Top 10 Films That Are Better Than the Source Novel

The Godfather– Mario Puzo’s pulp story of the Corleone mob family is a page turner. Though it lacked the romance of a sleek era that was captured beautifully when placed in the hands of Coppola and Pacino along with the ensemble cast including Diane Keaton, Robert Duval, Marlon Brando, Talia Shire, and Robert Duvall. The film also diminishes the storyline of a over the hill actor which is based on Frank Sinatra, a storyline that is better when shortened as it appears in the film.

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Gone with the Wind– With an astonishing nearly four hour run, the film greatly abridges the Pulitzer winning novel. Produced two years after the release of the book, Clark Gable protested being cast afraid he would let readers down. The film sweeped the Oscars including a gripping performance by Vivan Leigh and the first Black to win Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. The book, and film are dated and slow moving but provide entertaining historic fiction.

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Stand By Me– I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that every film adaptation of a Stephen King book is better than the book. Examples of the top of my head: Misery, Carrie (the original), The Shining, The Shawshank Redemption, I could go on… Based on the short story, The Body, this coming of age tale is beautifully told on screen. Stephen King’s books are very easy to read and translate well to film, if he ever wanted to stop writing books he could work full time as a screenwriter. The film’s all star cast is well acted and by the end one mourns the talent that was River Phoenix.

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 Fight Club– If the film plays with time, and reality- its nothing compared to the book. Palahniuk’s psycho fantasy thriller is so descriptive it reads like a screenplay, and the film is so effective one who has both read the book and seen the flick begin to think of them both interchangeably. Helena Bonham Carter’s Marla, forces her way into our affections by metaphorically burning our brains out with her cigarette butts. See the film, read the book if you love the film or skip the book altogether.

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American Psycho– Brett Easton Ellis’ body of work is as disturbingly twisted as Palahniuk, if I read a book of either by author and had to guess who wrote it, I wouldn’t be able to. Ellis hated this film adaption claiming it wasn’t ambiguous enough, wanting the viewer to be more uncertain which events actually occurred. The film does have some mind blowing twists in the end, which helps to make it a film to return to even if one already knows the ending…

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All the Pretty Horses– The film focuses on the love story between John and Alejandra, whereas the book is primarily a story of two young friends coming of age together. The film miscasts the leads as much older than they should be, which completely changes the tone of the story. Both the book and film are strong, but for the less imaginative the cinematography of Mexico and Texas provides more poetry than is described in the text.

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Casino Royale (2006)– There’s a lot of pulp on this list, which should come as no surprise. Pulp fiction is short, to the point and reads like a screenplay. In this book, Ian Fleming tried to kill the hero, but brought him back by popular demand. Though it was the first book, it was reimagined recently this time with an ultra strong female lead, brought to life by the sultry Eva Green. Daniel Craig had several other leading men fill the shoes of Bond, but within this role he proved himself.

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Rebecca– The novel is no pushover, but Alfred Hitchcock takes the viewer into the multi-layered complex world of Manderley,  a thriller that will make every woman marrying a widower think twice! Intrigue and mystery, help to create a timeless film worth staying in, for. If you choose to take on the book, you won’t be disappointed it too will chill your spine.

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Into the Wild– Extreme idealist Chris McCandless ventures into the wild of Alaska to seek adventure, and ultimate demise. John Krakauer, wrote the biography with empathy and respect for McCandless’ misguided idealism, but the book becomes tedious as Krakauer weaves together his own outdoor adventures into the story taking the attention away from the more interesting figure in the book. There is no such dual storylines in the film, just a man and Alaska.

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Anne of Green Gables– The Anne series was so popular in the 19th Century that she became Mark Twain’s favourite female heroine. A modern young adult reader is less patient with the prose, luckily for those young ones who can’t get through the book, Megan Follows will leap out of the screen and into your heart, such is the genuine warmth she brings to the role.

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