The Best Book to Film Adaptations

Monday, March 21, 2011

Guest Blogging is catching on...

This list was compiled by movie buff James H., who has a degree in social work and has written about sonogram technician schools, popular culture and astronomy programs.

It's no secret that movie studios love to turn books into movies. The ideas have already been conceived, the story has already been written, an audience already exists, and all the studio needs to do is adapt the book for a new medium. It sounds simple, but too often the resulting film is panned for a number of reasons. The movie might not do justice to the source material, it might have tried to cram too much into a 90 minute movie, or it might just be poorly crafted. Remember movies like I, Robot or The Seeker: The Dark is Rising?

Nonetheless, the studios aren't always so unsuccessful. Over the years, they've produced several book adaptations that rank up there with the finest films ever made.

A list of ten of the best adaptations has been compiled for you to peruse and argue over. The criteria are fairly simple: the movies must be based on a fictional novel or non-fiction book. That means no comic books, graphic novels, or plays. The ten chosen ones have been arranged alphabetically. Several truly wonderful films had to be left off this list, and it's just too painful to try to rank the top ten.


The Big Sleep (1946)

Raymond Chandler wrote The Big Sleep in 1939, and it took only a few short years for it to be adapted by Hollywood. It's almost impossible to imagine a film with such a talented team failing: director Howard Hawks had already helmed classics such as Bringing Up Baby and His Girl Friday, the dynamic between Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall was legendary, William Faulkner collaborated on the screenplay, and the entire team had already worked together on 1944's To Have and Have Not. Despite a rather complex story that has been stumping moviegoers for decades, the film stands as an example of masterful craftsmanship. It's now recognized as one of the peaks of film noir. Having the top professionals work on an adaptation does not necessarily mean that they will turn out a masterpiece, but sometimes they do just that.


A Clockwork Orange (1971)

By 1971, director Stanley Kubrick had already made several excellent films. Spartacus, Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, and 2001: A Space Odyssey had cemented his reputation as a talented, adventurous filmmaker. With A Clockwork Orange, he gathered even more critical acclaim. The film, however, is not without its controversy. Religious organizations and moral watchdogs heavily criticized what they saw as the glorification of violence, and the novel's author, Anthony Burgess, publicly lamented Kubrick's omission of the book's final chapter. Nonetheless, Kubrick's approach may have been what saved the movie from mediocrity. A happy ending would have betrayed the major themes of the film, and audiences almost certainly would have turned their noses up at it.


The Godfather (1972)

No matter how good a book-to-film adaptation is, critics usually agree that the book is, at the very least, just a little bit better. Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather is one of those rare films that is actually perceived to be better than the book. It seems to be another case of powerhouse talent producing excellent results. Teaming a talented director with a cast that includes Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, and Diane Keaton is difficult to mess up. It also helps that Mario Puzo, the author, assisted with the screenplay, ensuring that Coppola did not deviate too far from his original book.


Goodfellas (1990)

Some directors just know what it takes to make a good film. Over the course of his career, Martin Scorsese has consistently directed high quality movies, many of which are already considered classics. Goodfellas, based on Nicholas Pileggi's Wiseguy, is one of his many peaks. Pileggi worked on the script with Scorsese, and Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Ray Liotta frequently consulted Pileggi while preparing for their roles. While the movie would have undoubtedly been a success otherwise, the author's involvement helped the filmmakers create a better film.


High Fidelity (2000)

Not all great adaptations are dark crime dramas or detective stories. Some aren't even particularly ambitious, and they achieve success by being relatively straightforward. Nick Hornby's High Fidelity is a novel about a man who loves music, his troubles with relationships, and his two best friends. It's humorous, sometimes dark, and always engaging. The film simply stays true to the characters and the tone of the book, and it doesn't try to do anything else.


The Maltese Falcon (1941)

Like The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon is a masterpiece created by some of the most talented people in the film industry. One of its greatest strengths might be the way it adheres so closely to the original Dashiell Hammett novel. Director and writer John Huston kept much of Hammett's dialogue and directed many of the scenes to match the book. Of course, the stellar cast, including Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre, chews through script with glee.


