One Good, One Bad: American Classic Novels Turned Films

Hi, friends. I’ve been pondering what series I could start that involves the copious amount of movies my boyfriend and me watch, so here goes…

The series “One Good, One Bad” will briefly review one good and one bad instance of a certain type of movie, such as books turned films, specific genres, starring the same lead actor, etc. We’ll see whether I’m hard enough on movies for this; some posts might be closer to “One Good, One Meh,” haha. Hope you like the new venture!

One Good

To Kill a Mockingbird is a fantastic novel, though that opinion seems universally accepted by now. Aside from some missing backstory with the kids and Boo Radley, the movie is faithful to the book. The filmmakers edited the story in a way that tightened its focus but didn’t change its overall impact. The film’s acting and aesthetic maintain the feeling of the novel–the characters and scenery match closely with how I imagined the novel as I read it. If you like the book, you’ll like the movie.

One Bad

The Great Gatsby is also a beloved classic; it’s not a particular favorite of mine, but it’s pretty good (I’m more of a Victorian girl, despite my patriotism). The movie is basically faithful to the novel, though it unnecessarily gives Nick a new frame for when/why he’s narrating the story. The scenery is gorgeous and reflects the “Roaring 20’s” justly, but a stunning aesthetic is this film’s greatest attribute. The filmmakers turned a short but memorable novel into a long, plodding movie that’s initially confusing if you haven’t read the book. The worst blunder is the soundtrack filled with rap music that took me out of the film’s setting completely.

Thanks for reading! Do you agree or disagree? Let me know if you have suggestions on film versions of novels.

19 comments

  1. Haven’t seen that version of Great Gatsby. Yet. I’ve seen mixed reviews on it though. It seems to be hit or miss. My personal favorite is the one with Robert Redford lol.
    Completely agree with you on To Kill a Mockingbird. The film stayed faithful enough to the original story and its message which is why it works. Well, and it doesn’t hurt that Gregory Peck did a phenomenal job as Atticus lol.

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  2. I agree about Gatsby. It could have been worse (at least it was mostly faithful to the plot), but that frame for Nick drove me nuts. Totally unnecessary and not at all true to the character, in my opinion.

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  3. I barely remember Mockingbird from 10th grade reading the novel or watching the movie, but I know most people like the film and the book. I tried watching the Leo DiCraprio version of Gatsby but couldn’t get into it and clicked off about half hour in. Never read the book, maybe it’d be better. Isn’t there an earlier film version of Gatsby that more people like?

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  4. I haven’t read or watched To Kill a Mockingbird, so I’ll take your word for that one.

    I haven’t read The Great Gatsby either (but it’s on my list and I hope to change that soon). I watched that film adaptation with DiCaprio and I didn’t really like it. Perhaps because I was totally clueless about what the story was about I was lost for quite a while and even towards the end I was left thinking that not much had happened in two hours. The costumes were amazing though, lol

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  5. I love the Great Gatsby (the book), and believe that it’s very difficult for any film maker to match the genius of a great book on the big screen. The most recent version of Gatsby, I thought, did a decent job, perhaps as good as could be done with Fitzgerald’s classic.

    To kill a Mockingbird works better as a movie, in my opinion, because it’s a more straightforward book. The story is important, but less complicated, than Gatsby. And, I would argue, the book has some intricacies that the movie leaves out.

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    1. I’m grateful to the new version of The Great Gatsby for at least honoring the original plot for the most part. The movie was so gorgeous. I just wish the soundtrack was different and the movie didn’t feel so slow. I also agree that the movie To Kill a Mockingbird left out a lot of the parallel plot with Boo, so the book is more coming-of-age whereas the movie focuses on the main storyline, but I can understand why, at least for time purposes.

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  6. Great post! I love to kill a mockingbird (book and movie) so I completely agree with you there. I personally love Gatsby as well, but couldn’t bear to watch the film, because I’d not heard good things about it- I don’t feel like I made the wrong choice 😉

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  7. I just read To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time recently and then watched the movie again. I loved them both, and I thought Gregory Peck was perfect as Atticus (and as Penny Baxter in The Yearling – have you ever seen that?) I’ve never seen or read Gatsby. I was always afraid it would go a little too far in some respects. That is so odd that they’d put rap music in a film from that era.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, never seen it, but I’ll look it up. And yes the rap music was so strange and out of place… whoever picked the soundtrack bombed because it would have been so easy to simply replace those songs with more era-appropriate ones.

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  8. I wish I could tell you that the Jack Clayton adaption of The Great Gatsby (the one with Robert Redford) was better, but I can’t, though I’m a big Redford fan. It’s probably his worst movie, in my opinion. I never was a big fan of the novel, but that’s just me. Love To Kill a Mockingbird. The book and movie are masterpieces–once again, my opinion–though they too have some detractors.

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      1. Yes, that’s always best. One of Redford’s best films is All The President’s Men. Then there are Jeremiah Johnson and The Way We Were. He has a very strong filmography.

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