The Movie Was Good, but the Book Was Better (50 Manly Books Turned into Movies)

26. The Princess Bride
William Goldman

One word. Hilarious. The Princess Bride isn’t just a spoof, not quite solely a comedy, but instead incorporates comedy, adventure, fantasy, and very manly fairy tale elements. Making it not only an entirely unique book and movie, but also gives us plenty of one-liners that we can’t get out of our head. “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die”.

Louis Sachar

This is the book for young men who hate reading. For guys who survive off cliff notes and writing essays based on the first few chapters of a book, this is the one they usually make it all the way through. Plus, the movie stars Shia LeBouf, who would later grow up to fight giant alien robots. Proving that digging holes really is the best training a young man can receive.

28.The Silence of the Lambs
Thomas Harris

The middle book of a trilogy, this one is by far the most well known. A mix of horror and crime genres, the movie proves that Anthony Hopkins is the creepiest antagonists in recent memory. Its not so much the killing or flesh eating, its really just the way that he says Clarice. Gives me the shivers.

29.Into the Wild
John Krakauer

The true story of a young man who stops communication with everyone he knows, gives away all of his college funds, and takes off on a cross country adventure. Ultimately hitchhiking up to Alaska and trekking out into the wilderness with only a few supplies only to never return.

30.The Prestige
Christopher Priest

A fun look into the world of magicians and just how competitive that world is. As each magician continues their obsession with one-upping the other, the tricks soon become more than illusions and set the stage for a great twist ending.

31.2001: A Space Odyssey
Arthur C. Clarke

This is a rare one. The movie here, is based on the book, which was based on one of Clarke’s short stories and written in conjunction with the production of the movie. Its all very tangled, the short if it is that the movie’s director, Stanley Kubrick, worked with Clarke to adapt his short story, The Sentinel. Out of that adaptation came the book and one of the most influential science fiction movies of all time.

32.One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Ken Kesey

Quite an experiment in immersion technique. Kesey wrote the book after working the graveyard shift at a mental health facility. Talking with the patients, observing how the institution worked, and taking Peyote and LSD will give you insight pretty quick into the world of insanity. It shows in the book and the movie.

33.The Green Mile
Stephen King

Supernatural thriller isn’t exactly correct, but no other normal genre descriptions would quite work either to classify this movie. As many of Stephen King’s novels do, this one doesn’t quite fit into the same category as most other books. The story of a death row inmate with supernatural healing powers makes for a compelling, soulful tale.
…and a 3.5 hour movie.

34.A Clockwork Orange
Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange has become known as one of the more disturbing stories in the past century. Can we just all take a minute to all agree that Kubrick, the director, has a screw loose. Undoubtedly, the screws left are brilliant, but Kubrick has given us some of the strangest movies of…ever. The book also gave us the term “ultra-violence”, so there’s that.

35.The Hunt for Red October
Tom Clancy

Many of Tom Clancy books have been made into movies, this one was the first. The book is notable in that it gave us our first introduction to Jack Ryan, a mainstay in later Clancy books and one of the most recognizable spy hero in this genre. The movie also stars to man’s men in Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery.

36.Lonesome Dove
Larry McMurty

While Lonesome Dove was made into a mini-series and not a movie, it still makes this list as 1)the book may be the best western of all time, even winning the Pulitzer and 2)the mini-series won 7 Emmy Awards and starred Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones, hardly small screen talent.

37.The Shining
Stephen King

Ho hum, another Stephen King masterpiece. At least this one is in the genre he’s really known for, horror. Ho hum, another Stanley Kubrick directed film. I’m tempted to be embarrassed by including these two so much, but its not my fault that both King and Kubrick are responsible for so many classics.

38.Patriot Games
Tom Clancy

While there have been other Tom Clancy books made into movies, Patriot Games makes the list as it served to solidify Clancy’s dominance through out the 90’s as men’s go to spy/war novelist. When will the terrorist learn that its never a good idea to attack the hero’s family?

39.Friday Night Lights
HG Bissinger

One of the only non=fiction books to make this list. The simple truth is that sports stories are infinity better when we know that they’re based on a real team. The movie is really pretty good, though let’s be honest, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that is was made into one of the best tv series of recent memory.

