Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

BETTER than the book?


Sepiatone
 Share

Recommended Posts

How many times has Hollywood made a movie out of a major bestseller or even just out of some obscure piece of literature?

 

And how many times have you heard, "Ah, but the book was SO much better."?

 

Yeah, me too.

 

A few glaring good examples of this are "The Shining", "The Last Angry Man", "The Robe", "The Silver Chalice", and "Never Give an Inch"(aka "Sometimes a Great Notion").

 

Then there are some that in spite of some license taken, or some omissions made or other embellishments, the movies are as stellar as the novels. Like "Ben Hur", or "Gone With the Wind".

 

I try, if possible, when I see a film that I like that the credits claim was "based on a novel by..." to try and find said book and make the comparison. IF I hadn't already read the book before it was made into a movie. And sometimes the MOVIE turns out to be far better than the book they got the story from.

 

Now, I haven't seen every movie ever made, nor every one made from a book. And I've yet to find every book that was turned into a movie. For example, I have yet to locate the book "Gone To Texas" from which the movie "The Outlaw Josie Wales" was culled from. My short list of movies I thought were better than the book has:

 

JAWS: The book had Hooper described more like John Davidson than Richard Dreyfus, and Hooper in the book has an affair with Brody's wife! But take heart..in the book, Hooper gets eaten.

 

SILENT PARTNER: There are a few flicks with that title, as I found out by searching for a video. I'm referring to the Eliot Gould/Christopher Plummer Canadian production that was based on a book called "Think Of a Number". The Danish book drags along and really has no ending to the saga between the bank teller and the evil bank robber.

 

THE NATURAL: Roy Hobbs in the book is NOT the simpathetic, clean shaven nice guy as portrayed by Robert Redford. You wind up not really caring much for this self-centered, cold hearted wise-*** ****.

 

ANY MOVIE MADE FROM A JAMES MICHINER BOOK: Probably one of the driest writers I can think of. WHY would I need THREE CHAPTERS of geological history, dating back 10 million years, of the region in North America where the story of "Blue and Gray" takes place? Who taught YOU to write...MELVILLE?

 

I hope some of you can add to this list. Get to it!

Sepiatone

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Movies that are BETTER than the books?

 

Crazy in Alabama (1999) definitely. No comparison there.

 

Also, Fried Green Tomatoes

 

I Saw What You Did! (and I Know who you are), a bit cheesy but I do think it's better than the original novel, I will have to reread it, but the movie's reason for the man's motive to kill these teen girls who call him, is a better motive, he's just killed his wife, whereas in the book, the secret is whe he was 13 he killed a woman because she took away his cigarettes.

 

But better than the book, Evelyn Piper's The Nanny, which we recall with Bette Davis, I liked in the book that the mother finally became a strong woman at the end but otherwise, the movie is just better, especially regarding the upstairs neighbor Bobbi.

 

This doesn't really count because it was the 3rd remake and the story was almost completely redone for it, but I liked The Bat, with Agnes Moorehead and Vincent Price better than the original novel/play by Mary Rinehart that was made into the 1926 and 1930 versions. Those were good for a more comedy mystery but the 1959 version was scarier and more suspenseful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hey! Why are you piling on Melville? That having been said, you mentioned major bestsellers and "Peyton Place" certainly fits that bill. Like you say Michiner did, Grace Metalious loved to pile on the geneological detail and backstory, which led to a meandering storyline, to say the least. Though I'll acknowledge that some might say that both the book and the movie are crap, I've always thought that the film vastly improved the book by giving the story continuity by reshaping some of the plot points and punching up ( or eliminating/combining) some characters. I reread the book recently and was somewhat horrified at what a mess it is. Another "bestseller" I recently came across was "Back Street" by Fannie Hurst. Though the book was sort of engaging, the latter part of the main character's life and her final ending were so throroughly depressing that any attempt by moviemakers to alleviate that was a good thing. In that sense, the 1940's and 1960's movie versions which TCM showed back-to-back recently were an improvement, though the story in the Susan Hayward version is all but unrecognizable. A more recent book which I thought benefitted from the transition to screen was "A Home At The End of The World", based on Michael Cunningham's novel. He wrote the screenplay himself more than a decade after the book and it seemed to me that he'd had time to live with the story in the meantime. I read the book after seeing the film and I had to give the guy props for wrangling the story into a much more pleasing shape. I was glad he had another crack at it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Without a doubt it has to be The Grapes of Wrath. Even Stienbeck liked it and said so. It's alomst a perfect movie/book adaption. Of course with the books repeated situations and many characters that could be eliminated without affecting the basic story, it lent itself to the screen easily. In fact the movie ends where the book should have. Ma's speech at the movie's end was taken from an earlier part of the book but still, the last 3 chapters of the book are kind of pointless anyway. Beating a dead horse so to speak. The fact that the cast is superb doesn't hurt either. I only have 2 Fonda favorites, the other is 12 Angry Men, but I can't imagine anyone else in the role of Tom Joad. I understand Tyrone Power was the first choice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, if you go with a loose defintion of "better", you'd definitely want to include Robert Siodmak's The Killers , which is almost universally considered to be at least one of the top 5 or 10 noirs. The Hemingway short story ends after the movie's opening scene in the diner, and the film had to take it from there. Hemingway stated that it was the *only* work of his whose film version he liked, and watched it many times.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

*To Kill a Mockingbird*

 

Horton Foote distilled the wonderful story by Harper Lee down to a two hour storyline that movie goers could not only like but one they could identify with.

 

That it mirrored a tumultuous time in the Civil Rights era only made the story it told more heart felt and more personal.

 

"Jean Louise. Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing."

 

'If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."

 

"Hey Boo"

"Miss Jean Louise, Mr. Arthur Radley. I believe he already knows you."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

*Carrie (1976)* ... Oscar nominee for Best Actress (Sissy Spacek) and Best Supporting Actress (Piper Laurie). I've read the book many years ago, and it's interesting, but the movie was better. Stephen King himself even said that director Brian DePalma improved on his written material.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Carrie" is a good choice. Like they took it from the "Cliff Notes" version. Which is OK, because it got to the meat of the story quicker.

 

Doug, I mentioned Melville because in Moby Dick, the only melville tome I read, much paper was taken up with telling us all about the many species of whale that exist. Didn't really need it to tell the fascinating tale, and the movie is added to my "Better than the book" list.

 

Izcutter, I would place "Mockingbird" in the "as good as the book" category.

 

I haven't read or seen some of the others mentioned. I'll have to get on that!

Sepiatone

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

© 2023 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...