Fanboys love nothing more than to bitch and moan when some nitpicky detail of a novel they love doesn't make it into the final cut of the movie ("They left Peeves the Poltergeist out of Harry Potter? Now everything is just ruined!"). But the thing is, sometimes those changes happen for the right reasons. Below are honest-to-God insane elements of best-selling novels you definitely don't remember from the movies:
Tolkien's Lord of the Rings defined the fantasy genre so hard that it'd have been stupid for all the other fantasy writers in the world not to rip him off, but it's also probably one of the least-cinematic novels you'll ever find this side of Ayn Rand. See, as we've already pointed out, Tolkien wasn't actually a novelist at all; he was a stodgy old linguistics professor with an awesome pipe habit who basically wrote the books as a support system for his made-up Elf languages.
Via Wikimedia Commons
Even in military uniform, he looks like the world's biggest nerd.
A fake language dictionary disguised as an epic fantasy novel, as you can imagine, doesn't exactly lend itself to the big screen. So, for the sake of streamlining the story, a lot of elements had to be tweaked or outright abandoned. For example, the book version drags on for six chapters after Gollum takes his swan-dive into the volcano, and before it's over, we see Saruman acting like a small-time mafioso in the Shire before ending up on the wrong end of a shiv. So, yeah -- the infuriating multiple endings in Return of the King: That's real. But what they left out was much weirder, such as the part where Merry and Pippin almost get eaten alive by an angry tree but are saved by a dancing, prancing forest-dweller who calms down the tree by singing to it and then lures the bewildered hobbits back to his secluded shack in the woods.
Meet Tom Bombadil:
Via Wikimedia Commons
Also known as "Holyfuckingbeard!"
Tom enjoys long walks in the woods, wearing a blue coat with stylish yellow boots, singing, flitting about like a wood-nymph-hobo and rescuing wayward travelers from angry trees. Oh, and when he talks, he sounds like this:
"Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!"
In Chapter 7, Tom takes the hobbits (who inexplicably don't run in the opposite goddamn direction the second he opens his mouth) back to his home, where they are greeted by Tom's shockingly hot blonde wife, who serves them what "seemed to be clear cold water, yet it went to their hearts like wine and set free their voices."
Who's up for seconds?
Then it's off to bed for the hobbits, who are ominously warned, "Heed no nightly noises!" which has to be the most terrifying piece of bedtime advice you can possibly hear from a man whose facial hair looks like it has unspeakable sexual appetites of its own. Frodo, predictably, is plagued by terrible dreams all night and wakes up to Tom shouting, "Ring a ding dillo! Wake now, my merry friends! Forget the nightly noises! Ring a ding dillo del!"
"Ring a ding dello! The darkness demands tears and shrieking sacrifice! Ring a derry dol!"
Later, Tom shows up again to save the hobbits from a Barrow-wight, which is totally cool except that in the process, the hobbits mysteriously end up losing most of their clothes. "You won't find your clothes again," said Tom, "bounding down from the mound and laughing as he danced round them in the sunlight." Then he instructs them to "Cast off these cold rags" and "run naked in the grass!"
"I ... I guess we sort of have to, huh?"
Originally, Tom Bombadil has nothing to do with Lord of the Rings; Tolkien first wrote about him years earlier, portraying him as a sort of nature-spirit. He lifts out of the story so easily that even people who have read Lord of the Rings tend to forget about him. Who Tom is and why he lives in the woods are never fully explained; he's supposed to be "oldest and fatherless," so theories are that Tom may be God, or some kind of avatar of Middle-earth. You can read Lord of the Rings as an allegory for World War II, in which case Tom Bombadil represents the spirit of pacifism and noninvolvement. Which, as we all know, makes for bitching action movies.
In Tolkien's own words: "Tom Bombadil is not an important person -- to the narrative. I suppose he has some importance as a 'comment.' I mean, I do not really write like that: he is just an invention (who first appeared in The Oxford Magazine about 1933), and he represents something that I feel important, though I would not be prepared to analyse the feeling precisely. I would not, however, have left him in, if he did not have some kind of function."
"Or maybe it was all that pipe weed."
There you have it: The writer himself isn't prepared to commit to an answer about why the fuck this happened.
The Godfather forever changed the way the world looked at gangsters, the way gangsters looked at themselves and the way Marlon Brando looked at a plate of pasta.
"He made me a snack I couldn't refuse, which is to say, literally any kind of omelet."
For the most part, Francis Ford Coppola made a faithful adaptation of Mario Puzo's novel. Every important element was there: the wedding, the murders, Michael's exile, the themes of family and destiny, Sonny's comically oversized schlong ...
Sonny Corleone (James Caan) is the aggressive, hot-tempered older brother of Michael and, in the novel, has a massive dick. And his penis isn't just casually thrown in there -- it's violently thrust into every nook and cranny of the book over and over again, like a big, invasive, impossible-to-ignore ... giant dick in a book. Frankly, that's better than any analogy we could come up with. Puzo never missed an opportunity to mention it in the least-mature terms possible ("Did you hear, Sonny's dick is so big that hookers charge him double! Did you know, Sonny's tool is so huge that his wife thanks God he's having affairs!"). And so on. Sonny Corleone had a huge dick, and Mario Puzo believed it was important for you to know, in this story about family and power and corruption.
All 42 shots hit him right in the cock.
Remember how early in the film you see Sonny hooking up with some nameless bridesmaid? It's OK if you've forgotten; it was just a quick, throwaway scene that happens within the first 10 minutes. A quick, throwaway scene that, incidentally, was a major subplot of the novel, thanks to Sonny's elephantine member. It is this monstrous schlong that leads Sonny to hook up with the bridesmaid (Lucy Mancini). They're a good fit, Sonny and Lucy, but mostly because Lucy happens to have an impossibly huge vagina, making her a perfect muse for Sonny's angry flesh python. Puzo's treatment of their romance is both subtle and tender:
"... she couldn't help reaching out to touch his naked body, hold him, make love to him as if those special parts of his body were a plaything, a specially constructed, intricate but innocent toy revealing its known, but still surprising ecstasies. At first she had been ashamed of these excesses but soon realized that they pleased her lover, that her complete sensual enslavement to his body flattered him."
Please don't think too hard about this one.
When Sonny dies, the book continues to follow Lucy, who, remember, only existed because her closet-size vagina could accommodate Sonny. Her association with Sonny's junk upgraded her from nonexistent to supporting. Puzo was really invested in Lucy Mancini and her abnormal genitals, and he wanted to give them both a happy ending. So the second half of the book follows a heartbroken Lucy to Las Vegas, where she falls in love with a charming blond doctor (who, of course, can't compete with the memory of Sonny's world-destroying dick).
Keep in mind, this subplot involves no major characters in the story whatsoever. Michael is still in Sicily, Don Corleone is back in New York ... it's just Lucy and Jules the doctor, living out the most uncomfortable Harlequin romance novel ever written. The closest connection to a living member of the Corleone family is when Jules casually mentions that Fredo keeps catching syphilis. By the end of the novel (about greed, a family of gangsters and the American Dream), Jules performs reconstructive surgery on Lucy's vagina to take it from ultra-freak-giant to standard-vagina-size. With Sonny's dong gone, so goes the only chapel worthy enough to accept it.
"Wait! Wait! Save his cock, for science!"
When fanboys complain about the soldiers-vs.-insect-monsters, intentionally over-the-top sci-fi action flick Starship Troopers, it's usually about how director Paul Verhoeven left out the giant, awesome, robot-armor death-suits that featured heavily in the novel. (When nonfanboys complain about it, it's usually about how awful it is as, like, a movie.) A complaint you don't hear so often is that Verhoeven also left out the fact that the insect monsters are meant to be stand-ins for the soulless, hive-minded Chinese.
All that nonsense would have left less time for Full Metal Space Jacket.
In the film, the notion that the people of the future live in a weirdly fascistic society with whippings and public executions is treated in a playful, campy way, pretty much what you'd expect from the man who gave us Showgirls.
They're pretty much the exact same movie.
Robert Heinlein's book, though, is really a coming-of-age story in which protagonist Johnny Rico transitions from child to adult in a time of war and in so doing learns the value and necessity of the ultra-right-wing government he serves and defends. Militarism isn't mocked -- it's glorified. And Heinlein wasn't much for leaving it up to the readers to decide for themselves; the subtext is more like something Glenn Beck would scream just as he was pushed down a staircase built by illegal-immigrant death-panelists.
For example, the robot-suit action in the book is regularly broken up by lectures on such subjects as capital punishment, the need for a strong national defense and how a military-run government is the way to achieve utopia. These take the form of actual literal lectures in Johnny's history and moral philosophy class. They go on for pages and pages and are full of nuggets like this:
"Liberty is never inalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes."
"Nobody preached duty to these kids in a way they could understand -- that is, with a spanking."
"Either we spread and wipe out the Bugs, or they spread and wipe us out -- because both races are tough and smart and want the same real-estate."
"It is the enlightened self-interest of the individual which guarantees the wealth of nations! RUN!!!"
The Bugs in the novel, by the way, aren't just big praying mantises with tusks; they have weapons and starships, too. The biggest difference between them and humans is that they attack by the millions and have no sense of individuality whatsoever. Kind of like ... oh. Right.
It turns out that Heinlein really, really hated communism. He started the book right after the Korean War, and just by coincidence, the implacable, inhuman menace that the brave soldiers of the future have to fight is a horde of collectivist, expansionist insects. As if the symbolism wasn't obvious enough, he adds lines such as, "We were discovering, expensively, just how efficient a total communism can be when used by a people actually adapted to it by evolution. ... Perhaps we could have figured it out about the Bugs by noting the problems the Chinese Hegemony gave the Russo-Anglo-American Alliance."
He doesn't even use paper. He just writes this shit on his palm and delivers it to you bitch-style.
The whole thing was so over-the-top that Heinlein's publishers refused to touch it. A dick move, you might say, until you realize that what they had contracted Heinlein to write for them was a series of young adult novels. We guess ol' Rob felt that heavy-handed sermons about the Red Menace were what kids looked for in their fiction.