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Great books that inspired great movies?
December 27, 2010 11:08 AM   Subscribe

This weekend, I saw True Grit. I loved it so much that I bought the book. The book is fantastic. (Why is this not considered a classic?) I'd love to discover other books that have been eclipsed by the film adaptation, but which deserve attention in their own right — books like True Grit, Cool Hand Luke, To Kill a Mockingbird (okay, everyone knows that's a good book), and so on. Help me find great (but lesser-known) books that have inspired great (and well-known) movies.
posted by jdroth to Media & Arts (92 answers total) 98 users marked this as a favorite
 
Based on the Book is a database of this. Of course, "great" and "lesser known" are sorta subjective, so ymmv.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:12 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anything by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, The Road). Yes, they're well-known within the literary world, but anyone with any interest in literature should be reading Cormac McCarthy. He is America's greatest living novelist, and damn near America's greatest living writer, and damn near English's greatest living writer.
posted by Etrigan at 11:14 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


In the nonfiction category, The Longest Day

I don't know if it would be considered great, but The Godfather was a best seller at least and two-thirds of the films it inspired are classics.
posted by TedW at 11:14 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The book is fantastic. (Why is this not considered a classic?)

I highly recommend all of Portis's work.

Help me find great (but lesser-known) books that have inspired great (and well-known) movies.

I don't know that the movie is "great," but Revolutionary Road is an excellent book.
posted by enn at 11:15 AM on December 27, 2010


Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, and other movies based on books by Elmore Leonard.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 11:16 AM on December 27, 2010


Yes, I also came in to say that Portis is excellent, and you should take the time to read through his stuff. I most highly recommend The Dog of the South.

Re. your question: Deliverance is distinct from, and distinctly better than, the movie.
posted by OmieWise at 11:20 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Perhaps too new to be considered a classic, but The Human Stain by Philip Roth is probably a better book than a movie. YMMV. Also may fail your "lesser known" test...

also, The Remains of the Day. Gosh, I'm picking on Sir Anthony Hopkins, but I'd almost make the same comment about this one. In neither case is it the acting; it's just that both books (more so for Remains of the Day) depend on an interior dialogue voice, IMO.
posted by randomkeystrike at 11:21 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


In my opinion, Revolutionary Road is twenty times better as a novel than a movie. Sam Mendes couldn't really bring the detached, sad irony that characterizes Yates' prose to the screen, and the whole thing suffers for it.

I'd recommend Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett's books. Everyone knows Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe, and William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles, but it's way more interesting to see them on the page without the constraints (both the practical and the Hayes-induced) of being on screen.

I also highly recommend David Maurer's The Big Con, which was the original inspiration for The Sting and is full of really fascinating material about con men and grifts of all sorts.
posted by Bromius at 11:22 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really enjoyed Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.
posted by insectosaurus at 11:23 AM on December 27, 2010


The Princess Bride by William Goldman.
posted by The otter lady at 11:24 AM on December 27, 2010 [14 favorites]


The Natural. The book is a classic and so is the movie. I prefer the book.
posted by phelixshu at 11:25 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mary Poppins. The film has completely overshadowed the book which is funny, strange, touching and horrifying, like so much good literature.
posted by tavegyl at 11:26 AM on December 27, 2010 [4 favorites]


Michael Shaara's 1974 novel The Killer Angels became the basis for the '90s Civil War movie Gettysburg. The book won a Pulitzer, and the (4+ hour) film did reasonably well critically and on home video.
posted by 5Q7 at 11:26 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fight Club, A Clockwork Orange, and Cujo (bonus if you can see A Clockwork Orange on stage).
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:26 AM on December 27, 2010


Steven King's Four Past Midnight contains a short story called "The Body" on which Stand By Me was based. And also "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" for the Shawshank Redemption. Stephen King really has a bad rap. I think he's a masterful storyteller and these are some of his best short stories. He's had a few out in the Paris Review over the years that have been good as well.
posted by madred at 11:27 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seconding The Dog of the South as Portis's best book (and that's saying a lot given how much I love True Grit).

I liked Q and A a lot more than Slumdog Millionaire.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:27 AM on December 27, 2010


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is narrated by Chief, you know, in the book. That's an interesting difference from the movie, for sure.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:28 AM on December 27, 2010


Dickey's (who wrote "Deliverance") "To the White Sea" is a great book, and while it's not a film yet the Coen brothers are trying to make that happen.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:28 AM on December 27, 2010


They made and animated movie and not a live action movie out of it, but The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle was actually a pretty good book.
posted by patheral at 11:30 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seconding everything by Elmore Leonard (although it should be noted that the book Jackie Brown is based on is called Rum Punch).

