5 Movies That Improved on the Book (According to the Author)

#2. Agatha Christie the Playwright Hated Agatha Christie the Novelist

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Agatha Christie was both lucky and talented: She was talented enough to work across mediums, and lucky enough to keep control of her own properties in her adaptations. So clearly, she was in the best possible position to keep her work untouched. Nobody was going to be more faithful to her vision than herself, right?

But no: Apparently Christie thought her books kind of sucked, and it was rare for one to survive the adaptation process without substantial mauling at her own hands. Her slasher story And Then There Were None lived up to its title: Ten people on an island, and one starts killing the others. Who will be left at the end? The answer: None. What did you expect? But when Agatha Christie turned the story into a play, she figured killing off everyone was kind of dark. So the last two characters survived -- and got married.

If it was a Hollywood screenwriter suggesting that change, you can imagine any author with integrity tearing her hair out and sprinting out of LA forever, but not Christie. Another of her plays, Appointment With Death, changed the original book's murderer into the comic relief. Whoops, it turns out there wasn't a murder at all! The victim killed herself -- and made it look like murder to incriminate her family.

Holy shit -- picture going to see that play as a fan of the book. You expected Titus Andronicus and got Weekend at Bernie's, and you can't even get mad at folks disrespecting the author, because she's standing right there giving it a giant thumbs up and a knowing nod.

Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
Usually authors would be using a different finger.

Further, in Appointment With Death (and several other of her plays), Christie went so far as to remove Hercule Poirot, her most well-known character. Turns out Christie didn't even like him: She thought he was a "detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep," so whenever she could, she yanked him out of her plays. Basically, if you bought a ticket to see one of Christie's clever murder mysteries full of your favorite classic characters, you'd be lucky if she didn't replace the cast with circus performers and put on an all-pantomime version of The Lion King.

#1. Blade Runner Kills, Saves Philip K. Dick

Warner Bros.

Most of the authors on this list feared how their books' adaptations would turn out, but Phillip K. Dick is the only one who literally shat blood over it. Dick was in an emotional slump by the '80s. According to a letter he sent to producers, he had lost faith in the entire realm of science fiction. He now thought sci-fi was "inbred," "derivative," and "stale." The whole field had "settled into a monotonous death."

"Wait, this isn't ink ..."

Blade Runner, an adaptation of Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, seemed set to continue the trend. After reading an early script, Dick thought the filmmakers had removed all nuance and meaning from his story, leaving it just a bunch of brainless fight scenes between robots and a bounty hunter. By the spring of 1981, he was popping painkillers and chugging glasses of scotch. On Memorial Day, he began hemorrhaging through his guts. Hollywood was spiritually murdering the man before his film was even released, which is weird, because they usually wait until the box office is in to call the gypsies.

"Hurry up, his contract gives him points off gross."

And it turns out all of Dick's fears were justified. At the last minute, the studio forced a happy ending and tacked on an awful voice-over, which indeed sucked all subtlety from the film. Luckily, Dick never saw the finished product. He had only previewed early cuts, which were much closer to the incredible director's cut we have today. Dick was relieved that the world of the film was "so gritty and detailed and authentic and goddam convincing." In fact, he saw the film's effects as a new sort of visual expression altogether. Sure, sure -- but was it as good as the book?


Dick thought it went far beyond the book -- he couldn't imagine that anything he'd written could ever be "escalated into such stunning dimensions." This one film justified his entire career up until that point. Dick died soon after sharing his thoughts with the studio, which presumably saw an author ecstatic with an adaptation for once and thought, "Well, this just won't do."

"Our greatest regret is that he couldn't live long enough for us to kill him."

Menezes broke down and got himself a Twitter page. His current whereabouts are unknown.

Related Reading: You'd be surprised which of your favorite movies were originally books. Psycho, Dr. Strangelove, Die Hard- and we're just getting started. And for more proof that movies can IMPROVE on the book, check out these book scenes that were cut from the movie because they would have ruined it. Be thankful Tom Bombadil never made it to the big screen. But the dialogue between film and literature hasn't been one-sided. In fact one lone author named Philip K. Dick changed the world of movies forever.

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