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Books vs. Film Versions

bookwyrm73's picture

We all know that about 98% of books that were adapted for screen (film or tv) were better than their adaptations but how often is the reverse true?  I'd love to pick your brains to find out which movies do you think were better (not only more popular but actually better) than the books upon which they were based. 


I'll lead with my all-time favorite, The Black Stallion.  The book is by Walter Farley, made into a gorgeous film in 1979 with a stunning soundtrack.  I challenge anyone to find a children's film where almost half is dialogue-free.  The desert island scenes are so beautifully filmed they'll break your heart.


To my thinking, a great librarian must have a clear head, a strong hand, and above all, a great heart ... and I am inclined to think that most of the men who will achieve this greatness will be women.   Melvil Dewey

A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.
Henry Ward Beecher

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #49937, reply #1 of 171)

I actually think there are many films that are way better than the book, but if I had to choose just one, it would be "The Godfather" - a mediocre potboiler of a book that was transformed into a classic piece of cinematic art. If I had to choose another (and I know I'll suffer grief for this one,) it would be "Gone With The Wind" -- to my mind, a worse-than-mediocre book that, as a film, is not necessarily high art, but highly entertaining.





"lucky in love; unlucky in metabolism"
unknown

Marcia's picture

(post #49937, reply #6 of 171)

You're good -- I never would have thought of "The Godfather" in a million years, but you're so right about it.

Napie's picture

(post #49937, reply #60 of 171)

I always viewed the “The Godfather” as one of those that required both the book and the movie.  I like the movie better but the book fills in a lot of background that helps the movie make more sense, especially regarding Luca Brasi, Al Neri and Johnny Fontain.

MadMom's picture

(post #49937, reply #2 of 171)

I know this isn't what you asked, but I was an avid fan of Mash, the TV show.  After watching it for a year or so, I had a chance to see the movie.  Was bitterly disappointed.  I thought the characters in the movie were mean, hateful, and not likable, not at all like the characters on the TV show.  I'll have to think about books that were made into better movies.  At the moment, all I can think of is ones which were made into sucky movies.



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bookwyrm73's picture

(post #49937, reply #3 of 171)

Oh, that's a good one.  My DH loves MASH the tv show so I thought I'd rent the movie for him.  He was disgusted and pretty much stopped watching it right in the middle.  Robert Altman films aren't for everyone, I guess.

To my thinking, a great librarian must have a clear head, a strong hand, and above all, a great heart ... and I am inclined to think that most of the men who will achieve this greatness will be women.   Melvil Dewey

A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.
Henry Ward Beecher

Marcia's picture

(post #49937, reply #9 of 171)

Unlike MadMom and your husband, my DH and I think the movie is screamingly funny, but the ending is pretty bad -- I'm of the opinion that Altman couldn't do endings.

Did you watch the movie?

bookwyrm73's picture

(post #49937, reply #27 of 171)

I like Altman but find that most of his films are hit-or-miss with me.  I love MASH and Gosford Park but found only parts of Prairie Home Companion chuckle-worthy.  I remember faking an ovarian cyst to get out of Pret-a-Porter


I always dislike watching a film before reading the book because my mind invariably casts the actors that were in the celluloid film as the characters in the book that's in my head.  But I do enjoy watching film adaptations because they always seem to point out to me an aspect of the book that I was too dull to notice. 


God bless screenwriters, I never would have understood half of Sense and Sensibility (book) if it weren't for Emma Thompson's amazing screenplay.  I blame her for my present Austen fixation.


To my thinking, a great librarian must have a clear head, a strong hand, and above all, a great heart ... and I am inclined to think that most of the men who will achieve this greatness will be women.   Melvil Dewey

A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.
Henry Ward Beecher

Carole4's picture

(post #49937, reply #29 of 171)

Try Come Back to The Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean and McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Old films but I think it is some of his best work. Besides you get to see Cher(Come Back to the Five and Dime) in some of her best work.

