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Topic: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

At least supposedly, in some cases.

For instance, I think Goldfinger is marginally better than the novel, and FRWL improves on the organization not being SMERSH but actually SPECTRE, as it both broadens SPECTRE's scope and reach and also doesn't actively demonize the USSR, making it LESS propagandistic (instead of being just mildly doing so).

What are your takes? Do you think some of them are better than Fleming's original text?

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

GF for sure, and I'd argue OHMSS as well.

These old threads may be of interest:

https://www.ajb007.co.uk/topic/28882/go … the-novel/

https://www.ajb007.co.uk/topic/35924/oh … -the-film/

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Thanks.

OK, to help traffic on the thread, here's my comparison:

DR.NO --> Book=Film
FRWL --> Book<Film, although the cliffhanger's better in the book
GF --> Book<Film
TB --> Book>Film (film is rather rushed, IMO)
YOLT --> Book>Film (what the Freddie Uncle Charlie Katie was Cubby thinking?)
OHMSS --> Book=Film (though I prefer the film, the book allows me to think of Connery instead)
DAF --> Book>Film (what was Cubby thinking?)
LALD --> Book>Film (what was Harry thinking? I like the film but, you know..)
TMWTGG --> Book>Film (both are weak, Scaramanga's better realized by Lee, but the rest is trash, and we all know it)
TSWLM --> Book<Film
MR --> Book>Film (what the Freddie Uncle Charlie Katie was Cubby thinking?)
NSNA --> Book<Film (sorry, but I'm not a huge fan of the book, personally)
CR --> Book>Film (sorry, but the first third is basically pointless)

None of the films qualify, post-MR for me, because their aim is to generally try and fit the Flemings elements in the occassional original plots. The only one that could qualify is TLD, which is undoubtable better than the short story because its basically that very short story, but expanded upon greatly...

... actually, now that I think about it, there is DAD to consider, which is a very loose adaptation of DAD. Fleming's MR is still better by default, but DAD is also a lot better than Cubby's MR, so take that as you will.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Jimmy Bond wrote:

... actually, now that I think about it, there is DAD to consider, which is a very loose adaptation of DAD.


I think you mean
https://i.postimg.cc/QKGR4BgV/trek.jpg

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Yes, I did. Didn't check to correct, sorry about that.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Other than the short stories like Quantum of Solace I think most the full novels are better than the films, I'd still like to see a proper adaption of Moonraker.

It was either that.....or the priesthood

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Regarding the GF novel, I always found it strange and anticlimactic that Bond becomes Goldfinger's personal assistant.

My Top 10 Bonds: Octopussy, Goldeneye, From Russia With Love, Tomorrow Never Dies, Licence to Kill, For Your Eyes Only, The Living Daylights, The Spy Who Loved Me, Goldfinger and Moonraker.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

I think your list is mostly right Jimmy but...  you left out the films based on short stories


For Your Eyes Only does a clever job of segueing the book's two strongest stories into a random episodic and ultimately pointless adventure that contrasts strongly with the epic story structures that preceded it (which I think is a hella-cool achievement), and the film's new content is better than the three stories left out, so...
    book < film
This is the best of the films based on the short stories.

Octopussy reduces the title story to a bit of exposition and instead adapts the inferior auction story as its opening act. So the Octopussy-story content hardly counts, but it does improve Property of a Lady. Not as good as the previous movie, but Fleming's book was a skimpy collection of leftovers, so...
    book < film

A View to a Kill doesn't even try to represent the story it was named after. Impossible comparison.

The Living Daylights does a clever job of extending the best of the Octopussy stories into a grey byzantine Cold War thriller. so...
    book < film
This is the second best of the films based on the short stories.

Quantum of Solace. see a View to a Kill.
unless you count the closing scene as an adaptation of 007 in New York, the slightest of all James Bond stories, but that's maybe two unremarkable minutes at the end of a mostly frustrating film .


also: there's a very loose adaptation of the Hildebrandt Rarity in the middle of License to Kill, but rambling and unrecognisable, and I do like that short story even if it isn't a proper spy story, so...
    book > film

and I happen to think the death of Mr White in SPECTRE is a version of the Octopussy story: Bond confronts a villain in his own home and gives him a chance to commit suicide. But that scene is so unpleasant and part of a generally troublesome film, and the prose equivalent was a well written short story, so ...
    book > film

Last edited by caractacus potts (13th Apr 2019 02:50)

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

most of the films from You Only Live Twice on contain very little of the book's content, maybe 25% at best, so what is being compared?
the Spy Who Loved Me is the ultimate example … are we comparing Horror's metal teeth vs Jaws' metal teeth (in which case Jaws > Horror). or are we are comparing an oddball experimental and once-controversial Fleming book vs the Bond film that perfected the formula and gave it epic scope? Except for the coincidence of the titles it's a completely random comparison, and I think not valid.

