Vice Versa (novel)
First page from the book
|Publisher||D. Appleton & Company|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
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 going 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 so doing.
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 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 seven-year Rank contract. But it wasn't to be, his agent had overlooked a clause in his Just 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.
Film and television
The story has also been adapted for television at least three times, and for film at least five times, including a 1948 British version, written and directed by Peter Ustinov, which starred Roger Livesey as Paul Bultitude and introduced Anthony Newley as young Dick. The 1981 ITV adaptation featured Peter Bowles as Paul Bultitude. The 1988 film 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.
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 the sixth chapter of Under the Volcano.
Also mentioned in the Circe episode  of Ulysses by James Joyce
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