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Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 04/24/2006

The Results: Greatest Stories Ever Filmed

By Liz Kelly

On Friday, we turned our attention to a list compiled by a select set of British critics -- a list purporting to inventory the 50 greatest film adaptations of novels (and some short stories). To recap, the list -- though a good start and inclusive of some true greats -- seemed to come up a bit short. Is the Guardian's list the wrong mix or is 50 just too small a number to narrow down what is proving to be a particularly fertile field?

No one seemed as miffed as me at the "Lord of the Rings" snub, but plenty were surprised that E.M. Forster and Edith Wharton were categorically shut out.

Kurosawaguy also reminded us of another venue for adaptations we might want to include:

"Although it is a TV mini series, I think that 'Lonesome Dove' is perhaps the best novel to film translation I've seen."

Without further ado, here's a list of all the movies Celebritology readers thought should be added to the list. We hope you're paying attention, Guardian...*

2001: A Space Odyssey (The Sentinel)
A Christmas Story (In God We Trust/All Others Pay Cash)
A Passage to India
About a Boy
Adaptation (The Orchid Thief)
Airport
All Quiet on the Western Front
All the King's Men
All the President's Men
Angel Heart (William Hjortsberg's "Falling Angel")
Band of Brothers
Being There
Bridge on the River Kwai
The Caine Mutiny
A Christmas Carol
The Cider House Rules
Das Boot
Day of the Jackal
Diva
The Exorcist
Field of Dreams
From Here to Eternity
Grapes of Wrath
High Fidelity
I, Claudius
The Leopard
Lonesome Dove
Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Rings
The Magnificent Ambersons
The Maltese Falcon
The Man Who Would Be King
Marathon Man
M*A*S*H
Memento
The Natural
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou (Homer's "Odyssey")
Patton
Planet of the Apes (original version)
The Princess Bride
Remains of the Day
The Shawshank Redemption
The Shining
Stand By Me (Stephen King's "The Body")
Strangers on a Train
The Ten Commandments
Tess (Tess of the d'Ubervilles)
The Third Man
The Three Musketeers
The Tin Drum
To Have and Have Not
Touch of Evil
Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story
Witness for the Prosecution
The Wizard of Oz

*Although some of these titles may be included in the American Screenwriters Association list linked in Friday's post, they are not on the Guardian list and therefore included here.

By Liz Kelly  | April 24, 2006; 10:43 AM ET
Categories:  Pop Culture  
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Comments

I'm really surprised "In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash" isn't included in more of these lists. "A Christmas Story" has become the definitive Christmas movie for many, many people. It's definitely on pay with the Grinch, Peanuts Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and so on.

While not a straight translation from book to film, Jean Shepherd's book was at least as integral to the movie upon which it was based as Susan Orlean's "The Orchid Theif" and Adaptation.

Posted by: David | April 24, 2006 12:20 PM | Report abuse

A wonderful list, but it (and The Guardian) are still missing "Gone With the Wind." For all its flaws, artistic and historical, it certainly was an enormously successful adaptation from a novel.

Posted by: Scott F | April 24, 2006 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Alas, no one seems to like Age of Innocence and Howard's End (not to mention Room with a View) as much as I do.

Posted by: katy | April 24, 2006 12:43 PM | Report abuse

If we're listing Oh Brother, Where Art Thou as an adaptation of the Odyssey, then how about Clueless as an adaptation of Emma?

Posted by: ??? | April 24, 2006 1:03 PM | Report abuse

It should be "The Bridge on the River Kwai," not "The Bridge Over the River Kwai." Perhaps THE best movie about World War II.

Posted by: Carrie English | April 24, 2006 1:09 PM | Report abuse

High Fidelity gets a spot but not Dr. Zhivago? How is that possible?

Posted by: Andrew McClung | April 24, 2006 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Um, you're wrong on 2001. The screenplay and book were written in a back-and-forth fashion, and there are definite inconsistencies between the two. The Arthur C. Clarke short story "The Sentinel", which was the genesis for the thing, only covers a small portion of the complete 2001 story.

Posted by: John | April 24, 2006 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Some of these were good books, but down right craptacular movies. The latest rendition of Lord of the Flies was awful, plus About a Boy was hardly anything to applaud.

Lord of the Rings, however, how could the Guardian miss that?

Posted by: Matt | April 24, 2006 1:47 PM | Report abuse

How about Kazan's "East Of Eden"?

"To Have and Have Not" is a great example because the story behind it. William Faulkner bet Hemingway that he could turn Hemingway's worst novel into a hit film. And he did. The film blows the book out of the water. The film also enjoys the distinction of being the only movie with the book written by one Nobel Prize winning author, and the screenplay written by another.

Posted by: James Dean | April 24, 2006 1:53 PM | Report abuse

How could you omit the latest adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" with Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen?!?

