This column is in today’s Currents, the Standard-Examiner’s digital-only section on politics and culture. All subscribers with Internet have access to Currents.
Last week, in the Sunday Standard-Examiner, I wrote a column on the late Utah-born author John D. Fitzgerald, who wrote The Great Brain series. http://www.standard.net/live/opinion/topofutahvoices/177671/ I appreciate the feedback I received from many readers. There still remains a big fan base of Fitzgerald’s gentle adventures of life in early-Mormon Utah. Besides “ ,” he’s also known for the novel “Papa Married a Mormon.”
I briefly mentioned the 1978 film “The Great Brain,” that starred Jimmy Osmond. I saw that film in a theater in ., and later taped it on a network late-night showing. Then the film disappeared. Although I can’t be sure, I doubt it had a video release since there are no spare copies for sale at E-bay or Amazon.
My copy is very faded. To make sure it survived at least another decade, I converted it to DVD-R. I’ve loaned it to friends and gave a copy to a school teacher who uses “The Great Brain in her class.
For what it’s worth, here is my review of The Great Brain, also published on a personal blog at:
This isn’t a great movie, by any stretch. The acting is hammy, and a very young Jimmy Osmond is frankly, too inexperienced, in my opinion, to play The Great Brain. But if you like the John D. Fitzgerald novels, you’ll find the film a treat.
I’m glad it’s out and that I taped it in the early 1980s. It’s a definite G and post-toddler kids will like it. However, those adults unfamiliar with the Great Brain character may get bored at the juvenile story.
On the plus side, the sets of early, rural Utah are pretty well done and the cast, if inexperienced, is at least earnest. Also, this is a rare film that is almost completely faithful to a book. Fans of The Great Brain will enjoy seeing what they read faithfully adapted to the screen. Examples include The Great Brain, Tom D. Fitzgerald, having adventures with a Greek immigrant family, his fights with friends, his scheming with brothers, including narrator John D. Fitzgerald, and his change of heart when he helps a young crippled boy.
This is an almost impossible film to locate. It never runs on TV it seems and has never been released to video or DVD. Rumor has it the film is locked in litigation. That’s a shame if true, because it seems ideal for a new production or a re-release via DVD to at least the regional Utah/Mormon market.
Still, if you love John D. Fitzgerald’s tales, you’ll want to hunt old family tapes off TV to see if you have this tucked away in the basement. The film was directed by Sidney Levin. It also starred Pat Delaney, Fran Ryan and.
Before I wrote this piece, I posted a review (too harsh in retrospect) on the http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077632/ It’s still there, and remains the only review for The Great Brain on the popular movie database. My post, eight years ago, produced an e-mail from a Utah man who wished to view a copy of the film. I duped him a very, very faded copy and mailed it off, no charge..
I didn’t save the e-mails or the man’s name, but he mentioned that “The Great Brain” was locked in a larger litigation battle and that is why it’s nowhere to be found. Whether that is true I have no idea. My e-mailer also mentioned that there were scripts in production for new film adaptations of “The Great Brain.”
However, that bit nugget of information appears to be for naught, as no “Great Brain” film ventures have been released or announced. That’s a shame. It seems an ideal regional opportunity for a feature or even a series. There are so many Fitzgerald “Great Brain” tales to fit 50 episodes at least.
So, the mystery of “The Great Brain”remains. If anyone has any information about why “The Great Brain” is not in circulation or if it will be released or if there are new productions planned, e-mail me at . I’ll be sure to pass on the information.