Chick Chat – Best (or Worst) Book or Movie Adaptions for 5 Thousand, Please

Readers, for the daily double jackpot prize (our unbridled enthusiasm and gratitude), we Chicks want to know: What movie-based-on-a-book (or vice versa) do you feel most strongly about–positively or negatively? **Extra points if you give the answer in the form of a clue!**

Lisa Q. Mathews

Well, this one goes way back:

What movie featured a delightfully perky British nanny, while the book character of the same name was prickly, vain, and demanding? (Possibly much like the author herself, if the film based on her frosty interactions with Walt Disney is true. I suspect it is. I read the whole series in my grade school library. Brrr…)

Bonus: What movie that came out around the same time (and starred the same actress) was a lot more fun than the autobiography of the Austrian girl who would never be a nun?

 Ellen Byron

I’m going old school and giving a shout-out to the 1930s versions of Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, and the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol, starring Alistair Sim. All three are classics for a reason. They’re flawless translations of the original material to the screen. All are in black and white, not color, and for some reason, I think that helps. I don’t know why.

I read a funny story, though, about the making of Wuthering Heights. Merle Oberon played Cathy and David Niven played Edgar Linton, the man she married instead of Heathcliff, who was played by Laurence Olivier. During the filming of Cathy’s death scene, Niven apparently got a case of the giggles and couldn’t stop laughing. A ticked-off Oberon insisted he be re-blocked to stand further away from her. That’s why when she dies, Niven is at the foot of his beloved wife’s bed instead of by her side.

Cynthia Kuhn

While The Princess Bride was in production, I was biting my fingernails. I had a very special interest in seeing how that would turn out, given that my dream ever since I was a kid who fell in love with that book (my whole family did) was to turn it into a movie. Never mind that I wasn’t a producer or director or in any way associated with Hollywood–I hadn’t even graduated from college yet–but I planned to figure all that out when the time came.

When the film was released, I was almost afraid to go to the theater and see it…the book meant so much to us and what if it was horrible? But of course it was fabulous and heartwarming and lovely. THANK GOODNESS.

Leslie Karst

I vote for The Wizard of Oz as the best movie rendition of a book. Although the book is quite good (and rather odd, as well), the movie version—in this Chick’s humble opinion—ranks up there as one of the very best films ever made. And I’ve often thought that trivia questions from the movie would be the best way to trip up a foreign spy posing as an American, as we all (at least of a certain age) pretty much know the movie dialogue by heart.

And another hat tip goes to the Inspector Morse TV series, which is SOOOO much better than the books. As for worst movie version of a book, that honor has to go to the abysmal film version of The Hobbit. Oy.

Becky Clark

I think I’ll go with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I love both the book and the movie—a lot—but I think the movie edges out the book just a teensy bit because of Gregory Peck and Mary Badham’s portrayals. She, btw, had never acted before and at 10, was the youngest to be nominated for an Oscar. She lost out to Patty Duke for “The Miracle Worker.” Do not get me started on Harper Lee’s sequel GO SET A WATCHMAN, though. Ugh. I have issues. So many issues.

A movie that was better than the book was the John Wayne version of “True Grit.” And two that spring to mind that do justice to the books are “The Queen’s Gambit” and “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.”

Say it with me …. “Towanda!!!”

Jennifer Chow

Usually, I love the book and am meh (or happy enough) with the movie adaptation. The exception to this rule was a series of films based on…
This series of books (complete with original poetry, songs, and languages) was originally intended to be published in one big volume by the author. Super hint: One ring to rule them all.

(Apologies in advance to Tolkien fans. I really had a hard time with the books in the series because of all the poetry and songs interrupting the narrative.) Anyway, I adore the films. The movie trilogy was shot simultaneously in New Zealand. The cinematography is amazing, and I loved all the created magical lands, particularly Rivendell.

Fun fact: I didn’t realize that Lord of the Rings was split into multiple movies and was super frustrated at the “end” of the first film.

Readers, we’d love to hear your responses to our choices–but please feel free to add your own Best/Worst book or movie adaptation nominees in the comments below!

40 thoughts on “Chick Chat – Best (or Worst) Book or Movie Adaptions for 5 Thousand, Please

  1. I thought Misery by Stephen King was very disappointing as a movie. The book was so much better. I always read the book before I watch the movie. I saw the North and South miniseries before reading the book and I all did was compare. He didn’t look like Patrick Swayze.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Ha! Yes, that’s so often the problem with seeing a movie after reading the book: the actors rarely look like you imagined them. And what’s worse, you often thereafter can only imagine them as those actors. Sigh…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Lisa,

        As someone who hasn’t read any of the Reacher books, I didn’t have an issue with Tom Cruise in the role. But I get how so many people who love the books would have issues with that.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh, excellent point, and you’re absolutely right. We get those characters in our head and when they don’t match up it’s so weird. That said, often I see the movie first, like “Elf,” and no matter how the book is written, there’s no way I wouldn’t see Will Farrell.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The movie that I think did a fabulous job adapting the book was the historical movie “Gettysburg” from Michael Shaara’s book “Killer Angels”. It was almost word for word taken from the book. Of course being historical, you can’t stray too much. But it was well done.

