Not all great American novels make great American movies, and after three previous Gatsby movies, it’s surprising that Baz Luhrmann decided to try his hand at Fitzgerald’s novel. With the exception of John Steinbeck (and, depending on your taste, John Grisham), few American authors have produced a handful of novels fit for the cinema. This is not necessarily a bad thing — as far as artistic mediums go, film and novels are strikingly different. But while the literary world is a go-to for Hollywood executives hoping that popular novels will seamlessly transition to the screen (and achieve the same positive response), it isn’t exactly a reliable source of artistic or commercial hits. Among these ten adaptations are valiant efforts as well as unmitigated disasters, none of which successfully captured the charm of their source material.
The Sound and the Fury
William Faulkner’s groundbreaking experiment in point of view and narrative is primed for cinematic disaster, as much of the novel is told from the perspective of mentally disabled or emotionally disturbed characters. Yet that didn’t stop 20th Century Fox from producing this loose adaptation in 1959, featuring Yul Brynner sporting a preposterous Southern accent.