As for Cormac McCarthy: I didn't see The Road (although I did really enjoy the book), I thought that No Country for Old Men was one of the few movies that was better than the novel it was based on (to the point that I regretted having read the novel first).
posted by Dr. Eigenvariable at 11:30 AM on December 27, 2010


Friday Night Lights had a movie and a television series. The book is nonfiction, the movie is an adaptation of the book, and the television series is straight-up fiction inspired by the movie and the book.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:32 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure it's great literature but the book Who Censored Roger Rabbit was the basis for the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I enjoyed it as a kid shortly after the film came out. I'm thinking $2 for the Kindle edition might be worth the trip down memory lane.
posted by herrtodd at 11:32 AM on December 27, 2010


I loved The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher J. Koch every bit as much as the movie.

Of course I had never heard of the book BEFORE the movie but I highly recommend it.
posted by Danf at 11:32 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Killer Angels is a historical novel that was adapted to the movie/miniseries Gettysburg.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:35 AM on December 27, 2010


The Warriors is a really well-written book. If you buy the Grove Press re-release it also includes an essay, "How I came to write the Warriors and what happened after", that talks about the inspiration (classical and otherwise) for the story.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 11:37 AM on December 27, 2010


Everything written by Philip K Dick that was later adapted to film. Blade Runner was the only one that was a worthy adaptation. Most of Dick's stories are shorts and almost all have a different title than the movie adaptation, which makes them even more obscure outside of science fiction fan circles.
posted by jamaro at 11:42 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gone with the Wind

Let the Right One In

It

Shopgirl
posted by Windigo at 11:43 AM on December 27, 2010


It takes liking his wordy, descriptive style, but the books that The Lords of Discipline and The Prince of Tides (and The Great Santini, and The Water is Wide - Pat Conroy has had most of books made into movies) are a million times better than the movies; he's one of my favorite authors.
posted by lemniskate at 11:43 AM on December 27, 2010


Oh, and if you can find it, I really, truly recommend the book Cocktail, which was made into the instantly forgettable 80s Tom Cruise movie.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:44 AM on December 27, 2010


Almost everything Kubrick directed was a very loose interpretation of a book that was already popular in its own right. I've read most of the books in question, and they are all good, and totally different from the movies. This includes (movie titles given here, different from book titles in some cases) The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Spartacus, Eyes Wide Shut, and Barry Lyndon.

I recently read Howards End by E.M. Forster, and was excited to discover that it has a lot of great stuff that didn't make it into the movie (mostly because it had to do with narrative form).

For the opposite of this, do not ever read Gone With the Wind if you like or even tolerate the movie.

Huh. Since I hated the movie, this is the first time I've ever actually considered reading the book.
posted by bingo at 11:50 AM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let the Right One In and Winter's Bone.
posted by mothershock at 11:52 AM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


In Cold Blood
posted by amyms at 11:56 AM on December 27, 2010


Seconding "Princess Bride"

The movie is very good, but even though it's practically a word-for-word adaption, it almost completely disposes of the framing story, which adds a tremendous amount of depth to the novel.
posted by empath at 12:01 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Shawshank Redemption is a faithful adaptation of Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, a fantastic Stephen King novella from a collection called Different Seasons (other stories from that book became the movies Stand By Me and Apt Pupil).
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:06 PM on December 27, 2010


The Stand and Shawshank Redemption are both lovely both in book and movie/miniseries form.

I hated the book Fight Club although the movie is one of my favorites.

Nthing Revolutionary Road as a book but not a movie... but mostly (for me) because of DiCaprio and his inability to convince me of anything when he's "acting."

