Has there ever been a more perfect marriage of author and director than Stephen King and Frank Darabont? (Okay, maybe Michael Crichton and Michael Crichton – an author who famously adapted and directed many film adaptations of his own novels. How cool is that?) With The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist, Darabont has proven himself as the GO TO guy for King film adaptations. (Rumor has it Darabont is working on adapting King’s The Long Walk. Now if we can just get him involved with the troubled Dark Tower project, all manner of things will be well.) But what of King and Darabont’s first collaboration? Which, as those in the know … know, was one of the first “Dollar Babies.”
Don’t know the term “Dollar Baby”?
Stephen King has had a long-running policy of offering the rights to his short stories to budding film students for $1.00. These short films have come to be called Dollar Babies. One of the very first was Frank Darabont’s The Woman in the Room – the last story from 1978’s Night Shift collection, and seemingly one that was the not only the least cinematic, but wasn’t even really a horror story as it dealt with a man struggling with what to do about his pain-ridden, terminally-ill mother.
In 1980, 20-year-old Darabont contacted Mr. King about adapting The Woman in the Room. King agreed … and forgot about it. Three long years later Darabont sent a copy of his finally-finished film to King, who was vePART TWOry surprised to see that the 30 minute short was far better than he had any right to expect it to be. Years later, when Darabont came looking for the rights to The Shawshank Redemption, King let the novella go based on the strength of The Woman in the Room.
Frank Darabont talked at length about this project to Lilja’s Library (an excellent online King resource) and that interview can be found HERE.
Is this short film as good as Darabont’s later work? Of course not. It was shot on a shoestring by a kid and his friends. Brian Libby, who plays the prisoner, would go on to appear in ALL of Darabont’s later King adaptations. The film is slow in parts, and maybe even a bit corny, but it certainly did a good job of displaying the talent of the budding filmmaker.
Never seen it? Good, cause I’ve got it for you below. Or … at least I would if it was available for embedding. It’s not, at present, so … follow these links to watch it on YouTube. Bon appétit.