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The Book is (Almost) Always Better

13 Movies That Surpass Their Source

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • November 13, 2019

A Painful Admission

It's difficult for us to admit it, but every once in a while the movie is better than the book. It's true! We're all about the books, but sometimes a story just translates better to screen. You may already know that Thriftbooks offers a wide variety of movies and TV shows in addition to books. As we head into the holiday season, it's a great time to stock up on DVDs to watch with family and friends. Here, in chronological order, are thirteen film adaptations that we think improve upon the source material.

1. Jaws (1975)

Oddly enough, a low budget and a malfunctioning mechanical shark on this iconic Steven Spielberg-directed film led to a much more effective (and frightening) story than in the 1974 Peter Benchley-penned thriller.

2. Blade Runner (1982)

A loose adaptation of a Philip K. Dick novel, this dystopian thriller starring Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer did a better job offering a dark, complex vision of humanity's future. Ridley Scott directed.

3. The Color Purple (1985)

This one is tough because Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel is wonderful. But Steven Spielberg put together an amazing cast and created a truly powerful rendition.

4. The Princess Bride (1987)

The humor! The quirky characters! The breakout performances! Adapted for screen by the original author, William Goldman, this magical Rob Reiner-directed film gave new life to a book that, in comparison, seems rather dry.

5. Die Hard (1988)

The perfect Christmas movie? Die Hard, based on 1979's Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Tharp, turned the standard thriller into a propulsive, taut action flick that revolutionized the genre. Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman star.

6. Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

A stellar cast and smart adaptation deepened and transformed Fannie Flagg's sweet, slim novel into this moving, Oscar-nominated film.

7. The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Based on a plodding eighteenth-century classic by James Fennimore Cooper, this sumptuous Michael Mann-directed film offers a more dynamic version of the story. Plus Daniel Day-Lewis!

8. The Remains of the Day (1993)

Alright, so this movie is based on a very good book by a brilliant Nobel Prize-winning author, but the tightly wound story of this repressed butler is elevated by the brilliant acting by Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson and intelligent direction by James Ivory.

9. Forrest Gump (1994)

Believe it or not, the script of this Robert Zemeckis-directed Oscar winner cut tons of wild plot twists from the 1986 book of the same name by Winston Groom.

10. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Considered by many to be one of the best movies of all time, this Oscar-nominated adaptation adds considerable weight and depth to the storyline of Stephen King's novella, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption.

11. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

All hail J. R. R. Tolkien! Seriously, we are huge fans of the books! But let's just admit it, Tolkien can be a bit long-winded. This movie (the whole trilogy, really), directed by Peter Jackson, cuts out all the unnecessary exposition and the result is just grand.

12. The Notebook (2004)

A faithful adaptation of the novel by Nicholas Sparks, this heart-wrenching romance stars Ryan Gosling. 'Nuff said.

13. Stardust (2007)

Another author we love! Neil Gaiman's book is amazing. Please read it! But like Princess Bride, the film version amps up the volume for a more edge-of-your-seat experience.

Let Us Have It!

Sure we're massive book fans, but these great stories just work better on screen. Do you agree? Disagree? In any case, be sure to snap up a few of these blockbusters while they last!

Any unforgettable book-inspired movies to recommend? We love hearing your opinion! And follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for daily book suggestions, book news, and more.

Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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