Lybarger Links

Kaylie Jones


Click here to visit the site for the James Jones Literary Society.

Click here to purchase a copy of James Jones' novel, The Thin Red Line.

Click here to purchase Kaylie Jones' book, A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries.

Click here to purchase a CD of Hans Zimmer's Soundtrack album for The Thin Red Line.

Click here to purchase a CD of Richard Robins' Soundtrack album for A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries.

If you are a glutton for punishment, click here to order the video tape of the 1964 version of The Thin Red Line.

Click here to order the DVD version of The Thin Red Line.


Internet Movie Database Listings for:

The Thin Red Line (1998)

The Thin Red Line (1964)

A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (1998)

Kaylie Jones

James Jones

Terrence Malick

Keeping up with the Joneses:
An Interview with Kaylie Jones

January 14, 1999
by Dan Lybarger
Originally appeared in the January 14-20, 1999 issue of Pitch Weekly. ........................................................................................................

The late James Jones and his daughter Kaylie Jones have a unique similarity. Both are novelists, and both have films of their books playing in theaters.

   The elder Jones wrote tough, vivid stories that inspired this week's The Thin Red Line and the memorable films From Here to Eternity and Some Came Running. Speaking from New York City, Kaylie Jones, whose A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries came out in cinematic form last fall, recalls that her father was bothered by Hollywood's treatment of his books, even when the movies were good (From Here to Eternity won eight Oscars, including Best Picture).

    "When he was young, he said that he didn't like the films as much," Jones says. "He thought that they were not true to the books. With From Here to Eternity, they had to change many things at the time because of the censorship. My God, (one of the characters) couldn't be a prostitute in the movie. There was a lot of stuff like that they had to change, and it really upset him. And then years later, he saw the film again and said 'That's a really good film. I was so attached to the book that I couldn't separate them.'"

    If From Here to Eternity was toned down for film, director Andrew Marton's 1964 adaptation of The Thin Red Line, which starred Keir Dullea (2001: A Space Odyssey) and Jack Warden, missed the point of its source entirely. The first film, based loosely on James Jones' own experiences during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II, faded into obscurity.

    Jones says there is a reason for its low visibility. "My husband and I just rented it. It's not a good film. (The movie) doesn't know what it is. It was made in the early '60s.James Jones at work on Some Came Running There was no such thing as an 'antiwar' film. It was trying to make a heroic war film from a novel that says war is terrible. It was a low-budget movie that was filmed in Spain, so it looks nothing like the terrain," she states.

    Director Terrence Malick's (Badlands, Days of Heaven) new $52 million version of the story is considerably more ambitious than its predecessor. It boasts an all-star cast (Sean Penn, John Cusack, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson and John Travolta) and a closer understanding of its author's intentions. Jones explains, "It's not like anything else I've seen before. There's this cinéma vérité style to Terry's work, which I find truly fascinating. He makes it almost like a documentary on some level, like you're walking into the middle of this story, and you don't know anybody's background and who they are. But you know they're all together and they're going to fight for this hill. There's this other thing on top of it, this lyrical imagery, this poetry. It's a very strange combination of the two things."

    She adds, "It's not a movie that you walk away from thinking, 'Isn't it nice that those heroic soldiers died for a good cause.' You walk away with a hole in your stomach that stays for days. In that sense, it's true to the book. There is bravery and heroism, but the whole idea that it is for a great cause is not there at all."

    In fact, Malick's realistic approach necessitated an unusual similarity with both adaptations of the novel. The character of Captain "Bugger" Stein, who is Jewish in the novel (anti-Semitism in the military is one of the book's themes) is not a Jew in either film. In the first movie, he is called "Stone." In the new film, Elias Koteas (Crash) plays "Staros." Jones recalls, "They changed him because the actor that Malick picked to play him is Greek. Elias, when he first got the part, was playing him as Jewish, as Stein. Terry said, 'I don't want you to play a part. I want you to be you. I want you to speak Greek and pray in Greek.' I talked to Elias, and he said this was the most terrifying experience he had ever had as an actor because he was being told to be himself, how would he handle this situation?"

    James Jones attempted to be just as realistic when he was writing screenplays, but filmmakers at the time weren't prepared for his approach. His daughter laments, "He wrote all the Omaha Beach scenes in The Longest Day (a 1962 movie about D-day). He was outraged and furious because they didn't want to show any bloodshed. He would have been, I think, very happy with that first 25 minutes of Saving Private Ryan. After that, I think he would have been very disappointed with the rest of the film. I think it is the antithesis of what he believed war films should be about. His notion of war films in general was that they were phony. The public wants to believe that war is valor and that individual human sacrifice is not for naught. He believed the opposite. I think that Saving Private Ryan is just the same thing as all those other films."

    Kaylie Jones' own experiences with the filming of her semi-autobiographical novel A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries were much happier. "It's a lovely film," she says. "A lot of critics were disappointed because they wanted a 'Daddy Dearest' story, which is not what I intended to write. People always like a gossip story, a bad story over a good one."

    Jones is not ashamed of writing an affectionate tome, but she has had some minor reservations about the film. "In the film, the father (Kris Kristofferson) is almost too perfect. The angry, drinking side of him that's in the book isn't there. I would have liked him a little more rounded. There were hints, but it wasn't explicit," she explains.

    Nonetheless, Jones, who was in constant communication with the filmmakers, thinks the changes may have been necessary. Jones says, "In a lot of cases, it's very smart to separate from your work. I didn't write the screenplay. I'm glad Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Jim (Ivory, the director) wrote it together. She's won two Academy Awards. I don't think novelists should adapt our books into screenplays because our vision of the work is in the novel. You can't translate that vision directly to the screen. Somebody else can give it a rebirth, but it almost has to be killed first in order to be given a rebirth."

    With the release of the films and of her forthcoming novel, Faded Midnight, the last year has been busy but rewarding for Jones. However, she says she has some concern for her 13-month-old daughter. "She loves books," Jones says. "She has about 20 or 30 books already. Her favorite thing is to bring books to me and have me look at the pictures, read to her and turn the pages. My husband and I are saying, 'Oh no. Not another writer.' We want her to be a rocket scientist or an explorer or go to Mars, anything but a writer."

Back to Home






Lybarger Links is hosted on

            Click Here to Visit Our Sponsor
                                                                                 >>>Get Sponsored <<<<