Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 04/21/2006

The Greatest Stories Ever Filmed

By Liz Kelly

Earlier this week, U.K.'s Guardian newspaper published a list of the 50 best films adapted from novels of all time. Voters (sadly, in Great Britain only) will decide which of the 50 deserves the ultimate title of best adaptation when the winner is revealed in May.

Gregory Peck and Mary Badham in 1962's "To Kill a Mockingbird." (AP)

Although we can't officially vote, we can still have our own fun scanning what looks to be a pretty delectable list. "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "The Godfather," "Pride and Prejudice" and a slew of other expected inclusions are nicely flanked by some less obvious titles, like "Trainspotting" and "Watership Down."

The American Screenwriters Association also recently released a list of 100 top adapted screenplays topped by "To Kill a Mockingbird." There are some notable scripts here that are not included in the Guardian's list: "Gone With the Wind," "The Color Purple" and -- ahem -- "All the President's Men." Conspicuously absent from both lists is even one book from J.R.R. Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

What movies would you include or strike from the list? The Guardian's rules allow novel-length fiction and short stories. For starters, I'd add "Double Indemnity," "All About Eve" and "Sophie's Choice."

By Liz Kelly  | April 21, 2006; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Pop Culture  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Morning Mix: We're Suri, So Suri
Next: Morning Mix: Sheen Ordered Away from Richards


Memento? The story wasn't yet published, but it is based on a story the director's brother wrote.

Posted by: SciFiGirl | April 21, 2006 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Double Indemnity is on the list.

Posted by: Lora Arduser | April 21, 2006 11:27 AM | Report abuse

How could anyone leave out "casablanca"or the original King Kong"...lets get serious...

Posted by: gene marciona | April 21, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Hard to imagine the British leaving out "Witness for the Prosecution." Courtroom dramas are an English specialty, aren't they?

Posted by: k8croy | April 21, 2006 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I definitely would include "Diva." And I would include "Zulu," except that it's based on an article, not on (as I had thought) "The Washing of the Spears."

Posted by: LeisureGuy | April 21, 2006 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Although it is a TV mini series, I think that "Lonesome Dove" is perhaps the best novel to film translation I've seen. In theatrical films I would rate "The Tin Drum", "The Maltese Falcon", and "Strangers on a Train" very highly.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | April 21, 2006 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Touch of Evil and The Magnificent Ambersons should probably be on the list. The Color Purple was a disappointing adaptation in my opinion, with Spielberg turning a relatively dark novel into something else.

That being said, the recent adaptation of Tristam Shandy, unfaithful as it might have been, was utterly hilarious.

Posted by: Chuck | April 21, 2006 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Doh! must remember "Bridge on the River Kwai".

Posted by: kurosawaguy | April 21, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and of course there's "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?," the Coen Brothers' adaptation of Homer.

Posted by: Chuck | April 21, 2006 12:14 PM | Report abuse

"Sophie's Choice"? Bleah. Overwrought and melodramatic. (Although come to think of it, the film version may very well have reflected the book accurately.)

Posted by: DMS | April 21, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Angel Heart. A rare example of a film that actually improved the book (William Hjortsberg's Falling Angel). Alan Parker's decision to take Harry Angel from New York to New Orleans was genius.

Posted by: DavLaurel | April 21, 2006 12:41 PM | Report abuse

"The Caine Mutiny"
"Band of Brothers"
"Das Boot"
"Remains of the Day"
"Grapes of Wrath"
"From Here to Eternity"
"The Shawshank Redemption"
That's all I can think of in 5 minutes. And I know Band of Brothers is HBO but it was a one-of-a-kind dramatiztion of a compelling true story written by Stephen Ambrose. It's worth breaking the rules for.

Posted by: Kirk | April 21, 2006 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The Lord of the Rings is #68

Posted by: BDS | April 21, 2006 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I was stunned to realize that the guardian's list omitted "The Princess Bride" and included the very average "Devil in a Blue Dress."

That's just wrong!

Posted by: Sheldon Wiebe | April 21, 2006 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Lonesome Dove is the best adaptation of a novel ever.

Roman Polanski did a good adaptation of Tess of the Dubervilles. The movie was Tess

Posted by: kephart | April 21, 2006 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, Sheldon - I'd agree with you on "Princess Bride," but I'd take out "American Psycho" (are they serious?) before "Devil in a Blue Dress."

Posted by: Comixchick | April 21, 2006 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Hard to believe that Talented Mr. Ripley made that list and nothing by E.M. Forster, Henry James or Edith Wharton did.

Posted by: dave | April 21, 2006 1:28 PM | Report abuse

There was a movie made from a book called "Gone With the Wind" that did pretty well, plus Dosworth, The Grapes of Wrath, All Quiet on the Western Front, To Have and Have Not, A Christmas Carol, The Exorcist, Being There, The Day of the Jackal, The Man Who Would Be King, I Claudius (same category as Lonesome Dove), Richard Lester's The Three Musketeers, A Passage to India. Maybe the list should be the 100 best transitions from book to film.

Posted by: Scott F | April 21, 2006 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Anybody out there seen a little-known film titled "Catch 22"?


Posted by: Tom H. | April 21, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Catch 22 is in sixth place (they're alphabetical) on the Guardian list.

Posted by: No duh! | April 21, 2006 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing "High Fidelity" was left off due to the move to Chicago from UK. That's too bad, because it's a wonderful adaptation. Same with About a Boy.

The Cider House Rules should be included as well. I wish I had thought of Being There, because that's pretty good.

The adapatation of "In God We Trust/All Others Pay Cash" was pretty good. But, I'm not certain most people know "A Christmas Story" is an adaptation.

Posted by: David | April 21, 2006 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Lawrence of Arabia?

Posted by: dux | April 21, 2006 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I would like to have seen "The Shining" make the list. Although the Kubrick movie was vastly different from King's book, (for starters Jack uses a roque mallet not an ax), it stands as the best horror adaptation ever made.

Posted by: Emil Steiner | April 21, 2006 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Not to repeat some of the great suggestions above, so I'd add:
The Third Man
2001: A Space Odyssey (The Sentinel)
The Wizard of Oz
All the President's Men
All the King's Men
Field of Dreams
Adaptation (The Orchid Thief)
Goodfellas (Wise Guys)
The Shining
Planet of the Apes; original version
Marathon Man
The Natural
Lord of the Flies
Stand By Me (short story, The Body)

Posted by: movie buff | April 21, 2006 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget to include "The Ten Commandments", "Gandhi" and Robert Redford's "A River Runs Through It" and Martin Scorsese's "The Age Of Innocence" and of course "The Last Emperor". These are five of most influencial films in my life anyway.

Posted by: Brian | April 21, 2006 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Is it too early to include Brokeback?

Posted by: Silver Spring | April 21, 2006 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Surely Visconti's adaptation of Di Lampedusa's great novel, "The Leopard". set in Risorgimento Italy and with a great performance from Burt Lancaster?

Posted by: Rangiora | April 22, 2006 12:08 AM | Report abuse

10 Commandments? That overacted piece of drivel is played to the third balcony. It's buzz is it's star power and that it's an Easter/Passover movie. There's no dread, impending doom, no realistic triumph.

Frodo and Sam going to Mount Doom -- that's moviemaking. Neo saving Trinity from the crashing helicopter -- that's thrilling.

Posted by: Michael | April 22, 2006 1:46 PM | Report abuse

The Blues Brothers?

Posted by: tope | April 27, 2006 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Great work! |

Posted by: Justin | September 19, 2006 4:37 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company