Since the dawn of motion pictures, the most obvious and most used source material has been the novel and books adapted to the film. Everything from short stories to the Bible has been turned into some of the best and worst movies of all time. To see our most beloved stories come to life in the most vivid way has kept audiences reading and watching for years and will continue to be. The following list is some of the most well known and most revered movies and books of all time. Some of the criteria for this list is that the movie has to be one of a kind, meaning no remakes allowed i.e. Dracula, Frankenstein etc. There are too many versions to have a definitive version. Another minor criteria is that the book needs to be as loved as the movie. This will leave this list open to much interpretation and much debate but here it is none the less.
Peter Benchley’s terrifying novel that did with words what the movie did with image is one of the most loved thriller stories of all time. It not only has kept audiences from going in the water for more than 35 years but has continued to find new fans every year. While it took years to get the book published it likewise took, what felt like years to the cast and crew, to make the film. It is quite possibly still the film most identified with it’s director, Steven Spielberg, despite his many iconic and highly regarded films. It’s adaptation of the meat of the story is still the perfect blockbuster film.
4. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy
While the films and books were eventually split into a trilogy, it was originally one large novel by famed imagination icon J.R.R. Tolkien. Peter Jackson and his crew and writing staff could not have more perfectly portrayed what has been in the minds of readers for nearly 60 years. his creation of Tolkiens fantasy land, Middle Earth, is nearly perfect. With an instant mass following and a desire for more, Jackson produced a trilogy in the exact way a film fan wants it done, quickly. One can only wonder if The Hobbit will make this list after it’s release in December.
3. Silence Of The Lambs
Thomas Harris second novel based around his creation of the canabalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter proved to be the most intriguing story and most well thought out. Ted Tally’s screenplay adaptation was nearly written for him in Harris’ book. Tally used a majority of dialogue and 90 percent of the book makes it on the screen. With performances that are to this day unparalleled. In the hands of a director clearly out of his comfort zone, Silence Of The Lambs struck fear in the minds of all who saw it and yet left everyone wanting more of Sir Anthony Hopkins chilling portrayal of Lecter.
2. The Godfather
The film and novel have likely become American institutions not unlike my number one choice. Mario Puzzo’s brilliant look inside the mafia has been described as so perfectly accurate that since it’s release many actual members of the mob use it as reference and refer to it often. While the film is not the most perfect adaptation it is none the less a piece of film icon. With performances that set the bar for all acting in film, it is quite possibly the most perfect film ever made and one of the most read novel to film adaptations of all time except for maybe one, our final film/book.
1. Gone With The Wind
Margaret Mitchell’s take on the American Civil War from the view of the rich southern plantation owner is quite possibly the greatest American novel ever written and it’s film version is the most successful movie of all time. Having sold more theater tickets by far than any other movie (including Star Wars after 2 releases) Gone With The Wind is what classic Hollywood is all about. With classic lines to unforgettable scenes. No special effects will ever compete with the distant views of Sherman’s march through Atlanta. Mitchell’s house and spot of death (A location on Atlanta’s famed Peachtree Street) are historical sites along with the rare opportunity to see the film in the famed Fox theater. No film and novel have ever combined to be so revered in the history of this great combination.