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #49937, reply #35 of 171)

I've never seen Come Back to the Five and Dime, but absolutely LOVE McCabe and Mrs. Miller -- some interesting background: it was filmed at Whistler (an hour or two north of Vancouver) way back in the day when Whistler was still where hippie back-to-the-landers hung out and homesteaded. A friend of ours was an extra, who told us about being sent to the costume department, where he had to trade his denim overalls and checkered lumberman's jacket for -- wait for it -- denim overalls and a checkered lumberman's jacket.  Anyway, the film was a bust when it first came out, then Pauline Kael, film critic for the New Yorker, reviewed it, loved it, and wrote an exhaustive five or seven page review explaining to the great unwashed American public exactly what they were missing, and what, exactly, Altman was trying to achieve.  The rest, they say, is history, and the film became a major cult hit. Oh, tangent -- the Leonard Cohen soundtrack, which is, to my ears at least, about the most perfect soundtrack since The Graduate, was all old Cohen stuff that had been kicking around for at least half a dozen years before the movie, but it captures the mood and the storyline brilliantly.


(Oh, and just to bring this all back to the original thread -- that movie is based on a now-forgotten short story called "The Presbyterian Church Wager").


Hmmm... time to watch that movie again, methinks!  






"lucky in love; unlucky in metabolism"
unknown
Marcia's picture

(post #49937, reply #38 of 171)

I love McCabe and Mrs. Miller, too, but the Cohen soundtrack is what really does it for me.

Recently, I read that Cohen had not initially liked the film and let Altman know, but after another viewing, he changed his mind.

I, too, think the sound track for The Graduate is perfect, or would be if a couple of songs were removed -- I have a special aversion to "The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine", but the last time I saw the film it seemed dated -- I didn't feel it had held up well at all. It's probably time to watch it again. When I first saw the film, it was true, passionate love for me. DH (though he wasn't DH at the time) felt the same way.

Do you know there are scads of people around who've never heard of Simon and Garfunkle? I must be getting old, but I don't feel old in that way. Our kids grew up with Dylan, Simon and Garfunkle and even the Smothers Brothers among others. They still love them, too.

Carole4's picture

(post #49937, reply #39 of 171)

Thank you!!! I absolutely love that movie. Didn't know the background...Cohen, eh? Have to watch it again, too as it is in our collection.

TracyK's picture

(post #49937, reply #40 of 171)

The Shining... the movie was WAY better than the book. (EDITED because I totally wrote that backwards, LOL)


And I'm sure there are some that will vociferously disagree... but I think the film version of Lord of the Rings was light years better than the books, particularly the middle movie.



CT poster in bad standing since 2000.


Edited 4/16/2008 10:47 pm ET by TracyK

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #49937, reply #42 of 171)

Oh, Tracy! How on earth can you argue that The Shining was a better book than movie? It's an iconic film, and at best a merely okay book! The same with Misery -- classic film, forgettable novel.  Should the subject ever raise its head, remind me, please, that we must never, ever watch movies together!  





"lucky in love; unlucky in metabolism"
unknown

Adele's picture

(post #49937, reply #70 of 171)

The same with Misery -- classic film, forgettable novel


And I disagree 100%.  Boring movie, wonderful book! 


This is why I rarely see a movie from a book I've read. 


But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

TracyK's picture

(post #49937, reply #93 of 171)

Oh good gravy... that'll teach me to post after midnight!


ITA with you, I just wrote it completely backwards!!! LOL. I've edited it now.


 


CT poster in bad standing since 2000.

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #49937, reply #95 of 171)

Whew!





"lucky in love; unlucky in metabolism"
unknown

Geoffchef's picture

(post #49937, reply #96 of 171)

IMO everything Steven King has written since he called himself Bachman has been vastly underedited. But I also thought Lord of the Rings was unnecessarily long, and I don't seem to get much agreement on that either.

 


ADAM'S APPLE, n.
A protuberance in the throat of man, thoughtfully provided by Nature to keep the rope in place.
Ambrose Bierce - The Devil's Dictionary


 

 

ADAM'S APPLE, n.
A protuberance in the throat of man, thoughtfully provided by Nature to keep the rope in place.
Ambrose Bierce - The Devil's Dictionary

 

AnnL's picture

(post #49937, reply #98 of 171)

Oh, no, every time I read it the Lord of the Rings, I'm always so sad it's over. 


