Vice Versa (novel)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Vice Versa: A Lesson to Fathers is a novel by F. Anstey, first published in 1882. The title originates from the Latin phrase, "vice versa", meaning "the other way around". The Freaky Friday book and films may be considered a modern re-telling of the same story.

Contents

Plot summary

Set in Victorian times, the novel concerns business man Paul Bultitude and his son Dick. Dick is about to leave home for a boarding school which is ruled by the cane wielding headmaster Dr. Grimstone. Bultitude, seeing his son's fear of returning to the school, foolishly says that schooldays are the best years of a boy's life, and how he wished that he was the one returning to school.

At this point, thanks to a handy magic stone brought by an uncle from India which grants the possessor one wish, they are now on even terms. Dick, now holding the stone, is ordered by his father to turn him back into his own body, but Dick refuses, and decides instead to become his father, and so the fun begins. Mr. Bultitude has to begin the new academic term at his son's boarding school, while Dick gets a chance to run his father's business in the City. In the end, they are both restored to their own bodies, with a better understanding of each other.

The story has been adapted for television at least three times, and for film at least five times; including a British version from 1948, written and directed by Peter Ustinov, which featured Petula Clark as Grimstone's daughter and introduced Anthony Newley to the world, as young Dick. The 1981 ITV adaptation featured Peter Bowles as Paul Bultitude. Much much later, a 1988 version, adapted into a modern setting, did not credit F. Anstey's contribution in its initial release (but kept the title), starring Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage as the father and son.

The BBC made a six part radio series in 1947, adapted and produced by Felix Felton. Paul Bultitude was played by Ronald Simpson, and his mischievous son Dick by John Clark. Dr. Grimstone was played by veteran radio actor Ralph Truman. An early example of sound magic before the days of tape meant that when the father succeeds in his wish to be just like his son going off to school, juvenile actor John Clark had to talk to himself. So he had to pre-record the father's dialogue on the 15 inch disks used at that time, and leave gaps for the son's character to speak. After much careful rehearsal, the broadcast went out live, with amazing naturalistic speech overlaps, leaving the listener quite astonished. Young Clark was auditioned by Peter Ustinov and cast in the film version, with a 7 year Rank contract. But it wasn't to be, his agent had overlooked a clause in hisJust William theatre contract, an option to repeat the tour across England for another year (a disastrous decision). So the film producers looked around some more, and came up with Anthony Newley, fresh out of the Italia Conti Academy.

Adaptations

Radio

The BBC made a six-part radio series in 1947, adapted and produced by Felix Felton. Paul Bultitude was played by Ronald Simpson, and his mischievous son Dick by John Clark. Dr. Grimstone was played by veteran radio actor Ralph Truman. An early example of creative sound effects before the days of tape meant that when the father succeeds in his wish to be just like his son going off to school, juvenile actor John Clark had to talk to himself. So he had to pre-record the father's dialogue on the 15 inch disks used at that time, and leave gaps for the son's character to speak. After much careful rehearsal, the broadcast went out live, with naturalistic speech overlaps.

Film and television

The story has also been adapted for television at least three times, and for film at least five times. The 1948 British film was written and directed by Peter Ustinov, and starred Roger Livesey as Paul Bultitude and Anthony Newley (fresh from the Italia Conti Academy) as Dick. John Clark, who had played Dick in the radio adaptation, was initially auditioned and cast by Ustinov, with a seven-year Rank contract. However, his agent had overlooked a clause in his Just William theatre contract, which gave an option for the tour to be repeated across England for another year. Newley was therefore cast in his place.

The 1981 ITV adaptation featured Peter Bowles as Paul Bultitude.

The 1988 film version, adapted into a modern setting, starring Judge Reinhold and Fred Savage as the father and son. It did not credit F. Anstey's novel as its source in its initial release, but retained the title.

Allusions/references from other works

The novels Freaky Friday and Summer Switch by Mary Rodgers are modern re-tellings of the same story.

Vice Versa is mentioned on Chapter 6 of Malcolm Lowry's Under the Volcano (1947).

The novel is also mentioned in Episode 15, "Circe", of James Joyce's Ulysses (1922), as well as in Evelyn Waugh's Officers and Gentlemen (The second in his Sword of Honour Trilogy) as the novel Guy was reading in the summer-garden and in "Surprised by Joy" by C.S. Lewis.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Vice Versa (novel)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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