It’s almost routine when we see a film that’s been adapted from a favorite book and as the end credits are rolling, we sigh and think, the book was so much better.

But there are those rare occasions when the film actually improves upon the book. Here are some that come to mind. . .

The film captures the primeval drive of Benchley’s novel but in that rare serendipity that film magic can sometimes produce, the characters are richer and their chemistry is real, keeping us in rapt attention as we follow their every move and hope against hope that they survive their quest against the great white. This film not only holds up but no amount of CGI could improve upon Spielberg’s keeping the monster shark mostly off camera for most of the film. A perfect adventure.

Mel Gibson’s directorial debut of Isabelle Holland’s young adult novel. The film, a poignant and moving portrait of two people outcast by loved ones and society and how they find and help each other, is an improvement in every way on the dismal novel. Highly recommended.

Based on WP Kinsella’s quirky novel, Shoeless Joe, the film becomes a paean to the father/son relationship while reminding us which game is really America’s past time. It’s a film that, if you step back far enough from it, shouldn’t work at all. It’s actually kind of a miracle that it did. But Phil Alden Robinson’s marvelous direction and adaptation, James Horner’s pitch-perfect (as it were) score and Kevin Costner’s absolute earnestness are marvelous to behold. In many ways it’s this generation’s It’s a Wonderful Life.

What films do you think are better than the books they’ve originated from?



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