    The one I was disappointed in, was the movie “The Firm” from John Grisham’s book. The movie followed the book VERY well through most of the movie and then it was as if the director looked at his watch and said “OMG! We only have 10 minutes left to end this story!” The ending was just ridiculous and not at all like the book. It ruined it for me. I enjoyed “The Client” and “The Pelican Brief” much more.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think The Graduate aged well. Watched it for the first time in the nineties and Benjamin seemed awfully stalkerish to me.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. “Field of Dreams” is one of my all-time favorites. The book it was based on, “Shoeless Joe” was good, but I think the movie is flawless. “Arrival” was a million times better than the novella it was based on, *The Story of Your Life,” which was a DNF for me. On the flip side, there have been three film adaptations of Richard Matheson’s “I am Legend” and I don’t think any of them truly do the book justice.
    Of course, your mileage may vary.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree about The Graduate–I think I had to watch it for an English class, and it felt so weird. I didn’t know Field of Dreams was from a book. (Gee, I need to restock my bookshelves.)

      Can’t agree about “The Story of Your Life,” though, which I really enjoyed. But then when I watched the movie, I thought: Why is this all so familiar? I can foresee every twist!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Yes, The Princess Bride is one of my faves and may just edge out the book. May. It’s so quotable and years later, still enjoyable. In fact, I may watch it tonight.

    I think Peter Jackson could have done a good job with The Hobbit; Martin Freeman was a good Bilbo. He added so much to it, though (out of the appendices and other material, btw, he didn’t make it up).

    Jennifer, I thought Lord of the Rings did a great job turning an unwieldy set of books into a movie that could be enjoyed by anyone regardless of whether you read them.

    My pic? This miniseries led actor Colin Firth to quip, “If tomorrow I went to space, the headline would be ‘Mr. Darcy goes to Mars.'”

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I first read The Lord of the Rings when I was in junior high, and have read it some 10 times since, and yes, Jackson did a great job with the trilogy. But his version of The Hobbit seemed like one endless battle scene. Ugh.

      And yes, Liz, Firth’s Darcy was marvelous!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I read somewhere that Jackson mined the appendices to LOTR and the Silmarillion for material. So It’s stuff Tolkien wrote, but not in The Hobbit. I guess he didn’t think The Battle of 5 Armies was “action-y” enough.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Priceless! I agree. Love the book, but the trilogy, not so much. Having read the Lord of the Rings years ago, and longing for the movies, I remember tears running down my cheeks as I watched Gandalf ride into The Shire during The Fellowship of the Ring.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I have one of each. I was amazed at how closely Girl with a Pearl Earring followed the book-not just by telling the story but by infusing the quiet and haunting atmosphere of the excellent novel by Tracy Chevalier. On the other hand, the movie Seabiscuit based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand was a disaster. I actually wanted to walk out of the theater.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I’ll be honest, I never made it through Lord of the Rings. (Please don’t kill me!) I’m not sure why. But I liked the movies! And Leslie, I almost chose Wizard of Oz as well. Here’s one where I wanted a different ending: Marley & Me.

        Liked by 3 people

  6. At the time the first LOTR book was coming out, my roommate at the time was telling me I had to read the books before the movies started coming out. I tried. I really did. But when we got to the part where he was describing the bark on every tree they were passing – and they were in the forest – I set the book down and didn’t pick it up again. And you know how rare that is for me.

    I didn’t care for the movies, either.

    My usual go to is The Princess Bride. I love the movie, but I find the book overly pretentious. I wish they had included Humperdink’s proposal to Buttercup in the movie, but other than that, the movie is better in every way.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Dare I say that I hate Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher! Author Lee Child describes Reacher as a giant of a man who totally intimidates his adversaries, and try as I could, I just couldn’t see Cruise as Reacher. I had a similar problem with Robert Downey, Jr. as Sherlock Holmes — all I could see was Tony Stark with a bad British accent. OTOH, Basil Rathbone played such a great Holmes that I could look past the update to WWII.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Tom, how ’bout the Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly duo as Holmes/Watson? That movie disappeared so fast I didn’t even get to see whether it was, indeed, as terrible as everyone said. I did see a trailer.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. J.C. good point about The Graduate being a stalkerish. I think I felt that back in the day! But it’s very true to the book.

    And Mark, totally agree about The Princess Bride. I think the movie is better than the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m going with my likes. I don’t watch much in the way of live tv right now, but my faves that are both books and movies/miniseries are Roots, Harry Potter, and the musical Rent the movie. The script was outstanding, but the cast took it to the next level for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s not just movies based on books. The tv series based on M. C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin series was so disappointing. Agatha is a middle aged curmudgeon who chases men who try to get away—not an attractive blond who men chase.

    Liked by 1 person

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