top of page

Movies That Bear ZERO Resemblence to the Book!

We are comparing differences so it goes without saying, huge spoiler warning. Titles are in black bold so just look at them and if you have not seen the film in question, move on!

Enjoy the list and don't forget to like, comment, and subscribe!

The Basketball Diaries (Jim Carroll) 1978 / The Basketball Diaries (Scott Kalvert) 1995

DiCaprio is a masterful actor and a stellar screen presence. His professional dedication is the only positive here. A book that influenced me more than any other, a prose, non-linear honest but not self-pitying brutal look into young city life and the most ballsy coming-of-age story ever. I read and re-read until it was ruined and I bought another.

Along comes this pop-music video director who decides to ruin it. Set in modern times and with no depth, it ignores the great moments of the book. Even the one it picks, the drugged-out basketball game becomes a serious and pretentious (although Mr Carroll was also known to be a little that way in his music) and sets it in slo-mo to Riders on the fucking Storm for Gods sake! Taking a humourous moment and making a dramatic life-changing event and a montage with bafflingly obvious music choices. The film seeps into a pontificating self-righteous soap-box and is a total failure.

The Football Factory (Nick Love) 2004 / The Football Factory (John King) 1997

Tommy is far more intelligent and far less self-involved. Billy Bright is barely mentioned and is a one-handed dole-mole Nazi. It is an endless stream of consciousness. There is no Raff or Zeb. There are no Stoke fans, no florists, no plot involving Fred, and suprisingly, no drugs. The only incident that is slightly alluded to is Bill Farrell punching the racist thugs for abusing an Indian family, by no means the same setup but it is inspired by it. A particularly gripping and well written segment. The book really grown as you read with some marvellous prose. It is an interesting read but if you loved the movie and want to get more background on the characters, then try fan fiction or a forum. He gets the severe kicking from Millwall at the end but it is totally random and not borne of any previous actions. The ending is random and violent but not tragic.

The Man with the Golden Arm (Otto Preminger) 1955 / The Man with the Golden Arm (Nelson Algren) 1949

A notoriously toxic feeling from the author, who refused to be photographed by the poster, saying: "What does this film have to do with me?". Immensely darker in tone, it focuses on Frankie's time in the army and does not get to the drug problem for some time. In fact in the first draft of the novel drugs do not feature at all. Schweifka is a benign character, not an antagonist, Frankie is 20, not 40, drumming is a minor interest and goes nowhere, and it is Frankie kills Louie, not Zosh (whose injury is psychosomatic, not faked) and Machine kills himself in the end, rather than walking off into the sun with Molly.

It has to be said the book is rather mediocre and the movie is superb, so I think artistic licence was a good move here.

In the Name of the Father (Jim Sheridan) 1993 / Proved Innocent (Gerry Conlon) 1990

This one is beyond mention for the amount of differences so I will not even begin to try. It is not wrong to estimate 98% of the film is pure fiction. That said, it is not to say it makes it any less shocking. A miscarriage of justice and a case of malign police and legal corruption the likes of which have rarely been seen on these islands. One point that is worth mentioning though, the film makes it look as though after his father’s death the case moved quickly and clemency was given. This is misleading as it actually took more than ten years to transpire. A very important movie for me as it was my first discovery of the force of nature we call Daniel Day-Lewis.

Midnight Express (Alan Parker) 1978 / Midnight Express (Billy Hayes) 1977

A mere few months between novel and movie tells you how taken the world was with Hayes' story. Since the movie was released, international protests at Turkish representation, as well as the loss in public support when it was discovered he had smuggled many times before, have kept interest in it alive. There are no coat hangers, no rape attempts leading to uniform switch. There are similar events to some of the movie, but the timelines and characters are botched. He escapes from a prison island in a boat and through a (supposed) minefield into Greece. It also confuses a tad when you learn he was remarkably close to getting early release anyway. A great movie, and sad that we lost the awesome talent of Brad Davis who took an assisted suicide by drug-overdose to escape the onset of AIDS complications. Often an actor who is forgotten and deserves nothing of the sort.

Trainspotting 2 (Danny Boyle) 2018 Porno (Irvine Welsh) 2002

A sequel to a book made into a film in the nineties that was set in the eighties is being made into a book from 2002 but set in 2017. Sit down when you finish that one. This itself caused huge continuity questions regarding character age, culture, and story. Ultimately, this led to it being a failure. The film was a huge let-down

Begbie is still violent but it hints at a half-likable rough-diamond profile. This was the man we once saw kicking his pregnant wife in the vagina for asking him questions and beating her endlessly. Sick Boy is not making stag films, there is no Curtis, no Nicky, no Rab, and no Juice Lawson. Renton is a failure, The excellent book was cast aside for an exercise in nostalgia; Disney Trainspotting. Fine for a standalone film, maybe. To follow in the footsteps of possibly the greatest independent movie ever made. Not even on the guest list. Differences in the actual plot are universal and way too plentiful to mention.

Casino (Martin Scorsese) 1995 / Casino: Love and Honour in Las Vegas (Pileggi) 1995

Ace is by no means as likable, his and Ginger's relationship issues were as much his doing as hers, if not more. Tommy and Ace go through an awful lot back home to build to even getting to Vegas. The job he has in the casino was a long slog to get to, rather than just given to him.

What is most different as well as disappointing, is it is the most boring book I think I ever read. Far from 'Wiseguy,' the book by the same author that was the basis for Goodfellas. 'Wiseguy' was a blistering read. It showed you what you saw already but gave you background, and extras. Thrilling stuff. Casino is an aging read. Similar to the Howard Marks entry in its levels of interest. Endless stories of names and amounts. Blood and guts aplenty, but not the good kind.

There Will be Blood (Paul Thomas Anderson) 2007 / Oil! (Upton Sinclair) 1927

I was flabbergasted when I picked up this gigantic book. The title, names, stories, incidents, outcomes, and backgrounds are totally different. Forget Daniel Plainview, the cold and splendid Daniel Day-Lewis creation. Forget Paul and Eli. If you have read the book already, fine, you cannot unread it! However, if you have not and wish to read more about the movie and what happened, forget it. By far the most extreme case of what this list is about. A 'mas o menos' book and a blistering and eye-wateringly sublime powerhouse of a movie. Down to, in my opinion, Lord Daniel Day-Lewis

Mr Nice (Bernard Rose) 2010 / Mr Nice (Howard Marks) 1997

A nudged in entry. Notwithstanding the fact I detest Howard Marks, it qualifies elsewhere. He is a drug dealer on a gigantic scale and the whole Richard Burton/Robin Hood bullshit offends me. Regardless of the drug, pot, or crack, when you are at that level, with billions involved, the violence and tactics do not change because of the drug’s benignness or character of the end user. He would not have survived had he been the character forged for us.

That said, while the book was (aside from the opening chapters) a boring collection of numbers, dates, names, and places, the movie made for great viewing. I really liked it. Rhys Ifan was perfectly cast, and it was a joy. Still the facts were way off from what really happened. As was the book.


The Running Man (Richard Bachman) 1982 / The Running Man (Paul Michael Glaser) 1987

What a difference! The book is so far from the film! No prison, no fights, no escape. No Killian (in that sense) and Ben applies and gets in through a rigourous process. Not blackmail. He does it to save his drug-addicted wife. Very different rules. No game quads, no live show, and stalkers are regular people. No Buzz-Saw! Far from it! The ending is totally different and it is far more dystopian.

However, it is a gem as it makes a cracking popcorn movie and was also a brilliant book so a real winner to end on!

The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) 1844/ The Count of Monte Cristo (Kevin Reynolds) 2002

So, we have the textbook novel for revenge and good triumphing over evil. Here it is is made into a wildly entertaining, yet idiotically implausible, swashbuckling yarn starring Jim Caviezel and Guy Pearce. None of the action scenes are in the novel, his treatment in jail is ludicrously inflated, the villains are cast into one or two amalgamations, and a bizarrely esoteric story about a beachfront knife-fight sets the scene, post jailbreak.

It hints and delves into Dumas' text but as and when it wants to and with unfairly generous licence. Probably the mildest case on this list and especially becuae the legth of the book (I stopped halfway through due to illness and when I went back was too lost to finish)

A great book and a great film. Somehow!


Interesting thing happened to me as a kid. When I was 12 my parents were concerned. All I was watching was horror and all I was reading was horror. Particularly Stephen King. I had read Rage aged 11 and fallen in love. I read Carrie, The Dead Zone, The Shining, and others so fast and enjoyable! However my folks banned it as I started to play up at school. Anyway they went to London and came back with a new book for me, one they said I would love that looked like a great story and a nice change from that Stephen King rubbish. The book was....yep, The Running Man by Richard Bachman. Better known as.....

1 Comment

Apr 21, 2021

Great write-up, and I have to applaud your footnote. I have been a King/Bachman fan for as long as I can remember, and to see a Bachman book noted on your list, followed by a footnote acknowledging the pen name... well, that was a pure treat for me. :)

bottom of page