Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Top Ten Tuesdays: Top Ten Book to Movie Adaptations + 2

The original topic for today's TOP TEN TUESDAY list was: TOP TEN BOOKS I HAVE LIED ABOUT. But, truth be told, I just couldn't come up with anything.
I don't really lie about what I read. Maybe in school once upon a time, I might have bragged or said I read something when I hadn't, but if so, I simply don't remember. I mean, I went to school when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Nowadays (how's that for an old fashioned word?), I'm not all that anxious to let the world know I still read Harlequin Romances once in a while, but that's about it. I'm pretty much out there when it comes to my likes and dislikes. I think I'll pick one of the previous topics from the Top Ten Tuesday files and write about that since I do like making lists and Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the gals at THE BROKE AND THE BOOKISH is a fun way to go about it. Besides, I wouldn't want to skip a Tuesday

How about TOP TEN BOOK TO MOVIE ADAPTATIONS - I've been meaning to make up this kind of list for awhile now, so along the lines of killing two birds with one stone, here's my list for today, as usual, in no particular order of preference and I will only list books and films I've actually read and seen. (While the LORD OF THE RINGS films were judged to be excellent adaptations, I've never read the books, so they're not included on my list. Same thing goes for my favorite thriller films, The Bourne Trilogy - never read the books.)

1) JURASSIC PARK by Michael Crichton
The book was fabulous, my first attempt to read a Crichton book, mainly because the subject matter appealed to me so much. The 1993 film by Steven Spielberg was just as good, though it took a few liberties with the plot. (In the book a major character dies - in the film, he doesn't. Also the DNA explanation was better in the book, not as simplistic as in the film.)  But, jeez, the dinosaurs in the film were all mind-bogglingly amazing. It was one of those films that just takes you aback when you first saw it, sitting in a darkened theater.

2) THE PELICAN BRIEF by John Grisham
The only Grisham book I've ever read and it was a terrific one. The 1993 film directed by Alan J. Pakula, was just as good, made even more interesting by the unexpected casting of Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts in the leads. Far as I'm concerned, one of the best non-stop action film thrillers.

Though technically, BBM is a short story, it was published in a separate volume and that's how I read it. The 2005 film directed by Ang Lee took several liberties with the original story - it enriched the rather spare plot - but in such a way that it didn't destroy the author's intent. Proulx did say she was happy with the film, most especially with Heath Ledger's brilliant portrayal of the tortured soul who was Ennis Del Mar. In my view, Jake Gyllenhaal was equally brilliant as the doomed rodeo wannabe, Jack Twist. It is a tragic love story filmed in a quietly intense way which only makes the heart-wrenching ending that much more powerful. The film also happens to contain, in my view, two of the greatest love scenes ever filmed. This is such a special movie, a giant heartache of a movie, but one of the best films I've ever seen. Certainly one of the best adaptations.

4) DODSWORTH by Sinclair Lewis
The 1936 adaptation directed by William Wyler, stays pretty true to the original book (which I only read last year) and remains one of my favorite films. Amazingly this is a film that manages to turn Walter Huston into a sexy adult man of a certain age AND makes Mary Astor likable.
The story is of a disintegrating marriage. A marriage destroyed by an importune trip to Europe taken by retired mid-western millionaire Sam Dodsworth (Huston) and his selfish, younger wife of many years, Fran, played by Ruth Chatterton. A terrific and often very moving film.

Not the recently released film which was a travesty (they changed a couple of important plot points in the story) far as I read - didn't see it, didn't want to. But the 1980's PBS series starring Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder and Anthony Andrews as the doomed Sebastian Flyte, which was, in my view, the best television show/series/film ever broadcast.. The show also starred Lawrence Olivier, Clare Bloom and a bevy of other amazingly good British actors and followed the original book rather closely. A wonderful book turned into a brilliant visual feast.

6) THE 39 STEPS by John Buchan
The superb 1935 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring the wonderful Robert Donat and the not-so-wonderful Madeleine Carroll is tops. The book, good as it is, is still rather dry and absent any female and/or emotional entanglements. This is one of those instances where a pretty good spy thriller was turned into an even better film.

