Clancy wants no credit for 'Patriot Games' film Author says script diverges from novel

December 07, 1991|By Tim Warren | Tim Warren,Sun Book Editor

The filming of Tom Clancy's novel "Patriot Games" has not been completed, but already the first review is in -- from the author himself, no less, and what he thinks can't make Paramount Pictures very happy. In a highly unusual move, Mr. Clancy says he fears the movie will be so bad, and so different from his book, that he wants the studio to remove his name from the production.

"I sold them this product in good faith. This request is not being done on the spur of the moment. I told them this was a possibility in late August -- the product they are turning out is a disaster," said Mr. Clancy, who is one of the top-selling authors in the world.

The Baltimore-born writer continued: "The movie simply is not based on my book. To the best of my knowledge, there's not a single scene in the movie that tracks with a scene in the book."

"Patriot Games" stars Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan, the CIA operative and hero of all of Mr. Clancy's novels, who rescues the British royal family from terrorists and then withstands reprisal attacks in the Annapolis area. Filming began in late October in London, and a week's shooting in Annapolis was completed yesterday. According to a Paramount publicist, filming will resume next week in California.

But Mr. Clancy, saying he wishes to preserve his reputation as a novelist with a passion for accuracy, indicated that he no longer wants to be associated with the movie. He says that the script contains numerous inaccuracies and that key scenes have been rewritten.

"For instance, the final scene has Ryan on the Western Shore of Maryland looking off into the sunset in the west," he said. "I live on the Western Shore [in Calvert County], and I assure you that's impossible.

"Then there's a final assault on Ryan's house. In the shooting script, 30 bodyguards were written in, but somehow they would just vanish. I said that was unrealistic -- the world isn't like that."

Told of Mr. Clancy's comments, a Paramount spokesman in Los Angeles, who did not wish to be identified, said the studio "is not commenting on what the film is going to say, or how it's going to be credited when it comes out next summer."

He said the studio would not respond directly to his complaints, nor to published reports that Mr. Ford was so unhappy with the film's director, Phillip Noyce, that he threatened to walk off the set. Instead, he read a brief statement:

"Paramount is in the early stages of production on a filmed version of Tom Clancy's best-selling novel, 'Patriot Games.' We are very pleased with the results so far, and we are confident that audiences around the world, as well as Mr. Clancy, will be very happy with the film when it premieres next summer."

Asked whether the studio would attempt to resolve the situation with Mr. Clancy, the spokesman said, "Our only response is that we talk all the time."

"That's a lie," Mr. Clancy replied, noting that he made his feelings about the movie known to Mace Neufeld, a co-producer of "Patriot Games" and of "The Hunt for Red October," the well-received movie based on his first novel.

"After I said that I wanted them to pull my name off the production," he said, "Mace called me three weeks ago from London and said he wanted to show me that I was wrong, and when he got to the country he would show me the dailies, or rushes, or whatever they're called, and it would be a good movie.

"Well, he just never showed up. If they're so confident that the movie is going to please me, then why didn't he show up?"

He acknowledged that if the studio refused to honor his request to remove his name, he wouldn't pursue legal action.

"Even if I could sue, I wouldn't," he said. "I'm simply asking them as a matter of courtesy."

He characterized his experience with "Patriot Games" as markedly different from that with "The Hunt for Red October."

"In some of it, they actually made an effort to follow my book," he said of the earlier film.

What could make Mr. Clancy's differences with Paramount even more touchy is that the studio owns the rights to another of his novels, "Clear and Present Danger." Mr. Clancy said he has done some work with John Milius, the screenwriter, on the script, but "probably will not" be involved with the production of that movie.

"I'm not even sure it will be made, because I think 'Patriot Games' will turn out so bad," he said.

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