Posted by: Anne | April 24, 2006 2:00 PM | Report abuse

While Keira Knightley is certainly wonderful as Elizabeth, as an adaptation of Jane Austen's novel, the latest "Pride and Prejudice" falls short of the BBC production. The screen writers took liberties with the story line for no apparent reason, and on several occasions had characters saying and doing things that Miss Austen would never have had them say or do.

Posted by: chris | April 24, 2006 2:09 PM | Report abuse

No "To Kill a Mockingbird"? How can that be? Gregory Peck is incredible...

Posted by: sph-dc | April 24, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone else notice that our blogger here notes a shutout for EM Forster but the list includes A Passage to India?

Posted by: MB | April 24, 2006 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Nevermind, I can't read blogs and do work at the same time. Ignore me. *facepalm*

Posted by: MB | April 24, 2006 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Anne, we didn't include "Pride and Prejudice" here because it's on the original Guardian list linked at the beginning of the post.

Same thing with "To Kill a Mockingbird," sph-dc.

Cheers.

Posted by: Liz | April 24, 2006 3:38 PM | Report abuse

The Post seemed to miss the fact that "The Shawshank Redemption" was already on the Guardian's list. It's under "Different Seasons (inc. The Shawshank Redemption)". "Different Seasons" includes four short-stories, three of which were turned into movies: Shawshank Redemption, Stand by Me, and Apt Pupil.

Posted by: Jennifer | April 24, 2006 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the list should include miniseries--and especially "Brideshead Revisited."

Posted by: WalkingShadow | April 24, 2006 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I heartily endorse the addition of "Band of Brothers" to the list. Monumental value added by the writers who went back to the historical drawing boards -- and to the vets themselves -- and made telling the story a personal mission. Which they accomplished.

Posted by: appell8 | April 24, 2006 6:42 PM | Report abuse

20000 leagues under the sea

Around the world in eighty days

Nostromo (six hr movie on PBS)

A bridge too far

Are we considering all movies or movies in English only? Das Boot is a German movie although stupid oscar rules made it into an English movie.

Otherwise I would include:

The Apu trilogy

The home and the world

Posted by: subrata sen | April 24, 2006 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Many of these suggested additions are just awful. It is supposed to be the best adaptation of a novel (or short story). Not just a book you liked or a movie you liked. Or even a good movie adaptation of a book you liked--it has to be one of the very best.

Posted by: boogertown | April 24, 2006 11:13 PM | Report abuse

"Berlin Alexanderplatz" -- Novel by Alfred Doeblin, movie by RW Fassbinder. Film a vast improvement on the book, in fact.

Two others that are as good as the novel: the Alex Guinness turns as Smiley in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and "Smiley's People."

Maybe even the BBC production of "War and Peace."

Also, to correct: It's Tess of the "D'Urbervilles" not "D'Ubervilles."

Finally, what about a washingtonpost.com-generated WORST film adaptations of novels? That would be great. I'm starting off the bidding with George Cukor's version of "Justine" by Lawrence Durrell.

-- a former post.commie

Posted by: Bobby Mac | April 24, 2006 11:44 PM | Report abuse

I am too late, but how about Rebecca? Wonderful book and movie. Also, wasn't the Third Man based on a book?

Posted by: Alexandria, VA | April 25, 2006 9:57 AM | Report abuse

What about "The Commitments"? Fantastic adaptation.

Posted by: Rosslyn | April 25, 2006 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Donn Pearce won an Oscar in 1967 for Best Adapted Screenplay based his own novel, a little thing called "Cool Hand Luke"...I think people have simply forgotten it was ever a book in the first place, but it still merits a mention, no? If more people had read/seen CHL, I doubt they would hold King's "Shawshank Redemption" in such high regard.

Posted by: Tom | April 25, 2006 10:58 AM | Report abuse

how about "This Boy's Life" a fantastic adaptation of a book.

i can't believe that some of the classic female sentimental novels are excluded

Posted by: arlington | April 25, 2006 11:05 AM | Report abuse

How about Larry McMurtry:

Brokeback Mountain [screenplay from Annie Proulx short story]
Hud [from Horseman, Pass By]
Last Picture Show
Lovin' Molly
Terms of Endearment

Posted by: Jdauntless | April 25, 2006 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Other great adaptations:

In Cold Blood
Julia (from Lillian Hellman's Pentimento)
The Children's Hour (also by LH)
The Bad Seed
The Thin Man
Empire of the Sun (Speilberg's adaptation of Ballard's book is wonderful)

I can understand how a list may omit some personal faves due to time constraints, but how can a "definitive" list omit either LOTR or To Kill a Mockingbird?

Posted by: SN | April 25, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Rashomon
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
It's a Wonderful Life (although it was adapted from a Christmas card)

From Mr. Hitchcock:
Vertigo
Psycho
Rear Window
and many others

Posted by: Nexus | April 29, 2006 9:40 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: Allison Trump | May 16, 2006 7:59 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: Allison Trump | May 17, 2006 2:11 PM | Report abuse

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