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View Full Version : Any movies as good as or even better than the book?


SenorBeef
03-30-2003, 02:27 AM
Tons of threads about movies that sucked relative to the books, but I think this is the first of this type.

The only set I can think of is Fight Club. I thought the book wasn't especially great - the ideas were interesting, but the actual implementation struck me as amateurish. The movie, however, expressed the ideas perfectly, and added it's own visual style that just fit perfectly with the ideas being conveyed. It's a much more powerful experience than the book was, while still being true to the ideas.

Thoughts? Other such sets of books and movies?

Freudian Slit
03-30-2003, 02:31 AM
Oh my god. Fight Club was the first one that jumped to my mind. Actually, I've pondered this subject in the past and always concluded that Fight Club was a better movie than book. I also didn't think the book was great. It had good ideas, but if I'd read the book on my own, without having seen the movie, I probably would have thought "boring" and have forgotten about it. It feels like Fight Club always manages to get a mention in a movie thread, though...you've gotta work fast.

I used to think the same thing about Shawshank Redemption (or should I say Rita Hayworth and...), but then I got tired of the movie, too.

But definitely Fight Club.

CyberPundit
03-30-2003, 02:34 AM
Godfather is an obvious example. The book seemed pretty ordinary though it's a while since I read it.

5 time champ
03-30-2003, 02:59 AM
The Godfather is the best example of several categories besides "movie as good as book"

The Godfather II is generally considered to be the best sequel [some say it was better than the original] ever made.

Don Vito Corleone is the only movie character played by two different Oscar winning actors. Supporting Actor Robert DeNiro as young Vito [GFII] and Actor Marlon Brando old Vito [GF I]

This post brought to you by "Ask the Godfather" geek.

Bryan Ekers
03-30-2003, 05:08 AM
Goldfinger (the movie) actually improved on Goldfinger (the novel). In the novel, the villian's plan is to rob Fort Knox, while the movie dismisses this as stupid and suggests detonating an A-bomb in the gold repository would have equally valuable results.

Plus the novel had a bunch of crazy crap about lesbians that's better forgotten.

El Elvis Rojo
03-30-2003, 06:14 AM
Personally, I liked The Thirteenth Warrior better than Eaters of the Dead. I liked the premise of the book, but the main character went threw no personal developement, and that just annoyed me. For one thing, it just makes for a boring story when the main character's only change is that he now starts sleeping with random women just because everyone else does. The other thing is, in the movie, he goes from being a prissy, stuck up whinny punk to a courageous, self sacrificing entry level badass. He goes threw some major developements in the book, and the friendships he makes are shown a lot more clearly. Plus, they explain the "evil" a lot better. In the book, there's none of that, and that makes it rather dull.

Icerigger
03-30-2003, 06:30 AM
IMHO

The Andromeda Strain
Anatomy of a Murder
The Sand Pebbles
Jaws

Turek
03-30-2003, 07:56 AM
I know I'm going to get lambasted for this (except for Parrothead, who totally agrees with me), but here I go.

The Postman

OMG, was the book lame! Especially the last third of it, with the whole Wizard of Oz thing going on. The movie left all that crap out, and while it wasn't great, it was a ton better than the book.

Dewey Cheatem Undhow
03-30-2003, 08:27 AM
We've discussed this topic before -- here's some other examples (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=161500).

obidiah
03-30-2003, 08:48 AM
The most glaring example to me is "Wild at Heart". The Lynch movie is magnificant. The book is dull and deviod of any kind of tension.

WordMan
03-30-2003, 09:05 AM
'nother vote for the Godfather

And my fave - The English Patient

Daniel
03-30-2003, 09:19 AM
The Princess Bride gets my nomination for "as good as". The book was amazing, and the movie was equally amazing; both were written by the same person, so the ideas translated quite smoothly.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? gets my nomination for "even better than." Whatever you think of the movie, the book was just awful.

norinew
03-30-2003, 10:05 AM
The Shawshank Redemption. The movie, IMO, was wonderful, the story it was based on was good. But the movie filled out some areas, developed others, and, on the whole, better than the story. I've reread the story since seeing the movie (for those who haven't read it, the story is told from the perspective of Red, a little Irish guy in the book, Morgan Freeman in the movie), and I keep hearing Freeman's voice doing the narrative. Gosh he has a great voice for stuff like that!

MLS
03-30-2003, 10:10 AM
Forrest Gump. The book was awful.

kaylasdad99
03-30-2003, 10:20 AM
"Babe" is a better story than "The Sheep Pig."

"Olive, the Other Reindeer" is a totally different story as a (quasi-)movie than as a book. And it's better.