In general, the Harry Potter films (those I've seen) have done an excellent job of adapting the weighty behemoths that are most of the Potter books. While I preferred the books - especially the last three volumes which were practically unputdownable - last year's film was very hard to follow. Of the films, the best, so far has been AZKABAN directed by Alfonso Cuaron, I think. On the whole, none of the films have been overly brilliant but none have been stinkers either. An amazing job when you think about it, really.

The 1995 mini-series starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle is simply perfection. The entire cast is wonderful - not a dud in the bunch. The production follows the book very closely with maybe just a tweak or two here and there - not so you'd notice it though. I loved it. I can't think of anyone who could surpass Colin Firth as Darcy or, for that matter, Jennifer Ehle as Miss Elizabeth Bennett.

The 1974 film directed by Sidney Lumet.Though I am not overly fond of Albert Finney's portrayal of Hercule Poirot - he's too hard edged (and rather unlikable) for me - this is still, I think, the best adaptation of a Christie book simply because they allowed the story to develop as Christie actually wrote it. The claustrophobic setting - inside a train - is photographed beautifully and the acting is better than good. I found the sound-track lackluster and cloying but you can't have everything.

10) CAPTAIN BLOOD by Rafael Sabatini
The 1935 film directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland is just as terrific as the book by Sabatini which I read recently. Wonderful book. Wonderful film. If you love pirate daring-do and swashbuckling adventure plus a good love story, this is the book and the film for you.

11) COLD COMFORT FARM by Stella Gibbons
The 1995 film directed by John Schlesinger and starring Kate Beckinsale, Eileen Atkins and Rufus Sewell. I admit that I am prejudiced, this is one of my very favorite films of all time based on one of my very favorite books of all time. So how could it miss? It didn't. Funny. Wicked. Endearing and ultimately a film that makes you feel good.

12) THE THIN MAN by Dashiell Hammett
The 1935 film directed by W.S. Van Dyke and starring the incomparable William Powell and Myrna Loy. The book is not as full of fun and good times as the film, but it's a detective classic nonetheless. I think I probably like the film a bit more. Well, really: Powell and Loy - who wouldn't love them?

Please remember that until further notice I can't respond to comments left on my posts. Google Blogger has shut down that function on my blog. Nobody knows why, but hopefully I'll get full use of the blog back soon.


  1. Blogger seems to be having quite a number of problems these days. That's downright irritating.

    Hope you'll stop by my blog: Readerbuzz. Not much there this week, but maybe, if you browse a bit, you will find something else of interest. And I do have a great giveaway going on....

  2. I love the picture of the girl lying on her side reading. I should say, however, now that I have glasses lying on my side to read always ends up weird because my glasses become askew and then I don't look like the gal you have here. Ha! I enjoyed your list.

  3. Great and interesting list of movies adapted from books. Some I'll have to add to my library movie lists, and others I should rewatch and more carefully, so that I get more out of them.

  4. I loved Brokeback Mountain (though I haven't read the story), Cold Comfort Farm, P&P, and I totally agree about The Prisoner of Azkaban being the berst Potter film. I'd add the old Dickie Attenborough Brighton Rock to your list (and much else from Greeneland too). I love Wives and Daughter with Justine Waddell (serialisation) and I also thgouht the recent adaptation of South Riding with Anna Maxwell Martin was brilliant.

  5. Deb: I did visit and I did sign up. Thanks for dropping by. :)

  6. Thanks, Anne. That painting in my header is by Winslow Homer believe it or not. He's more well known for paintings of the sea and sailing boats and such.

  7. Kathy: Yeah, this is a good list if I do say so myself. And I do.:)

  8. Juxtabook: Hooray, at least for now, I can comment on my own blog!

    I commented on your blog about reading the BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN short story by Annie Proulx and I still urge you to do so. But have a tissue or two handy.

    I will check out the film suggestions you made. I admit I haven't seen any of them.

  9. I love The Thin Man. I liked The Pelican Brief and Cold Comfort Farm, which I must rewatch to get all of the twists and irony.

    The Firm based on Grisham's book is pretty good.

    The Rainmaker with Matt Damon and Danny DeVito and Jon Voight and many other good actors is quite good. Grisham's book is quite clever and witty. The movie may not catch all of it, but it exposes the insurance scam.


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