Search
  • Pete Mesling

Source Material: A Curated Film-Adaptation Bibliography (1930 - 1980)

Updated: Oct 3, 2021



My principal aim with this bibliography was to get literary-minded cinephiles pointed in the right direction should they develop an interest in reading the stories, plays, novels, memoirs, poems, and other works on which some of my favorite directors have based their films. A secondary aim was to generate a handy reading list for myself. In an attempt to imply an expanded definition of auteur theory, I’ve sorted the bibliography by film director, but it truly is meant to be a bibliography, not merely a set of partial filmographies. (How pointless would that be in the Age of Google?)


The project quickly became about establishing parameters, because it wanted to grow unwieldy at every turn. As a result, I’ve stuck to directors who have made important films in the genres of horror and suspense, though their work in other genres may also be included. As for the date range I’ve decided on, well, the sound era was finding its legs by 1930, and literary work from that time through the 1970s is in some danger of being lost to the ravages of time, if it hasn't been already. Incidentally, it is the year in which a movie was released that defines the 1930 - 1980 range, not the year in which the source material was published.


In the end, the above factors outweighed my desire to touch on some of my favorite movie adaptations from 1980 onward. Again, parameters. Of course, many films are shot from original screenplays, so never rule that out as a possibility for why you’re not seeing a famous film listed. Novelizations and short films have been omitted as well. Remakes are stickier. Are they based on the same source material as the original film, or are they based on the film itself? It’s more clear in some cases than in others. Here I used my best judgment. Similarly, where I was unable to verify the title or publication date of a work cited as being the source of a film, I have not included it.


The real challenge with this project has been keeping my mouth shut, so to speak. I was determined to stick to my original goal of providing a bibliographic resource, though it was often tempting to include commentary for some of the books and films referred to. In the end, I decided such commentary would be out of place. My opinions, after all, have already shaped the thing; more opining would have been a distraction, in addition to making the word count untenable. (I’ll pause here only to point out a two-pronged coincidence: 1) the star of Otto Preminger’s The Cardinal was none other than Thomas Tryon, who would go on to become a highly respected novelist himself; 2) Tryon also ends up in this bibliography for having written the novella that Billy Wilder’s 1978 film Fedora was based on. (Help yourself to my thoughts on Tryon's The Night of the Moonbow for no additional charge.))


This is not a work of scholarly research, by the way. Most everything was pulled from Wikipedia, with additional verification required in certain cases, some of which led me down an interesting rabbit hole or two. One resource I found particularly useful at times was The Complete Index to Literary Sources, which is freely available on Google Books. If some of your favorite directors are not included in the bibliography, I can only apologize. But do let me know by e-mail (petemesling at info dot com), or on social media, if you feel I’ve really missed the boat with a director who would have been a good fit. Maybe this bibliography is destined to have a sequel. It can certainly be updated if necessary, so also feel free to let me know if you spot any errors.


On a closing note, acclaimed novelist and short story writer Richard Matheson penned a number of the scripts for the Roger Corman films listed below (and one for Steven Spielberg—remember, we’re not looking beyond 1980). For more on his contributions to film and television, please see the four-part article I collaborated with him on almost twenty years ago: The Films of Richard Matheson.

DIRECTED BY ALFRED HITCHCOCK


Short Stories


  • Rear Window (1954): adapted from "It Had to Be Murder” (1942), by Cornell Woolrich

  • The Birds (1963): adapted from “The Birds” (1952), by Daphne du Maurier

  • Torn Curtain (1966): adapted from “A Bed in America” (unpublished), by Brian Moore

Plays


  • Juno and the Paycock (1930): adapted from Juno and the Paycock (1924), by Seán O'Casey

  • The Skin Game (1931): adapted from The Skin Game (1920), by John Galsworthy

  • Number Seventeen (1932): adapted from Number Seventeen (1925), by Joseph Jefferson Farjeon

  • Rope (1948): adapted from Rope (1929), by Patrick Hamilton

  • I Confess (1953): adapted from Nos deux consciences (Our Two Consciences) (1902), by Paul Anthelme Bourde

  • Dial M for Murder (1954): adapated from the teleplay Dial M for Murder, by Frederick Knott