I'd like to throw in The World According to Garp and Cider House Rules by John Irving... but because I wasn't into his work until recently I am not sure how the movies were received compared to the books.
posted by getawaysticks at 12:16 PM on December 27, 2010


More Stephen King - his original novel The Shining. Kubrick really took it in a different direction and cut out most of the parts that really scared me, like the hedge animals. To this day that was the only book that really kept me from sleeping properly (granted I was only 13 or 14 when I read it).
posted by mannequito at 12:16 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I read "The Town" by Chuck Hogan, which was originally named "Prince of Thieves" but was changed for the movie. The book was fabulous, the movie not so much. My reading of this book stirred debate around the question of whether or not you want to read the book before or after you see the movie. This question can be reframed as to whether or not you want to be disappointed before or after you read the book.
posted by Xurando at 12:19 PM on December 27, 2010


If you happened to see Possession (not a classic, and for a good reason*), you had a much worse experience than reading the excellent book by A.S. Byatt that it is based on.

*making the male love interest American and blonde and perky. ARGH.
posted by emjaybee at 12:20 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


All of William Peter Blatty's works: Exorcist, Legion and The Ninth Configuration/Twinkle Twinkle, Killer Kane. And I'll second Shopgirl.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:22 PM on December 27, 2010


Also along those lines, Rosemary's Baby was a better book than it was a movie, IMO.
posted by empath at 12:22 PM on December 27, 2010


Contact.

Starship Troopers
Plus, having read the book makes the intent of the movie much clearer.

Jurassic Park, but more especially, The Lost World. The movies really screwed with the chain of events. The books are better.

Also Michael Crichton, Sphere and Congo. The movies are famously bad, but I liked the books enough to read them a couple of times in junior high/high school.
posted by cmoj at 12:24 PM on December 27, 2010


Mystic River the novel is really good, and good in a slightly different way than the movie.

Road to Perdition the graphic novel is fun in a different way than the movie.

But that gets us into Watchmen and V for Vendetta territory, and I don't want Alan Moore to turn me into a newt, so I will say no more.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:26 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Complete List of Stephen King Movies, Films and TV Shows (I make not claim that this is truly a complete list).

Another list of books that became movies, made by another library.

Another compendium of books that became movies, with some discussion of the plots, and more focused on recent movies than big-name films.

Books to Movies, focused on books for teens, and a similar site (with some movie cross-over) that is focused on kids.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:28 PM on December 27, 2010


Dalva
posted by timsteil at 12:31 PM on December 27, 2010


Oh, and one of those lists reminded me: Horseman, Pass By by Larry McMurtry was made into Hud, which is an excellent movie, but the book is even better. McMurtry has long been a script doctor and screenwriter. He's also responsible for the books and movies Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment.

I think he is one of the most overlooked authors of the 20th century. The Texasville books (The Last Picture Show, Texasville, Duane's Depressed, When The Light Goes, and Rhino Ranch) contain some of the most real human beings I have ever encountered in fiction. Texasville made me cry from laughing; Duane's Depressed upset me so much about 3/4 of the way through that I just sat staring at my wall in shock for about ten minutes.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:37 PM on December 27, 2010


Full Metal Jacket was based on The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford. (full text available to read at that link.)
posted by Lucinda at 12:44 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just popping in to ensure that Lolita gets mentioned.

"Shopgirl" was neither a great book nor great movie.
posted by rhizome at 12:45 PM on December 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


The African Queen by C.S. Forester is a great read, not quite a classic but surprisingly good.
posted by anadem at 12:56 PM on December 27, 2010


The Neverending Story!

Cute (if slow) kid's movie, but the book is this awesome metatextual exploration of the role of literature and magic in childhood.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:58 PM on December 27, 2010


Apocalypse Now is Conrad's Heart of Darkness combined with Herr's Dispatches. Both great reads.
posted by klarck at 1:06 PM on December 27, 2010


Oh, and while Forrest Gump was based on a book, I don't actually recommend the book, which is frankly bizarre and not nearly as good as the movie.

One eighty me on that one. The movie is sentimental claptrap. The book is an attempt to tell the story of a mental defective. Unlike the movie, it is not meant to be taken straight. His stories are not simply unlikely, the attentive reader soon realizes that they are flat out impossible - as Winston Groom intended. Bizarre, yes, but with a purpose. (Winston Groom is a hero because after he signed for net profits on the movie and never got a dime because Hollywood movies never make money, he declined to authorize a sequel because, as he told the produces, he could not in good conscience allow them to throw away money on a sequel that would no doubt do even worse than the original. (Though he did milk that particular fad for what it was worth, and good on him.))

Let me also take a whack at To Kill A Mockingbird, also sentimental claptrap. Not a complex character in the bunch, not a shade of gray in the story. It is a children's story for not very bright children, which is one reason it's taught in schools. Effectively shot, but clearly designed to make the audience feel good about itself for being high minded.

