1. Great Expectations (1947) Book: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens Rotten Tomatoes: 100% Fresh This film adaptation of the literary classic immediately became the standard for Dickens adaptations. However, none have really been able to live up to the power of this version. The use of black and white film (despite the availability of color technology) lends a degree of austerity that reflects themes from the novel quite well on the screen.
2. The Godfather (1972) Book: The Godfather by Mario Puzo Rotten Tomatoes: 99% Fresh Given that Puzo assisted with the screenplay, it may not be such a surprise that the film adaptation maintains so much of the book’s integrity. This relationship paid off, however — the film (and its franchise) is known as a cinematic behemoth. It remains one of the most frequently quoted and referenced film franchises in popular culture.
3. The Big Sleep (1947) Book: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler Rotten Tomatoes: 96% Fresh This film is a great example of what skilled casting and shared vision do for a piece of art. Director Howard Hawks captures and keeps the essence of the novel while Bacall and Bogart embody it perfectly.
4. To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) Book: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee Rotten Tomatoes: 94% Fresh There is a reason that Gregory Peck won Best Actor for his portrayal of Atticus Finch. He nails it and makes the film work. Strong screenplay and outstanding casting make this adaptation utterly wonderful.
5. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) Book: The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris Rotten Tomatoes: 94% Fresh This film has become such a landmark in cinema that some may not realize that it was first a best-selling book. It is the careful and intimate adaptation of the dark and difficult themes of the book that make this film adaptation a masterpiece.
What is your favorite book-to-film adaptation?