Short Stories/Plays


  • Secret Agent (1936): adapted from the play Secret Agent (1933), by Campbell Dixon, which was based on two stories in the collection Ashenden: Or the British Agent (1927), by M. Somerset Maugham


Stage Musicals


  • Waltzes from Vienna (1934): adapted from Walzer aus Wien (1930), by Alfred Maria Willner, Heinz Reichert, Ernst Marischka, and Johann Strauss II (music arranged by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Julius Bittner)


Novels


  • Murder! (1930): adapted from Enter Sir John (1928), by Clemence Dane (pen name of Winifred Ashton) and Helen Simpson

  • Rich and Strange (1931): adapted from Rich and Strange (1930), by Dale Collins

  • The 39 Steps (1935): adapted from The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915), by John Buchan

  • Sabotage (1936): adapted from The Secret Agent (1907), by Joseph Conrad

  • Young and Innocent (1937): adapted from A Shilling for Candles (1936), by Josephine Tey (pen name of Elizabeth MacKintosh)

  • The Lady Vanishes (1938): adapted from The Wheel Spins (1936), by Ethel Lina White

  • Jamaica Inn (1939): adapted from Jamaica Inn (1936), by Daphne du Maurier

  • Rebecca (1940): adapted from Rebecca (1938), by Daphne du Maurier

  • Suspicion (1941): adapted from Before the Fact (1932), by Francis Iles (Anthony Berkeley Cox)

  • Spellbound (1945): adapted from The House of Dr. Edwardes (1927), by Hilary Saint George Saunders and John Palmer

  • Notorious (1946): adapted from The Song of the Dragon (1923), by John Taintor Foote The Paradine Case (1947): adapted from The Paradine Case (1933), by Robert Smythe Hichens

  • Stage Fright (1950): adapted from Man Running (serialized in Collier’s in 1947, later reissued as a hardcover book in 1948, and eventually published as a paperback in 1950 with the title Killer by Proxy), by Selwyn Jepson

  • Strangers on a Train (1951): adapted from Strangers on a Train (1950), by Patricia Highsmith

  • To Catch a Thief (1955): adapted from To Catch a Thief (1952), by David Dodge

  • The Trouble with Harry (1955): adapted from The Trouble with Harry (1949), by Jack Trevor Story

  • Vertigo (1958): adapted from D'entre les morts (From Among the Dead) (1954), by Boileau-Narcejac (pen name of Pierre Boileau and Pierre Ayraud (a.k.a., Thomas Narcejac)

  • Psycho (1960): adapted from Psycho (1959), by Robert Bloch

  • Marnie (1964): adapted from Marnie (1961), by Winston Graham

  • Topaz (1969): adapted from Topaz (1967), by Leon Uris

  • Frenzy (1972): adapted from Goodbye Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square (1966), by Arthur La Bern

  • Family Plot (1976): adapted from The Rainbird Pattern (1972), by Victor Canning


Nonfiction


  • Foreign Correspondent (1940): adapted from the memoir Personal History (1935), by Vincent Sheean

  • The Wrong Man (1956): adapted from The True Story of Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero, by Maxwell Anderson


DIRECTED BY STANLEY KUBRICK


Short Stories


  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968): adapted from “Sentinel of Eternity” (1951), by Arthur C. Clarke (The novel was written concurrently with the production of the film.)


Novels


  • The Killing (1956): adapted from Clean Break (1955), by Lionel White

  • Paths of Glory (1957): adapted from Paths of Glory (1935), by Humphrey Cobb

  • Spartacus (1960): adapted from Spartacus (1951), by Howard Fast

  • Lolita (1962): adapted from Lolita (1955), by Vladimir Nabokov

  • Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964): adapted from Red Alert (1958), by Peter Bryant (pen name of Peter Bryan George)

  • A Clockwork Orange (1971): adapted from A Clockwork Orange (1962), by Anthony Burgess

  • Bary Lyndon (1975): adapted from The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844), by William Makepeace Thackeray

