July 22nd, 2012 / 7:32 pm

What is the exception to “the book was better than the movie”?


  1. Cooper Callinan

      The book was written by a piece of shit. Someone came in on a toilet unflushed and discovered more than corn nuts.

  2. marshall mallicoat

      fight club

  3. marshall mallicoat

      blade runner

  4. Cooper Callinan

      Oh, and LEAVING LAS VEGAS destroyed me much worse than its literary source.

  5. Mr. Frank Rodriguez

      Lots. This is actually not a good rule, it’s just that the famous book is usually better than the crappy adaptation. Marnie is awesome–forgotten book. My second favorite film In A Lonely Place too. I actually haven’t read these books but surely they can’t be as good. I’ve been meaning to read Double Indemnity, but I’d prolly like the film better because it was written by Chandler who is one of my favorites. 

  6. Mary Miller

      The Virgin Suicides, though I’m sure there will be a lot of disagreement on this one.

  7. Ethan

      agreed. think this might be the best example of the movie version better than the book.

  8. Ethan

      probably true of a lot of Philip K. Dick books, like Minority Report and A Scanner Darkly

  9. Ethan

      The Shining

  10. Scott Riley Irvine

      Wild at Heart is the only one I can think of for some reason.

      (I liked the adaptation of Atonement too, though I’m only assuming it’s better than the book.)

  11. alan rossi

      I don’t really know about even this idea.  Maybe instead like movies that are just as good, or really cool by being interpreted in a different way.  Like The Shining.  I loved the hell out of that book when I was younger, but then I also loved the movie for obvious and completely different reasons.  But then there’s something like, say Jesus’ Son, which I know not everyone around here is a fan of, but it’s pretty solid nonetheless, and the movie, well, the movie I thought was like the book on a screen, which seemed pretty cool and pretty much impossible to go, Oh, the book/movie’s better.  It was neat to see how Crudup saw Fuckhead’s character.  Or like A Scanner Darkly – the movie was better?  I had such different experiences reading the book and watching the movie that I can’t possibly compare the two – and it’s weird, PKD’s prose in that one is often pretty clunky, but I just couldn’t stop reading; but then the movie’s like fabric of animation was so absorbing in a completely different way.  Or Lord of the Rings – those books are just so much fun and how difficult a time Jackson must’ve had making those movies, I don’t know, I just hate to go, Yep, movie/book better.  I guess this is lame of me, not playing the game, sorry, it is a fun game.

  12. Jimmy Chen

      one flew over the cuckoo’s nest!

  13. rawbbie

      that was my first thought. my second thought was, “The Jungle Book.”

  14. Golgonooza

      A Clockwork Orange

  15. Frank Hinton


  16. rawbbie

      Terminator 2

  17. Scott Riley Irvine

       I really need to see this.

  18. lorian long

      no country for old men

  19. bartleby_taco

      woman in the dunes/face of another; abe is boring, teshigahara is boring too, but in a way that i like

  20. dl.flsxzkmrkyrzk

      I will add Harry Potter- the 2nd last movie. Dot and the Kangaroo. Groundbreaking films.

  21. Greg(ory) Napp

      ^probably the right way to think about this, in terms of being an interesting way to think about this. i think someone might say you’re supposed to judge the books as books and the movies as movies.

      i was gonna say no country for old men but lorian long beat me to it
      i would not say the road though

  22. Greg(ory) Napp

      hmm i can’t remember the woman in the dunes film at all, but the book has stuck with me

      saw the film about 7 yrs ago, the book i read maybe 3 yrs ago
      you’ve made me want to see the film again

  23. deadgod

      To me, the obvious choice is The Godfather, which has an odd history as a book.

      The way I remember (?) reading about it, Puzo was a tremendously ambitious writer – he wanted to be something like ‘the Italian-American Joyce’ – , but couldn’t get his literary fiction attention commensurate with his dream of its virtues.  His agent told him to go ahead and write a soap-operatic potboiler if he really wanted to be a famous writer, and, in response, Puzo almost angrily wrote The Godfather.  Coppola, the actors, everybody involved with the movie, under a lot of pressure Evans (the producer) says he somewhat deflected–well, you know what they managed to do ‘from’ the novel.

