Books that are Better as Movies

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Hello and welcome to the IRNerdivore show! I am your host, Jeff Harvey and you can follow me, and this show on Facebook and Twitter @IRNerdivore, or visit us on the web at Thank you for hitting the download button and listening to the show. If you just happened to stumble upon us, you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, just search of IRNerdivore, and if you like what you hear, we would sure appreciate it you’d give us a good rating. We are also available on Stitcher Radio, and just about anywhere fine audio pod-shows can be found!

Anyway…Today we are going to talk about

Misery (1990)

The Book:Misery - Stephen King (1988)

Why It's Better: King and Reiner reunited for this story of an author imprisoned by a crazed fan, and the decision to chop much of the book's gore made it less mindless horror, more psychological thriller.

King's characters came film-ready, and Kathy Bates's blood-curdling portrayal of Annie Wilkes impressed (and terrified) enough to win her a Best Actress Academy Award.

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

The Book:The Short-Timers - Gustav Hasford (1979)

Why It's Better: The book might be nothing short of brilliant, but Kubrick’s decision to chop huge chunks from the final two sections of Hasford’s The Short-Timers gave it a well-needed tidying up.

Kubrick also encouraged R. Lee Ermey to improvise his own insults, giving us gems such as “Were you born a fat, slimy, scumbag puke piece o' shit, Private Pyle, or did you have to work on it?”

Casino Royale (2006)

The Book:Casino Royale - Ian Fleming (1953)

Why It's Better: Of all the Bond films, many believe that only Casino Royale does the original text justice.

Martin Campbell’s rebooting of the franchise hit audiences like a swift kick to the chest, and the movie is perhaps the only one to not just capture the essence of Fleming’s Bond, but maybe even improve on it.

The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (2001 - 2003)

The Book: The Lord Of The Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien (1954)

Why It's Better: JUST HEAR US OUT.

Now we're not suggesting that the LOTR trilogy is necessarily better than Tolkien's masterpiece, but we couldn't leave three such magnificent book-to-film adaptations off this list - if this timeless classic was going to be recreated for the big screen, who better for the job than a team of self-confessed Tolkien nuts?

By dividing the book into three sweeping films, Peter Jackson was able to delve deep into Middle Earth without neglecting vital details; the movies are a veritable love letter to the master of fantasy fiction.

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

The Book: RedAlert - Peter George (1958)

Why It's Better: Kubrick originally intended Dr. Strangelove to be a thriller, like its source material Red Alert, but quickly realised he couldn't ignore the absurd humour integral to the idea of "mutual assured destruction".

What resulted was a laugh-out-loud movie that Rogert Ebert called "arguably the best political satire of the century".

Jaws (1975)

The Book:Jaws - Peter Benchley (1974)

Why It's Better: Benchley's novel had great commercial success, staying in the bestseller lists for weeks, but the one thing it lacks is staying power. You hear the word Jaws now and you don't just don't think book. You think Spielberg, "I think we're gonna need a bigger boat" and the duuuuuh-dum soundtrack.

The film focused less on the romantic subplots that Benchley carefully explored, and more on the great big fish, specifically the Orca's spectacular final shark hunt.

Die Hard (1988)

The Book: Nothing Lasts Forever - Roderick Thorp (1979)

Why It's Better: It could have all been so different. Long before Bruce Willis donned a grimy tank top and saved Christmas as John McClane, motherfucker, there was the tale of Joseph Leland, a retired NYPD cop who took on a group of Cold War era German terrorists at the office where his daughter worked.

Director John McTiernan felt it was important to change up elements of the book, and in doing so created one of the classic American action films.

The film also does away with Thorp's darker finale, where Leland is left presumably succumbing to his injuries, although we can't help thinking that if they'd stuck with that we might have avoided A Good Day To Die Hard, but you can't have everything.

The Princess Bride (1987)

Based on: The Prince Bride, by William Goldman (1973)

Unconventionally written, William Goldman's high-concept fantasy novel The Princess Bride includes the author himself as a primary character, albeit one who remains on the story's framing edges. Goldman consistently interrupts his fairy tale of romance and swordplay (said to be the work of made-up writer “S. Morgenstern”) with commentary about his own family and how the story affects them. Yes, it's quite meta.

For director Rob Reiner's whimsical and hilarious 1987adaptation, Goldman altered the format and whipped up a screenplay devoid of any such self-indulgence; instead, The Princess Bride movie presents its comedic fairy tale as story-time between a loving grandfather (Jason Robards) and his sick grandson (Fred Savage). And it's far more emotionally impactful.

Gone With The Wind (1939)

Based on: Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell (1936)

Gone With The Wind is the ultimate Hollywood epic, the first of its massive kind and a sprawling masterwork that remains exemplary 70-plus years after its theatrical debut—Margaret Mitchell's 1936, 1,000-plus-page novel doesn't stand a chance against it. Which isn't to say that Mitchell's book is one that should be instantly dismissed; also huge in scope, Gone With The Wind the book is one of literature's great romances, following spoiled rich chick Scarlett O'Hara's efforts to handle unaccepted love and sudden poverty during the American Civil War.

Changing the film game forever, producer David O. Selznick and directors George Cukor and Sam Wood smashed building-sized piggy banks to make an extravaganza unlike anything that came before it. The filmmakers conceived a 220-minute dazzler full of lavish sets, impeccable period costumes, battle scenes, and first-rate acting—all in 1939, when Hollywood's resources were nowhere near today's endless options.

The Prestige (2006)

The Book: The Prestige - Christopher Priest (1995)

Why It's Better: Priest's captivating tale of feuding magicians was considered untouchable when it came to movie adaptations - the highly complex story is as jam-packed full of tricks and illusions as a Penn & Teller Vegas show - but that didn't deter the Nolan brothers.

They produced a movie that managed to be even more gripping than its literary counter-part, with Priest himself calling it "a fascinating adaption".

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Ok…enough of that…let’s get back to what we came here to do shall we?

Blade Runner (1982)

The Book:Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? - Phillip K. Dick (1968)

Why It's Better: Phillip K. Dick is rightly considered one of the greatest sci-fi writers of his time, and his story of bounty hunters and androids loses none of its power during translation.

In fact, the mind-bogglingly stunning visuals give Dick’s tale the backdrop it deserves, and changes this dystopian thriller into a frighteningly believable neo-noir.

Alight, well…lets go ahead and bring the show to a close.

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Alright…and on that note, that should about do it for us here at the wandering-pod-studio. On behalf of myself, my guests, and everyone here at IRNerdivore…”so long and thanks for all the fish”!

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