  • The Shining (1980): adapted from The Shining (1977), by Stephen King



DIRECTED BY STEVEN SPIELBERG


Short Stories


  • Duel (1971): adapted from “Duel” (1971), by Richard Matheson


Novels


  • Jaws (1975): adapted from Jaws (1974), by Peter Benchley



DIRECTED BY BRIAN DE PALMA


Novels


  • Carrie (1976): adapted from Carrie (1974), by Stephen King

  • The Fury (1978): adapted from The Fury (1976), by John Farris



DIRECTED BY FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA


Stage Musicals


  • Finian’s Rainbow (1968): adapted from Finian’s Rainbow (1947), by E. Y. Harburg and Fred Saidy


Novels


  • You’re a Big Boy Now (1966): adapted from You’re a Big Boy Now (1963), by David Benedictus The Godfather (1972): adapted from The Godfather (1969), by Mario Puzo

  • Apocalypse Now (1979): adapted from Heart of Darkness (1899), by Joseph Conrad



DIRECTED BY WILLIAM FRIEDKIN


Plays


  • The Birthday Party (1968): adapted from The Birthday Party (1957), by Harold Pinter

  • The Boys in the Band (1970): adapted from The Boys in the Band (1968), by Mart Crowley


Novels


  • The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968): adapted from The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1960), by Rowland Barber

  • The Exorcist (1973): adapted from The Exorcist (1971), by William Peter Blatty

  • Sorcerer (1977): adapted from Le Salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear) (1950), by Georges Arnaud (pen name of Henri Girard), but also seen as a remake of Clouzot’s 1953 film The Wages of Fear

  • Cruising (1980): adapted from Cruising (1970), by Gerald Walker


Nonfiction


  • The French Connection (1971): adapted from The French Connection (1969), by Robin Moore



DIRECTED BY ROGER CORMAN Short Stories


  • House of Usher (1960): adapted from “The Fall of the House of Usher” (1839), by Edgar Allan Poe

  • The Pit and the Pendulum (1961): adapted from “The Pit and the Pendulum” (1842), by Edgar Allan Poe

  • Tales of Terror (1962): adapted from “Morella” (1835), “The Black Cat” (1843), “The Cask of Amontillado” (1846), and “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar” (1845), by Edgar Allan Poe

  • Premature Burial (1962): adapted from “The Premature Burial” (1844), by Edgar Allan Poe

  • Tomb of Ligeia (1964): adapted from “Ligeia” (1838), by Edgar Allan Poe

  • The Masque of the Red Death (1964): adapted from “The Masque of the Red Death” (1942), by Edgar Allan Poe

Plays

  • Tower of London (1962): adapted from Richard III (between 1592 and 1594) and Macbeth (1606), both by William Shakespeare


Poems


  • The Raven (1963): adapted from The Raven (1845), by Edgar Allan Poe

Poems/Novellas

  • The Haunted Palace (1963): adapted from the poem “The Haunted Palace” (1839), by Edgar Allan Poe, and from the novella The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (1927), by H. P. Lovecraft


Novels


  • The Intruder (1962): adapted from The Intruder (1959), by Charles Beaumont

  • A Time for Killing (a.k.a., The Long Ride Home) (1967): adapted from The Southern Blade (1963), by Nelson and Shirley Wolford


DIRECTED BY JAMES WHALE


Plays

  • Journey’s End (1930): adapted from Journey’s End (1928), by R. C. Sherriff

  • Waterloo Bridge (1931): adapted from Waterloo Bridge (1930), Robert E. Sherwood

  • A Kiss before the Mirror (1933): adapted from A Kiss before the Mirror (1932), by Ladislas Fodor (also the source for Whale’s 1938 Wives under Suspicion)

  • The Great Garrick (1937): adapted from Ladies and Gentlemen (1937), by Ernest Vajda

  • Wives under Suspicion (1938): adapted from A Kiss before the Mirror (1932), by Ladislas Fodor (also the source for Whale’s 1933 A Kiss before the Mirror)

Plays/Novels


  • Frankenstein (1931): adapted from the play Frankenstein (1927), by Peggy Webling, and from the novel Frankenstein (1818), by Mary Shelley


Novels


  • The Impatient Maiden (1932): adapted from The Impatient Virgin (1931), by Donald Henderson Clarke