      Some of the books here I think are at least as ‘good’ as the movies made from them, and some, far bettered by the movies, but I haven’t heard a Coppola denier say that the source for his Godfather was better than his/their movie.

  24. John Parker

      American Psycho

  25. Matt Tyler

      Vertigo?  (D’entre les morts)

      Hitchcock seems like a good answer for this in general (i.e.  haven’t read Psycho but am inclined to think…)

  26. deadgod

      Another interesting game is to try to think of excellent books that became excellent movies.  –like Red Harvest inspiring Yojimbo (which I’ve seen denied as its source (?)).

  27. Joel Bass

      Lord of the Rings

  28. emmab

      The Orchid Thief being turned into Adaptation

  29. William VanDenBerg

      Yeah, but Minority Report was based on one of his lousier short stories. And if we’re counting those then we have to judge Total Recall vs. “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale,” which is a whole other can of worms.

  30. ravi mangla

      children of men

  31. abysmal

      The Ten Commandments

  32. NLY

      That brings up Ran and Throne of Blood, which probably aren’t better than the Shake-scene’s originals, but are about as good as good as a movie gets.

  33. duly_registered

      Raul Ruiz made an excellent Proust movie.
      And people say Stanislav Lem’s Solaris is excellent, though I only know the films. 

      But on the movie-over-book side: I’ll watch Werckmeister Harmonies many times, but I read The Melancholy of Resistance only once, can’t really imagine wanting to re-read it. 

  34. Nick Mamatas

      Those mediocre novel series turned into good HBO shows?

  35. Nick Mamatas

      Those mediocre novel series turned into good HBO shows?

  36. Jim Simpson

      The Graduate.

  37. Jim Simpson

      The Graduate.

  38. Frank Tas, the Raptor

      Midnight Cowboieiei

  39. Taylor Napolsky


  40. Taylor Napolsky

      To Kill A Mockingbird

  41. Greg(ory) Napp

      how about 2001: A Space Odyssey?
      novel and screenplay written concurrently and collaboratively
      honestly can’t remember the book very well, however

  42. Ultra Vegina

       It’s rather great.

  43. Ultra Vegina

      It is based ona short story, The Sentinel, five pages long.

  44. Greg(ory) Napp

      yah i know.
      op asks about movies better than books–there’s a book and there’s a movie called 2001: A Space Odyssey.

  45. Mr. Frank Rodriguez


  46. Mr. Frank Rodriguez

      Any Nicolas Cage movie based on a novel–the movie’s better. 

      I feel the Atonement novel> film.

  47. Frank Hinton

      I remember in the Godfather there were several chapters dedicated to Sonny’s mistress. She was with him because he was well endowed and we later found out she had an abnormally huge vagina. After Sonny dies there are 5-6 chapters dedicated to her quest to find a cure or someone big enough to fill her giant vagina.

  48. Henry Fry

      I don’t know if I’d say ‘better’, but I thought the movie of The Hours was at least equal to or better than the Michael Cunningham novel. Unlike lots of film adaptations, I felt it maintained the soul (urgh) of the book. Without sticking to every line it used the medium to evoke the same sentiment. The book is beautifully written, also. 

  49. Josh Friedlander

      it looks awful from the trailer. and i was pretty excited about cronenberg adapting it. it’s not exactly a story i guess. 

  50. Bobby Dixon

      I think any movie that David Fincher has done that was based on a book counts. 

  51. Robin Kelly

      Yellow Bird’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Headhunter films neatly dealt with daft choices/plotting issues that were in the books which bugged me.

  52. Mark Thomas Stevenson

      frank, seriously? i havent caught the film yet tell me you’re joking….

  53. bartleby_taco

      i actually liked woman in the dunes a good amount (book), but i liked the movie better, i think! i couldn’t finish the face of another (book), it was interesting at first but grew boring/tedious pretty fast

  54. Trey

      I haven’t seen Total Recall but I just recently read We Can Remember It for You Wholesale and thought it was not very good. what do you think?

