The Book is always better than the movie

Last night, sittin’ around the bar drinkin’ some beers, The Shinning came up as a topic. Stephanie said it was the best movie made from a Stephen King book. This lead to David making the obligatory statement that “the book is always better than the movie.” So various titles popped up at this point: other Stephen King novels, other Stanley Kubrick movies, etc.

Then Ryan said that probably the greatest classic novel to be ruined by Hollywood was Dude, Where’s My Car? I nearly fell out of my barstool laughing at that one.

So what other “classic novels” can you think of that were ruined by Hollywood?

This is going to be moved to Café Society…

But anyway, here’s another: Captain Correlli’s Mandolin. Grrr.

Finding out the other way round is more of a challenge.

My suggestions for movies that were better than the book:

2001
Shawshank Redemption

I would agree with jjimm’s suggestions for improvements and add Bridget Jones’s Diary ( lousy book, fun film).

Books that have been ruined as films just seems too easy a question, but I’ll throw in
John Fowles, The Magus

The film Goldfinger was definitely su[erior to the book. Auric Goldfinger works better as a megalomaniac than a KGB paymaster. Fleming’s villains in the book were even more embarrassing stereotypes than usual, and

(Spoilers)

in the book Goldfinger reallywas going to try and steal all the gold in Fort Knox.

The movie Jaws was better than the book IMO.
Can’t remember the name of the book but the one that Angel Heart was based on wasn’t as enjoyable as the movie.

A movie that didn’t live up to the original work = Catch-22

That would be Falling Angel, by William Hjortsberg. And HEY! It WAS better than the movie!

Also, jjimm’s right. This thread has Cafe Society written all over it.

I disagree,

Fight Club. The book… kinda sucked, then again it was basically written in screen play format.

The movie had a much better flow, and made a bit more sense (with the exception of the happy ending)

Best examples of movies that improved on the book:

“The Godfather” (Mario Puzo was a hack; the first two films were classics)

“The Maltese Falcon” (Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre worked magic with cardboard characters and wooden dialogue)

“Field of Dreams” I expect a lot of disagreement here, but I think W.P. Kinsella is a snotty, petulant jerk with a mean streak. The movie had a heart that the book completely lacked (I’m well aware that many people LIKED Kinsella’s mean streak, and thought the movie was too corny, sentimental, and sweet).

“Presumed Innocent.” Scott Turow is a lousy writer, but he came up with a superb idea for a whodunit. The mystery element was, by far, the strongest part of the novel. The movie gave us the mystery and the courtroom drama, but stripped away Turow’s tiresome philosophizing, political ranting, and score settling (it was pretty obvious that the negative characters represented colleagues he’d disliked).

My overall attitude is this: a GREAT novel can only lose when it’s made into a film. On the other hand, a so-so novel can be greatly improved. A good actor can give life, personality and depth to an underwritten character.

The movie Forrest Gump was a katrillion times better than the book. This is true even if you didn’t like the movie.

Gone with the Wind was a good book and movie.

Maybe I was too young for it but I just got bored with it. I was halfway through the movie when it struck me that it was from that book I’d read a few years before.

Horses for courses and all that :slight_smile:

The Lee Marvin film The Professionals is better than the book it is based on, A Mule For The Marquesa by Frank O’Rourke. The book is a rote “rescue the damsel” actioner with too many bland main characters. The film condenses six team members to four distinct personalities and adds depth and complexity to the motivations of all the characters.

Point Blank, another Marvin film, is better than the source book, The Hunter. The book is told from the main character’s POV, the reader knows every blunt thought in Parker’s head. The film turns Parker (now Walker) into a menacing prescence, a brutal force rather than a person, unknowable even to himself sometimes.

IMO, both versions of Cape Fear are better than the John D. MacDonald book, The Executioners IIRC.

I think the ending of the filmFight Club works better on screen than the book’s ending would have.

The beginning and end of the film Sharkey’s Machine are better than the book. But the plot development (the middle) of the book is much better than the movie.

I actually like the book The Maltese Falcon better than the film.

I consider both versions of Jaws equal but different.

I wanted to add a couple of movies that I thought were equal to in quality, although different from, the books upon which they were based:

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Blade Runner.

If you have only seen the movie of the former, read the book. It’s not at all comedic like the film and very, very disturbing but excellent.

Yojimbo says:

Hey, I felt the same way. Only I hadn’t read it as a book – it had been excerpted in Playboy before the book came out. It’s very weird top get that feeling of familiarity in something you’ve never seen before.
Overall, I didn’t like book or movie. Interesting and stylish, but not a great plot.

Well, I may catch it for this… because the movie was so poorly received…

The Postman was a better movie than it was book. I actually liked the movie. As far as critically panned Kevin Costner movies, I thought it was one of the better ones :slight_smile:

I always had the feeling that David Brin had a contract that specified a number of pages when he delivered The Postman. It was a perfectly fine book, with an interesting premise… and all of a sudden, when the story probably should have ended… he starts in on all this “Hunting down a Cyborg” crap. It just felt like the story was over, but Brin needed about 75 more pages.

The movie cut all of that. It ended where it should have.

Big John Holmes Brings it all Home made a much better film than book. cardboard characters, poor dialogue, and a terrible plot.

Two delightful light comic novels, Jack Finney’s Marion’s Wall and Gail Parent’s Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York, were turned into abysmal wastes of celluloid.

On the other hand, the film versions of Henry James’ Washington Square and Olive Higgens Prouty’s Now, Voyager did justice to their sources.

The best example of a great book horribly realized on screen I can think of was Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities.

A really lousy book superbly realized on screen was Robert Bloch’s Psycho.

[Hijack]
Ok, I have to hijack my own thread here. :frowning: That would be my fault, as I did not make the intent of the thread clear. :wally

See, the idea here was… there is no book Dude, Where’s My Car? Get it? It’s not a “classic novel” ruined by Hollywood. It’s not even a novel ruined by Hollywood. It’s not a novel.

The point was: what movies have you seen that are so bad, the idea of them even being a novel before being made into a movie is so funny you almost fall out of your barstool (thus the quotes around “classic novel”). That’s why I originally posted in MPSIMS.

Again, lack of clarity is my fault, I take all blame for that. Should I have made the quote marks bigger? Should I have put Mr. Winky :wink: inside the quotes? Should I just shut up and get back to work?

TwistofFate gets the idea.

Her are some other examples:

[ul]
[li]Weekend at Bernie’s[/li][li]The Muppets Take Manhattan[/li][li]Shanghai Surprise[/li][li]Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story[/li][/ul]

[/Hijack]

:slight_smile:

I know I’m going to get flamed by the purists, but I actually enjoyed the movie The Hunt for Red October much better than the book. The book was burdened with way too much detail for me. I understand all of Clancy’s books are like that, and I am so much happier watching the movies, than struggling through 20 pages detailing the process of an atomic bomb exploding.

Ok, for your original intent:

[ul]
[li]Freddy Got Fingered[/li][li]How about “Set in the world of Seinfeld”[/li][li]Fantasia (not because it was bad, but because it would be difficult to translate to book form)[/li][/ul]

To further Nouveau Bozo’s clarification (i.e. books whose cinematic incarnations bemused you by their mere existence): there is a film version of Finnegans Wake. I mean, I have mentioned in another thread that I am a Joyce groupie but even if you hated the book ( or refuse to read it), if you know even the first paragraph you surely cannot imagine that this is a novel that needs to realise cinematic form.