Flannery on Film
Good Country Pictures makes headway in bringing the Southern Gothic writer’s stories to film and television.
In February of 1980, John Huston’s version of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood opened in theaters around the country. With a cast that included Ned Beatty and Harry Dean Stanton, the film brought to life O’Connor’s religious zealot Hazel Motes and his strange friend Enoch Emery. O’Connor’s longtime friend Sally Fitzgerald’s two sons, Benedict and Michael, were also writers and producers on the film, which may explain why it follows the book so closely and is still a favorite of fans today.
Not until now has anyone else acquired the film rights to O’Connor’s work, meaning her famous characters like The Misfit, Young Tarwater and Manley Pointer have remained on the page and in our imaginations. Some fans may want them to remain that way, but Atlanta’s Good Country Pictures has been working for several years to put them on screen. The independent film production company — named for the writer’s famous short story “Good Country People” — is currently finalizing a film script for O’Connor’s novel The Violent Bear It Away and a screenplay for a television series based on her short stories.
General counsel for Good Country Pictures Brett Grayson says the script for Violent is in the final stages from writer Brent Hanley, a Dallas native best known for his 2001 film “Frailty.” “That film has a lot of supernatural themes that are similar to Flannery’s work,” Grayson says. Once the script is good to go, Paramount will get a first look and then the process moves toward finding a director and a major star or two.
Filming is planned for Georgia and possibly Louisiana due to the film credits available, says Grayson.
As for the television series, screenwriter Doug Wright is still working on a screenplay for the first episode. Grayson compares plans for the series to “Deadwood” in that O’Connor’s stories will be set in a fictional town that depicts a 1950s Deep South. The town and era will act as a jumping off point for different stories featuring different characters who have the potential to cross paths. Just think what could happen if The Misfit met Ruby Terpin or Lucynell Crater and O.E. Parker got together.
“Doug’s concept is to have a Flannery-esque character in the story narrating and explaining what happens,” Grayson says.
For now, Good Country Pictures just wants to get the word out to fans and get them excited about what’s coming. (Their rights also include O’Connor’s authorized biography, letters and lectures.)
“People so love Flannery and so love her work that once they know about this we hope they’ll turn it on just for her,” Grayson says.
Learn more about Good Country Pictures’ plans in this video of Brett Grayson addressing attendees of a 2012 conference on Flannery O’Connor in Lafayette, Louisiana: