Top 10 Adapted Screenplays of All Time
Updated: Apr 27
Some of the best films of all time were adapted from something. Meaning they’re sourced from other material. A couple articles back, we talked about the Top 10 Adapted Screenplays From the Last Decade. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the Top 10 Adapted Screenplays of All Time.
All of them played an important role in the world of cinema and are fantastic films on their own. Let’s dive into the list!
1. Stand by Me (1986)
If you haven’t seen Stand by Me yet, you’re missing out. It’s based on Stephen King’s short story “The Body”, and it’s a coming of age dark comedy about four boys who decide to follow train tracks to find a body. Sounds odd right? The truth is it’s a beautiful film that stayed pretty close to the source material.
Photo credit: TheWarningSign.net
2. Fight Club (1999)
The first rule about a fight club...you mention it in a top 10 adapted screenplays list. It’s based on Chuck Palahniuk’s book of the same name. If you haven’t seen it yet, try to go into it without any knowledge beforehand. It’s unsettling in the best way possible.
Photo credit: Ew.com
3. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
I don’t know where to begin with A Clockwork Orange. Set in a fictional world where the young rule and the old don’t, this dark yet comical film is about a man who falls under the same threats he once created. It’s based on the novel with the same name by Anthony Burgess.
Photo credit: Cine-vue.com
4. 12 Angry Men (1957)
Set in one setting, 12 Angry Men is about 12 men on a jury who argue over whether or not the man on trial is guilty or not. It might sound boring, but it’s a fantastic film. It’s based on the television screenplay of the same name by Reginald Rose.
Photo credit: Slantmagazine.com
5. The Graduate (1967)
The Graduate is a dark comedy about a man who recently graduated from college and doesn’t know what he wants to do in life. He ends up sleeping with his girlfriend’s mother (Thus the birth of the term Mrs. Robinson). It’s based on the novella of the same name by Charles Webb.
Photo credit: mdfilmfest.com
6. Forrest Gump (1994)
I’m pretty sure every human at this point has seen Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump is a comedy about a man who is mentally disabled and how his life unfolds while he accomplishes greatness. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Winston Groom.
Photo credit: sgnewwave.com
7. The Godfather (1972)
The Godfather is an all-time classic. In simple terms, it’s a beautifully written mafia movie. Watch it, and I promise you you’ll enjoy it. It’s based on the book of the same name by Mario Puzo.
Photo credit: scrapsfromtheloft.com
8. No Country for Old Men (2007)
One of my all-time favorites is No Country for Old Men. What originally started as a Cormac McCarthy book turned into a Coen Brothers adaptation. It’s a drama about a guy who discovers a bunch of money from a drug deal gone bad and he ends up being hunted by a truly evil man.
Photo credit: ThePurpleDon.com
9. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
One of the most unsettling films of all time is The Silence of the Lams. Originally based on the novel with the same name by Thomas Harris, this is a dark and twisted story. For those of you that don’t know, in simple terms, it’s a story about a detective who uses a serial killer to help her find another serial killer.
Photo credit: MentalFloss.com
10. To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Arguably one of the best books of all time, Harper Lee’s to Kill a Mocking Bird was turned into a film in 1962. It’s a complicated story but is basically about always doing the right thing in a fictional town in the state of Alabama.
Photo credit: Medium.com
As you can tell, there have been a ton of fantastic films that were adaptations of amazing books. Let's just hope that as the world of cinema continues to grow, the more adaptations we will see.