The Princess Bride (1987)

Many of the films on this list feature involvement from the source material's author, and The Princess Bride is no exception. William Goldman wrote both the book and the script, and he and director Rob Reiner craft an effective film by focusing on brilliant characters. They also manage to maintain the novel's narrative style by introducing a grandfather reading the story to his sick grandson. It's a device that could have grown stale, but clever writing and strong acting keep it faithful to the spirit of the book.


The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs centers around FBI agent Clarice Starling and the psychotic genius Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Ted Tally adapted the screenplay from the novel by Thomas Harris. While the film is masterful in several ways, the key to its success is the relationship between Starling and Lecter. The characters, created by Harris but written for the film by Tally, carry the film, and they are what captures our interest. Can strong characters alone make an adaptation work? Maybe, maybe not, but they certainly help.


Strangers on a Train (1951)

Alfred Hitchock's adaptation of a novel by Patricia Highsmith is, unsurprisingly, a suspenseful tale of murder and mystery. Nonetheless, it's one of Hitchcock's finest. The film is an example of what happens when an interesting concept is dropped into the hands of a master. While credit needs to be given to the screenwriters, the actors, and Highsmith, it's Hitchcock's skill as a director, and possibly his eye for good material, that makes Strangers on a Train a classic.


The Thin Man (1934)

Another film based on a Dashiell Hammett novel, The Thin Man is executed in a similar manner to The Maltese Falcon, but it maintains a much lighter heart. Like so many of the films on this list, the characters, rather than the plot, are what truly make the film a success. The flirtatious and smart banter between Nick and Nora is effectively transferred from the novel, and even their dog, Asta, is given enough screen time to be appreciated. William Powell and Myrna Loy are as engaging as Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs. It doesn't really even matter what they're saying; it's just a pleasure to watch them say it.

Post a Comment

AFRICAN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL RELEASING

AFRICAN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL RELEASING
25 TO LIFE chronicles the story of William Brawner, a young man who kept his HIV positive status a secret for over twenty-five years. Now, William seeks redemption from his promiscuous past as he embarks on a new phase of life with his wife who is HIV Negative. We journey with William and his family as he struggles to carve out an open and honest future. 25 TO LIFE is supported by Sundance Institute, Cinereach, The GoodPitch, IFP, Firelight Media Lab, and Tribeca All Access and is the 2014 American Black Film Festival Grand Prize Jury winner. "25 to Life" Opens December 1, 2014 - World AIDS Day

Coming in December

Chris Rock's trailer for the Paramount Pictures film TOP FIVE is now live!


Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, “TOP FIVE” tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career—and the past—that he's left behind.

Starring Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah.

The film is produced by Scott Rudin and Eli Bush. The Co-Producers are Shawn “Jay Z” Carter and Kanye West; the Executive Music Producer is Questlove.

Opens in Theaters December 5th select Cities - Wide Release December 12th

Twitter
Facebook
Instagram

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Google Adsense

Opening Christmas Day: Into the Woods

David Oyelowo will star as Martin Luther King Jr in "Selma"

Looking forward to Ava DuVernay's (Producer:Oprah) "Selma" starring one of my favorite actors David Oyelowo who was also in Ava's "Middle of Nowhere"



Opens January 9, 2015

TT Highlights : GET ON UP

TT Highlights : GET ON UP
I know biopics often get a bad name, they can be cliched and predictable or the reverse, so creatively told that you lose the gist of the story and the heart of the intended subject. I tend to like them good or bad, from offerings like The Runaways (Cherie Currie & Joan Jett) which didn't quite hit the mark, to Ray (Ray Charles) and Walk The Line (Johnny Cash) that rightfully became critically acclaimed films. I'm just fascinated with the whole rise and fall aspect of telling life stories READ POST

What Did You Think Of: AND SO IT GOES

What Did You Think Of: AND SO IT GOES
Perhaps purposefully, art imitates life, as Oren's son, (Like Douglas' own son) because of or in-spite of a privileged up bringing, has screwed up his life with drugs. The one thing he's done right is produce an adorable 10 year-old daughter, Sarah (Sterling Jerins), who Oren meets when his son drops her off at his doorstep, as he's leaving to go serve time. READ POST

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY TRAILER



Personally, I still maintain, what made the book(s) a guilty pleasure can't be captured in a movie, it's just not the type of story that will translate well on screen. That being said, I'll still be the first one there come Valentine's Day 2015! Here's Tinsel & Tine's Review of the Books - My Two Cents on Fifty Shades of Grey (Book / Movie)