The film immediately before and the film immediately after are almost as extreme in their irrelevance to what Fleming wrote. What specific content in the film can be compared to something in Fleming's books?
Diamonds are Forever and Live and Let Die adapt maybe less than 25%.

We should try to identify the specific scenes in those books and compare them to specific chapters from Fleming, eg which version of LaLD has the better Harlem sequence, or which DaF has the best Tiffany's apartment sequence? (I say the Fleming version in both cases)


and I say this because there are many later films in which solid chunks of Fleming suddenly appear unannounced, starting with major sequences from LaLD (book) in both For Your Eyes Only (film) and License to Kill. If we acknowledge Die Another Day contains more Moonraker than Moonraker, we must also acknowledge these.
is the keelhauling sequence in the FYEO film better or worse than the LaLD book?
personally I think the ending of Fleming's book is more outrageous and grotesque, so for this scene...
    book > film

or A View to a Kill film may ignore the short story, but has that long section in Zorin's stables that I think corresponds to the Saratoga chapters from the Diamonds are Forever book. Tibbet basically replaces Leiter. It is at least as close an adaptation as most of the officially adapted Fleming content in Moore's films.
and since those Saratoga chapters are kinda boring, and the Moore+MacNee teamup is lotsa fun...
     book < film

Last edited by caractacus potts (13th Apr 2019 14:08)

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

I had to search way way back to find this related thread:
Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?
in which Seahawk listed minor changes to even the most faithful film adaptations that fixed plotholes in Fleming's book, or made implicitly good ideas more explicitly cinematic.
There are obviously various changes to Goldfinger that improve the story, despite following the plot structure so closely.
But also smaller things like Tracy playing damsel in distress at the end of OHMSS, which (a) gives Rigg more screentime and (2) ties the novel's two plot-threads more closely together.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

An interesting thread.
Given so many of the films simply don't follow the plot of the novels it's a fun, but almost pointless, exercise to compare one to the other. Of the one's which do (DN, FRWL, GF, TB, OHMSS, NSNA, CR) I can only say:

I rate the film of GF very highly, but the book is a slow read after the mid-point, most of the changes for the film improve the cohesion of the story, so it works.

TB is also a particularly dull novel; a lot of the best scenes don't feature OO7. I enjoy the movies pace and assurance, even when the storyline (like that of the book) fails to gel. Given both book and film suffer from terrible plot issues, the fact I enjoy the action and the sexy & very sixties dialogue more leads me to think this film too is an improvement. NSNA? Hmm, based on my reasoning above, I'd probably say it only just about out paces the book, but only just. NSNA also has a fair few dull moments.

While OHMSS is a very good book - the opening chapter is particularly fine - the film has more urgency and irons out some continuity and motivation issues better than Fleming's version.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

GF and OHMSS are the only films I find clearly better than the books. In the case of TB, the film needlessly complicates the plot with the body double nonsense and has much weaker characterization than the book (film Largo and Domino are boring next to the book versions). It does have a bigger underwater climax than the book, but also a much less suspenseful build-up. And the end lacks the poignancy of the hospital chapter in the book. So I consider TB the film inferior to its source.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

DavidJones wrote:

Regarding the GF novel, I always found it strange and anticlimactic that Bond becomes Goldfinger's personal assistant.

That was a plot element Fleming gleefully returned to in his last Bond novel TMWTGG where Scaramanga hires Bond (in the guise of Mark Hazard) as security for his hood's congress (which also featured in the GF novel). It is true though that Fleming was sadly out of puff by that stage, as he admitted himself to his editor at Cape, William Plomer.

Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog (TBB)
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"The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Silhouette Man wrote:
DavidJones wrote:

Regarding the GF novel, I always found it strange and anticlimactic that Bond becomes Goldfinger's personal assistant.

That was a plot element Fleming gleefully returned to in his last Bond novel TMWTGG where Scaramanga hires Bond (in the guise of Mark Hazard) as security for his hood's congress (which also featured in the GF novel). It is true though that Fleming was sadly out of puff by that stage, as he admitted himself to his editor at Cape, William Plomer.


I did find funny how long it took me to notice that Licence To Kill was an adaptation of Golden Gun!

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

caractacus potts wrote:

I had to search way way back to find this related thread:
Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?
in which Seahawk listed minor changes to even the most faithful film adaptations that fixed plotholes in Fleming's book, or made implicitly good ideas more explicitly cinematic.
There are obviously various changes to Goldfinger that improve the story, despite following the plot structure so closely.
But also smaller things like Tracy playing damsel in distress at the end of OHMSS, which (a) gives Rigg more screentime and (2) ties the novel's two plot-threads more closely together.


