Crappy books turned into decent movies

I tried to read one or two of Danielle Steele’s novels a few years ago but I just could not make myself get through to the end. I just did not like her writing style and I could not muster any sympathy for her characters. Many of them seemed creepy and misogynistic.

Color me sursprised when several of her books were optioned as TV movies. Color me even more surprised when I found I liked some of them. I guess in the hands of capable actors, even dreck can be entertaining. Here are some of the movies made from DS books that I found quite good:

Family Album

Does anyone else have examples of novels they hated but when translated on screen were actually pleasant? They don’t have to be Oscar quality films, just good enough to watch with hankies handy.

I’ll have to go with The Last of the Mohicans. Cooper’s book is WAY to slow and detailed. He loses all rhythm when telling a story, I don’t need 2 pages about trees, the STORY man, focus on the story. The movie was bad ass.

I’ll probably catch hell for this, but I hated Steven King’s The Shining. But I really liked the Kubric movie.

The movie adaptation was certainly better than the original Godfather novel.

The movie Paper Moon is a close adaptation of the first half of the novel of the same name. However, after the point where the film ends, the novel continues for some time, and I think really loses steam and turns soft; I don’t even remember how it actually ends. So the first half works a lot better as a movie than the whole novel does as a book.


Pretty weak book, but one of the best horror movies ever.

For me, it’s Misery. Annie Wilkes is just plain crazy in the book. Kathy Bates makes her CRA-RAZY!

I also like Carrie the movie more. In the book, Carrie is portrayed as so hideously ugly that she’s more pathetic than sympathetic. But Cissy Spacek manages to look sorta pretty during the prom scene, which makes her humiliation all the more tragic.

I don’t know how popular this opinion is, but I always thought The Color Purple as a film was vastly superior to the book–which is top-notch.

I understand that Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil is based on a pretty weak book, but the film is great. I’ve never read the book myself, though.
Goldfinger is one of the weaker Fleming novels. It’s about the only time the film adaptation is actually better than the book.
Not a book, but a short story – Harry Bates’ “Farewell to the Master” wasn’t that memorable a short story, but The Day the Earth Stood Still is one of he best SF movies. Usually it’s the reverse – a good SF story becomes an awful, overblown movie.
I’ve heard that The Princess Bride works much better as a film than a book, but I haven’t read the book yet. It’s on my list.

And the book isn’t bad (C.S. Forester’s books never are), but I really do this The African Queen works much better with the movie’s upbeat ending than the book’s less happy one.

Seconded. The movie cuts out several storylines, and is better for it. In the book, Mayor Vaughn is mixed up with the Mob, who threatens Chief Brody’s family when he looks into Vaughn’s business dealings. And when Hooper the oceanographer comes into town, he promptly begins having an affair with Brody’s wife. The ending is very unsatisfying, too.

Wow! I have to ask why you think this since I revere the novel and the movie as well. The book was certainly more revealing than any censor would allow in 1972.

If you’re into meta-humour, you’ll really enjoy The Princess Bride novel–the book revolves around the idea that

the false narrator (the real author, William Goldman’s invented persona, a man going through a tough marriage with one son) is trying to translate this book (the story of Wesley and Buttercup) by S. Morganstern, a made-up writer from Florin.

It’s complicated, but it works.

On a C.S. Forester note, the Horatio Hornblower TV movies were (IMHO) far superior to the books.

As long as we’re on Stephen King, “Dolores Claiborne” didn’t slay me as a novel. When Kathy Bates played her, I was transformed. I felt wholeheartedly for this poor woman. Nice going , Taylor Hackford, you made me feel for this harridan.

One of my favorite quotes: Sometimes a woman just needs to be a bitch.

Amen, Dolores.

It wasn’t a crappy book, but I think The English Patient was better as a movie.

Ah, I’ll have to disagree with you there. I love Forester’s exttremely introspective captain. He’s one of the few cases where he’ll allow his character to have a happy ending (Forester’s heros frequently end up badly wounded or dead, or don’t accomplish their goals). And I think Forester (and Hornblower) would someimes be appalled at what the TV version does and gets away with.

But De Gustibus… and all.

The movie Psycho is a classic; the book, not so much.

Hitchcock had a tendency to jettison material and make it better; I understand the book on which Vertigo was based is not all that impressive, and Rear Window is definitely better than the original short story.

À chacun son gout. :slight_smile: I liked the warmth and humour Archie Kennedy brought to Horatio’s character, and the obvious friendship between them, and I thought the movies were weaker without it–and the books sorely lacking from its absence.

Then again, I’m a sucker for all the Aubrey / Maturin moments in Patrick O’Brian’s books, so YMMV.

I agree that the Godfather movies are considerably better than the novel. There was a good basic story in the novel The Godfather, but there were too many subplots that were just distractions. Coppola did a great job of picking out the best parts of the novel.

You people realize that you’re all going to hell, don’t you???

Unless it’s absolutely 100% faithful to the book in every remote and minute detail, then obviously the movie is a bastardized abomination that should never have been made and therefore doesn’t exist. :wink:

Or so I keep running into people who believe this. Stark raving fanboys who haven’t seen Lord of the Rings because of the changes, who bristle at Harry Potter movies not carrying every speck of the ponderous books, who scream in rage at the idea of their favorite books being made into movies because there’s no way that it can be done faithfully and they don’t want someone ruining their mental version of the book.

Then I look at it and go “Tolkien loved his own words too much and the books contain far too much crap that would bore the fuck out of anyone watching a movie. Get over it.”

Hot tar and chicken feathers can be a bitch to clean up.

I think you are totally misunderstanding the point of the thread. I am not talking about faithful adaptations of revered novels, but books that are less than mediocre which in turn are made into television movies.
Those movies, as said, are better depictions of the plot and characters than the writers could have imagined on paper. This is what I am asking for. Not bad adaptations of good movies. That is for another thread.


Unless I am remebering incorrectly, in the book Carrie is portrayed as more unkempt and unfasionable instead of ugly. Carrie starts taking care of herself and when she goes to the prom everyone is suprised by how good she looks.