What Did You Think Of: BELLE

What Did You Think Of: BELLE
#Belle is a beautifully shot film (on the Isle of Mann), the writing gives us many poignant thoughts and thought provoking dialogue. The romantic chemistry between Dido Belle and Mr. Davinier (Sam Reid) is what all us hopeless romantics look for in a movie. And Gugu Mbatha-Raw acts with such expression in her eyes, she's simply lovely (despite her unappealing name). I adore this movie! I also got such a delight every time someone referred to Dido as Miss Lindsay, as that's my last name, of course it makes me wonder, could I be a long, long lost relation?...READ MORE

YOU SHOULD STREAM: Divergent

Those that could fit in anywhere are called Divergents, they are considered dangerous because they can't be controlled and molded into one way of thinking. Those that don't fit in anywhere are called Faction-less and they live a miserable, homeless existence, but nobody's much worried about them. I'm thinking, if you choose a faction based on your own free will, wouldn't that automatically make you a Divergent?...READ MORE

What did you think of: I Origins

What did you think of:  I Origins
The movie theorizes that eyes are like snowflakes, no two are the same. So if you were to find a match in the eye scanning database (which actually exists) of someone who's already dead, then it begs the question, would that be a glitch in the system? Or has that person returned for a second life, seeing things anew through their old eyes?READ MORE

Did You See: Boyhood

Did You See: Boyhood
How I wish I could have filmed the last 12-15 years of my life, because I swear it often feels like I've done nothing, barely enjoyed myself, have made no progress, can't think of a single anecdote to tell and the small significant moments of in-significances, just don't seem to be stored in my brain. But if I could look back at even one day of each year, I'm sure I would be so much happier with who I am, what I've experienced and how far I've come...READ POST

Recent post: The Trip to Italy

Recent post: The Trip to Italy
Absolutely nothing! But somehow the juxtaposition of so much pop-culture fodder, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's semi-autobiographical characters set against travel porn, makes The Trip to Italy a randomly amusing and thoroughly breathtaking flick.READ MORE

What Did You Think Of: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

What Did You Think Of: THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
I'm sure every decade has a movie that you love because you're balling your eyes out; however, I truly think Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in #TFIOS could be what Ali McGraw and Ryan O'Neal were to Love Story for audiences in 1970.READ MORE

Philly Event Coverage: Cake Competition Recap

Philly Event Coverage: Cake Competition Recap
If you read this blog frequently, you know I mention cake quite a lot. I'm a self-confessed cake-aholic, but I'm also a cake snob. I don't want just anything with icing on it, and in fact, it is crucial that the icing not be too sweet, too thick and preferably only on top. It's difficult to put into words what constitutes good cake, it's like describing a sunset or an orgasm, you just know it when you're in the moment of it...READ MORE

Think Like A Man Too Philly Interview: Meagan Good & Michael Ealy

Think Like A Man Too Philly Interview: Meagan Good & Michael Ealy
Got a chance to not only be among the media photogs at the "Think Like A Man Too" red carpet, but I also got to interview Meagan Good and Michael Ealy SEE POST

Zach Braff's: Wish I Was Here

Zach Braff's: Wish I Was Here
When a filmmaker is prolific, like a Steven Soderbergh before his "retirement", we tend to allow each movie to stand on its own merit; but when the filmmaker does one movie and then waits 10 years to do another, it's impossible not to compare it to the first offering. Thus, I suppose Wish I Was Here was going to have to be truly, truly brilliant to keep people from saying - it's no Garden State. T &T's LAMB Score: 3 outta 5 READ FULL POST

Philadelphia Magazine » Blog » Foobooz

15 Top Food in Film Flicks

15 Top Food in Film Flicks
Cozy Quilt of Food Movies, we'll add more patches as T &T discovers more films where food plays the biggest "roll"

LAMB

Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tinsel & Tine was nominated for a VBA

bloglovin

bloglovin

group of 10,000 women bloggers dedicated to supporting one another by leaving comments

Women Online

The Blogstress Network

The Blogstress Network
Female Bloggers Unite

Contributor from 2010 - 2012

Listed on

Movie & Film Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory Add website

About This Blog

is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.
-tinseltine@gmail.com


Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

Share it

Camera Tips

Followers

  © Blogger template On The Road by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP