"The book is always better than the movie."
I hear this quote all the friggin time. When I voice my opposition people look at me in shock as if I just ran into a mosque wearing a pork loin cloth. While it is true that a lot of the time films do not live up to the quality that is present in their source material (Beloved, Bonfire of the Vanities) there are many movies that exceed it. Below are just a few.
1. The Godfather - Puzo even admits his novel about a New York crime family is probably the most pulp he's ever written, but still it became his biggest success. Coppola took the runaway hit and created what is arguably known as one of the best pieces of American cinema ever.
2. Ben-Hur - The book is tedious and fails in many ways, but with the help of some gifted screen writers the story of a childhood friendship turned sour became one of the greatest blockbusters of all time.
3. The DaVinci Code - This is a case where both the novel and the film were horrible, but at least in the movie I didn't have to sit through Dan Brown's bastardization of the English language. While a huge success the book has set the bar extremely low.
4. The Ten Commandments - While most of the film is based on Josephus' writings, the Old Testament omits a large part of Moses' life in Egypt. It's because this that the screenwriters gave this epic rich characters which makes for great drama. Even though it can seem corny given nowadays standards Cecile B Demille's sweeping tale of the liberation of slaves from Pharaoh is one you can't take your eyes off of.
5. The Silence of the Lambs - The book was decent at best, but it's Hopkins amazing portrayal as Hannibal Lecter that makes this film that much more enjoyable.
6. The Hunt for Red October - Tom Clancy fans will disagree, but this movie was far better than the book could ever hope to be. I've never really enjoyed Clancy's writing anyways.
7. The Shinning - "Stephen King has a great imagination, but a sixth grade reading level." This quote from a guy I met at a party once would probably send Mattbear into a rage where he starts to stab everyone within arms reach with a glass shard, but I tend to agree. Granted I'm not too familiar with King's work having been largely unimpressed with most of what I read, but I so love this film much more than the book. I think a lot of Stephen King's writings has made far superior films such as 'Stand by Me', 'The Shawshank Redemption', and even the crapfest that is 'The Running Man'.
8. The Lord of the Rings trilogy - Granted I'm a fan of the books, but I can't sit through those stupid songs. Most readers I find agree. Plus the screenwriters wrote the females of the story far better than Tolkien ever could. With more flushed out characters, such as Faramir, the movie is a much more enjoyable experience than the books for me. Yes I'm one of the few that is happy Tom Bombadil was removed from the trilogy.
9. Shane - Yes the book was enjoyable, but never as tender nor as compelling as the film. Shane is a great western with themes that still hold timeless. With some amazing performances, most notably a young Jack Palance, this tale is one that still touches me.
10. Anything written by Ian Flemming - Flemming's pulp novelization of Bond is an easy read, but nowhere near as excited or interesting as displayed on screen by the likes of Sean Connery, who's the coolest guy ever. Even 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' is much more interesting and fun than the book.
"There are intriguing mysteries in Shane, puzzles and challenges, not least in the title character and the way he is played by Alan Ladd." - Roger Ebert