On September 13, 1916, children’s author Roald Dahl was born in Cardiff, Wales. Although his career was focused mainly in print, Dahl’s career has made a significant contribution to popular film. The author is behind such classics as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Witches, and Fantastic Mr. Fox, all which have seen big-screen adaptations. His career in the film industry includes several screenwriting endeavors. He wrote an early script for the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, and another for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, although both of these scripts were later reworked by other screenwriters. As if his scripts being thrown out and reworked wasn’t enough to make him steer clear of the film business, Dahl also wrote the initial script for the film adaptation of his book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Paramount Pictures, however, brought in a second screenwriter, David Seltzer, to write another version with the character focus falling on the magical chocolatier Willy Wonka instead of the young boy Charlie in Dahl’s novel. The title of the film was also changed to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to reflect the importance of the character.
Following the release of Willy Wonka, Dahl took a much more critical stance when it came to film adaptions of his books. He rarely allowed anymore of his works be adapted to feature films, having despised the director Mel Stuart’s take on the film as well as Gene Wilder’s otherwise brilliant performance as Wonka. Dahl’s widow has approved multiple recent adaptations of his works, including Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and director Wes Anderson’s 2009 adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox. Dahl’s book, The BFG, was recently adapted for the big screen by Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg (Jaws, Saving Private Ryan). A comparison of his most popular films is available above for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!