I like the beginning of OHMSS, where in the book various scenes are told in flashback, with the narrative suddenly flashing forward through time and then back again. Whereas the film shows the same events in the same order, but shows them happening chronologically one after the other with no flashbacks, and it makes no difference to the story! ajb007/smile

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

chrisno1 wrote:

An interesting thread.
Given so many of the films simply don't follow the plot of the novels it's a fun, but almost pointless, exercise to compare one to the other. Of the one's which do (DN, FRWL, GF, TB, OHMSS, NSNA, CR) I can only say:

I rate the film of GF very highly, but the book is a slow read after the mid-point, most of the changes for the film improve the cohesion of the story, so it works.

TB is also a particularly dull novel; a lot of the best scenes don't feature OO7. I enjoy the movies pace and assurance, even when the storyline (like that of the book) fails to gel. Given both book and film suffer from terrible plot issues, the fact I enjoy the action and the sexy & very sixties dialogue more leads me to think this film too is an improvement. NSNA? Hmm, based on my reasoning above, I'd probably say it only just about out paces the book, but only just. NSNA also has a fair few dull moments.

NSNA does give Bond slightly more reason to actually go and investigate Domino as I remember, although I can’t wuitecremebervwgy. In TB his reasons for going to Nassau are a bit tenuous.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

emtiem wrote:
chrisno1 wrote:

An interesting thread.
Given so many of the films simply don't follow the plot of the novels it's a fun, but almost pointless, exercise to compare one to the other. Of the one's which do (DN, FRWL, GF, TB, OHMSS, NSNA, CR) I can only say:

I rate the film of GF very highly, but the book is a slow read after the mid-point, most of the changes for the film improve the cohesion of the story, so it works.

TB is also a particularly dull novel; a lot of the best scenes don't feature OO7. I enjoy the movies pace and assurance, even when the storyline (like that of the book) fails to gel. Given both book and film suffer from terrible plot issues, the fact I enjoy the action and the sexy & very sixties dialogue more leads me to think this film too is an improvement. NSNA? Hmm, based on my reasoning above, I'd probably say it only just about out paces the book, but only just. NSNA also has a fair few dull moments.

NSNA does give Bond slightly more reason to actually go and investigate Domino as I remember, although I can’t wuitecremebervwgy. In TB his reasons for going to Nassau are a bit tenuous.

They aren't explained at all, as I remember. Bond simply says, "I saw this man at Shrublands and he was dead" [or something like it] and M says "Do you think she's worth going after?" Cue a one-liner from Bond and off he jets....

Really haphazard scripting....

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

In NSNA, he's simply assigned to the Bahamas, and doesn't request to especially go there, which is what happens in TB.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Jimmy Bond wrote:

In NSNA, he's simply assigned to the Bahamas, and doesn't request to especially go there, which is what happens in TB.

Are you sure? I don’t think that’s right.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Sure it is. He requests the assignment in TB, but he's simply assigned to it in NSNA from the start. M briefs him on what's happening, including the second warhead being deposited in the oil fields in the Middle East. M's secretary (Tanner?) notes the other oddity of Jack Petachi leaving the base early. Beyond that, we next see Bond with Algy, to whom he says he's been assigned to the Bahamas.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Jimmy Bond wrote:

M's secretary (Tanner?)

Nope, he's called Elliott for copyright reasons (I'll explain that if you want?) though clearly he's filling Tanner's part.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

While I'm fairly versed with the legal disparities between the McClory and the Broccoli camp, I wouldn't be dismissive to hearing the reasoning behind the Elliott renaming. Which I do like, EON's Tanner at that time was a distinct character (and vastly different from the books, too).

On a related, but tangible note, Elliott does seem like a stuck-up twit in the film, always trying to prove good by Ed Fox's M.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

McClory's camp could only use the plot, characters, etc from TB and the various scripts that led up to it. M's deputy is only referred to as "Chief of Staff" in TB (novel) since Fleming hadn't named him Tanner yet.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

I really wish we'd gotten a looser remake of TB in NSNA. Cause it'd still end up the same, money-wise (any fall release making that kind of bank in autumn would still struggle, no matter what), but we might've gotten a better quality product. I love NSNA as is, but it could definitely have improved - and the only feasible way towards that would've been with a looser approach to the material, though absolutely nothing as extreme as Warhead.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

FRWL and GF created a mini-tradition (sadly not extending to other films in the series) where Bond has a moment of realisation as to how the movie he's in is different to the book. There's the, "Of course... SPECTRE!" moment, when he learns that it isn't "Mother Russia" (to quote Grant) which is behind the plot at all. Yet the audience has known that since Blofeld's first conference with Kronsteen and Klebb. More ingeniously, there's the moment when Goldfinger steers Bond towards working out for himself that his plot isn't a ludicrous attempt to steal the gold bullion from Fort Knox (as in Fleming), but to increase the value of his own stock by making the Fort Knox gold radioactive. In this case, the audience finds out in the same moment as Bond, so the revelation has greater impact. For fans of the novels as well as the films, we get the film-makers' twist: 'Look, we're being cleverer here than the books!'

Last edited by Shady Tree (25th May 2019 18:23)