On a positive note - Patricia Highsmith's Ripley's Game was made into a first rate movie. (Not to be confused with that other beautifully shot but decidedly not first rate movie.)
posted by IndigoJones at 1:06 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


The African Queen by C.S. Forester is a great read, not quite a classic but surprisingly good.

(NB, the ending is not the same as in the book.)

Alexander Korda gave away the rights as a lagniappe when he sold the rights for Lawrence of Arabia. Who, he said, would ever want to see a movie about middle aged people floating down a river in Africa.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:10 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can only second a lot of suggestions here....... Irving's The World According to Garp, Nabokov's Lolita, King's It.

And True Grit was seriously awesome.
posted by onceisnotenough at 1:12 PM on December 27, 2010


[feel free to email the OP about Gone With the Wind and don't start a derail here. make recommendations, step away. Thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 1:14 PM on December 27, 2010


The Coen's Miller's Crossing was loosely based on Red Harvest and The Glass Key by Dashiell Hammett.
posted by Chenko at 1:16 PM on December 27, 2010


It's a well-known rule, The Book is Always Better than the Movie (because for one, the film-makers are forced to omit so much detail from the original). One exception, in my experience, was Fail-Safe, but that's become a historical curiosity. The common example of the movie that was exactly like the book is 1984. For a series of books better than the movies, read James Bond by Ian Fleming.
posted by Rash at 1:18 PM on December 27, 2010


The Count of Monte Cristo. Devil in a Blue Dress (Mosely).
posted by elle.jeezy at 1:31 PM on December 27, 2010


Last Exit To Brooklyn, Requiem For A Dream, and Fear X by Hubert Selby Jr.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:44 PM on December 27, 2010


I strongly suggest you read Planet of the Apes. Despite what you think about camp, the movie with Charlton Heston is actually quite good (the Burton one is a terrible pile of shit).

Even though everyone knows the twist at the end of the Heston movie, the twist in the book is different. You will enjoy it!
posted by King Bee at 1:48 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, I've heard that Day of the Triffids is an excellent book, but I've only seen the movie.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:06 PM on December 27, 2010


Even though everyone knows the twist at the end of the Heston movie, the twist in the book is different.

But don't read the Wikipedia article if you don't want to find it out in advance.
posted by TedW at 2:21 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The Birds," by Daphne du Maurier, is very different from the Hitchcock adaptation.

I really love "The Innocents," with its script by Truman Capote, but it didn't (and probably couldn't) have the ambiguity of its source, Henry James's "Turn of the Screw." That ambiguity is not really filmable.

The same is true of "A Kiss Before Dying," which is a fantastic mystery novel by Ira Levin. Part of its mystery relies on a literary device that can't be translated to film. It's been adapted a couple of times -- poorly in my opinion.

It's a well-known rule, The Book is Always Better than the Movie

I strongly, strongly disagree. Sometimes the source is better; sometimes the adaptation is better. When a GREAT book is adapted into a movie, chances are the book will be better, because (a) lightning doesn't often strike twice in the same place, (b) probably part of the reason it was a great book was because it's a story that works superbly in literary form. But there are tons of second-rate novels that have been made into superior movies. You may disagree with my specific examples, but I'd say this is true of most of Hitchock's source novels, some of Kubrick's, etc.
posted by grumblebee at 2:24 PM on December 27, 2010


I'm going to hate myself for even mentioning this, but my wife liked the book "Eragon" and, like the other 99% of those 38 people who watched it, hated the movie.

I was not crazy about either one. It was an achievement for that young man to have written it, but a greater achievement if you managed to read it. Time better spent reading less derivative takes on the Hero's Journey.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:27 PM on December 27, 2010


The first three novels that featured Hannibal Lecter: Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal by Thomas Harris. (I am choosing to believe that Hannibal Rising in both book and film format was just a really bad dream on my part.) Warning: Hannibal's ending is wildly different and far more disturbing than what they ended up putting in the movie.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (movie starred John Cusack and Kevin Spacey). The book is a little less "Whoo, murder mystery!" and more slice-of-life, but it's a really good read.

The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte (which was made into the Johnny Depp movie The Ninth Gate). Way better and more intricately-crafted than the movie. Less occult-y and more solve-the-mystery.

