March 24, 2008


Top-Five Movies Adapted From Books (Libertas, 3/24/08)

Reader Jerry came up with this top-five idea. And it’s a good one. However, I’m going to add the qualifier that you must have also read the book.

Here are a few that are better movies than books:

Fever Pitch (Nick Hornsby)

Breaker Morant (The Breaker by Kit Denton)

Spartacus (Howard Fast)

The Godfather (Mario Puzo)

The Bourne Books (Robert Ludlum)

The Mighty Quinn (Finding Maubee by Albert H. Z. Carr)

Meanwhile, the two most disappointing adaptations of all time would have to be The Power of One and Tai-Pan.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 24, 2008 2:36 PM

Casablanca (okay, it's a play)
Day the Earth Stood Still ("Farewell to the Master", okay, it's a short story)
Young Frankenstein (much better than Shelley's book)

Posted by: tehag at March 24, 2008 3:36 PM

Fever Pitch -- the American movie was terrible. The Brit version was passable. The book blew away the lot.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 24, 2008 3:44 PM

I agree with Jim. The Fever Pitch movie was wretched, the book was quite good.

Posted by: Jorge Curioso at March 24, 2008 3:55 PM

In the "better movies than books" category - Jaws.

Posted by: Brandon at March 24, 2008 4:08 PM

The Remains of the Day. Good book, great movie.

Posted by: b at March 24, 2008 4:16 PM

Better movies than books: M*A*S*H. The book was just a passable war memoir.

The Silence of the Lambs: good book, better movie.

Posted by: PapayaSF at March 24, 2008 4:34 PM

Great movie adaptation nominee: The Princess Bride. It's dead on the book and very entertaining.

Posted by: Bartman at March 24, 2008 4:35 PM

"Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" is one my top five. Reader Jerry missed one.

For many Patrick O'Brian fans it was a disappointment, because either of the books "Master and Commander" or "Far Side of the World" are rich, elegant and pithy enough for a movie. They are right.

However, as an O'Brian fan I imagine that Peter Weir, of whom I am also a fan, wrestled with that, too.

In the end I think he decided that no sequels would come from the movie. So he tried to capture as much as he could from the entire 21+ novels and blend it into a coherent whole. The resulting homage captured the literary reality of Captain Aubrey and Dr. Maturin. One would hope it would encourage some to read the books, interspersing them with a little Jane Austen.

He did well.

Posted by: Ed Bush at March 24, 2008 4:37 PM

Field of Dreams is a much better movie than the book (Shoeless Joe).

Posted by: Mike Morley at March 24, 2008 5:27 PM

The Firm. Okay, it is embarassing to admit that a.) I read a book by Grisham, b.) that I did not put the lousy book down but kept hoping that the book would get better because, otherwise, why all the hype and c.) that I saw the movie, too. Especially a movie with Tom Cruise, whom I can't stand.

But, the movie made the protagonist a much better person than the bastard the character was in the book and gave it a better ending. But, it was still a middling movie based on a lousy book.

PS: I finally read Life of Pi and it was wonderful.

Posted by: Buttercup at March 24, 2008 5:29 PM


Posted by: Ali Choudhury at March 24, 2008 6:07 PM

For a third nomination, Jaws.

Posted by: pcharles at March 24, 2008 6:12 PM

Lost Horizon (book is infinitely superior)
The Wizard of Oz (film is superior)
The Caine Mutiny (book is superior)
Blade Runner (film is superior)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (film is superior)
The Butterfly and the Diving Bell (book is superior)

I'm surprised that To Kill a Mockingbird wasn't on your list.

Posted by: QY at March 24, 2008 6:16 PM

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was a great book and a great movie.

I'll break the rules and admit I loved The Last of the Mohicans, but I never read the book.

Quo Vadis was a great book and a good movie for it's time.

I Claudius was another fantastic book and the BBC miniseries, while perhaps not as good as the book, was enjoyable.

Posted by: Patrick H at March 24, 2008 6:24 PM

Kubrick's Lolita was a great movie (book was better).

The Prestige was a better movie than the book, and the book was quite good.

The movie of "In Cold Blood" was better than the book.

"Little Big Man" was a good movie, but the book was great.

Posted by: ted welter at March 24, 2008 7:35 PM

One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest.

Posted by: erp at March 24, 2008 10:53 PM