Joan Didion on Screen

(Pictured above: Credits from ‘True Confessions.’ Source: Tubi screenshot)

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, a critically acclaimed documentary about the literary icon, premieres on Netflix tomorrow, October 28.

After viewing the doc, Netflix subscribers may well want to delve into Didion’s numerous novels and essays. And, since it’s on Netflix, they might also consider streaming The Panic in Needle Park (1971), for which Didion and her late husband John Gregory Dunne collaborated on their first screenplay, with Al Pacino starring in his breakthrough role as a heroin addict.

Didion and Dunne would continue co-writing for the screen for the next 25 years — through 1996’s Up Close & Personal, starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer, which Hulu subscribers can stream right now.

After their success with Needle Park, the duo next wrote Play It As It Lays (1972), based on Didion’s 1970 novel and starring Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins. You can watch Play It As It Lays right here:

Other Didion/Dunne screenplays include the 1976 version of A Star is Born, with Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson; the Robert De Niro/Robert Duvall 1940s-set mystery True Confessions (1981), which you can stream free on Tubi; a 1995 TNT movie Broken Trust; and a 1990 HBO film, Women and Men: Stories of Seduction, for which they adapted the Ernest Hemmingway short story “Hills Like White Elephants.” It’s the final third of the film, starring James Woods and Melanie Griffith, which you can watch here:

Bonus: Didion and Dunne’s first TV collaboration was in 1965 when they wrote the story, though not the final script, of the following episode of NBC’s Kraft Suspense Theatre:




About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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