Ann
"The elders were wise.  They knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to lack of respect for humans, too."  Chief Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux

Ann
"The elders were wise.  They knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to lack of respect for humans, too."  Chief Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux

Geoffchef's picture

(post #49937, reply #99 of 171)

I found it tedious, but not as tedious as "The Stand". I also remember, shortly after reading "Catch 22", picking up Joseph Heller's "Something Happened" and opening it with great anticipation of a memorable read. Well I got through half of it and nothing had happened, and I gave it up in disgust.
I am currently reading the 20th and last of Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin novels. I also have his unfinished 21st, but I am looking forward to starting again from the beginning!

 


ADAM'S APPLE, n.
A protuberance in the throat of man, thoughtfully provided by Nature to keep the rope in place.
Ambrose Bierce - The Devil's Dictionary


 

 

ADAM'S APPLE, n.
A protuberance in the throat of man, thoughtfully provided by Nature to keep the rope in place.
Ambrose Bierce - The Devil's Dictionary

 

AnnL's picture

(post #49937, reply #100 of 171)

I liked The Stand, but I read that decades ago, back in my teens.   I don't know if I would like it as well now.  I haven't read any of the Aubrey/Maturin novels.  I'll have to check them out.

Ann
"The elders were wise.  They knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to lack of respect for humans, too."  Chief Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux

Ann
"The elders were wise.  They knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to lack of respect for humans, too."  Chief Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux

Jean's picture

(post #49937, reply #105 of 171)

You read Catch 22? I've tried several times to read that book and I found it extremely easy to put down. I haven't seen the film.






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Marcia's picture

(post #49937, reply #111 of 171)

I was thirteen when I first read Catch 22, and I adored it.

That's a movie that should never have been made, IMO.

gmunger's picture

(post #49937, reply #116 of 171)

I am currently reading the 20th and last of Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin novels.


I LOVED those books. When I finished, it felt like a close friend had moved away.


They were lent to me by a friend, and she threw in the atlas-thingy and the glossary-thingy that complement the books.



We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations.


Edited 4/17/2008 2:51 pm by gmunger

 

We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations.
shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #49937, reply #117 of 171)

That's gotta be a guy thing. I tried to read O'Brien's books, and it's exactly the sort of series I should love -- good history, good writing, and swashbuckling -- but couldn't get into them at all.





"lucky in love; unlucky in metabolism"
unknown

gmunger's picture

(post #49937, reply #118 of 171)

The 2 folks I know who turned me on to them are both women.

 


We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations.

 

We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations.
pemnel's picture

(post #49937, reply #119 of 171)

I'm not sure that it's a guy thing. (although there are definitely "guy thing" elements to it)


I thought the same thing about O'Brien's books, elements such as history, writing, swashbuckling, and had the same problem with the first book that I read.  Due to my little OCD problem, I had to finish the first one (didn't like it) and then for some reason (probably boredom) read a second one and liked it.


Maybe he's like authors such as Ken Kesey who write a brilliant book one day and a piece of crap the next.


 

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #49937, reply #120 of 171)

I may try them again, but then it's not like there's a serious shortage of good books to read.





"lucky in love; unlucky in metabolism"
unknown

pemnel's picture

(post #49937, reply #121 of 171)

Isn't that the truth!


One of the problems with owning a bookstore is the stacks of new books we get every month.  It's impossible to read all of them, yet it's hard to know what to stock if you don't. (we hate depending just on reviews)


At least I have plenty of reading material to take out to sea.


 

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #49937, reply #122 of 171)

You own a bookstore? Where? (I think you told me once, but my memory is a sieve these days!)





"lucky in love; unlucky in metabolism"
unknown

pemnel's picture

(post #49937, reply #123 of 171)

Don't feel bad about the memory thing, I often have the same problem!


Our bookstore, "Time Enough Books" (named after my favorite "Twilight Zone" episode) is at the port of Ilwaco, on the mouth of the Columbia River.


Mostly, DW runs it and I just steal books (and do maintenance when I'm home).


It's the reason that I'm cooking a big dinner on Saturday night.  At the Education Foundation auction we sell a "Dinner with an Author" every year, and on Sat. we are cooking for this years winners.  The author Jane Kirpatrick will launch her new historical fiction book at the dinner.


We started auctioning off this dinner with an author 5 years ago and it has become quite an "event", the first year we got $30.00 a plate and now it's up to $150.00 a plate for 6 people. (and the author, of course)