This generally holds true about 99.9% of the time, but there are instances where the movie adaptation actually works better than the book. This post will not be including short stories that turn into movies, such as The Shawshank Redemption or really anything by Philip K. Dick.
One other caveat: I will only be including movies where I have read the book. The rankings will be based on how much better the movie is than the book; not which are the best films. Leave a comment below to let me know of other movies that outshine their book.
On a side note, I did some checking of other lists. Many include The Silence of the Lambs and The Godfather. I disagree on both counts; I thoroughly enjoyed each book and thought they were as good as their movie adaptation. One list was even silly enough to include The Lord of the Rings.
Robert Ludlum’s novel has one of the most gripping openings of any book I have ever read. A man fished out of the water is riddled by bullet holes and memory loss. The book unravels into an intense spy thriller focused on Jason Bourne, an elite assassin hunted by his own organization.
This book is the first of a trilogy. Ludlum’s story gets quite convoluted, especially the addition of Carlos the Jackal. I recommend the book, but the movie does a great job of stripping the story down to its bare necessities: an elite assassin that is trying to find out why he is being hunted. Matt Damon’s casting as Jason Bourne was perfect.
Another great movies that is not encumbered by a myriad of characters. Cormac McCarthy’s novel is a quite enjoyable read, but being the grammar nazi that I am, his writing became quite distracting. In contrast, the Coen brothers’ movie did not have any of these inconsistencies.
The small cast is stellar, but Javier Bardem’s portrayal of Anton Chigurh is on par with Anthony Hopkins’ Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The movie earned four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Bardem), and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Roger Thorp’s Nothing Lasts Forever is a quite enjoyable novel, but it pales in comparison to Die Hard. Bruce Willis is perfect as John McClane, a New York city police officer en route to California for a holiday with his kids. What happens when he goes to see his estranged wife at her workplace turns into one of the 80’s best movies.
A little crazy trivia. Nothing Lasts Forever was a sequel to The Detective, which was adapted into a movie starring Frank Sinatra. Sinatra turned down the role in Die Hard, so it was offered as a sequel to Commando, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnie turned it down as well, so Bruce Willis was cast. The rest is movie history.
William Goldman’s book is enjoyable, but how can it compare to Rob Reiner’s adaptation? This is one book where the characters in the movie were better than those in my head during the reading. Every character is on point, but Mandy Patinkin’s portrayal of Inigo Montoya will go down in movie history. See, just saying his name made you think of it…You killed my father, prepare to die.
The Princess Bride is one of those movies that whenever it is on, you must watch at least twenty minutes.
It is astonishing how many of Stephen King’s books have been adapted into movies. The best, by far, is The Shawshank Redemption. But that movie was based on a short story, so it was not added to this list.
Misery is a close second. Just thinking about Kathy Bates standing over me as I wake up is enough to give me the chills. The movie is so good that you do not realize that there are really only two characters; others are minor bit players. Misery is a good read, but the internal monologues became quite distracting. The movie, on the other hand, is tense, scary, and will keep you on edge.
Misery ranked number one because it has the widest gap between the movie and the book.
How did I do: agree or disagree on any? Leave a comment below.