  • The Old Dark House (1932): adapted from Benighted (1927), by J. B. Priestley

  • The Invisible Man (1933): adapted from The Invisible Man (1897), by H. G. Wells

  • One More River (1934): adapted from One More River (1933), by John Galsworthy

  • Remember Last Night? (1935): adapted from The Hangover Murders (1935), by Adam Hobhouse

  • Show Boat (1936): adapted from Show Boat (1926), by Edna Ferber

  • The Road Back (1937): adapted from The Road Back (1929), by Erich Maria Remarque

  • The Man in the Iron Mask (1939): adapted from The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later (1847 - 1850), by Alexandre Dumas



DIRECTED BY HENRI-GEORGES CLOUZOT


Novels


  • L'Assassin habite au 21 (The Murderer Lives at Number 21) (1942): adapted from L'Assassin habite au 21 (The Murderer Lives at Number 21) (1939), by Stanislas-André Steeman

  • Quai des Orfèvres (Goldsmiths’ Quay) (1947): adapted from Légitime Défense (Self-Defense) (1942), by Stanislas-André Steeman

  • Manon (1949): adapted from Manon Lescaut (1731), by Abbé Prévost

  • Le Salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear) (1953): adapted from Le Salaire de la peur (The Wages of Fear) (1950), by Georges Arnaud (pen name of Henri Girard)

  • Les Diaboliques (1955): adapted from Celle qui n'était plus (She Who Was No More), by Boileau-Narcejac (pen name of Pierre Boileau and Pierre Ayraud (a.k.a., Thomas Narcejac)



GEORGE CUKOR


Plays


  • Grumpy (1930): adapted from Grumpy (1913), by Horace Hodges and Thomas Wigney Percyval

  • The Virtuous Sin (1930): adapted from The General (1928), by Lajos Zilahy

  • The Royal Family of Broadway (1930): adapted from The Royal Family (1927), by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber

  • A Bill of Divorcement (1932): adapted from A Bill of Divorcement (1921), by Clemence Dane (pen name of Winifred Ashton)

  • Our Betters (1933): adapted from Our Betters (1917), by M. Somerset Maugham

  • Dinner at Eight (1933): adapted from Dinner at Eight (1932), by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber

  • Romeo and Juliet (1936): adapted from Romeo and Juliet (between 1591 and 1595), by William Shakespeare

  • Holiday (1938): adapted from Holiday (1928), by Philip Barry

  • Zaza (1939): adapted from Zaza (1898), by Pierre Berton and Charles Simon

  • The Women (1939): adapted from The Women (1936), by Clare Boothe Luce

  • Susan and God (1940): adapted from Susan and God (1937), by Rachel Crothers

  • The Philadelphia Story (1940): adapted from The Philadelphia Story (1939), by Philip Barry

  • A Woman’s Face (1941): adapted from Il était une fois … (Once upon a Time …) (1932), by Francis de Croisset

  • Her Cardboard Lover (1942): adapted from Dans sa candeur naïve (In His Naive Candor) (1926), by Jacques Deval

  • Gaslight (1944): adapted from Gas Light (1938), by Patrick Hamilton

  • Edward, My Son (1949): adapted from Edward, My Son (1947), by Noel Langley and Robert Morley

  • Born Yesterday (1950): adapted from Born Yesterday (1946), by Garson Kanin

  • The Actress (1953): adapted from Years Ago (1946), by Ruth Gordon

  • My Fair Lady (1964): adapted from Pygmalion (1913), by George Bernard Shaw

  • The Blue Bird (1976): adapted from L'Oiseau bleu (The Blue Bird) (1908), by Maurice Maeterlinck

  • The Corn Is Green (1979): adapted from The Corn Is Green (1938), by Emlyn Williams

Plays/Novels


  • Camille (1936): adapted from the novel La Dame aux Camélias (The Lady with the Camellias) (1848), by Alexandre Dumas, and from the play La Dame aux Camélias (The Lady with the Camellias) (1852), by Alexandre Dumas

Novellas


  • A Life of Her Own (1950): adapted from The Abiding Vision (from the book The Harsh Voice: Four Short Novels) (1935), by Rebecca West

  • Wild Is the Wind (1957): a remake of the 1947 film Fury, which was adapted from La Lupa (1880), by Giavanni Verga


Novels


  • Little Women (1933): adapted from Little Women (published 1868 and 1869 in two volumes), by Louisa May Alcott

  • David Copperfield (1935): adapted from David Copperfield (1850), by Charles Dickens

  • Sylvia Scarlett (1935): adapted from The Early Life and Adventures of Sylvia Scarlett (1918), by Compton MacKenzie

  • Keeper of the Flame (1942): adapted from Keeper of the Flame (1942), by I. A. R. Wylie

  • Bhowani Junction (1956): adapted from Bhowani Junction (1954), by John Masters

  • Heller in Pink Tights (1960): adapted from Heller with a Gun (1955), by Louis L’Amour

  • The Chapman Report (1962): adapted from The Chapman Report (1960), by Irving Wallace

  • Justine (1969): adapted from Justine (1957), by Lawrence Durrell

  • Travels with My Aunt (1972): adapted from Travels with My Aunt (1969), by Graham Greene



DIRECTED BY WILLIAM WYLER


Plays


  • Jezebel (1938): adapted from Jezebel (1933), by Owen Davis

  • The Letter (1940): adapted from The Letter (1927), by W. Somerset Maugham

  • The Little Foxes (1941): adapted from The Little Foxes (1939), by Lillian Hellman

  • Detective Story (1951): adapted from Detective Story (1949), by Sidney Kingsley

  • The Children’s Hour (1961): adapted from The Children’s Hour (1934), by Lillian Hellman

Plays/Novels


  • Dodsworth (1936): adapted from the play Dodsworth (1934), by Sidney Howard, which was adapted from the novel Dodsworth (1929), by Sinclair Lewis

  • The Heiress (1949): adapted from The Heiress (1947), by Ruth and Augustus Goetz, which was adapted from the novel Washington Square (1880), by Henry James

Novellas


  • The Best Years of Our Lives (1946): adapted from Glory for Me (1945), by MacKinlay Kantor


Novels


  • Wuthering Heights (1939): adapted from Wuthering Heights (1847), by Emily Brontë

  • Mrs. Miniver (1942): adapted from Mrs. Miniver (1940), by Jan Struther (pen name of Joyce Anstruther)

  • Carrie (1952): adapted from Sister Carrie (1900), by Theodore Dreiser

  • Friendly Persuasion (1956): adapted from The Friendly Persuasion (1945), by Jessamyn West

  • The Big Country (1958): adapted from Ambush at Blanco Canyon (serialized in The Saturday Evening Post in 1957 and later reissued as a mass market paperback with the title The Big Country), by Donald Hamilton

  • Ben-Hur (1959): adapted from Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880), by Lew Wallace

  • The Collector (1965): adapted from The Collector (1963), by John Fowles



DIRECTED BY BILLY WILDER [MORE TO BE ADDED]


Short Stories/Plays


  • The Major and the Minor (1942): adapted from the play Connie Goes Home (1923), by Edward Childs Carpenter, which was based on the short story “Sunny Goes Home” (1921), by Fannie Kilbourne

  • Witness for the Prosecution (1957): adapted from the play Witness for the Prosecution (1954), by Agatha Christie, and from the short story “Traitor’s Hands” (1925 (published as “Witness for the Prosecution” from 1933 onward)), by Agatha Christie


Plays


  • Five Graves to Cairo (1943): adapted from Szinmü négy felvon (Hotel Imperial) (1917), by Lajos Bíró

  • Stalag 17 (1953): adapted from Stalag 17 (1952), by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski

  • Sabrina (1954): adapted from Sabrina Fair (1953), by Samuel A. Taylor

  • The Seven Year Itch (1955): adapted from The Seven Year Itch (1952), by George Axelrod

  • The Apartment (1960): adapted from Still Life (1936), by Noël Coward

  • One, Two, Three (1961): adapted from Egy, kettő, három (One, Two, Three) (1929), by Ferenc Molnár

  • Kiss Me, Stupid (1964): adapted from L'ora della fantasia (The Dazzling Hour) (1944), by Anna Bonacci

