15 Times Hollywood Took a Good Book and Made It Even Better

There are several methods for bringing a story to the big screen, including writing an original screenplay, adapting a script from a stage, or basing a film on a book. These days, comic books, graphic novels, and video games can inspire too.

If you ask any adult of a certain age, they will echo the sentiment that the book is always better. Some readers believe that having total control over the imaginary world your story occupies lends to a richer experience.

Moreover, when reading a novel or biography, we are allowed to enter the perspective of our characters – this does depend on the point of view, whether we have a reliable narrator, or how omnipotent our knowledge of each character is.

From The Page to The Screen

In any case, books that are adapted to movies rarely break convention. However, there are occasions wherein the film manages to outdo its source material and unite both works in a way only a few movies can.

Somebody on Reddit asked this question, receiving some fascinating answers.

“What film is undeniably better than the source material?” is the question on the lips of u/TheDiamondAxe7532, and the thread had some interesting responses.

Die Hard Was a Novel?

MrLazyLion was first to weigh in with an interesting take when he said, “Die Hard. The only book I ever read after I saw the movie that was worse in every single way. It's not a bad book, as such, but incredibly bland, boring, and forgettable.”

Who even knew Die Hard was a novel too? Written by Roderick Thorpe in 1979, the high-rise thriller source is Nothing Lasts Forever, which is a sequel to another 1966 novel, The Detective. 

This reaction could also pose that age-old question: “Is Die Hard a Christmas book?

Wise Guys

Coming hot on John McClaine's heels is the movie adaptation of a Henry Hill memoir titled Wise Guys — the movie? Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas.

Motochapstick wrote, “Goodfellas is based on [sic] Henry Hill's biography Wise Guys. Scorcese sort of nailed it.”

Having never read the book, who is to say the movie is better? It is hard to argue with this one, though. Goodfellas is one of the greatest crime movies ever shot.

Some Redditors decided that sometimes a book is so poor that it doesn't merit a movie adaptation, and one of these was The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway's comedy-drama about the life of a fashion magazine intern (which may or may not be based on Vogue Magazine).

The Devil's in The Detail

Several people agreed with this: iceisniceLazlo stated: “Yes! I was taken aback when I read it after seeing the movie, like, how did it even get picked up?!?”

“Feel the same way, I think the movie did a much better job,” said CallMeCalamity007, “especially when it came to Miranda’s humanity.”

Stephen King made a few appearances in the thread, which is not a surprise considering the sheer volume of King novels turned into movies.

Stephen, The ‘King' of Adaptations

Rob Reiner's phenomenal Stand By Me received a few votes, and rightly so. The teenage cast of River Phoenix, Will Wheaton, and Corey Feldman brings much humanity to an already great novella.

Redditor thenobleO said, “Although The Body was good, Stand By Me just hits different [sic]. All the child actors did an amazing job, and you get an excellent sense of their camaraderie [sic] and turmoil.”

Only true fans know that Stephen King also wrote The Shawshank Redemption since it was a deviation from his horror-based novels.

From Theme Park to Hollywood

Regarding adaptations, books, plays, and comic books are easily transferable, so one Redditor scored an easy point with Pirates of the Caribbean. Given the source material was a theme park ride, I feel like this is a slam dunk,” said A_Balrog_Is_Come.

A book that did very well back in the '70s was Jaws, Peter Benchley's portrayal of a deadly great-white shark that leaped onto our big screens in 1975, shattering box-office records.

Poster, NoOneShallPassHassan simply wrote, “Jaws.

Some seemed to agree, even saying how different the book is. Werner_Herzogs_Dream was nuanced in their response, mentioning how “It's just…nastier?”

The First Rule of Fight Club

Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club also got a mention. One Redditor, smocky13, was adamant that “Fight Club [the] movie was better than the book.”

This was given an amen by several Redditors, agreeing that David Fincher is hard to beat, and ModernDayQuixote even confirmed that the author would agree.

So it is only sometimes the case that the book or source material beats the movie. Such is the gift of filmmaking as a medium. Maybe the best approach is to read the book and then watch the film.

Daniel Day-lewis for The Win

A reaction from dotskee gave a shout-out to Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will be Blood, based on Oil! by Upton Sinclair. The novel shares only the premise of an earnest businessman whose soul becomes tarnished by his quest for oil land.

The commenter said, “The scope of the book is much larger, and it really is a fascinating read from a historical perspective, but the character study and cinematic mastery of the film far outshines the novel, which for me gets a little too lost in the details.”

Heart of Darkness

While this is disputable, considering the acclaim of Joseph Conrad's novel, some people just preferred Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando's brutal Vietnam War retelling of his story.

Darmok 47 made a balanced argument, saying, “Heart of Darkness. Apocalypse Now keeps Kurtz's name and the general plot but updates the book from 19th-century Africa to 1960s Vietnam. Both are classics.”


This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.