Top 10 Tuesday: Book-To-Film Adaptations

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Page to screen adaptations have been bankable fodder since the studios began feeding celluloid to the movie going masses. It’s relatable and something that filmmakers go to time and time again. Look at the success of The Harry Potter, Twilight, Narnia and Bourne franchises. The studios are returning to the literary well once again with such notables as the upcoming GREAT GATSBY, ANNA KARENINA, and LES MISÉRABLES. The latest entry into the fray has been THE HUNGER GAMES franchise. With just the first film so far, it’s worldwide box office receipts has it off to a successful start.

Sometimes the transfer, as in the case of ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, MASTER AND COMMANDER and JOHN CARTER books, doesn’t go over so well because in hindsight it only played out to a niche audience and the box office was worse the wear for it. Even the big name stars, directors and producers weren’t enough to make the above mentioned films the next big franchise. Nevermind when a book’s core audience is so alienated by unfaithful adaptations as was the case in THE SEEKER: THE DARK IS RISING. The love-hate relationship between book lover and movie lover is tenuous at best and dubious at worst.

The latest book-to-film COSMOPOLIS, the new David Cronenberg film starring Robert Pattinson, is adapted from the novel by Don DeLillo. We thought we’d start right off the bat with this week’s Top 10 Tuesday with another well known Pattinson film.


Oh, TWILIGHT… The book that started a blood-sucking frenzy amongst the youth of America!

Girl meets boy…boy is a vampire…girl meets other boy… Boy is a werewolf…

In 2008, after millions of books had been stripped of the shelves, Edward Cullen was finally given a face as Summit Entertainment released their adaptation of the first novel. The midnight showing on opening day grossed over $7 million dollars, leaving fans reeling. They made it a priority to stay true to the books, as to not upset the Twi-hards. (Trust me… You do NOT want to mess with them!) Thus, the vampire craze was born, pitting vampire against werewolf and leaving Robert Pattinson unable to walk into a mall without being accosted!


Winner of 3 Academy Awards, the adaptation of Peter Benchley’s novel of the same name gripped audiences in 1975 and thus the Summer Blockbuster was born. The story of a great white shark that preys upon the resort town of Amity Island, JAWS was published in February 1973 and stayed on the bestseller list for 44 weeks. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” has become part of the zeitgeist of the movie geek culture and warned seaside vacationers to See it before you go swimming.


Brian DePalma’s first hit, based on Stephen King’s first novel, was a spellbinding horror movie with an unparalleled shock at the end. There have been over 100 subsequent films based on King’s works but CARRIE (1976), a coming-of-age tragicomedy teaming with sexual tension and irreverent religious symbolism, remains the best.


Period romance. War epic. Family saga. Popular fiction adapted with crowd-pleasing brilliance. Star acting aglow with charisma and passion. Moviemaking craft at its height. These are sublimely joined in the words GONE WITH THE WIND. Winner of 10 Academy Awards, David O. Selznick’s monumental production of Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book has enthralled generations as one of Hollywood’s greatest achievements.


David Fincher took Chuck Palahniuk’s book and built on it–hitting its targets of mindless consumerism, the sublimination of violent urges, and the tranformation of men into pale imitations of their fathers. We would tell you more about it, but that goes against the #1 rule of Fight Club.


OUT OF AFRICA is a memoir by Isak Dinesen, a pen name used by the Danish author Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke. The book, first published in 1937, recounts events of the seventeen years when Blixen made her home in Kenya, then British East Africa.

Sydney Pollack directed the film adaptation starring Meryl Streep, Robert Redford and Klaus Maria Brandauer. OUT OF AFRICA won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay Adaptation.

This is the movie and book that made me want to go to Africa. The first time I went, I actually went to visit Karen Blixen’s house and farm, both now part of a museum, and where the movie was filmed.


Robert Rossen’s 1961 film adaptation of THE HUSTLER , a novel written by Walter Tevis, is that rare occasion of Hollywood actually improving on an original work. Rossen and co-screenwriter Sydney Carroll had the idea to have Eddie’s emotionally wounded girlfriend Sarah become involved with Eddie’s sleazy manager Bert, which gives the title pool ” hustler ” a  driving motivation for the film’s final game. Of course Rossen also provides striking visuals for Tevis’s descriptions of the seedy apartments and hotel rooms along with pool halls that reek of stale air. The perfect casting of George C. Scott as ruthless Bert, Jackie Gleason as the formidable Minnesota Fats ( truly earning him his moniker of  ” The Great One ” ), and screen rebel hero Paul Newman as ” Fast ” Eddie Felson make this one of the greatest sports movies of all time. So great that Martin Scorsese called on Newman to reprise his role in the Tevis sequel THE COLOR OF MONEY 25 years later and made another classic.


Ridley Scott’s 1982 film BLADE RUNNER is only loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s 1968 book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? However, despite the many variances in story, Dick’s exploration of self identity remains a significant element in Scott’s more action-prone film adaptation, if only as a lingering echo of philosophical afterthought. Both the film and the book are highly respected, successful works of science-fiction storytelling; both have endured with popular cult followings, despite rocky initial critical reception.


Epic in every sense of the word. A perfect distillation of everything that people have loved about the novels for decades, without any of the stodgier elements of Tolkien’s writing.


We’ve all seen the movie more times that we can count but THE WIZARD OF OZ is actually derived from a series by Frank L. Baum written over 100 years ago, mostly from the first book in the series, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Prior to the 1939 film version, the books had inspired a number of stage and screen adaptations, including a profitable Broadway musical and three silent films. Baum was innovative in combining the traditional elements of fairy tales, such as witches and wizards, with familiar things such as scarecrows and cornfields. He is credited with teaching children to find magic in the ordinary things surrounding them in their daily lives. Although Judy Garland was considerably older than the Dorothy in the book and her adventures are dismissed as a dream, the film is otherwise reasonably faithful to Baum’s novel.

So that’s our Book-to-Film list. What films would you have included? Let us know in your comments section below.



  1. Adam

    September 4, 2012 at 9:55 am


    You include twilight and leave off Harry Potter?

    • jen

      September 4, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      right? no harry potter? wth?

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  3. Sturbinator

    September 14, 2012 at 7:23 am

    I know that it’s tough to pick “just 10″ but you could have at least tried a little harder.

    Silence of the Lambs.
    The Godfather.
    Schindler’s List.
    Jurassic Park.
    The Princess Bride.
    The Shining.
    The Shawshank Redemption.

    Any of these flicks are considered “Top 10″ caliber when it comes to film adaptations.

  4. J

    September 14, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    Why dose everyone forget Harry Potter?

  5. Albert Sanchez Moreno

    September 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    “Great Expectations” (the 1946 David Lean version)

    “Oliver Twist” (the 1948 David Lean version)

    “Wuthering Heights” (the 1939 version)

    “Moby Dick” (the 1956 version directed by John Huston)

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