Adaptations That Accrued Appreciably More Acclaim

When writing about the round-number anniversaries of certain novels last week, one title I mentioned was 1973’s The Princess Bride — which is better known for its 1987 movie version (cast pictured above) than for the original William Goldman book of 50 years ago.

Yes, there are screen and theatrical adaptations more famous — in some cases MUCH more famous — than the literary works that inspired them. In fact, many fans of the adaptations might not even know about the existence of the novels or short stories that started it all.

Why? Among the reasons: movie and TV watchers outnumber fiction readers, the adaptations might occasionally be better or at least more “exciting” than the books, etc.

Another prominent example of a film in a different stratosphere than the book is 1994’s blockbuster movie Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks, that was based on Winston Groom’s 1986 novel.

Also VERY different in popularity is 1953’s iconic Shane film vs. Jack Schaefer’s much-less-iconic 1949 novel of the same name.

In the short story realm, Daphne du Maurier’s 1952 tale “The Birds” isn’t nearly as famous as Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 film — although du Maurier is of course hardly an obscure author.

Not quite as disparate in visibility is 1968’s Charly film based on Daniel Keyes’ 1959 short story (later turned into a novel) Flowers for Algernon, but the movie is more in the public zeitgeist.

Moving to plays, the opened-in-1949 musical South Pacific is at least somewhat more famous than James Michener’s 1947 book Tales of the South Pacific — even as Michener, like du Maurier, is a major name in the world of fiction.

Another musical, the 1955-debuting Damn Yankees, has a significantly higher profile than its inspiration: Douglass Wallop’s 1954 novel The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant.

And, last but not least, the long-running musical Wicked — which opened in 2003 and is still going strong — far exceeds Gregory Maguire’s 1995 Wicked novel in renown.

I realize I’m just scratching the surface here. Other examples you’d like to mention? Any thoughts about this phenomenon?

My literary-trivia book is described and can be purchased here: Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time.

In addition to this weekly blog, I write the 2003-started/award-winning “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com every Thursday. The latest piece — containing some of my local wishes for 2023 — is here.

176 thoughts on “Adaptations That Accrued Appreciably More Acclaim

  1. I’m fairly sure more people worldwide, whether now living or not have seen the movie “Gone with the Wind” over the past eight decades than have read the novel. I’m not sure if that makes the movie better known than the book.

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  2. The movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is more famous than Truman Capote’s novella, also the musical “Cats” is better known than the poetry collection “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” by T.S. Eliot on which it is based.

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  3. Dave, what a fascinating topic and to my shame I realise I have seen most of these films without being aware of the books in the first place! Birds is one that I haven’t read or seen – and don’t plan on it either! I am sure there must be many more such adaptions that I have seen – often when I have read a book I do not want to see the film as it never seems to match up to the characters and plot created in my mind by the writer!

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    • Thank you, Annika! Like you, I’ve seen a number of films based on novels that I had no idea were based on novels. 🙂

      And I agree that, with rare exceptions, movies inspired by novels don’t meet the expectations of what we imagined when reading — even if the film versions are good, exciting, etc., in their way.

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  4. It was interesting reading through your post and realizing that I’d seen most of the iconic movies, television shows, and stage productions, but hadn’t read the books. “Shane” is the only exception on your list where I’ve read the book but haven’t seen the movie. I suspect that a lot of what I watch is based on books, and I just don’t know it. Interesting post, Dave. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Happy Reading.

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  5. Dave 1968’s Charly film based on Daniel Keyes’ 1959 short story (later turned into a novel) “Flowers for Algernon” .
    I have seen( on TV) brilliant acting by Cliff Robertson, who won the Oscar as the best actor .
    The Story was about an intellectually disabled person, working as a Janitor. Later was.selected by doctors for an experiment that tripled his intellectual level. Later, with frustrations for lacking certain characteristics Charly fell back to his previous status.
    It was heartbreaking to see the actor slowly turn back his intellect.
    Dave I have worked as a volunteer for many years in KS with special young adults. They were fun loving, passionate folks .

    In the book, later Alice his wife, sees Charly playing with children on the playground, having fully regressed to his original level of intellectual disability.

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    • Thank you, Bebe! Yes, “Flowers for Algernon” was a very moving novel — heartbreaking indeed. You summarized it well! I’ve actually never seen the “Charly” movie, though I agree Cliff Robertson was an excellent actor. Wonderful that you volunteered to help special-needs young adults!

