely ineffective and completely unnecessary, as if Lurhmann lost interest in it halfway through the film.

Of course, 3D came to its initial popularity in the 1950s, in response to the rising omnipresence of television.  One of the most popular early 3D films was House of Wax in 1952, which was sold with taglines such as ‘Beauty and Terror meet in your seat!’ and the ‘The hand is at your throat…the kiss is on your lips.”  The format has waned in popularity ever since then before making a comeback in the past decade, although it has its opponents (chiefly BBC Radio film critic Mark Kermode) and it may again be on the downswing in popularity.  However, if Great Gatsby can get the 3D treatment it occurred to us what other staples of American literature could get horribly unnecessary 3D films  and what 1950s style taglines might they have.

Below is our list of 12 American literary classics and the tagline they might bear if made as a 3D film:

1) A Farewell to Arms


Author: Ernest Hemingway

Published: 1929

About: An American soldier falling in love with a nurse during World War I.

Most Known For: Unbelievably bleak ending in which the nurse delivers a stillborn child and subsequently hemorrhages to death.  Farewell to happiness!

Suggested Tagline:  Now you feel her hemorrhaging blood on your face! or You’ll think the enemy is shooting right at you!

2) A Streetcar Named Desire


Author: Tennessee Williams

Published: 1947

About: Fading southern belle Blanche Dubois and the deleterious effect she has on sister Stella and brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski after moving in with them.

Most Known For: Launching Marlon Brando’s career after he originated the role of Stanley on Broadway, a bare-chested Stanley yelling from the street outside their home, “Stella!”, Blanche’s reliance upon the kindness of strangers.  Might also be most known for the parody of it in the classic episode of The Simpsons “A Streetcar Named Marge.”

Suggested Tagline: Watch Blanche in Titillating 3D!

3) Death of a Salesman

salesman 2

Author: Arthur Miller

Published: 1949

About: The Loman family, with patriarch Willie failing both in his business as a salesman and as a father to sons Biff and Harold ‘Happy.’

Most Known For: The ending in which Willie intentionally crashes his car so as to bring about his own death and net his family the resulting life insurance money only to have Biff choose to not use the money to open his business as Willie had wished.

Suggested Tagline: Watch Out!  Willie Loman is Coming Straight Toward You, and He’s Not Veering Out of the Way!

4) Grapes of Wrath


Author: John Steinbeck

Published: 1939

About: The destructive nature of pure capitalism absent any socialist elements as evidenced by the experiences of the Joad family of Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl.

Most Known For: Tom Joad’s symbolic speech about the many places he would be to stamp out injustice in the world.

Suggested Tagline: Now You Can Reach Out and Touch the Desperation

5) Of Mice and Men


Author: John Steinbeck

Published: 1937

About: Two migrant ranch workers, George Milton and Lennie Small, continually searching for job opportunities in California during the Great Depression.

Most Known For: The giant but dim-witted Lennie’s unfortnate tendency to accidentally break the necks of things, such as a beloved puppy or, more egregiously, a boss’ wife.  George’s solution to this problem at the novel’s conclusion is meant to be heartbreaking.

Suggested Tagline: Now Lennie Breaks Your Neck

6) Scarlett Letter


Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Published: 1850

About: The perils of  committing adultery in the Puritan era of Boston during the mid 1600s.

Most Known For: Hester Prynne’s punishment for her adulterous ways is to be forced to bear a scarlet letter A across her chest upon all of her clothing, thus publicly shaming her.  Puritans…were dicks.

Suggested Tagline: Now the Red A Comes on to Your Chest

7) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


Author: Mark Twain

Published: 1885

About: A young boy (Huckleberry Finn) and his best good African American friend (the adult Tom Sawyer) and their travels along the Mississippi River.

Most Known For: Course language and unrelenting usage of a particular racial slur most commonly known as “the n world.”

Suggested Tagline: You Can Feel Jim’s Blood Spraying On your Face

8) The Cider House Rules

Cedar House Ether

Author: John Irving

Published: 1985

About: A young man who has grown up in an orphanage devoted to taking in children from unwanted pregnancies and his romantic turmoil with a couple he befriends before the guy apparently dies in the war and the girl suddenly looks very, very attainable.

Most Known For: Abortions for everyone! Plus, crippling addiction to ether, and Erykah Badu (for some reason).

Suggested Tagline: Now You Can Practically Smell the Ether!

9) The Invisible Man

No – not that Invisible Man unless the reason we can’t see the man’s face is beause he is African American.

Author: Ralph Elison

Published: 1952

About: A literally underground African American man and his entanglement with a black nationalism movement.

Most Known For: Social commentary on the plight of African Americans in pre-Civil Rights-era America, plus the re-purposing of the H.G. Wells literal invisible man concept to be more symbolic of an African American’s view of their visibility and potential for agency in a white-controlled America.

Suggested Tagline: The Social Commentary Flies Off the Screen!

10) The Turn of the Screw


Author: Henry James

Published: 1898

About: A governess for an Essex estate in charge of a young boy and girl.  She gradually believes the estate and the children within it are haunted.

Most Known For: Various interpretations for the ending, i.e., is the haunting real or is it all a symbolic commentary on the governess’ repression.

Suggested Tagline: This Time, Sexual Repression is Right In Your Face!

11) Where the Red Fern Grows


Author: Wilson Rawls

Published: 1961

About: A children’s novel about a boy and the two hunting dogs he raises and trains.

Most Known For: Teaching children that dogs sometimes die but something oddly magical might grow next to their graves which somehow makes it all better.  It is the classic parenting conundrum: to buy a dog or a fern for their child.  See Also: Old Yeller for a less fern-centric dog-killing tale.

Suggested Tagline: This Time the Dogs Die in Your Lap!

12) Uncle Tom’s Cabin


Author: Harriet Beecher Stowe

Published: 1852

About: There’s an African American slave named Uncle Tom and he has a cabin.

Most Known For: Presenting the notion of an African American who sells out to whites thus creating the long-standing epitaph of Uncle Tom to describe such a person.

Suggested Tagline: Watch Eliza Run Right Into Your Head or Slavery is always better front and center, right in your face, in oppressive 3D! or Abuse and depression is always better in 3D!

What say you?  Let us know in the comments if there are any other classics we should have listed.  Don’t quite get that we are only kidding and don’t think any of these movies should be made, at least in 3D?  See to it in the comments!

WeMinoredInFilm writer Julianne Ramsey contributed to this post, specifically in brainstorming with me about the tag lines, many of which come word for word from her.


  1. I got 2 things out of this post. First, I am incredibly unread as I have only read 4 of these books, but I have read a farewell to arms 3 times. Second, is the world ready for 3D “N” words? I hope so. I know I am.

    1. First of all, LOL to your 3D “N” words joke.

      Feel not bad. If I’m honest, I’ve only read half of the novels/plays discussed in the article. I just found an online syllabus for an English class devoted to American literature and picked the ones which presented the most obvious opportunity for a goofy 3D tagline joke. However, I got the impression that my co-writer Julianne – she of the Masters Degree in English – had read every single one of them.

      Also, I, too, would ever so like to believe the world is ready for 3D “N” words. Tarantino missed an real opportunity for social progress in that arena by not putting Django Unchained and its endless stream of “N” words out in 3D.

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