Top 10 Films Adapted From Books (That I’ve Read)

This week I saw The Great Gatsby, something I’ve deeply regretted ever since. You can expect a less-than-complimentary review in the bear future, brace yourselves. I was thoroughly disappointed with the film, mostly because I’d read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel last year in preparation for the film, and really rather enjoyed it. This got me thinking about the best films adapted from books. However, the potential candidates for such a list would include roughly half of all films ever made, if not more, so I slimmed it down somewhat in the only manner I knew how, by making it about myself. Therefore, this is a list of my favourite films adapted from books that I’ve actually read, a list of books nowhere near long enough in my opinion, but with so many films to watch how can I hope to find the time to read more?

Anyway, the list is comprised of books I read before the films came out, some I was drawn to by the film, and others I read upon finding out the film was to be released, as was the case with Gatsby.

Honourable MentionJurassicParkAs much as I’d love Jurassic Park to be on this list, at present I’m only halfway through Michael Crichton’s so far excellent novel, so alas the best I can do is say the first half of Jurassic Park is my Honourable Mention. In terms of complete books, there are some adaptations that have done a stellar job in maintaining the themes and style of their source material – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is impenetrable and muddy, The Time Traveller’s Wife is bland and queasy, Touching The Void is gripping yet informative – whereas others have differed greatly from where they began – There Will Be Blood covers only a fraction of Upton Sinclair’s Oil!. I think I’ll settle upon Fight Club as my official honourable mention, and it remains the book I’ve read the fastest – in one sitting at that – and quite possibly in the same amount of time as it would have taken to watch the film. It is a rather slim book, you see, but well worth a read if you’re even a passing appreciator of the film.
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L.A. Confidential

In 1950s Los Angeles, mob boss Mickey Cohen has been put away, and rival crime factions are warring for his place. Against this backdrop, three very different cops are following three very different cases; brutish Bud White (Russell Crowe) despises wife beaters and is more than willing to frame a suspect in the name of justice as he works as hardman for James Cromwell’s kindly police chief. Ed Exley (Guy Pearce) is the straight-laced, ambitious son of a deceased police hero, investigating a multiple homicide at greasy spoon the Nite Owl, whilst Kevin Spacey’s smooth headline-hunting NARC Jack Vincennes traces a lead found on a drugs bust, uncovering a ring of hookers cut to look like movie stars. Throw into the mix Danny DeVito’s sleazy journo, David Straithairn’s oily businessman and Kim Basinger’s high class whore with a strong resemblance to Veronica Lake and you’ve got a top notch cast all bringing their A-game in a stunning film with tight script and direction. Spacey especially is sublime, stealing every scene in a movie full of memorable ones. The little moments are the finishing touches – Exley removing his oversized glasses and pouting for a photographer, Vincennes bumping into a man he put away on the set of TV show Badge of Honor where he acts as technical adviser, but the big scenes – the masterful interrogation of 3 suspects, several showdowns and a final act with all guns blazing are the parts best remembered. Credit of the month: Ginger Slaughter.

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