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      • Dave, on Thursdays was the Parents night off for a couple of hours, and this church was used by volunteers to spend time with them.
        Some are border range, some were totally incapable of doing anything on their own and were in wheelchairs.
        They have emotions like any other person..
        A young man who was in the border range got a job at Mac`s cleaning dishes there. But one day was caught eating fries from the table and was fired.
        Another young man was tall and sometimes asked me to give him a ride home.
        So one day he asked me ( as you might know I am non-white) seriously, as he was wondering what color was my blood, red like him or something else.

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  6. Adaptations being more famous than their literary sources go back many centuries, Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello” was based on Italian writer Cinthio’s tale “A Moorish Captain” published in 1565. (Wikipedia again, I can’t make any comments on this topic without it). Other Shakespeare’s plays were based on earlier writings whether historical or fictional.

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    • Thank you, Anonymous! I guess many writers have their source materials and influences, direct or indirect. I did not know that about “Othello”! I’m not very versed in Shakespeare, having read just a handful of his plays and never reading a biography of him. Yes, Wikipedia comes in handy quite often!

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  7. Hi Dave,

    “Indecent Proposal” is one of my favourite movies. Finding out that it was based on a book, of course I had to read it. The book stood on its own, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the movie. They made a lot of changes from the original, which is probably a good thing.

    I also hunted down a copy of “Fight Club” when I found out that was a book. It was so similar to the film, that it was like reading a script. I need to check out more of Chuck Palahniuk’s writing.

    Has anyone mentioned Stephen King yet 🙂

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    • Thank you, Susan! Stephen King has been mentioned. 🙂

      A rare movie (“Indecent Proposal”) that might have been better than the book. And when a film (“Fight Club”) is almost a transcript of a novel, the novel couldn’t have been too long. 🙂

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  8. I was fortunate to see,on closing night,Jefferson Mays’ brilliant adaptation of Chareles Dickens “A Christmas Carol ” on Broadway earlier this month. He played 50 roles,including a potato! Was a remarkable performance that only certain actors could pull off,with aplomb. I had seen an interview he gave that the original Dickens manuscript was 3 hours long, Mays adapted to 90 minutes, continual dialogue.As I remember a line from this extraordinary performance not having heard,as I remember, in other adaptations such as Albert Finney who was fantastic in film role, the line was, slight paraphrase in May’s rendition, ” the poor will follow you to your grave.” This line spoken to Jacob Marley when Scrooge thought as long as the workhouse were in order,there was no need for his assistance.

    This powerful line is staying with me,I feel it means regardless of one’s stature in life,wealth, accumulation of money,stuff, we all we have the same endgame.

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    • Thank you, Michele! Wonderful that you got to see that production of “A Christmas Carol”! Sounds like an amazing acting “tour de force.”

      A powerful line indeed! You’re right that we all end up in the same place. An additional interpretation would be that if a rich person at the end of life has regrets about being cruel and greedy, those regrets will follow them to the grave. Of course, the fictional Scrooge is one of the rare rich people who has a change of heart — and it took some ghosts to do it!

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      • I agree,regrets following one to his grave. To correct the line was by Jacob Marley to Scrooge in play. Also the poor following him to grave as Marley showing prescience of Scrooge’s death,yet as noted the visits of 3 ghosts showing past,present and future being most ominous made Scrooge have a new outlook on life with more agreeable ending for himself as well as so many in his purview he was able to help in remaining years.

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  9. The movie “Casablanca” is definitely much better known than the source material, an unproduced stage play titled “Everybody Comes to Rick’s”. I just found this out when I looked up “Casablanca”. The only performance of this play came in London in 1991. It ran for six weeks. I found all this information in Wikipedia.

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  10. The movie versions of Dracula and Frankenstein are more famous and widely known than the books on which they were (loosely, mostly) based.

    As are the myriad portrayals of Sherlock Holmes, though of the three, Holmes’ Doyle’s stories of Holmes are the most widely read.

    At the turn of the 20th century, William Gillette toured the world several times over with his adaptations of Holmes stories, and of Stoker’s Dracula. And these stage vehicles at the time, were likely to be better known than their sources. Gillette popularized the deerstalker hat, and coined the phrase ‘Elementary, my dear Watson.’ He also starred in the first silent film featuring Holmes.

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    • Thank you, jhNY! Great mentions!

      The movie versions of “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” are indeed quite famous, though the novels are pretty darn famous, too — especially the latter by Mary Shelley. One of the early horror/sci-fi books, and she wrote it so young, and she had such a famous husband, circle of friends, and parents.

      Really interesting to learn that some Sherlock Holmes elements didn’t originate with Arthur Conan Doyle!

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  11. Fellini’s “Satyricon”, based on the Roman work by Petronius (First century AD), having gone unmentioned, has now been.

    The movie is a splendorous and spectacular riot of color and and eros and mystery and gluttony and perversity and violence, the immediacy and overwhelming effect of which dwarfs the power of the book to do likewise– but admittedly I saw Fellini first, and read Petronius only after. So moved by the movie when it came to my college town, I sat through it twice and returned the next day for a third dose.

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  12. True, you have merely scratched the surface.
    I’ll name 1 author, who I think qualifies here, Stephen King.
    Although I’ve read some of his novels that were made into movies, there are many movies I like that I did not know were based on books he wrote:

    The Shawshank Redemption (OMG)
    Cat’s Eye
    The Shining
    Carrie
    Misery
    Christine
    The Dead Zone
    The Running Man (love this movie)

    Thanks for getting me to take a look. I figured there would be a couple of movies, but I had no idea. Also, now there are more movies I want to see based on his books!

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  13. I was just talking with a friend a few days ago about how Princess Bride was a book before it was a movie – and how with the book, you get a bit more scope and background on the characters, but the movie is still one of our favorites! How funny that’s your post for this week 🙂 In that same discussion, we also brought up the movie Stardust – another film that got considerably more attention than its book counterpart. While I haven’t read the book (shame on me, I know), the friend said it was one of those rare occasions where he liked the movie better. Even so, I’d like to read the book because I love the movie very much. I would also like to read the Forrest Gump book, as I heard there’s a great deal in there that the movie had to leave out.

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    • Thank you, M.B.! That’s quite a coincidence!

      Yes, few movies offer as much character development as the novels they’re based on. I guess the filmmakers rely to an extent on people having read the book before watching the screen version.

      I appreciate the various book/movie mentions! I haven’t read the “Forrest Gump” novel, either. Meanwhile, “FG” star Tom Hanks is now in another film based on a novel — “A Man Called Otto,” with the character name changed/Americanized from the protagonist in Fredrik Backman’s wonderful “A Man Called Ove.”

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  14. As we have just celebrated Christmas the famous story “Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens came to my mind and despite the fact that I do not precisely know whether the book or the film has been more successful, I personally think that it may also depend on whether one likes more movement, music or action, things usually offered by films or, on the contrary, quietness and thoughts ! By the way, Dave, I loved the film “The Birds” Many thanks, Dave, again for your challenging post:)

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    • Thank you, Martina! Great mention of “A Christmas Carol,” and a very good comparison between the elements in literature vs. the elements in film. There have been so many screen adaptations of Dickens’ novel that the sum of them feels like it comes close to being more famous than the book, but I think the book is still number one. 🙂

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    • My recollection is that Victorian families read ghost stories aloud by the fire at Christmastime,making the Dickens story about perfect for the occasion. I’d guess his was the most famous of these, and thus the most successful, while the practice lasted.

      But I’d guess also that the movies, being such a worldwide mass market entertainment, provide the means by which “A Christmas Carol” became even more famous than the story in its original form. (And I’d guess it’s the most famous Dickens creation today, “Oliver!” notwithstanding.

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  15. There are so many examples of adaptations that are more famous than their literary sources, two of the best known examples are the opera “Madama Butterfly” based on a short story by John Luther Long and the Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof” based on tales by Sholem Aleichem. (from Wikipedia). Also the movie “The Wizard of Oz” starring Judy Garland which has been mentioned before in the comments.

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  16. What a great post. I’ve loved reading everyone’s replies!
    One of the stand out points is that Stephen King is responsible for so much output in terms of what he writes and then what gets put onto the big screen. ‘Stand By Me’ is one of my favourites, but there’s so many more!
    So, some other faves that spring to mind…‘Christmas with the Kranks’ started life as ‘Skipping Christmas’ by John Grisham. Both excellent fun but I’m so indoctrinated with the idea that Grisham is a thriller writer that every time I turn the page of one of his non thrillers I’m expecting something awful to happen.
    ‘The Outsiders’ published in 1967 by S.E. Hinton was made into a film in 1983. I realise I might be doing her a massive disservice here of course, but I’m not sure which is more well known – the book or the movie. I think perhaps the book now, although at the time the movie was made the book was probably eclipsed. She also wrote ‘Rumblefish’ in 1975 – but I imagine the movie adaptation and book are less well known although the movie is excellent.
    ‘Rope’ the 1948 Hitchcock movie began as a play written in 1929 by Patrick Hamilton. He also wrote ‘Gaslight’ in 1938 which was made into the successful 1940 movie also by Hitchcock.
    ‘Cabaret’ the brilliant 1972 movie began life way back in the 1932 and was adapted from the short stories ‘Goodbye To Berlin’ by Christopher Isherwood.
    And finally ‘The Third Man’ the excellent 1949 movie by Carol Reed began as a screenplay by Graham Greene but didn’t make it into a novel until 1950 – so sort of bucks the trend a little.

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    • Thank you, Sarah! Many terrific examples!

      Yes, the incredibly prolific Stephen King has seen numerous screen adaptations of his work. I wonder if he holds the record for that. 🙂

      Interesting when an author tries something different. I admire John Grisham for straying from his outstanding legal thrillers here and there — with some hits and misses, of course. I occasionally like to read baseball-themed novels, but thought Grisham’s “Calico Joe” was kind of so-so.

      Seems Patrick Hamilton should be better known these days…

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      • I read ‘A Painted House’ by John Grisham many many years ago and when I read the synopsis for this post it was nothing at all how I remembered it. I thought it a much slower paced novel for some reason – well, not so much slower, just less murdery than the synopsis implied. But I do remember enjoying it.
        Anyhoo! I’m a big fan of Patrick Hamilton and thoroughly agree with you that he should be more well known. He died in the 60s and I wonder if his subject material became unfashionable in some way and never recovered from that.

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        • Interesting how we remember some books in a partly different way than they actually were. It has happened to me, too.

          I’m sure there are indeed reasons why certain writers are remembered less than others, but sometimes it’s kind of unfathomable.

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    • “Gaslight” was remade in the US in 1944, and was directed by George Kukor.

      It was filmed a bit earlier (1940) in Great Britain, released here as “Angel Street”. Anton Wolbank’s* characterization of the husband, icily arrogant, insinuatingly manipulative and thoroughly mad, seemed to me even more unsettling than Boyer’s.

      Funny how Boyer starred in two remakes of foreign movies, which were each, in my opinion, superior– See also “Algiers”(1938) which was first filmed in France 1937, titled “Pepe Le Moko”, and starred Jean Gabin.

      *Anton Wolbank is most famous today for his portrayal of the ballet impresario in “The Red Shoes”.

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      • Ah yes, and of course Hitchcock did NOT direct the first one. It was Thorold Dickenson. How remiss of me. I don’t think I’ve seen that version either, but do know the Kukor one well.

        I’ve been to see some silent movies from the 1920s recently – invariably European – and it’s fascinating to see familiar faces that end up in American movies in the 1940s and 50s. Notably Ernst Deutsch who was in “Der Golem” (1920) and ended up in ‘The Third Man’ (1949). Arguably typecast in both, but both very influential movies.

        Another book/film crossover that I thought of was “London Belongs To Me” written by Norman Collins (not just a successful author but also quite high up in the BBC). The film – also known as ‘Dulcimer Street’ – starred Richard Attenborough. It’s a great movie (and brilliant book) but over the years has perhaps lost out to the other Attenborough movie (adapted from another book!) that was released at the beginning of the same year – ‘Brighton Rock’ (UK) or ‘Young Scarface’ for the US market as Wiki (?)reliably tells me!

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        • In the case of European actors turning up in American films, such as E. Deutsch– though in his case, in “The Third Man”, it’s more a case of a British film crew that turns up in Vienna to film on location, and cast Deutsch because, though he had weathered, as a Jew, the prewar and war years in London, he had returned to Vienna in time to join the film cast, and was probably known to the production. There is an American version and a British version of the film, though according to wikipedia, the British cut is now the one broadcast by TCM, which restores 11 minutes cut from the original American release.

          One thing is certain: that ubiquitous zither, you love it or you hate it by the end of the film. Anton Karas,formerly local Viennese zitherist, wined and dined on the fame he earned from the score for the rest of his life.

          Some examples of European silent stars that turn up in later US films: Marlene Dietrich,Conrad Veidt, Greta Garbo.

          Two silent stars from Europe that became stars here first: Rudolf Valentino and Erich von Stroheim.

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          • Ah yes, I never thought of it that way that the brits turned up en masse to Vienna. I forget that one or two European actors might have decided to stay in Europe rather than head to the UK or USA.

            I think the additional 11 minutes has more dialogue at the beginning…? Is it Carol Reed although I seem to think it must be Joseph Cotten as he’s there to find Harry. I can’t remember exactly. This extended version played in cinemas here for the anniversary release 4 years ago.

            …and Orson Welles hated the music. It is so evocative but after 20+ years of it being your into music to interviews I’d imagine it gets on your nerves a bit.

            Paul Henreid is another who made the crossover – Casablanca and Now Voyager are two notable movies he was in. Peter Lorre as well…?

            Just had a look at von Stroheim’s bio. He certainly had an interesting career. Which actually ties in quite nicely with Dave’s theme this week. He was in a film written by Anita Loos who wrote the 1925 novel ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ which I don’t think needs any introduction!

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            • Von Stroheim was a fabulous fabulist, whose exact biography has been clouded by the man himself. He claimed to be a member of the nobility, and to have served in the Austro-Hungarian cavalry, but appears to have been the son of a Jewish Viennese hatter.

              I am very fond of his film “Foolish Wives”, where von Stroheim plays a Russian scoundrel emigre, pretending to be a former Russian military officer in Monte Carlo, who, with women posing as relatives, swindles gamblers with crooked games, and attempts to seduce the American ambassador’s wife for purposes of blackmail.

              So much about the movie is artificial, from the perfect recreation of a street in Monte Carlo which ends absolutely at each edge just beyond camera range, to the replacement of one actor with another in mid-production, while retaining scenes with the original actor which goes unaccounted for in the picture, to the von Stroheim character described above, and to the director himself, also a kind of self-invented fake.

              Lorre and Henreid did make the cross-over,but Henreid did not make much of a mark in silent pictures in Europe, as he started to appear n pictures in the 1930’s. Lorre made his first credited film as the child murderer in “M”, an early UFA talkie.

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              • What fascinating insights into these people. I suppose in a world before global media and the internet you could be anyone you wanted to be. I shall look out for the film “Foolish Wives”.

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                • Here in America, hardly a switch confined to show biz folk, I suspect– which is why so many amateur genealogists here run up against a horse thief but a few short branches away on the family tree.

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  17. Hi Dave, a great topic. I don’t watch movies or TV (that is the secret of how I get so much reading and writing done – people are always asking me). I do recall watching The Shining movie which was very good because of Jack Nicholson being so outstanding but not a patch on the book. Carrie was a great movie and possibly as good as the book, but it was a much shorter novel. The Hobbit movie was so awful I only watch the beginning. I didn’t want to see what they’d done to one of my favourite books. I think that the Lord of the Rings Movies and Harry Potter movies are better know/or watched, than the originating books. I know a lot of LotR’s fans haven’t even read the book (which is completely weird to me. How can you profess to be a groupie if you haven’t read the books?)

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    • Thank you, Robbie! I also don’t watch TV or see many movies. That does indeed leave a lot more time for writing and reading. 🙂 You have the right idea. 🙂 Many years ago, I did watch a good deal of TV and go to films fairly often, so I have some out-of-date knowledge. Plus even though I don’t watch current stuff, I do keep tabs on some of it by reading about it and occasionally viewing short YouTube clips.

      I never saw “The Hobbit” movies (read the wonderful book several times) but did see the three “Lord of the Rings” films two decades ago. Excellent, but the novels are so much better. Yes, hard to imagine being a true Tolkien fan just by seeing the screen adaptations.

      I agree that the eight “Harry Potter” movies were quite well done, as were “The Shining” and “Carrie” in their ways. The amazing acting certainly helped. The “HP” films contained almost a “Who’s Who” of terrific British actresses and actors in the adult roles, and the young performers really grew in talent over the years.

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    • I must admit that I didn’t read The Shining until King expressed his disgust with Kubrick’s adaptation of it. As a result, I would have missed reading it altogether since I’m a big Kubrick fan. I’m glad King did, as he should have; however, it does seem that not many authors are willing to openly discuss their feelings in this regard. Perhaps they, the authors, truly believe the public has actually read their book. Then again, everybody wants to get a piece of the pie. Its a sad thing when you really, really love a particular book to see it sacrificed to the gods of capitalism.*sigh* Susi

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      • I’ve heard about Stephen King’s feelings re “The Shining” film, Susi. Novels and movies are such different mediums that it’s hard to imagine authors being 100% satisfied with a screen adaptation of their work, especially when a lot is changed and/or left out. But of course there’s that wider audience, the additional renown, the money… And hopefully moviegoers get drawn to the book if they hadn’t read it before.

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        • Yes, Robbie, some screen adaptations do miss the point — including in some cases tacking on happy endings that weren’t in the book. (Such as with the film version of Bernard Malamud’s “The Natural.”)

          I have in rare cases seen a movie I liked better than the novel (“Being There” and “Housekeeping,” to name two) but it is indeed rare.

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  18. “Derailed” as a movie got more attention than the James Siegel book thanks to actors Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen and others. But I thought the book was way better.
    Speaking of Princess Bride adaptations, the one I most remember now is the WisDems original cast script reading in 2020, which I loved! I’d never seen a script reading, and watching the cast recreate the movie using just their voices over a zoom was amazing.

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  19. I’ve seen six of the movies/plays/musicals you’ve mentioned but had no idea that they were adapted from novels or short stories. I’m not surprised that the film version could enjoy more success than its original written creation. The visual presentation, if well produced, is far more interactive and engaging.

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    • Thank you, Rosaliene! Yes, movies at their best have various elements — visual, sound, the acting, etc. — that can make for a very powerful experience. And, like you, there are a number of adaptations I didn’t realize were based on written works.

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  20. Hitchcock’s “Psycho” by Robert Bloch. L. Frank Baum’s “Wizard of Oz”. Du Maurier’s “Rebecca”, the movie version with Laurence Olivier being the best. Henry James’s book “Turn Of The Screw” movie adaptation “The Innocents”. Tennessee Williams’s plays “A Streetcar Named Desire”. Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” the 1963 film specifically. “Planet Of The Apes” by Pierre Boulle who also wrote “The Bridge Over the River Kwai”, which came as a complete surprise. Yikes! this is far too long, sorry. I’m going to end here with: “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf” from Edward Albee’s play. My thoughts re the phenemon: If you have an excellent cast, the movie adaptation can often overshadow the book, and in certain cases be better. In fact, the movie version may be so intriguing that you want to read the book. I’ve done this on a number of occasions just to see whether the movie stayed on track or whether it ran off into a ditch; however, when I did the reverse (that is read the book before the movie) I always felt a bit disappointed. It’s like, gee, I would have never thought of this character as a redhead, ha! Great theme, Dave. Sorry for the length of this post. I actually cut out a lot of mentions. Susi

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    • Thank you, Susi! MANY excellent mentions! I might disagree with “The Turn of the Screw” being lesser known than “The Innocents,” but several of your other examples seem spot-on in regards to the adaptation being more famous. And, yes, it certainly helps when the adaptations feature major stars.

      Yes also, seeing an actress or actor performing the role of a book character can be disappointing. An example would be the actresses who have played Jane Eyre always being better-looking than Jane is in Charlotte Bronte’s novel, which makes the story line resonate less. But “that’s Hollywood”…

      I also didn’t know that Pierre Boulle wrote both those books! He definitely wins a prize for being outshone by movie versions. 🙂 😦

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      • Thanks Dave. I think there are so many movie adaptations of Turn Of The Screw its mind boggling, and books based on it as well. The book is, indeed, better known than the movie. Yet I’ve been surprised to find myself watching a movie only to find out it was an adaptation of James’s book …dead give away (so to speak) seems like the children’s names stay the same–Miles and Flora, ha. Re: Boulle, I must say that is a real deviation, ie Bridge Over The River Kwai to Planet Of The Apes. Here’s an interesting adaptation of TOTS, really good cinematography, great cast and aptly titled: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0211577/

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      • Tricky– Because of its title, I’d think the movie is technically based on “The Innocents”, a stage play by William Archibald based on the James novella. I do think the movie is a little less known than the novella, but more known than the play. The play premiered in 1950– I’ve got a copy of it somewhere among the tottering piles.

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    • Oh this is such a brilliant topic, Dave, and I know that many will be adding to the collection of books that have been turned into movies. I have chosen 4 books/movies were impactful for me.

