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Arts & Culture(Archives)


PAULA OGONOSKI IS The Entertainiac

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Books to Movies

ONE COULD ARGUE THAT IMITATION IS THE BEST FORM OF FLATTERY. With so many movies based on books, is there truly a unique story still to be told on the big screen? Or an author’s head which has not yet be swollen by such flattery? I began this ponder after seeing the new Tom Clancy “Jack Ryan” revival which is the pre-prequel to the previous movies. It was just one of at least 10 of his books hitting the big screen. I guess one could argue that a strong plot, with engaging complex characters should be brought to life in such a way. Here are some of my top picks for movies inspired by the written word: (and no I am not including the overly obvious ones such as Harry Potter and Twilight.)

1. The Shining: RedRum had an entirely different meaning after this 1977 novel by Stephen King. When a writer relocates with his family to a very remote hotel to gain inspiration, he gets a lot more than he bargained for! The evil found within the structure possess him and turns a seemingly quiet unassuming writer into a maniac with an axe. This is one Stephen King novel which translated amazingly to the big screen. Note: Misery is also a great example of his screen success and well worth the read and watch - albeit with the lights on and a therapist on standby.

2. Apollo 13: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 published in 1994 was later renamed Apollo 13. This dual-effort by authors Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger tells the story of the infamous 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission. Based on a true story, this adventure truly brought meaning to “Houston we have a problem.” While I am not a huge ‘based on a true story fan,’ this motion picture nailed its landing and takes audiences on a suspense-fuelled adventure.

3. Fried Green Tomatoes: Based on Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café novel published in 1987, author Fannie Flagg tells the story of Evelyn a lonely housewife who befriends an eccentric senior who tells her the story of a murder which took place at the Whistle Stop Café. While the plot eventually winds its way to the fatal story, it includes heartfelt snippets of the characters both past and present.

4. Bridget Jones: She drinks too much, smokes like a chimney and is ridiculous in almost every way imaginable – she is Bridget Jones. This character came to life in the 1996 novel by Helen Fielding and grew international acclaim both critically and by us normal folks. Jones, being one the most relatable characters for women ever created, follows her misadventures as she attempts to succeed in life, and of course love.

5. Field of Dreams: The movie which makes most grown men cry was originally a book entitled Shoeless Joe published in 1982 by W. P. Kinsella. The movie tells the story of a farmer facing financial ruin until encountering a very unusual baseball team. One could say if you write it, the money will come and I’m sure that was the case for Kinsella after his book hit the shelves and eventually the big screen. (Yes that was a groan worthy comment.) I highly recommend this heart-warming story about America’s favourite pastime and the hope it can create.

6. The Notebook: It may be cheesy but women and even men celebrated this swoon-worthy 1996 Nicholas Sparks story. Even I, known as the Tin Woman for being a shell of a human being, got in a sniffle or two. Sparks tells the story of a man retelling his love story to his wife suffering from Alzheimer’s. Audiences are taken from past to present to see that the road to forever is well worth the journey. Word of advice, keep a tissue on standby.

7. Psycho: Who knew this was based on a 1959 novel by Robert Bloch. Psycho was one of Alfred Hitchcock’s best known thrillers which even today, five-decades later, causes audiences to check for shadows outside the shower curtain. An office worker who is on the run after stealing from her employer hides out at the Bates Motel where she encounters the owner Norman, his “mother” and an untimely demise.

8. Casino: This 1995 Nicholas Pileggi story brings to life the ‘70s Las Vegas mafia. No one brings to life wise-guy characters and their dames better than Pileggi. It follows in the same spirit of the Godfather which was also based on a book. Casino has all of the elements of a cool American crime drama including Martin Scorsese as the director and Robert De Niro as the star. Fun fact: The character Sam “Ace” Rothstein (De Niro) is based on Frank Rosenthal, who ran the Stardust, Fremont and the Hacienda casinos in Las Vegas during that time.

9. The Firm: In 1991 John Grisham’s story The Firm launched him into a household name. If you want the truth I’ll give you the truth and Girsham knows how to create a political, legal, drama. This book turned to Tom Cruise mega-film transplanted perfectly, telling the story of a Marine’s death and the legal team uncovering the truth. Watch it if you can handle the truth.

10. Grisham also gets the #10 spot on this list as his books turned movies include so many screen hits including: The Client, The Pelican Brief and A Time to Kill. Really this could have been just a list of Girsham projects. If you see the name chances are it’s worth your time.


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