  • Avanti! (1972): adapted from Avanti! (1968), by Samuel A. Taylor

  • The Front Page (1974): adapted from The Front Page (1928), by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur

Stage Musicals


  • Irma la Douce (Irma the Sweet) (1963): adapted from Irma La Douce (Irma the Sweet) (1956), by Marguerite Monnot and Alexandre Breffort

Novellas


  • Fedora (1978): adapted from Fedora (from the book Crowned Heads) (1976), by Thomas Tryon


Novels


  • Double Indemnity (1944): adapted from Double Indemnity (serialized in Liberty magazine in 1936 and as a book in 1943), by James. M. Cain

  • The Lost Weekend (1945): adapted from The Lost Weekend (1944), by Charles. R. Jackson

  • Love in the Afternoon (1957): adapted from Ariane, jeune fille russe (Ariane, Young Russian Girl) (1920), by Claude Anet (pen name of Jean Schopfer)

  • Love in the Afternoon (1957): adapted from Ariane, jeune fille russe (1920), by Claude Anet (pen name of Jean Schopfer)


Nonfiction


  • The Spirit of St. Louis (1957): adapted from the autobiography The Spirit of St. Louis (1953), by Charles Lindbergh



DIRECTED BY ROBERT WISE


Poems


  • The Set-Up (1949): adapted from the book-length narrative poem The Set-Up (1928), by Joseph Moncure March


Short Stories


  • Mademoiselle Fifi (1944): adapted from “Boule de Suif” (1880), by Guy de Maupassant, and “Mademoiselle Fifi” (1882), by Guy de Maupassant

  • The Body Snatcher (1945): adapted from “The Body Snatcher” (1884), by Robert Louis Stevenson

  • A Game of Death (1945): adapted from “The Most Dangerous Game” (1924), by Richard Connell

  • The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951): adapted from “Farewell to the Master” (1940), by Harry Bates

  • Tribute to a Bad Man (1956): adapted from “Hanging’s for the Lucky” (1952), by Jack Schaefer

  • Until They Sail (1957): adapted from “Until They Sail” (1951), by James Michener


Plays


  • Two for the Seesaw (1962): adapted from Two for the Seesaw (1958), by William Gibson


Stage Musicals/Plays


  • West Side Story (1961): adapted from the musical West Side Story (1957), by Arthur Laurents, Leonard Bernstein, and Stephen Sondheim, and from Romeo and Juliet (1591 - 1595), by William Shakspeare


Stage Musicals/Nonfiction


  • The Sound of Music (1965): adapted from the musical The Sound of Music (1959), by Richard Rodgers, Oscar Hammerstein II, Howard Lindsay, and Russel Crouse, and from the memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers (1949), by Maria Augusta von Trapp


Novels


  • Blood on the Moon (1948): adapted from Gunman’s Chance (1941), by Luke Short

  • The House on Telegraph Hill (1951): adapted from The House on Telegraph Hill (The Frightened Child) (1948), by Dana Lyon

  • So Big (1953): adapted from So Big (1924), by Edna Ferber

  • Executive Suite (1954): adapted from Executive Suite (1952), by Cameron Hawley

  • Run Silent, Run Deep (1958): adapted from Run Silent, Run Deep (1955), by Edward L. Beach, Jr.

  • Odds Against Tomorrow (1959): adapted from Odds Against Tomorrow (1958), by William P. McGivern

  • The Haunting (1963): adapted from The Haunting of Hill House (1959), by Shirley Jackson

  • The Sand Pebbles (1966): adapted from The Sand Pebbles (1962), by Richard McKenna

  • The Andromeda Strain (1971): adapted from The Andromeda Strain (1969), by Michael Crichton

  • Audrey Rose (1977): adapted from Audrey Rose (1975), by Frank De Felitta


Nonfiction


  • Star! (1968): adapted from the autobiography A Star Danced (1945), by Gertrude Lawrence, and from Gertrude Lawrence as Mrs. A.: An Intimate Biography of the Great Star (1954), by Richard Stoddard Aldrich (Lawrence’s widower)

  • The Hindenburg (1975): adapted from The Hindenburg (1972), by Michael M. Mooney



DIRECTED BY FRITZ LANG


Novels