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Part I - Filmed Versions of Classic LiteratureBetter to read the book, but if you have to do it this way, the films are usually superior to the Cliff Notes version -- especially the ones listed here.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1939)
Mickey Rooney turns in one of his best performances in this 1939 box office hit based on the novel by Mark Twain. Though it takes liberties with both the plot and the tone of the novel in order to avoid antagonizing Southern audiences of the day, it is quite entertaining when viewed with that in mind.
A Christmas Carol (1951)
Alastair Sim leads an all-star British cast in the best of many filmed versions of the venerable Dickens tale of greed and redemption.
David Copperfield (1935)
George Cukor directed this most famous adaptation of the Dickens novel, featuring an excellent cast, including Freddie Bartholomew, W.C. Fields, Basil Rathbone, Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O'Sullivan, and Elsa Lanchester.
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
One of the most romantic epic films ever made, and definitely more enjoyable than the Pasternak novel, especially given the performances by Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness, and Julie Christie.
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
Henry Fonda turned in his finest performance in John Ford's adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel of the suffering of the Dust Bowl refugees.
Great Expectations (1946)
David Lean's version of the Dickens classic remains one of the best and most engrossing films every made, with a great cast and memorable performances.
This is the Mel Gibson version, but this one is more likely to appeal to high school or college kids than the older ones, notably the 1948 version, starring Laurence Olivier. Kevin Kline did one the same year.
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1939)
Still be best version of Victor Hugo's novel, starring Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara.
King Lear (1983)
Sir Laurence Olivier stars as the tragic Shakespearean monarch in a made-for-TV version of the play that has received excellent reviews.
The Last of the Mohicans (1932)
A film that depicts eighteenth century warfare and the French and Indian War, based on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper.
Moby Dick (1956)
With a classic novel by Herman Melville, screenplay by Ray Bradbury, award-winning direction by John Huston, and a strong lead performance by Gregory Peck, this can't help but be a winner.
Oliver Twist (1948)
Before it became a musical, the Dickens novel was brought to life brilliantly in this screen version, particularly noted for Alec Guinness' portrayal of Fagin and Anthony Newley's first screen role as The Artful Dodger.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Despite criticism of its adaptation from fans of the Ken Kesey book and the play, it was still a powerful film, especially for the times, with nine Oscar nominations, including Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher.
Pride and Prejudice (1940)
Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson star in the most famous screen adaptation of Jane Austen's 1813 novel.
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
Harper Lee's Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel was turned into a haunting film starring Gregory Peck, with Robert Duvall in his first on-screen role.
Wuthering Heights (1939)
Olivier again, but this time it's the 1847 Emily Bronte novel that is graced by his presence, along with that of Merle Oberon.
Part I: Filmed Versions of Classic Literature
Part II: Films About Famous People
Part III: Films About History
Part IV: The Important Films
Other classic movie checklists that you'll enjoy.