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Member Lists

List creator: underdog
Created on: November 26, 2003 - 9:58 PM PST
Description: Adaptating a book is a dicey proposition. Here are some of the best, or at least most interesting, movie adaptations of novels and short stories; some even improve upon the original. A growing list.

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Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
  Hitchcock and Thornton Wilder made for an eerie, fascinating combination
To Have and Have Not (1944)
Not Rated
  Bogey and Bacall started their on and off screen chemistry in this pitch perfect Hemingway story (with dialogue by William Faulkner)
The Big Sleep (1946)
Not Rated
  Bogey and Bacall in a Raymond Chandler adaptation, just as incomphrensible and yet wonderful as the book
The Killers (Criterion Collection) (1946)
Not Rated
  Hemingway's very short story basically comprises the faithful first 10 minutes of this film, which then stretches it into new (mostly good) noir. Better to see this first
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947)
Not Rated
  One of the few Thurber adaptions; a favorite writer paired with a favorite actor
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
  A childhood favorite is still a favorite; in spirit, certainly one of the most faithful adaptations ever. Harper Lee was done proud.
The Birds (1963)
  Daphne DuMaurier story adeptly brought to life by Hitchcock in frightening fashion
Treasures of the Twilight Zone (1962)
  Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, from the S Ambrose story, and one of the all time great short films.
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1962)
  Or get it in this version, which I reviewed on the page.
Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
Not Rated
  Truffaut's underrated adaption of chilling Bradbury classic
The Swimmer (1968)
  Creepy Lancaster film was based on John Cheever short story
Christ Stopped at Eboli (1979)
  Based on the Carlos Levi novel, a fascinating and ironic film. (Thanks to Eoliano for the pointer!)
Coup De Torchon (Criterion Collection) (1981)
Not Rated
  Based on American pulp/noir writer Jim Thompson's "Pop. 1280," and Frenchified, while set in South Africa. A fascinating example of reworking source material while still remaining faithful to spirit of original.
Blade Runner (Director's Cut) (1982)
  Philip Dick story "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" brought to screen, arguably the best PKD on screen. See AKrizman's Philip K Dick adaptations for more.
The Company of Wolves (1984)
  Maintains the essence of Angela Carter's story, a post-Feminist deconstruction/revisitation of fairy tale mythology, and damn creepy.
Stand by Me (1986)
  Fine film version of Stephen King short, one of the better coming of age movies in recent times
The Last Temptation of Christ (Criterion Collection) (1988)
  Nikos Kazantzakis adaptation, controversial in its day (for me the only controversy is the miscasting of Keitel) but it's a provocative film and terrific book.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Criterion Collection) (1988)
  Highly recommend the book over the movie, but the movie is quite fine, too, in its way. Sexy, romantic, very sad and moving... And, sadly, currently out of print on disc.
After Dark, My Sweet (1990)
  Another underrated Jim Thompson adaption.
Naked Lunch (Criterion Collection) (1991)
  Nothing else like Burroughs' book, and definitely nothing else like this unforgettable hybrid of a movie
Short Cuts (Criterion Collection) (1993)
  Never thought anyone could bring Raymond Carver's distinct short stories to film, and I'm still not sure, but Altman made a game effort, intertwining multiple stories in often brilliant fashion.
Nobody's Fool (1994)
  Richard Russo, one of my favorite writers, is hard to adapt to screen, but this comedy-drama did about as good a job as possible
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  The only Frank Darabont movie I can stand, this very effective and well-acted drama was based on a (nee) Stephen King story
The English Patient (1996)
  Impossible to capture the beauty of M Ondaatje's writing but the film was an Oscar winner and jerked many a tear
Love and Death on Long Island (1997)
  Severely underrated little film based on Gilbert Adair's novel
The Sweet Hereafter (1997)
  Sad, beautiful movie based on sad, beautiful book by Russell Banks
Jesus' Son (1999)
  Quirky indie film based on Denis Johnson's excellent collection, featuring excellent performance by Billy Crudup
Fight Club (1999)
  Brutal and brutally (darkly) funny adaption of Chuck Palahniuk novel works on several levels
High Fidelity (2000)
  The movie and Nick Hornby's book are equally fun -- movie re-set the story in American instead of original London but maintains much of the book's mood, humor and story.
In the Bedroom (2001)
  Very short story, "Killings," by Andre Dubus, was stretched into this harrowing drama
The Hours (2002)
  Michael Cunningham's novel was another hard-to-film book, nonetheless brought to screen, and quite well. Beautifully filmed.
About a Boy (2002)
  Liked Hornby's original but the movie is actually better, fleshing out the characters, is more poignant even.
Personal Velocity (2001)
  Rebecca Miller adapted her own stories for her second feature; it's a mixed bag but worth seeing
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Criterion Collection) (1998)
  Love it or loathe it (I do both), Terry Gilliam sure is a magician for even trying to bring this Hunter S Thompson drug-scape to the screen. Good doublefeature with Naked Lunch.
Adaptation (2002)
  And then there's this weird hybrid of adapted book (Susan Orlean's Orchid Thief) and oft-hilarious meta-meditation on screenwriting/adaptations (call it "Being Charlie Kaufman")
The Quiet American (2002)
  Based on Graham Greene novel; the subject of some controversy when first released due to current uber Patriotism but this is silly. Fine film gets even better the more you think about it
The Safety of Objects (2001)
  The disturbing and oft-brilliant short stories of AM Homes provide the blueprint for this surprisingly good adaptation.

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