Friday, January 20, 2017

Book Blogger Hop No. 2: The Movie Was Better Than The Book

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hosted by Billy @

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to find out the topic of next week's question, click HERE.

This Week's Question

What was the one time you thought
the movie was better
than the book?

(Submitted  by Tomi @ 

My Answer

Several years ago, when video stores were still around, I found this absolutely AMAZING movie, "Shining Through", starring Melanie Griffith and Michael Douglas. The fact that these actors were playing the leads should have told me that I was in for a real treat, as these two are excellent performers. Furthermore, the supporting cast was of the very best caliber -- Liam Neeson, John Gielgud, and Joely Richardson. So I snapped up the DVD, and watched it as soon as I got back home.

Happily, I was TOTALLY blown away. 

The story concerns Nazis and spies. I've always had a fascination for WWII movies, so one of the things I really liked about this one was how often other famous films of this period were referenced in the plot.  But there was much more than that. There was the fascinating plot itself, the chemistry between the two leads, the suspense, the danger....

Griffith plays a young Brooklyn woman who is half Irish and half German/Jewish. She starts working as a secretary for Michael Douglas's character, who works for the government. The story takes place in the early 1940s. 

This woman, Linda Voss, is a very perceptive, insightful person who has a vested interest in the events taking place in Germany; her cousin, Liesel Weiss, is a talented flutist living there, and her life could very well be in danger.   Linda immediately realizes that  her boss, attorney Ed Leland (Douglas) is in reality more than he appears. In fact, she soon discovers that he's a colonel in the OSS (Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the CIA) who has already gone on several secret missions to Germany.

Of course, the two eventually become lovers, and, when an agent is suddenly murdered, Linda convinces Ed to let her replace him as a spy in Germany. She also wants a chance to rescue her cousin in the process.

This was such a riveting, satisfying film!! I've seen it at least three times, and want to do so again, now that I'm posting about it! Released on January 31, 1992, it was written and directed by David Seltzer. The music score is by Michael Kamen.

This film is based on a novel of the same name, written by Susan Isaacs, which was published by HarperCollins in 1988. Since I was so in love with the film version, I then rushed out and bought the book. Well, I was in for a huge disappointment....

I dove into the book, expecting to find the same great storyline, the same passionate romance, the same excitement. Although some elements of the plot were incorporated into the movie, I was upset to see that the relationship between Ed and Linda was not given the emphasis that it received in the movie version. In fact, Linda first falls for another attorney, named John Berringer, whom she has an affair with and eventually marries.  I remember I started to frantically skim through the book, desperately searching for Linda and Ed's story. I had to get through SO many pages to find it, too. The story with Berringer did not interest me at all, from what I read. In contrast, Linda and Ed's relationship, as portrayed in the movie version, was absolutely enthralling.

The suspense and action in the movie were great, while, from what I read of the book, things seemed to just drag. 

To be fair, I never did read the book in its entirety, but merely skimmed it. What I gathered from it, though, was that it was just not as riveting to read as the movie was to watch.

Writer/director Seltzer did a fine job of tightening up the plot, thus making it much more compelling. He eliminated the Berringer character as well as events in the first three-quarters of the novel, and instead zeroed in on Linda's heroism, and the way it impacted her relationship with Ed.

The last third of the movie was totally electrifying to watch, and I almost couldn't sit still the first time I saw it. The movie ends on a very sweet note, too, as the story is framed in an interview that Linda later gives for a BBC documentary special. 

I did some Googling for this post, and read the Wikipedia article about the film. When I reached the end of it, I was shocked to discover that this movie was not well received at all, by either the critics or the public. In my honest opinion, this movie should have received an Oscar for Best Picture, and Griffith and Douglas should have received awards for Best Actor and Actress, as well. Neeson, Gielgud, and Richardson also turned in stellar performances, and deserved their own Oscars. The cinematography was excellent, with beautiful scenes of the German countryside, and the action scenes were very well done. The suspense was worthy of Hitchcock himself. So I really don't understand why this movie was not a success.