  55. Trey

      Scott Pilgrim vs The World is not better than the Scott Pilgrim series, but I think it does pretty well (maybe the best a movie could do) as an adaptation.

  56. A D Jameson

      Complete agreement, except the book has a better ending than the film.

  57. A D Jameson

      This was my first thought as well.
      (Edit: Ignore this comment.)

  58. A D Jameson

      This was my first thought as well. (For some reason my comment jumped down below.)

  59. A D Jameson

      I love the film, but I also really love the book. But I just adore PKD, think he’s great and very rarely truly adapted.

  60. A D Jameson

      A Scanner Darkly is great book. The adaptation is wonderful, too.

  61. Ultra Vegina

       You’re right. That book is definitively not as good as the movie.

  62. A D Jameson
  63. BillyNerdass

       The book is really good. The movies focus more on the relationship between Kelvin and his wife while the book is more about the nature of the planet. And apparently that really pissed Lem off.

  64. William Owen

      Going askance but the only instance I can think of where Book = Film is Being There. The film has the best ending of all time (better than Diggstown, which someone once very very seriously claimed had the best ending of all time, which is just silly).

  65. Don

      Wonder Boys

  66. Adrian Van Young

      american psycho

  67. William VanDenBerg

      I thought it was one of his better short stories, although it’s not at the level of something like VALIS or Ubik. It thought the plot was well executed, and at the very least it’s entertaining. But the story is really just the twists — it’s not nearly as ambitious his better work.

      The movie is pure glorious Verhoeven trash. It isn’t good by any means, but it is an awful amount of fun.

  68. postitbreakup

      love the film of a scanner darkly

  69. postitbreakup

      see, while i love the shining as a film, i wouldn’t necessarily say it’s “better” than the book because they’re so different. the shining was kubrick creeping us out with his total mastery of tone, the shining book was stephen king writing about his alcoholism with some incidental scares. i like them both for very different reasons. 

  70. postitbreakup

      haha holy shit

      did they ever give a measurement

  71. Tom Beshear

      Yeah, Godfather is the quintessential film that’s better than the novel. Perhaps it’s a generational thing that it took this long for someone to mention it?

  72. Merzmensch

      May I say: Stalker?

      Even if Brother Strugatskys “Roadside Picnic” is pretty funny and stuff, but Tarkovsky did something crazy again. Even if writers (Lem, Struatskys) not really appreciated his interpretations of own works, but: Stalker is genious in the freaky way.

  73. Richard Grayson

      “The Wizard of Oz” and “Gone With the Wind.”

  74. Matt Rowan

      I think the whole Stephen King fascination with the inanimate becoming alive and scary is kind of frustrating. I mean, making the human actor entirely the one responsible is, to me, the scariest aspect of Kubrick’s version — the novel feels like it cops out, by comparison. Not a bad book but not better than the movie. 

  75. Matt Rowan

      Yes, Adam, I have you to thank for my great fondness for the works of PKD! 

  76. A D Jameson

      I am his apostle.

  77. Nick Moran

      How has nobody said Jaws yet?

  78. Nick Moran

      How has nobody said Jaws yet?

  79. Alisha Karabinus

      I think The Virgin Suicides is a fantastic adaptation, and really close to the book… but the pacing near the end of the film ramps up, leaving out a lot of the decay and horror of the girls wasting away. It’s a close race, but in the end, I choose the book.

  80. Noah Cicero

      RULES OF ATTRACTION is one of my favorite movies. But American psycho, informers, less than zero, sticking with the book. 

  81. Kris Hartrum

      Fight Club and Blade Runner are definitely the classic examples.

  82. Michael Sarki

      The recent New Directions publication of the English translation of László Krasznahorkai’s novel Sátántangó was in no way equal to or above the Hungarian director Béla Tarr’s film offering of the same.  Not that the novel was not good, it was. But who could ever compete with the magnificent Béla Tarr film production?