The Book or Movie Debate-Part 3


This time around, we will look at a few movies that should have been left unmade. Here we have some examples of how difficult it can be to transform the success of one media to the other.

Why did the movies fail? Many technical reasons could be offered, but the underlying theme is that somehow the magic of the written word was lost.

Battle Cry

This great book by Leon Uris, tells about the experiences of the 6th Marine Regiment during the 2nd World War in the Pacific theater. It helps one  understand the unity, or esprit de corps, that soldiers often talk about. Uris also illustrates how a very diverse group of people can overcome their various prejudices and form a tight unit and effective team.

The movie was made in 1955, two years after the book was published. Perhaps it was because the war was still fresh in everyone’s memory; the movie was a box office hit. However,it completely fails to capture spirit of the book, even though many of the incidents are pictured faithfully. The unity of the book is never captured.

Dr Seuss

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The poor writer must be turning over and over in his grave. How the Grinch Stole Christmas and The Cat in the Hat are two reasons. Both were made into movies. The movie Cat in the Hat would give Stephen King nightmares, at least that’s what I think.

Neither of these movies comes close to capturing or even vaguely reproducing the appeal that Dr Seuss is associated with. Dr Seuss, famous for his rhymes said: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Jim Carrey as the Grinch would have been more at home in a Vampire-manga than a Dr Seuss production.

Books you want to remember/ movies you want to forget.

The Lonesome Dove Series

We wrote quite a bit about this series in our recent Writing a Series-series. In Wild West terms, the mini-series is like a gunfighter armed with a water pistol.  The hardness of the character Captain Call never makes its appearance. Call is someone who focuses on the task at hand. He sacrifices his girl, his child and his life, all for the sake of the mission.The man in the movies is nothing but a boy who should have been a telegraph operator or a store clerk. He is not even tough enough to be a barkeeper! This meekness characterizes the movies; the toughness of the West has been domesticated.


The Spenser series of books were written by Robert B. Parker.

Spenser and his side-kick Hawk are played by Robert Urich and Avery Brooks. Robert Urich does not look like Spenser. Spenser was a professional boxer, with a repeatedly broken nose and scars on his face. Hawk is an extremely dangerous, physically strong and sexy man.

Robert Urich seems like he would be at home in GQ magazine. No offense to Mr Brooks, but, You ain’t no Hawk!

The whole book series is built around Spenser’s character and looks. Physically written Spenser creates a completely different image as Mr Urich.

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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Here we have a case of, It was a movie?

The book is a master piece. The characters, their foibles and fears are utterly real, even though earth has been destroyed and nearly everything happens in space.The movie never captures Douglas Adams‘ world. Marvin the Paranoid Android just is not Marvin. Arthur Dent is someone else.

As we have seen, sometime a book and movie can differ when it comes to the characters and the plot, and still be great. Other times the movie is great because it accurately represents the pictures in the mind of the author.

This movie does neither and fails horribly in the process. It is like seeing someone you love losing their life for nothing.

Animal Farm

Orwell would have sued the producers of this movie, I bet! The writings of Mr Orwell reflected his “awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.”

According to Orwell, the book was against Stalin, the man and his policies. It was an outright, albeit allegorical, political statement. Both movie adaptations fell short. The 1954-version featured characters that reminds one of Disney, and features a happy ending.The 1999-version was aimed at children. It ended up being over simplified. It was not a hit with children or their parents.


“Just do it” is not always good advice. Sometimes you just shouldn’t!

Which book turned movies didn’t work for you?


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