The Name of The Rose by Umberto Eco (movie version starred Sean Connery, F. Murray Abraham, and a very young Christian Slater). Eco makes you WORK to read his books, but they're worth it. Fascinating stuff if you can wade through the vagaries of 14th century Catholic politics to get to the murder/book mystery.

And I can't second The Neverending Story and The Princess Bride hard enough. Great movies, each in their own way; FANTASTIC books.

Day of the Triffids was...a weird book. I enjoyed reading it as a kid (never saw the movie), but it was, well, weird. It felt like some sort of agenda was being pushed, but I never pursued the thought. Not a great book, not terrible, just...weird. Give it a shot when you're done with all the actually great books everybody's recommending.
posted by Gator at 2:28 PM on December 27, 2010


2nding/nthing "Howard's End." A fantastic book, one of the best of that entire era of literature. The scene where she says "only connect" lept up out of the pages and gave me chills, something older literature rarely does, frankly.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:29 PM on December 27, 2010


Not sure if you'll count this as a great book or a great movie, but it's a classic in our household - "The Last Unicorn" by Peter S. Beagle is a wonderful, thoughtful fantasy novel, and the animated film based on it was really well done
posted by Mchelly at 2:52 PM on December 27, 2010


The authors of Read This Next are big Portis fans, and have lots of other suggestions.
posted by Obscure Reference at 3:01 PM on December 27, 2010


Papillion. The author can take you deeper into the despair and insanity of Devil's Island. McQueen and Hoffman were great, but...
posted by Itinakak at 3:09 PM on December 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Just realized no one's mentioned Dracula by Bram Stoker - it's an excellent book that's actually pretty scary
posted by Mchelly at 3:14 PM on December 27, 2010


Thanks, Grumblebee, for tipping me off the Daphne DuMaurier wrote "The Birds"--I never knew. I absolutely loved her novel Rebecca, which was made into a movie in the black and white days--but is so psychological that I can't imagine that the movie packs nearly the wallop of the book.

Also, much more modern: while the Harry Potter movies are generally delightful to look at and largely faithful to the plot of the story, there's a whole lot in the books that make them great to read that just doesn't make it into the movies.
posted by Sublimity at 3:26 PM on December 27, 2010


A History of Violence is based on a really good graphic novel by John Wagner (who's most famous for writing Judge Dredd). The film only follows the first section of the gn then makes up it's own ending. I read an interview that the director, Cronenburg only read the script and no the gn which is a pity because if he'd had adapted the whole thing I think it could have been brilliant as the interesting (and franking freaky) directions the gn goes in would have really suited him.

The film Layer Cake is based on one of the best crime novels I've ever read (pity the bloke only seems to have ever written one novel)

I thought Watchmen was just a mediocre translation of the book to screen (should have been a mini series) and V for Vendetta was a travesty (the film never even mentions the word 'anarchy' and that's a huge theme in the original). And The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is just a joke. Alan Moore really does have reasons to be angry at Hollywood.

The Damned United is an ok film, but the original novel is a work of genius.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:30 PM on December 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


A number of Jim Thompson's novels have been turned into films. Le Coup de Torchon, The Grifters, and After Dark, My Sweet are all worth watching, as is Paths of Glory which he helped script. His two best books are Pop. 1280 and The Killer Inside Me.

Yes on Dog of the South, just a lot of fun to read. And if you're interested in McCarthy check out Blood Meridian or Suttree instead of the ones turned into movies.
posted by BigSky at 3:49 PM on December 27, 2010


I really love "The Innocents," with its script by Truman Capote...

(Additional scenes and dialogue by John Mortimer of all people.)

It's a well-known rule, The Book is Always Better than the Movie


Rule is: Good Books make Bad Movies (Bonfire of the Vanities) and Bad Books make Good Movies (Touch of Evil).

There are exceptions to the rule.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:20 PM on December 27, 2010


No idea if the movie was any good, but The Virginian by Owen Wister is a great forgotten western that is worth picking up some day.
posted by sciencegeek at 4:54 PM on December 27, 2010


Oh, Ben-Hur is a classic, and you can read it online for free.
posted by Gator at 5:13 PM on December 27, 2010


Wow. Thanks, everyone. I went away for the afternoon, and came back to find lots of great answers.

I didn't get to see the hubbub over Gone With the Wind, but I think it's a great book. It's not under-rated in any way, nor is the movie.

