One of Hollywood’s favorite pastimes is turning a favorite book into a much-anticipated movie. This always fuels the debate: Was the movie as good as the book? Was the book as good as the movie?
This collection showcases ten such books:
Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton. Warner Brothers released the silent film version in 1924, directed by Wesley Ruggles, and starring Beverly Bayne as Countess Olenska and Elliott Dexter as Newland Archer. In 1934, RKO Studios issued a remake directed by Philip Moeller, starring Irene Dunne as Countess Ellen Olenska and John Boles as Newland Archer. The best known of the current generation is Martin Scorsese’s 1993 adaption, starring Michelle Pfeiffer as Countess Ellen Olenska, Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer, Winona Ryder as May Welland Archer, Richard E. Grant, and Miriam Margolyes. Ryder won a Golden Globe Award for her portrayal of May Welland Archer, and the film won an Oscar for costume design. It’s also worth noting that Cecily Von Ziegasar modeled hit series Gossip Girl after this book.
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, by Lew Wallace. William Wyler’s epic 1959 film starred Charlton Heston as Ben-Hur and won eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor. This film was preceded by a ten-minute, one-reel version in 1907 and a full-length movie in 1925.
Brewster’s Millions, by George Barr McCutcheon. When most of us think of Brewster’s Millions, we think of Richard Pryor from the 1985 movie, but in truth, this book has been turned into film no less than nine times—including two versions in India.
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. Like many other works by Charles Dickens, this novel has been adapted for theater and film multiple times. The (at least) thirteen film adaptations include two silent films, four television series, an animated version, and six full-length feature films. The 1989 film starred Anthony Hopkins as Magwitch and Jean Simmons as Miss Havisham, while the 1998 version starred Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow.
The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The most well-known adaptations of this book are the 1939 and 1959 films. The 1959 film was produced by Hammer Films and directed by Terence Fisher and starred Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes, Sir Christopher Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville, and André Morell as Doctor Watson.
Howards End, by E. M. Forster. The year 1970 brought a television version of E. M. Forster’s masterpiece, but more well-known is the 1992 film starring Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter, and Samuel West. Emma Thompson won an Academy Award for her performance.
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë. This gothic work proved to be popular fodder for silent film, and appeared in five different silent movies from 1915 to 1926. Since then, it has also been made into at least eleven motion pictures, including versions made in India, China, and Mexico. A new version starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender is expected to release in March 2011.
A Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne. This book has been adapted for the big screen at least four times, with one of the more recent in 2008 starring Brendan Fraser and Anita Briem. It has also appeared in at least seven television adaptations.
The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper. This book has been adapted for film many times with numerous revisions. The most recent adaptation starred Daniel Day-Lewis and was preceded by releases in 1920, 1932, 1936, and 1963. The Library of Congress labeled the 1920 version as culturally significant, and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
White Fang, by Jack London. The most well-known of the numerous movie versions is perhaps the 1991 Disney film starring Ethan Hawke. Other adaptations hit the screen in 1925, 1936, 1946, 1973, 1993 (television series), and 1997 (animated).