Top Five Friday: Movies I Didn’t Know Were Books

Last week’s list of favorite movie adaptations got me thinking about a closely related subject – movies that I had no idea were based on books. When a new movie is based on a book, approximately one half of people with internet access start screaming about how a casting decision doesn’t match their picture of a character or how this or that plot change will ruin the whole movie for them. With that much attention, it’s hard to imagine that a movie could exist without me knowing it was a book first. But there are a few of these movies that were surprises when I learned about them, and here are the top five.

forrest gump 1. Forrest Gump. Seriously?? I know this movie came out when I was a tiny person, but you’d think at some point in the past twenty years I would have realized that this movie was originally a book. It was published in 1986 and written by Winston Groom. I’ve never read it, but reviews generally say that the movie follows along pretty closely to the book. Groom does say that the film version sanitizes the character of Forrest a bit, or “smooths off his rough edges.” Evidently, Groom would have chosen John Goodman to play Forrest Gump rather than Tom Hanks. Something tells me that would have been a very different movie.
 Shrek 2. Shrek. This movie was beloved to me in high school. My friends and I went to see it multiple times in theaters. I still love it to this day, although it’s slightly tainted by the complete horror that was Shrek Goes Fourth. Ugh. We won’t talk about it. Anyway, imagine my surprise when I discovered that Shrek was based on a children’s book of the same name, published in 1990 and written by William Steig.
 mrs doubtfire 3. Mrs. Doubtfire. This is one of those movies that I never set out to watch “on purpose,” but when I come across it on tv, I always seem to leave it on through the end. Robin Williams really is hilarious. Evidently, a young-adult book entitled Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine was published in the UK in 1987. It was pretty well received and even won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. Not sure how I never realized there was a book until I saw it on GoodReads last year.
 graduate 4. The Graduate. Charles Webb wrote The Graduate in 1963, shortly after graduating from Williams College. The movie version followed close behind in 1967. Webb wasn’t a big fan of the movie and never received any royalties from it. I think I’ve only seen the movie once, and possibly not all the way through, but again, how is it that I never heard about the book until just a few months ago?
 dragon 5. How to Train Your Dragon. Brad and I went to see this when it came out in 2010. I wept unashamedly near the end (which I’m sure comes as a big surprise to everyone, right Beth?) when the dragon Toothless is captured by Stoick and his Viking pals. I thought this movie was absolutely precious, and I’m thrilled there is going to be a sequel soon. I had no idea the movie was based on a book until I saw on the book blog Strange and Random Happenstance that a twelfth book in the series was being published last year. WOAH. Not only was this story a book first, it is a book with eleven sequels. That is impressive.  They are written by Cressida Cowell, and the first book was published in 2003.


I hope you have a wonderful weekend!