      1) Mutiny on the Bounty. I believe that there were 3 movies made: 1) 1935 2) 1962 with Marlon Brando Fletcher Christian and 3) 1984 with Anothony Hopkins and Mel Gibson. The movies could never compete with the novel. Reading this book and the two others that followed in my teen years was pivotal as was #2) The Count of Monte Cristo.

      3) Did anyone see Lost Horizon by James Hilton on screen. The 1937 movies directed by Frank Capra, with Ronald Colman, Liv Ullmann and Peter Finch, was unforgettable. And the setting in Tibet was outstanding.

      4) Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. The moved was directed by Mike Newell, with a cast that was an unbeatable combination: Miranda Richardson, John Plowright, Alfred Molina, Polly Walker, Josie Lawrence, Jim Broadbent and Michael Kitchen.

      Thank you, Dave for a great post. I am enjoying the follow-up conversation.

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      • Thank you, Rebecca! And those are great examples of movies based on memorable novels! Whether or not the films matched the books in appeal.

        I’ve read “Lost Horizon” but never saw the film. The book is unforgettable; glad the movie was terrific, too. I can just imagine how amazing the scenery must have looked.

        Speaking of “The Count of Monte Cristo,” I saw the 2002 movie version. Quite a good film, but it’s impossible to top that outstanding novel.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Enchanted April is one of my all-time favorite movies.

        I don’t think the movie with Ronald Coleman can touch James Hilton’s book though. The book was mesmerizing!

        Liked by 2 people

      • I did see Lost Horizon..the 37 version but also the ….just reverse that ..73 version. Great post Dave. Sorry to be late to the party. But read your post last night after being away all weekend, and thought I’d come back and how the replies have stacked up since then. I guess many authors might not think in screen terms. Like that I’ve seen a great film … The Birds, is actually a case in point.. but the book , more
        a short story, wasn’t as good for me, whereas there’s been books I’ve far preferred to the film because the story has been so changed. Anyway all the best for 2023 to you and keep up the wonderful work.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Thank you, Shehanne! You’re not that late to the party. 🙂

          You’re so right that some authors don’t think in screen terms, while some of course do. That can definitely have an impact on how adaptations turn out — or if they’re made at all.

          I like the written work better than the adaptation most of the time, but there are indeed exceptions…

          Wishing you the best in 2023, too! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  21. Some examples I can think of are the opera “Carmen” which is better known than the original novella, The Broadway musical and movie “My Fair Lady” which is better known than George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion”, and the musical “The Phantom of the Opera” which is definitely better known than the novel. The movie “Zorba the Greek” is probably (I’m less sure about this one) more famous than the novel.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Very interesting theme today, Dave. I sometimes do wonder how many people ever go “back” to read the novels & plays upon which film & television are based. The sources are often so much more rich in detail and character development. The “Poldark” series of novels are so much better than the newer television adaptation which seemed overly romantic and abridged. One possible example I’m not sure about. Dennis Lehane’s “Mystic River.” I read the novel first, because the DVD of the film wasn’t available at the time. It’s a rare experience when the film is so perfectly adapted to its source material. If reversed, I would have found the novel merely longer, which is always a good thing. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Mary Jo! Interesting question about how many people who first see the screen adaptation of a literary work go back to read the literary work. I’ve done that rarely myself; I usually read the book before seeing the adaptation. Two exceptions that come to mind: I saw the “Homecoming” film before reading the Marilynne Robinson novel it was based on and the “Field of Dreams” movie before reading W.P. Kinsella’s “Shoeless Joe” novel. Yes, the books are usually better and richer, with some exceptions. Sorry the “Poldark” TV version didn’t measure up. 😦

      Liked by 2 people

  23. I’m thinking about Charles Portis’s novel “True Grit,” which lives in the shadows of the sanitized John Wayne movie version, so much so that the Jeff Bridges remake, much more faithful to the novel, is regarded by many as inferior to the Duke’s “original.”
    (I was delighted to read that Portis considered Maddie a comic character, in that he wrote the upright, uptight Maddie as someone who had no idea how ridiculous she was.)

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Don! Yes, “True Grit” is more known as a movie (movies) than as a novel. I’ve read the book — liked it a lot — and seen the newer film, but never saw the John Wayne one. I can see how Maddie would be a sort of comic character by the very fact that she takes herself so seriously. Charles Portis certainly had a knack for comedy in other novels such as “Norwood” and “The Dog of the South” — both of which gave me plenty of laughs. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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