I've read many of the suggestions, and they're perfect. Planet of the Apes is exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for: a great book that most people will never read. Much better than the films. (For the record, I absolutely do not agree that the book is always better than the movie. There are many instances of the film being as good or even better than the book. And there are even more cases, like True Grit and To Kill a Mockingbird, where both are great.)

Anyhow, I'm making a long list of books to check out. I look forward to expanding my library.
posted by jdroth at 5:56 PM on December 27, 2010


Just to throw in for browsing's sake IMDB's based-on-novel keyword search (filtered).
posted by dhartung at 6:17 PM on December 27, 2010


I read and loved Candace Bushnell's Sex and the City well before it became a TV series and later movie. I wasn't crazy about the show - the characters are very differently depicted on the show than they are in the book.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:21 PM on December 27, 2010


Thanks, Grumblebee, for tipping me off the Daphne DuMaurier wrote "The Birds"--I never knew. I absolutely loved her novel Rebecca, which was made into a movie in the black and white days--but is so psychological that I can't imagine that the movie packs nearly the wallop of the book.

I would second Rebecca, but add that it's a good film as well. It's Hitchcock's first film and stars Laurence Oliver as Max DeWinter, so not a small amount of talent.

But you're still right. It's a better book.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 8:16 PM on December 27, 2010


The Children of Men by PD James is a good book that made an even better movie.
posted by wraplan at 12:07 AM on December 28, 2010


This pertains to a TV series rather than a movie, but when I read it as a teenager I thought Peyton Place, the novel by Grace Metalious, was surprisingly good.
posted by rjs at 2:18 AM on December 28, 2010


I could do this all day, I think.
Of course, great is subjective, but I'd argue for:
Exodus by Leon Uris
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley's People by John Le Carre
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi (Goodfellas by Marty Scorcese)
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene
The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum
The Adventures of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
The French Lieutenants Woman by John Fowles
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
posted by thinkpiece at 8:10 AM on December 28, 2010


Peyton Place was also a movie, featuring Lana Turner, Hope Lange, and Lloyd Nolan. I love the visuals of the small town and farms -- they nailed what it was like to live in a place like that. It was good!
posted by jgirl at 9:30 AM on December 28, 2010


I would second Rebecca, but add that it's a good film as well. It's Hitchcock's first film

Not even close. He made about 25 films before "Rebecca," which was released in 1940. Hitchock started directing in the early 1920s, during the silent period. See imdb.
posted by grumblebee at 10:48 AM on December 28, 2010


Thanks grumblebee. I was told that at one point in time, and was clearly wrong.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 12:10 PM on December 28, 2010


The Great Escape
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 1:05 PM on December 28, 2010


Lonesome dove
posted by jasondigitized at 6:57 PM on December 28, 2010


I haven't read it, but people have told me Mystic River is better as a book. And not that it matters, but True Grit was considered a classic when I was in school, and eek, I don't consider myself that old...
posted by ifjuly at 7:19 AM on December 29, 2010


Oh, and all of Roald Dahl's stuff. Ditto/nthing Ondaatje, Ishiguro (adapting him is so foolhardy), and Roth.
posted by ifjuly at 7:24 AM on December 29, 2010


Oh, and he's not really eclipsed, but Graham Green maybe (his books make good movies).
posted by ifjuly at 7:25 AM on December 29, 2010


Lonesome Dove

I didn't mention this up-thread, because it didn't occur to me that more people know "Lonesome Dove" as a movie (or miniseries) than as a novel.

Please read it! It's too recent a book to be considered a classic, but I'd wager that in time, when people talk about the Great American Novel, they'll mention "Lonesome Dove" in the same breath as "The Great Gatsby" and "Huckleberry Finn." It's an extraordinary book, and I say that as someone who hated Westerns back when I first read it. That book actually made me like the entire genre, though I've never read another that equaled it.

If audiobooks are more your style, note that audible.com has a really well-narrated, unabridged version of it.

By the way, Larry McMurtry, the author, is no stranger to movies. Several of his novels (e.g. "The Last Picture Show", "Hud," "Terms of Endearment") have been adapted hew wrote the screenplay to "Brokeback Mountain."
posted by grumblebee at 7:39 AM on December 29, 2010


Shoeless Joe is a terrific book; the movie, Field of Dreams, less so, though it has some good moments.
posted by Mom at 8:54 AM on December 29, 2010


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