Top 6: Definitive Adaptations

Posted in Top 6 at 4:59 am by Sam

In Episode 4, our Top 6 list is on movie adaptations that are more definitive than their source material. That is, when you think of one of these titles, you think about the movie first, and the prior work the movie is based on second, if at all. What movies do you keep forgetting were not originally movies?

As always, we recommend listening to the episode before reading further.

  1. Psycho (1960)
  2. The Exorcist (1973)
  3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  4. Gone With the Wind (1939)
  5. Black Hawk Down (2001)
  6. Fight Club (1999)
  1. The Princess Bride (1987)
  2. Frankenstein (1931)
  3. The Godfather (1972)
  4. The James Bond Films, starting with Dr. No (1962)
  5. Jaws (1975)
  6. Dr. Zhivago (1965)


  1. Darien (88) said,

    October 24, 2006 at 5:48 pm

    How did it happen that neither of you cats mentioned The Wizard of freaking Oz?

  2. Sam (405) said,

    October 24, 2006 at 8:21 pm


  3. Darien (88) said,

    October 24, 2006 at 8:29 pm

    That’s what I thought. I had that one pegged for you guys agreeing on number one and everything. :-D

  4. Stephen (221) said,

    October 24, 2006 at 9:17 pm

    I thought about Wizard of Oz, but the books are still pretty popular and well known. I definitely think of Oz as an adaptation, where as the others I think of as movies first and adaptations second.

  5. Dave (130) said,

    October 26, 2006 at 11:29 am

    What about Jurassic Park? YOU MISSED JURASSIC PARK!

    Also, you need a Cowboy Neal option.

  6. ThePhan (128) said,

    October 26, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    Haven’t actually listened to the top 6 segment yet, but obviously The Princess Bride will have to be in there somewhere. Probably as a #1, if they’re in order.

    My list, in the order they enter my brain:
    6. The Princess Bride.
    5. High Fidelity. (Okay, I lied, this isn’t actually true. I just wanted to put it in because I think it’s the best movie adaptation I’ve ever seen.)
    4. Mary Poppins.
    3. In a sense, the original Willy Wonka, although the book was much better.

    That’s all I can think of. I forget which movies are based on books. I’m also being picky and only choosing movies for which I have also actually read the book.

    Comments as I listen:
    -Fight Club, agreed. I keep forgetting it exists as a book.
    -I didn’t know Dr. Zhivago was a book. However, Sam pronounces “recognizable” the same way my sister does, with the accent on “niz” instead of “rec.”
    -I thought James Bond would probably be in here.
    -I knew Shawshank Redemption was based on a King story. Yay for me.
    -Frankenstein… of course.
    -I completely forgot Psycho was a book also.

    Ha ha! My Princess Bride prediction was correct!

  7. Sam (405) said,

    October 26, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    Mary Poppins is a FANTASTIC choice, which I totally overlooked. It most certainly would have made my list if I had.

    Nice job calling The Princess Bride.

  8. Darien (88) said,

    October 27, 2006 at 2:53 am

    Two points. I think The Princess Bride is a slightly odd choice because the movie, like, constantly mentions the book. So I have a hard time ever forgetting it’s an adaptation.

    Second point: people pronounce “recognizible” with the accent on “rec?” I’ve never heard that in my life.

  9. Darien (88) said,

    October 27, 2006 at 2:54 am

    Oh, third point: The lists are, like, at the top of the page there. They’re the body of the article. You don’t actually need to listen to the thing to know what’s on them. :-D

  10. ThePhan (128) said,

    October 27, 2006 at 3:28 am

    Yeah, most of the people I know pronounce “recognizable” with the accent on “rec.” Like it is in “recognize.”

    I know I don’t have to listen to the podcast to find out what’s on the list. But I like to be surprised. I actually tune out the opening spiel most of the time, too, where they talk about what they’re going to be talking about. I’d rather not have a set agenda and just find out as I go, “Oh! That’s cool. They’re going to talk about this now.” :-) But that’s crazy moi.

  11. ThePhan (128) said,

    October 27, 2006 at 4:51 pm

    Oh, and my brother wants to add Sinbad of the Seven Seas to the list.

  12. Darien (88) said,

    October 28, 2006 at 1:01 am

    It was based on a story by Edgar Allen Poe, after all.

  13. Ellmyruh (20) said,

    October 30, 2006 at 7:25 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out how someone would not emphasize “niz” in “recognizable.” With five syllables, it’s awfully hard to emphasize the first and not place emphasis on any of the following four.

  14. Eric (44) said,

    October 30, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    It’s pronounced re-COG-ni-za-BELL.

  15. Dave (130) said,

    October 30, 2006 at 8:15 pm

    I pronounce it REC-og-niz-a-bell sometimes. I guess the “niz” syllable gets emphasized slightly more than the others, but the main emphasis is on “REC”.

  16. siochembio (82) said,

    October 30, 2006 at 9:25 pm

    It’s interesting how so many of the “Greatest American Films” are actually adapted from other works, yet we’ve nearly forgotten that they are, indeed, adaptations. (The Godfather, The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind) I guess that’s the mark of a truly great adaptation - to make the collective consciousness forget that the film came second.

    It makes sense, though, that so many films aren’t from original screenplays considering that films have been around for 100 years, but written works, especially plays, have been around much much much longer.

    I wonder what the ratio of original to adapted works films there is… or, say, how many films are in contention for those two categories for the Oscars.

  17. Stephen (221) said,

    October 30, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    I think another reason there are so many adaptations is that the movie studios are the most risk-averse of all the big media companies. If a book or a TV show or a new album flops, the loss to the backers is rarely going to be more than a few million dollars.

    A flopped movie, on the other hand, can cost in the tens of millions. Adaptations of successful works have two things going for them. The first is a built-in audience. People who liked a book are going to be more inclined to go and see the movie version. Similarly, studios know that the basic story works. Even if the source wasn’t a huge hit, at least there’s a story that is a known quantity.

  18. Sam (405) said,

    October 30, 2006 at 10:55 pm

    siochembio: Interesting thoughts! Your last wondering shouldn’t be hard to figure out the answer to. The ballots for the nominations list all the eligible films. I wonder if we can track down a copy of it this year.

  19. Darien (88) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 12:02 am

    I’m with Ellmyruh. Even reading all of you guys, I can’t figure out how this sounds with the accent on the first syllable. Dave, make a recording and send it to me. THIS I COMMAND.

  20. Ellmyruh (20) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 3:33 am

    Darien and I are clearly sticking to the main point of this entry. However, I think Dave’s recording warrants its own podcast.

  21. Darien (88) said,

    October 31, 2006 at 3:47 am

    All Language Talk.


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