Top Ten Films We Had No Idea Were Based On Books

Ash Lee September 20, 2012 Comments Off

With so many well-known books turning into blockbuster films like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Twilight and Hunger Games, here are some well known movie titles from not-so-well known books.

#10 – Jaws

We’ll start easy, but still surprising, with a possibly more well known book to film selection. The thriller/adventure that put Spielberg on the map was based on a book by Peter Benchley, who also co-wrote the film. Another book titled The Jaws Log by Carl Gottlieb (Benchley’s co-writer on the Jaws screenplay) is a great read recounting how the book was discovered by the films producers and made into the blockbuster it is now known as today.

#9 – The Princess Bride

We all know and love the scenes of Peter Falk reading a book titled The Princess Bride to his grandson Fred Savage, but did you know that this film is based on a book by Oscar winning screenwriter William Goldman (All the President’s Men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) who also penned his own adaption for the film? Inconceivable!

#8 – The NeverEnding Story

Growing up, I was a huge fan of this film and it still holds up pretty well to this day and like Bride, another good example of a book within a movie based on a book. Roaming a used book shop in Eagle Rock, CA I came across a book cover with the familiar faces from the film baring the front. Assuming it was a “book based on the film”, it turned out to be a book by Michael Ende which was first published in 1979…in German. I hope the character that eats sticks is in it! He was always my favorite.

#7 -Doc Hollywood

Watching this film on Netflix instant recently, I noticed the credit based on the book Dead?…Again? by Neil Shulman M.D. It really made me wonder how that title transferred over into Doc Hollywood. Does he die in the book? That’s one giant leap from book title to movie title.

#6 – Total Recall

I remembered one of Schwarzenegger’s best was based on a book but just couldn’t remember which. So I cheated and googled it. Low and behold, it was Total Recall which was inspired, as credited in the film, from a short story from legendary sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick titled We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. Sidenote: I wonder if the short story also has the three boobed Mars woman too.

#5 – Brewster’s Millions

This one may be a little obscure for anyone under 25, but for those of you that have seen the film starring Richard Pryor and John Candy, it’s almost hard to imagine this film has any sort of fancy literary origin. What’s more amazing is the book of the same title by George Barr McCutcheon was originally published in 1902! Mind. Blown.

#4 – A Christmas Story

Didn’t notice the “Based on the book by Jean Shepherd” credit either, huh? Me neither! Jean Shepherd recounts his childhood in his book In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash which serves as the basis for Christmas Story. Jean also co-wrote the script with the film’s director Bob Clark. Even though you may not have heard of Jean as an author or screenwriter, you are bound to recognize Jean’s voice. He is the film’s narrator.

#3 – Die Hard

Yes, the mother of all action movies (in my humbled opinion) is based on a book. This title is what sparked the idea of making this list simply because, really, who even knows that Die Hard of all movies is based on anything but a concept from producer Joel Silver. Based on the book Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, the book follows detective Joe Leland, the basis for Bruce Willis’ John McClane. To my knowledge, yippee-kay-yay was not adapted from the book.

#2 – Die Hard 2

The sequel is based on a book too?! Movie World in Burbank, CA helped me discover this one. Based on a book from Walter Wager titled 58 Minutes, you would think after the first Die Hard, the studio would be more than able to come up with an original idea for further John McClane adventures. But I guess not. From the description on the back, it’s pretty darn similar to how the film turned out; “A Tough New York Cop Faces a Terrorist Threat With Only 58 Minutes Left Between Him and Mass Murder!”

#1 – Mrs. Doubtfire

I know, I know you’re thinking “Mrs. Doubtfire is your number 1 choice for this list?” My only response is I had no idea that this movie, of all movies on earth is based on a book! Holy hell. This one is maybe the most mind-blowing. A random find from Brand Bookshop in Glendale, I spotted a cover with Robin Williams’ mug as Mrs. Doubtfire. But the title of the book wasn’t Mrs. Doubtfire. It was Alias Madame Doubtfire written by Anne Fine along with “Now A Twentieth Century Fox Motion Picture Based on the Novel” underneath. Robin Williams playing a wacky father who dresses up as an old nanny just to see his kids kinda makes sense, but I wonder how a faceless character written in a book comes off. My money is on creepy.


Article written by Todd Spence.  Follow Todd Spence on Tumblr and on Twitter, @Todd_Spence.

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