Monday, June 05, 2006

the best chance at better than the book

The Guardian dishes the top 50 film adaptations made from novels.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird
Robert Mulligan (1962)
Adapted by Horton Foote from Harper Lee's 1960 novel

Lee's first (and so far only) novel was a literary sensation, scooping the Pulitzer prize and shifting 2.5m copies in its first year of publication. Clearly the screen version strikes a similar chord. This is a film we cherish in the same way we cherish It's a Wonderful Life, or The Wizard of Oz. Sensitively scripted by Foote, To Kill a Mockingbird spins a vibrant, child's-eye view of adult torments and boasts a career-best turn from Gregory Peck as the iconic Atticus Finch. Needless to say it could all have been so different. Legend has it that Peck only agreed to the role after the producers' first choice, Rock Hudson, turned it down. - Xan Brooks

2. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Milos Forman (1975)
Adapted by Bo Goldman and Lawrence Hauben from the 1962 novel by Ken Kesey

"Which one of you nuts has got any guts?" asks Jack Nicholson in his role as the swaggering Christ figure to the downtrodden inmates at an Oregon mental hospital. Where Kesey's source novel was a hippie-ish allegory on individualism and conformity, Forman's screen version adopted a more earthy, naturalistic approach. But in ditching the book's druggy flavour, Forman earned the author's lifelong enmity. Kesey disowned the movie and went to his grave without ever having seen it.

3. Blade Runner
Ridley Scott (1982)
Adapted by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples from the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick

When Dick remarked that the rough cut of Blade Runner looked exactly as he hoped it would, Scott replied that he had never actually read the book (the title was changed because the studio hated it and pinched one from a book by rival author Alan Nourse). Despite that, his vision of a futuristic melting-pot Los Angeles superbly converts Dick's outlandish worldview into an exotic hybrid of film noir and science fiction. The film is now embraced as a contemporary classic.