Monday, April 24, 2006


Jason Kottke recently posted that it's easier to watch movies than read books along with an annotated version of The Guardian newspaper's list of best book-to-film adaptations.

His premise depends on how easy it is to sit through a bad film adaptation versus reading a good book (see: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil). It took more time to read the book, yes, but the two hours I spent watching the movie weren't exactly easy. Even Clint Eastwood and John Cusack couldn't save it for me.

However, I digress. Here's my list (F = I've seen a film version, B = I've read the book).

1. 1984
2. [FB] Alice in Wonderland
3. American Psycho
4. [FB] Breakfast at Tiffany's
5. Brighton Rock
6. Catch 22
7. [FB] Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
8. A Clockwork Orange
9. [F] Close Range (inc Brokeback Mountain)
10. The Day of the Triffids
11. [F] Devil in a Blue Dress
12. [F] Different Seasons (inc The Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me, Apt Pupil)
13. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (aka Bladerunner)
14. Doctor Zhivago
15. Empire of the Sun
16. [FB] The English Patient
17. [FB] Fight Club
18. [B] The French Lieutenant's Woman
19. [F] Get Shorty
20. [FB] The Godfather
21. [FB] Goldfinger
22. Goodfellas
23. Heart of Darkness (aka Apocalypse Now)
24. The Hound of the Baskervilles
25. [F]Jaws
26. The Jungle Book
27. A Kestrel for a Knave (aka Kes)
28. [F] LA Confidential
29. [FB] Les Liaisons Dangereuses
30. [B] Lolita
31. [B] Lord of the Flies
32. The Maltese Falcon
33. [B] Oliver Twist
34. [B] One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
35. Orlando
36. [FB] The Outsiders
37. [FB] Pride and Prejudice
38. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
39. The Railway Children
40. Rebecca
41. The Remains of the Day
42. [F] Schindler's Ark (aka Schindler's List)
43. [F] Sin City
44. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
45. [FB] The Talented Mr Ripley
46. [F] Tess of the D'Urbervilles
47. Through a Glass Darkly
48. [FB] To Kill a Mockingbird
49. Trainspotting
50. The Vanishing
51. Watership Down

A few glaring omissions spring to mind (A River Runs Through It, The Hours, and as Kottke observed, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy), but reading this list reminded me that, in the right hands, a good book really can become a great movie. Books like The DaVinci Code seem custom-made for the big screen, but even more subtle, literary stores can be adapted well. Now where's that mysterious film version of The Secret History I keep hearing about?


daniela said...

so - i'm confused by your list - if no F or B, you haven't seen the movie or read the book? If so. you MUST see Rebecca.

Blythe said...

This is true. I'll see if I can find Rebecca. (I've signed up for Amazon's more expensive and less extensive version of Netflix. I think they have 47 films in their library.)

NiHao said...

Uh, Kes! I watch that movie over and over because it is on a film studies course where I work, and every time I hear it begin I want to run away.

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