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Mr. Movie: Better than the book

This is a very limited category. Because probably 90% or more of the time, the movie is not as good as the book. But Mr. Movie has dug out a few good movies that topped the book on which they were based.


Forest Gump (1994) deservedly won everything in sight at the Oscars. Winston Groom’s novel is OK, but the movie just towers over it. Credit Tom Hanks, as Forest, for a major chunk of credit. And Sally Field (as his Mom) and Gary Sinise (as his best buddy) also deserve praise. Forest is perhaps mildly mentally handicapped or, well, maybe just a tad slow. He is a football player, a soldier, a boyfriend, a good son and much more. Everyone loved Forest Gump! “Life is like a box of chocolates.”


Julie and Julia (2009) is based on Julie Powell’s excellent book of the same name. But put Meryl Streep (as Julia Child) and Amy Adams (as Julie Powell) on the screen and it’s solid gold. Julie Powell is a young New Yorker living in a small apartment who sets out to cook every recipe in Child’s Mastering The Art Of French Cooking on her tiny stove. And do this in one year. This story is masterfully intermingled with Child’s adventures in France and America and her rise to fame (and fortune).


The Graduate (1967) is based on Charles Webb’s fine novel. Dustin Hoffman (Benjamin Braddock) and Anne Bancroft (as the feral seductress Mrs. Robinson) elevate this story to a whole new level. Ben just graduated from college and is floundering around at his parents’ house, trying to decide what to do with the rest of his life. He runs into the extremely hot (and very available) Mrs. Robinson, but falls in love with her lovely daughter Elaine (Katherine Ross). And from this tangled mess emerges a wedding you won’t soon forget!


Psycho (1960) is the greatest horror film ever made. Based on Robert Bloch’s novel (just OK), it is absolutely nail-biting terror. Bates Motel is the site of the story. It is run by Norman Bates, who idolizes his mother. Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) stops at the Bates Motel to get out of a driving rain storm. She then takes the worst shower in all of movie history. This is Alfred Hitchcock at the absolute top of his game. The ending will knock your socks into next week!


Truman Capote’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) is an excellent novel. However, for my money, the movie is better. Audrey Hepburn just glows as the delightfully named Holly Golightly, a naive ingenue turned loose on an unsuspecting New York. George Peppard is quite good as her baffled boyfriend. An excellent supporting cast is bouoyed by Mickey Rooney, Patricia Neal, Martin Balsam and Buddy Ebsen. The surprise ending is just that.


Other candidates for the “better than the book” category include Arrival (2016) and The Devil Wears Prada (2006). Perhaps you have some candidates. I would like to know!


All of the movies in this article are probably available somewhere. All but Psycho and Graduate are OK for kids.