Little Nemo
03-30-2003, 10:39 AM
I think the film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" was much better than Gary Wolf's original novel.

Eve
03-30-2003, 10:53 AM
I may be alone in this, but I preferred the film The Heiress to Henry James' Washington Square.

Oh, and the delightfully trashy but eerily on-target The Best of Everything to Rona Jaffe's book of the same title!

Mephisto
03-30-2003, 11:19 AM
Devil's Advocate the movie was waaaaay better than the book, at least IMHO.

I also kind of liked the movie The Puppet Masters, while I though the Heinlein novel was kind of, um, not so good.

*braces self*

Enderw24
03-30-2003, 11:49 AM
Originally posted by MLS
Forrest Gump. The book was awful.
Seconded.

I don't even understand why the movie was called Forest Gump anyway. The only thing it had in common with the book was the names of the characters.

Cat Fight
03-30-2003, 12:00 PM
I think The Client was the best adaptation of a Grisham novel by far.

skaterboarder87
03-30-2003, 12:24 PM
2001: A Space Odyssey Even though the book is great up to the ending...

Miss Mapp
03-30-2003, 12:43 PM
Originally posted by Eve
I may be alone in this, but I preferred the film The Heiress to Henry James' Washington Square.

No, you are not alone. I like the novella, but the film is one of my favorites.

It's a matter of personal taste, but other films I prefer to the books:

The Merchant-Ivory film Maurice. In E.M. Forster's novel, Clive just sort of turns straight for no reason; in the film, he goes into the closet and gets married after one of his friends is arrested for picking up men in a bar and, a la Oscar Wilde, sent to prison. This seems much more plausible to me.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Six of the schoolgirls in the novel are made into four girls in the film by combining some of their characteristics--pretty Jenny is consolidated with the girl "who is known for sex," and Mary MacGregor becomes the girl who runs off to Spain. I think this gives them a little more depth and focuses the story on a smaller group.

Gyrate
03-30-2003, 01:04 PM
The Razor's Edge. The Bill Murray film cut out the narrator character altogether, thus removing all the most smug and useless bits of the book. And yes, I liked the film.

Francesca
03-30-2003, 01:10 PM
jr8 - I just turned sigs back on and have seen yours for the first time in this thread. That is my most favourite joke in the whole world! I laugh EVERY time. I love Eric and Ernie. God bless you for having that sig.

Gyrate
03-30-2003, 01:35 PM
Originally posted by Francesca
jr8 - I just turned sigs back on and have seen yours for the first time in this thread. That is my most favourite joke in the whole world! I laugh EVERY time. I love Eric and Ernie. God bless you for having that sig. Glad to be the bearer of happy thoughts. It makes me laugh every time too.

Bjork
03-30-2003, 02:23 PM
God thats scary, I was just coming on to say Fight Club! Well, I third the people who said it before me, the book is very simplisticly written compared to how brilliant the movie is. Um, also to be a complete teenager, Looking for Alabrandi, the movie is better, likewise with riding in cars with boys (although neither the book or the movie are overly good)


Oh and Harry Potter the movie is so much better than the book!

Bjork
03-30-2003, 02:24 PM
Sorry, I was kidding with Harry Potter

What do you think I'm crazy, the movie was terrible

I considered leavign it there just to see what would happen, but I changed my mind its just too mean

the Lady
03-30-2003, 03:00 PM
another vote for The English Patient

Doomtrain
03-30-2003, 04:27 PM
String me up, but I say the Lord of the Rings movies are better than the books.

sugaree
03-30-2003, 05:26 PM
The movie "Goodfellas" was as good as the book "Wiseguys." It streamlined the cast of characters, but was otherwise faithful.

j_kat_251
03-30-2003, 08:00 PM
Hey, what is it with Morgan Freeman and being a character in a movie of a Stephen King book that's different to the character in the actual book? Does he have dirt on King or something? "Hey, let me play the title role of Cujo or I'll release a certain news statement, Kingy boy, bwa ha hahahaha".

ElwoodCuse
03-30-2003, 08:14 PM
I'll second Fight Club. It just hit a lot harder than the book did.

It's a shame that we'll never get to see "Survivor" on the big screen because there's a plane hijacking in it. Even though no one is killed in the hijacking, and it's not done as a terrorist act. Studios dropped this one like a hot potato after 9/11.

vl_mungo
03-30-2003, 09:30 PM
The 3 Musketeers and The Four Musketeers... the early 70's version with Michael York, Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch, Christopher Lee, Faye Dunaway and Charleton Heston (to drop a few names) was as good as the book. And that's saying something.

stringy
03-30-2003, 10:57 PM
I'll add my voice to the crowd for Fight Club - my housemate is a huge fan of the book and believes it's better than the movie, but I can't agree.

