Ten Classics That Should Be Movies

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a page-to-screen freebie.  I’ve talked before about my favorite costume dramas, so I thought I’d go with Jana’s take on this topic and share some books that really need to be adapted!

Also, some of these have been made into films already, so if it’s on the list, it means I haven’t yet seen the “perfect” one (subject to my picky opinion, of course).

10.  The Heir of Redclyffe by Charlotte Yonge

Yonge’s novel may have faded out of popularity (or even recognition), but there are plenty of cinematic moments in this one: feuding family members, a shipwreck, and a haunting graveyard scene. Actually, forget the movie – I have plans to turn this into the next blockbuster musical.  Only half-joking…

9.  The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I can hear critics’ howls of protest…”not ANOTHER Sherlock Holmes movie!”  But hear me out: Jeremy Brett (sadly enough) was not able to play Holmes in all 4 novels and 56 short story adaptations.  No one will ever be Jeremy Brett, but I’m ready for a TV producer to undertake this project, starting over with a new actor.  I present Richard Armitage as my casting choice.  🙂

8. Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin

The best thing we have at this point is the 2013 Met Opera production (pictured).  I really didn’t care for the 1999 film version with Liv Tyler; she was fine, but the script was plodding and too… British.  I would love to see a Russian production, or maybe a BBC drama with Russian actors.

7. Villette by Charlotte Bronte

Villette has somehow missed out on the recent BBC adaptations list (by “recent”, I mean more recently than 1970).  It’s a shame, because Lucy Snowe is every bit as compelling as Jane Eyre, and the plot is nearly as brooding, with some scenes that would be quite dramatic on screen.  I would prefer an unknown actress, but if not, then Laura Carmichael would do a great job.

6. The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne


By Andreas Tille (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons
It’s been years since I read it, but The Marble Faun stands out in my memory as being really suited for an adaptation.  It’s an allegory about the Fall of Man, following three young artists who are visiting 19th-century Rome.  The cinematography alone would be stunning!

5. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

I was very disappointed by the 1965 adaptation, which, while more or less following the book and featuring Peter O’Toole, was extremely cringy, not one I’d watch again.  In spite of that, I do think this tale of moral dilemma and consequences would make a good movie, given another chance!

4. Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence

As much as I love Lawrence of Arabia, I would love to see a factual adaptation of Seven Pillars, without too many artistic liberties or embellishment.  As for casting, I once read online someone suggesting Matt Smith as T. E. Lawrence.  I’m not sure the resemblance is 100% there, but I can absolutely see him playing all sides of Lawrence’s complicated character.

3. Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain

To be fair, I haven’t really watched any Joan of Arc movies yet, in part because none of the existing adaptations look very promising to me.  I would love to see a movie of Twain’s novel, which I read years ago and really liked. 

2. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Kidnapped is one of my favorite novels of all time, and while I enjoy the 2005 TV movie, it’s not very accurate, more like fan fiction. I hope someday it gets the adaptation it deserves!

1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

As with Sherlock Holmes, I’m still waiting (impatiently) for a complete and accurate rendition of the Alice books.  This brief flashback sequence in the Tim Burton film is the best we’ve got for now.

What about you – what’s on your book adaptation wishlist?


  1. brilliant selections! there's a bunch of sci fi novels i'd like to see movied; Asimov's Foundation and maybe the whole trilogy… done right, it would be a blockbuster just like starwars…


  2. Your list is fascinating and creative. Many of these works have the potential for great films. I really would like to see Villette done. I have not seen the 1965 version of Lord Jim but I have been curious about it.


  3. I still need to read that! \”Done right\” is key. Sci-fi is particularly difficult to get right. Out of all the Star Trek feature films, I only like a few.


  4. What a cool idea for a post, I love your choices! I just finished the Beautiful and Damned, and to the best of my knowledge, that has not been made into a film yet (except for maybe a silent version). I would love to see Hollywood's take on it!


  5. A great list. I do so agree with you regarding Villette, Alice in Wonderland and Eugene Onegin. Many years ago I made a similar list on my other blog, and there I included such films as Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Pushkin’s The Captain’s Daughter and Ellison’s Invisible Man. I do love the Sherlock Holmes series with Jeremy Brett.


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