Perhaps I'll pick up the book again, and see why the critics in particular rated it as much better than the movie. But I really don't care what anyone else says about this film. I consider it a masterpiece of romance and suspense, and would actually like to throw rotten tomatoes at the staff on the "Rotten Tomatoes" website!

When I checked out the DVD on Amazon, I was very pleased to see that the movie has garnered a total rating of 4.5 stars from 839 reviewers! In contrast, the hardcover First Edition of the novel has received a total rating of 4 stars, from 105 reviewers.  So all  those who criticized it, back in 1992, were TOTALLY WRONG.      

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Brian Joseph said...

Hey Maria

I actually remember seeing Shinning Through in the movie when it first came out. I remember liking it. I tend to like films set during World War II forms also.

I think that when a book is just OK, and the film changes the story and characters a lot, there is the potential for the movie to be better.

A lot of people say that the greatest example of a film being better then a book is The Wizard of Oz. Like many others I think that it is one of the best movies ever made. I have not read the book but I have been told that it is not up to the film.

Have a great weekend!

Maria Behar said...

Hey, Brian!

Yeah, this was one case of the movie being an improvement over the book. Of course, I'm speaking from my cursory knowledge of the book. On the other hand, I don't think I would like the book even if I read it completely, instead of just skimming it. However, I did read the Wikipedia plot summary for the novel, and still feel that the movie is MUCH better. Also, I found out, through this summary, that Ed is actually twenty years older than Linda. In the movie, he was perhaps 5 or 6 years older than her, which made things much better, romantically speaking.

As for the "The Wizard of Oz", I've never read the book, either, but I do have some mixed feelings about the movie (which I've seen many times nevertheless, lol). For one thing, Dorothy's journey is portrayed as just a dream. Her three companions in Oz are revealed to be just three of her family's farm hands. Besides, "The Great and Powerful Oz" is revealed to simply be a con artist and traveling magician. In spite of all this, I do think the production is AWESOME, considering the time period of the movie. And the acting, of course, is just SUPERB! I LOVED this movie when I was a kid. Now, though, it has been entirely eclipsed by the Harry Potter movies, as well as the LOTR movies.

Thanks for the nice comment!! Hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend!! :) :) :)

Elizabeth said...

What a great answer and post, Maria.

Unfortunately I don't know this book or movie, but that's how it has been all day. I haven't known one book or movie folks have mentioned.

Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Happy Hopping!!

Silver's Reviews
My Blog Hop Answer

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Elizabeth!

Thanks for the compliment!! <3 :)

Don't worry -- I haven't known some of the books and movies other people have mentioned, either. Lol. I really recommend this movie -- "Shining Through" -- to you! I think you'd love it! I need to properly read the book, and see if I've been unfair to it, but, from what I did read of it, it's just not as good as the movie.

You're very welcome for my visit! :)

Happy Hopping to you, as well! Thanks for commenting back!! <3 :)

Nicki J Markus said...

I've not read the book or seen the film of this one. Will have to check them out!

Kym Thorpe said...

I remember when the movie came out, but I don't remember seeing it. Isn't it strange when the movie and the book it's based on are so very different? My answer was Forrest Gump, and I found that the book and movie shared little other than the names of major characters. I answered on my blog here:

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Nicki!

Oh, you definitely should! I think you'll agree that the movie is better, once you've seen it, and read the book!

Thanks for dropping by and commenting!! :)

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Kym!

You know, I actually HATE it when the movie's better than the book. I always want the book to be better, or at least just as good as the movie! Lol.

I need to read "Forrest Gump", and see the movie, too, so I can compare both.

Thanks for commenting back!! :)

Katiria Rodriguez said...

Great answer I haven't heard of either book or the film as well. Thank you for stopping by my blog hop.

Maria Behar said...

Hi, Katiria!

Glad you liked it! I hope you can watch the movie sometime soon. You'll LOVE it!!

You're very welcome for my visit to your blog! Thanks for the very nice comment back!! <3 :)

Verushka Byrow said...

i loved thismovie, i really did. i think it was totally undervalued in general :( i'm surprised too that book was soooo bad??? i always really figured that the book HAD to be good too. sighs. how amazing was melanie griffith?