It is generally agreed that motion picture adaptations of books rarely exceed the quality and entertainment value of the novels. But there have been plenty of exceptions to the rule. It is not an insult to the author, but perhaps to the talent of the filmmakers who successfully brought the writer’s words to the silver screen. Although there are plenty of film adaptations that were better than the books themselves, here are a few that stand out.
Patricia Highsmith’s intense psychological thriller, The Talented Mr. Ripley, will go down as one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. The sequels were bland affairs, but Highsmith’s initial 1955 crime story is an incredible read.
When people think of adaptations, they will remember the passable 1999 movie of the same name, starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jude Law. But there was a French film made in 1960 titled Purple Noon, which, surprisingly, was better than both the book and 1999 picture. Perhaps it was Alain Delon’s astonishing performance as a sociopathic murder, or maybe it was the filmmakers abandoning the homoerotic tendencies of Highsmith’s literary masterpiece.
Either way, Purple Noon is in the top ten list of best French movies produced in the 1960s – or ever.
The Big Sleep
Let’s get this out of the way: Raymond Chandler was a master author in the 20th century who completely transformed the crime noir genre. Moreover, The Big Sleep and the short stories in the Black Mask publication th...