Even though YA books were being adapted from time-to-time on television as afterschool specials, it took a while for Hollywood to catch on to adapting YA novels into films. In 1982, two films were released that were based on popular young adult novels from the 1970's. I Am The Cheese by Robert Cormier was originally published in 1977. Tex was published in 1977. Other films based on these author's works would follow. For example, Cormier's books The Chocolate War, The Bumblebee Flies Anyway and Tenderness have all been adapted into films. Additionally, another film was made of I Am The Cheese in Canada in 1992 and titled Lapse of Memory. Films made from SE Hinton's books are more well known. They include, The Outsiders, Rumble Fish and That was Then, This is Now.
Tex and I Am The Cheese are both low-key films that for me best represent the afterschool special aesthetic of the 70's. Both are incredibly well made productions considering the small budget. I also think that these adaptations more accurately represent the author's books than the other movies that would follow.
Below are some images from Scholastic Voice magazine dating from 1982. These "free" magazines were sent to schools and used in the classrooms by teachers and students. These particular issues featured condensed versions of screenplays in play format designed to be read aloud in class. They also featured interviews with the actors in the films. The issue which features TEX has a brief interview with SE Hinton and Matt Dillon. The I Am The Cheese issue features an interview with Robert MacNaughton. I like how this interview is proposing Robert to be a star, when in fact, I Am The Cheese is a movie that has rarely been seen. He had a short lived acting career and is probably most well remembered for his roles in Spielberg's E.T. and The Electric Grandmother (an adaptation of a Ray Bradbury story).
It still surprises me that a movie has never been made based on one of Paul Zindel's YA books besides the adaptation in 1972 of his pulitzer prize winning play The Effect of Gamma Rays in Man In The Moon Marigolds. Zindel, however, did work in Hollywood in the mid-1980's and wrote several screenplays such as Runaway Train (1985).
Probably my favorite feature film versions of YA novels are those adapted from the novels of Lois Duncan. The best one of these is the telefilm Summer of Fear, an early Wes Craven vehicle that starred Linda Blair. I also love the adaptation of I Know What You Did Last Summer that was scripted by Kevin Williamson of Scream fame. Because of the popularity of this movie, several more Duncan adaptations have been made but to a lesser effect.
Also of note (and mentioned previously in this blog) is the 1973 film Baxter, an adaptation of Kin Platt's book The Boy Who Could Make Himself Disappear which starred Scott Jacoby. Although the film does have some merits, too many changes were made to make it a strict resemblance of the book.
If you are interested in teen movies from the 1970's, I recommend you check out this list I created on Amazon HERE