40.Full Metal Jacket (The Short-timers)
Gustav Hasford

Many people know this movie as a super intense, super violent depiction of the Vietnam War. What they don’t really is that is was based on a semi-autobiographical book by Gustav Hasford. Which means the stuff in the movie, ACTUALLY HAPPENEND! That fact should add a bit of levity to the film/book next time you watch or read it.

41.Goodfellas (Wiseguy)
Nicholas Pileggi

Goodfellas is another movie considered one of the greatest films ever, that wouldn’t have existed without the book it was based on. This book and film shaped the face of crime dramas and influenced many that came after it, including Casino, The Departed, The Sopranos, and many more.

Armitage Trail

Is there a more posterized movie than Scarface? Made back in 1983, the movie franchise still actively produces the famous movie poster due to its popularity. One cool fact that most people don’t know is that the ’83 Scarface is based on a ’32 Scarface, whichwas based on a book detailing Al Capone’s rise.

43.First Blood
David Morrell

While First Blood lacks the extreme violence that the whole Rambo series has become known for, its the film that launched a world wide phenomenon among men. Who doesn’t like a story so full of violence, revenge, and general bad-assedness? Besides my wife, of course.

44.127 Hours
Aron Ralston

Another non-fiction work, the movie is based on the autobiography of Aron Ralston. Ralston details “that one time he went climbing, got stuck under a rock, and sawed off his own arm”. You pretty much never want to be at a party with this guy, as your stories will absolutely suck compared to his. Its a fact.

45.Minority Report
Phillip K Dick

This one’s so great because we really get to dive into the questions we have about free will vs determinism. The film makes some good points about whether or not our decisions are ever really our own. Just kidding. This story is so great because it has action, time travel, and pre-weird Tom Cruise.

46.Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
Phillip K Dick

Blade Runner was the first of several movies based on the short stories of Phillip K Dick. While the movie originally performed poorly at theaters, it has since become a cult classic and known as one of the greatest films of all time. Plus, it has awesome 80’s special effects.

47.Doctor No
Ian Fleming

The first of the longest running film series in history. Dr. No is the first of 22 films based on the Ian Fleming Novels. Initially met with a little success, Flemings novels really took off when President John F. Kennedy mentioned the author as one as his favorites. This film series has it all: spies, women, action.

48.Die Hard (Nothing Lasts Forever)
Roderick Thorp

This one shouldn’t have to be explained, but I’ll be you didn’t know that the adventures of John MacClane started in book form.

49.Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Peter George

The original story for Dr. Strangelove was a serious attempt to warn people of the perils of nuclear war. Kubrick thought that nuclear war sounded ridiculous and, therefore, made it into a comedy. Roger Ebert called it the best satirical film ever made. In a move that you’d never see in today’s movies, Peter Seller’s starred in three different roles in the movie, all major characters.

50.A River Runs Through It
Norman MacLean

A River Runs Through It proves that a story doesn’t need action, women, or violence to be manly. Set in rural Montana (a bit repetitive) the film looks at the lives of two brothers growing up together. The film is centered on one thing, fly-fishing. Not one person can watch or read this story without wanted to venture off somewhere remote and just get away.

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About zach

Staring out across the hazy mountain range on his latest summitting of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Zach saw with a clearness he had not yet seen. "People should tremble at the very sound of my name", he thought. And it was so. "I should master the manly arts of the world, such as barehanded hunting and blacksmithing". And it was so. "People should call me Z$". And it was so.

Currently Reading

-The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
-The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
-Twitter for Good by Claire Diaz Ortiz


  1. I’d like to see Norman MacLean’s novella “A River Runs Through It” and Robert Redford’s cinematic version of the movie on this list.

  2. Blake Osborn says:

    Nonetheless, this is a formidable list that makes my blood tingle with a strange buoyancy, like my body is floating in my own blood. I do feel it is my duty, however, to inform you of one more thing: the Japanese writer Shusaku Endo and his classic novel “Silence” (one of my favorite novels [and authors] of all time) – which is now being made into a movie by the virile and virtuoso-esque Director Martin Scorses (sp/sic?).

    Get giddy.

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