GMRyujin, you're not the only one who thinks The Lord of the Rings movies are better than the books. I've read the books, but it was a struggle to get through them. I could watch the movies over and over again.

And normally, I hate book-to-movie translations.

Doomtrain
03-30-2003, 11:03 PM
Oh, thank god stringy, every time I express that opinion, the geeks are all ready to have me executed for blasphemy. They get genuinely mad at me, especially when I don't cave. But, to me, half of the durn series was "Poor old Frodo" and proper Elvish table settings and lots of filler. And yes, you can call it world-building, but I call it bloody annoying. And I've read the books too.

The movie makes the story what it SHOULD be, as far as I'm concerned.

Jeff
03-30-2003, 11:09 PM
Blade Runner was a definite improvement over Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and (it almost goes without saying) Apocalypse Now held its own against Heart of Darkness.

John Mace
03-31-2003, 12:00 AM
Day of the Jackal. The book was terrific and the movie was just as good. Not as many twists, but hey, the movie was only 2 hrs.

2001: I think the book was written AFTER the movie (or in conjuction with it), so Iwouldn't say it counted.

LOTR: The movies so far have been fantastic. The books are tough to get thru unless you really enjoy them-- then it's well worth the experience.

skaterboarder87
03-31-2003, 12:08 AM
Originally posted by John Mace

2001: I think the book was written AFTER the movie (or in conjuction with it), so Iwouldn't say it counted.


It was written in conjuction, but the OP never specififed a specific order, thus any movie/book combo is fair game IMO.

Daikona
03-31-2003, 12:23 AM
Originally posted by Jeff
Blade Runner was a definite improvement over Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The movie was flat, the characters had no dimension, and most of what made it anything beyind "look, he's chasing androids. oh boy" was missing. The only way I can see it being an improvement is if you needed the reflective surface of the DVD as a mirror.

betenoir
03-31-2003, 01:47 AM
I can't swear to this since I can't find the book but apparently "Dr. Stangelove" was a big improvemnet over "Red Alert" (like, they made it a comedy).



Originally posted by ElwoodCuse
I'll second Fight Club. It just hit a lot harder than the book did.

It's a shame that we'll never get to see "Survivor" on the big screen because there's a plane hijacking in it. Even though no one is killed in the hijacking, and it's not done as a terrorist act. Studios dropped this one like a hot potato after 9/11.


:( Oh, that is just so supid.

I hear they're talking about "Choke" though...

Crowbar of Irony +3
03-31-2003, 02:20 AM
For "Fellowship of the Ring", the movie was better. The original book was kind-of dry (especially the first part in the Shire), a lot of talking, history and stuff.

But for "The Two Towers", the book is better (unfortunately). The Ents were protrayed much better, the King is not too over-cautious (in the book he wanted to meet Saurman head on) and you have the Ents and Hurons fighting (okay, not actually fighting, but involved) in Helm's Deep. If they have stuck to "Hurons eating up the Orcs" instead of "We kill and frighten them off", the movie would be much nicer. (Not just because it follows the book).

Then again, I always skipped Book 4 because I find it boring...

SenorBeef
03-31-2003, 02:48 AM
Originally posted by Dewey Cheatem Undhow
We've discussed this topic before -- here's some other examples (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&threadid=161500).

Woops. I have no idea how I didn't pick that up - I searched CS for 'any date' for 'movie book' title search.

widdershins
03-31-2003, 02:53 AM
The Professionals starring Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, and Claudia Cardinale (among others) is much better than the book it's based on, A Mule For The Marquesa by Frank O'Rourke. The book is a straight forward adventure/western novel with a pat ending and too many characters involved in the action, who are too vaguely drawn. The movie condensed six characters in the rescue party down to four and fleshed out them out by giving some of them a history together and a link to the area where they ae operating in. It also turns the book's ending on it's head, much more satisfying.

Point Blank, again starring Lee Marvin, is better than the book, The Hunter, that it is based upon. The book was written by Donald Westlake using the pen name Richard Stark, but is very flat and formulaic. The movie adds an otherworldly touch, by making the main character something of an unknown element. It's like film noir crossed with a ghost story and set in sunny California.

Both versions of Cape Fear are better than the source book, The Executioners by John D. MacDonald. Max Cady in the 1962 film is a walking monster, in the 1991 version he's an over the top cartoon but it's fun to watch DeNiro hamming it up. In the book, although his name may be different (it's been a while since I read it), he's just a pathetic drunken brute who is easily outsmarted by our pristine, pure Eisenhower-era heroes. No suspense, no excitement, no fun either.

