Jack Kerouac: Crossing the Line

On the Road

a film directed by Walter Salles

On the Road, as a movie, might have worked brilliantly in 1957 if Brando had accepted Kerouac’s challenge. It might have tapped into the same energy the book did—the same sources that fueled Brando’s The Wild One (1953), the James Dean vehicle Rebel Without a Cause (1955), and The Blackboard Jungle (1955), with Sidney Poitier. But that didn’t happen. Instead, it was the lives of those involved in the Beat Generation that had cultural reality. The movies found that the best subject wasn’t really the books at all but the people who wrote them. That might seem normal nowadays: the personalization of everything is now total. But the Beats, oddly, were probably part of the process by which fictionality became entwined with everyday selfhood.

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Beat Women’: An Exchange June 6, 2013