10 best adaptations of novels in Hollywood movies

How often do we see a movie adaptation of a novel meet your expectations? The suggestions are always, often, rarely, or never.

Most of us will choose often and few will stand bold on the point of never. Latter is highly disappointing when a movie fails at each and every aspect.

Also there are few which go beyond the story line of a novel. So the scope of comparison is lost.

But there are some which met expectations or we could say went uphill to showcase each and every aspect with a beauty. Best among those movies are listed below:

  1. A Clockwise Orange (1971): Stanley Kubrick adapts Anthony Burgess’s dystopian fable where he presents youth under highly disorienting experience of traversing a fictional world through the eyes of a character named Alex who is a Beethoven loving, Nadsat- speaking  and a sociopath.


  1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975): A film adaptation with an even more experienced ensemble cast (Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif, Louise Fletcher, Christopher Lloyd) and incredibly charismatic—and dangerous—lead, Jack Nicholson, Milos Forman’sCuckoo’s Nest stands perfectly well on its own. But lovers of Ken Kesey’s madcap novel have many reasons for favorable comparison. One vast difference between the two, however, lies in the narrative point-of-view.


  1. Thw Shawshank Redemption(1994): This Novel is featured in Stephan’s King series called  “Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption”. The movie adapted Morgan Freeman into the stratosphere as the best voiceover artist in Hollywood. A box office failure, the story of a man’s hard slog in prison finally triumphed on home video – and has since been heralded as a cinematic masterpiece. In the book, the prisoners gather round to watch.c2 
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962): It is a sentimental adaptation of the  Harper Lee’s only novel which is flawed, righteous, and loveable. Gregory Peck is Atticus Finch (and as far as adaptations go—despite the brave attempts of many a fine actor—is Ahab as well). And the young Mary Badhamis Scout. Robert Duvall makes his screen debut as kindly shut-in Boo Radley, audiences learn how to pronounce “chiffarobe”…. It’s as classic a piece of work as the novel—seems almost impossible to separate the two.



  1. Goodfellas (1990): The movie is adapted from Nicholas Pileggi’s non-fiction narrative ‘Wise Guy’. It recounts the story of the Lucchese crime family through the eyes of Henry Hill and his cohorts. The film follows Hill a young whippersnapper, played by a never-better Ray Liotta, caught up with a local mobster crew led by Robert De Niro’s Jimmy and Paul Sorvino’s heavyweight boss, Paulie. Landing six Academy Award nods, it secured one – for Joe Pesci’s supporting turn as the irascible


  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) – It is the third part of R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth Trilogy adapted by Peter Jackson. In this part Frodo and his friend continue their journey towards Mount Doom to destroy that one ring. The filmmakers deemed the novel’s final scuffle at Mount Doom ‘anticlimactic‘, as Gollum falls to his death, accidentally dropping the One Ring into the Cracks of Doom.  c5       
  1. Apocalypse Now (1979) this one is transformed form one of the colonialist novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Francis Coppola worked very distinctively and set the story at the time of Vietnam War. The film follows a central character Captain Benjamin L. Williard (Sheen), on a secret mission to assassinate an insane character called Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Brando).


  1. The Godfather (1972)- Appreciated as one of the greatest films of all time, this movie is adapted from an Italian-American author Mario Puzo’s fictional work on New York mafia clan and its inner working along with the rivalry with neighboring clans. Those heavy words of  Al Pacino are equally attractive as they were before.


  1. The Shining (1980) – The movie is adapted from haunted novel by Stephen King. It was the first by King in haunted genre. The director Stanley Kubrick borrows the outline of the novel, “an unhinged writer in a haunted hotel”. The whole story wasn’t adopted.


  1. Psycho (1960) – An American psychological thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The screenplay by Joseph Stefano was based on a 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The film revolved around the encounter between a secretary,  Marion Crane (Leigh), who ends up at a secluded motel after embezzling money from her employer, and the motel’s disturbed owner-manager, Norman Bates (Perkins), and its after math.


Adapted from:

15 Great Films Adapted From Equally Great Novels

–Aman Verma



2 thoughts on “10 best adaptations of novels in Hollywood movies

    • Your review is interesting. No doubt, it is hard to satisfy a reader with a movie adaptation. Read more of our articles and let’s see if we think on same or similar topics.


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