Jeff
03-31-2003, 02:58 AM
Originally posted by Daikona
The movie was flat, the characters had no dimension, and most of what made it anything beyind "look, he's chasing androids. oh boy" was missing. The only way I can see it being an improvement is if you needed the reflective surface of the DVD as a mirror.

Myself, I prefer using them as coasters. The movie wasn't the greatest, but there was still a lot of subtext beyond the "chasing androids" angle, such as questions of what consistutes humanity, the dubious morality of a Blade Runner's job, etc...

Personally, I disliked the book. Please don't ask for specifics on why, though; it's been over a decade since I read it, and I honestly doubt I could justify my opinion to anyone familiar with the book.

Dunderman
03-31-2003, 06:20 AM
Originally posted by GMRyujin
String me up, but I say the Lord of the Rings movies are better than the books.
You'll have me hanging next to you. Lord of the Rings broke new paths and changed the face of fantasy literature forever, creating a world that seemed to live beyond the pages. But the characters were pretty wooden and I never really got a sense of importance, how significant these events were for the people who lived them.

In the movie, you just have to look into the eyes of Elrond or Aragorn and you'll know, to your core, how important the quest is, how the fate of the world hangs in the balance. I cried twice the first time I saw The Fellowship of the Ring, first during the final battle of the Last Alliance, and then when we first saw Hobbiton.

Since it hasn't been mentioned, Of Mice and Men. Terrific book, but the movie with Gary Sinise and John Malkovich was hoppin' brilliant. Oh, and Fight Club, although I did like the book a lot.

CalMeacham
03-31-2003, 07:00 AM
We've had this discussion many times before. I've brought up Goldfinger, and so have others. This is probably the onlt Bond movie that's better than the book -- the producers or writers or director or somebody clearly saw the flaws in the book and, rather than simply ignore them (which could easily have done -- the Bond series is nothing if not over-the-top), they rewrote the story somewhat to go around the difficulties. It paid off in a much more exciting and interesting film.

smiling bandit
03-31-2003, 07:21 AM
But the characters were pretty wooden and I never really got a sense of importance, how significant these events were for the people who lived them.

Well, they weren't to me, but I suppose I can understand that not everyone really gets into the history and life of Middle Earth. But taht's what made it come alive for me. I had some small problems with the TT movie, though. Not that I won't be in line to rent when the DVD is released.

Dunderman
03-31-2003, 07:24 AM
Originally posted by smiling bandit
Well, they weren't to me, but I suppose I can understand that not everyone really gets into the history and life of Middle Earth.
Oh, I did. I read Silmarillion and the "anthologies" (I don't know their English titles). I love the world, I do. But I never got the sense of an all-important struggle or fully understood the plight of Frodo and Sam until I saw the movies.

Doomtrain
03-31-2003, 09:38 AM
Sweet jesus! Multiple people that agree with me!

I, too, acknowledge Tolkien's place, what he did, etc., but that doesn't mean I have to like reading them.

lissener
03-31-2003, 10:05 AM
Starship Troopers was infinitely better on the screen than on the page.

Lost Highway ditto.

The Godfather

Carrie

Solaris, Tarkovsky's original

2001

not an exhaustive list; more will occur to post-caffeine

Skywatcher
03-31-2003, 10:31 AM
The Hunt For Red October is just as good as the book, if not better.

Engywook
03-31-2003, 01:09 PM
The Bible.

And you thought it was blasphemy to say that Peter Jackson was better than Tolkien? :D

Cliffy
03-31-2003, 05:21 PM
As I mentioned on the last thread, The Maltese Falcon -- Bogart's portrayal of Sam Spade is inspired, making it clear (without overstating it) that Spade is a master manipulator who lets no emotion get in his way. The book, OTOH, is just one of many similar stories by Hammett, and neither the most intriguing nor the most awesome (that would be Red Harvest).

--Cliffy

NoCoolUserName
03-31-2003, 06:09 PM
Silence of the Lambs (movie as good as book)
book is better: the sub plots that got cut out of the movie
movie is better: the relationship between Starling and Lechter
Being There (movie better than book)
since Kosinski wrote the screenplay, I believe he had new ideas and included them.

lissener
03-31-2003, 06:21 PM
Originally posted by NoCoolUserName
Silence of the Lambs (movie as good as book)
book is better: the sub plots that got cut out of the movie
movie is better: the relationship between Starling and Lechter
Being There (movie better than book)
since Kosinski wrote the screenplay, I believe he had new ideas and included them. This discounts, of course, the old rumor that Kosinski didn't write the book: that he committed suicide because his ghostwriter due to be exposed.

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