Dashiell Hammett (1930) THE MALTESE FALCON Dir John Huston (1941)
Meet Sam Spade, the blonde satan, an original hard-boiled private detective. Spade possesses a cold detachment, an eye for detail, and an unflinching determination to achieve his own justice. He's seen the wretched, the corrupt, the tawdry side of life but still retains his "tarnished idealism". Spade's misdirection of motive is a masterstroke. John Huston’s adaptation, with Humphrey Bogart in the lead role, has been credited as the first ever film noir.
THE HOUND'S TOP TEN Crime Novels AND Films
Books are often being compared to their movie adaptations. Here is list of great crime novels that have been made into great crime movies. It's 5 stars all the way for the following books AND the film versions.
More 5 Star Crime Books AND Films
John Buchan (1915) THE 39 STEPS Dir Alfred Hitchcock (1935)
Richard Hannay finds a corpse in his flat, and becomes involved in a plot by spies to precipitate war and subvert British naval power. The resourceful victim of a manhunt, he is pursued by both the police and the ruthless conspirators. Fast-paced, it’s a seminal ‘chase’ novel from the father of the spy thriller.
In the film version, starring Robert Donat, Hitchcock adds some memorable scenes and new heroines.
Raymond Chandler (1939) THE BIG SLEEP Dir Howard Hawks (1946)
Philip Marlowe is working for the rich Sternwood family. The patriarch, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and needs Marlowe's help. But with Sternwood's wild daughters prowling LA's seedy backstreets, the PI's got his work cut out. This book, the first of Chandler’s novels to feature Marlowe, was filmed with Humphrey Bogart taking the lead role and making it his own. His scenes with the older daughter, played by Lauren Bacall, sizzle. William Faulkner and the other screenwriters turned to Raymond Chandler for help in explaining the labyrinthine plot.
Thomas Harris (1988) THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS Dir Jonathan Demme (1991)
In pursuit of a serial murderer nicknamed Buffalo Bill, FBI trainee Clarice Starling is given an assignment. She must interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter, the former psychiatrist with unusual tastes, a man confined to a high-security facility for the criminally insane. Anthony Hopkins won a Best Actor Academy Award for his role as Lecter and Jodie Foster won Best Actress for playing Starling.
Harper Lee (1960) TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD Dir Robert Mulligan (1962)
A lawyer defends a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the thirties. It’s a coming-of-age tale, an anti-racist story, a historical drama of the Great Depression, a legal thriller, and a crime novel. AFI named Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch as the greatest movie hero of the 20th century.
James Ellroy (1990) L. A. CONFIDENTIAL Dir Curtis Hanson (1997)
The dark side of early 50’s Hollywood is portrayed as part of Ellroy’s acclaimed LA Quartet. The violent and corrupt LA police force has guilty secrets it’s trying to hide from two police detectives Bud White and Ed Exley. In the film Russell Crowe stars as White, the violent seeker of justice, especially when it comes to wife beaters and child abusers; whilst Guy Pearce is Exley, the rookie beat-cop who plays by the rules.
Daphne du Maurier (1938) REBECCA Dir Alfred Hitchcock (1940)
A new relationship blossoms in Monte Carlo with the dashing widower Maxim de Winter proposing marriage to a maid. Her dreams are soon crushed when they arrive back at Mandalay, Winter’s country estate, and she realises that his late wife may threaten their future from beyond the grave. In the film Laurence Olivier is the aristocratic widower, Joan Fontaine the young woman he falls for, and Judith Anderson is the stern housekeeper Mrs Danvers. This was Hitchcock's first American film and his only Academy Award Best Picture winner.
Mario Puzo (1969) THE GODFATHER Dir Francis Ford Coppola (1972)
This compelling tale of blackmail, murder and family values is a true classic: a searing portrayal of the 1940’s criminal underworld. It is also the intimate story of the Corleone family, at once drawn together and ripped apart by its unique position at the core of the American Mafia. The movie has Marlon Brando and Al Pacino starring as Vito and Michael Corleone.
Patricia Highsmith (1950) STRANGERS ON A TRAIN Dir Alfred Hitchcock (1951)
Guy Haines and Charles Anthony Bruno are passengers on a train. But while Guy is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce, Bruno turns out to be a sadistic psychopath who manipulates Guy into swapping murders with him. After Bruno carries out the plan, Guy is trapped in a nightmare. The movie was a return to form for Hitchcock and is now regarded as one of his best.
Graham Greene (1938) BRIGHTON ROCK Dir John Boulting (1947)
A gang war is raging through the dark underworld of Brighton. Seventeen-year-old Pinkie, malign and ruthless, has killed a man. Believing he can escape retribution, he is unprepared for the courageous, life-embracing Ida Arnold. A gripping, terrifying and exciting thriller that exposes a world of loneliness and fear.
Terence Rattigan’s adaptation was done in partnership with Graham Greene who wrote a new ending for the film. Richard Attenborough is chilling as Pinkie, a role he received great acclaim for on the stage three years earlier.
James Sallis (2005) DRIVE Dir Nicolas Winding Refn (2011)
Set in south-west America, Drive follows a morally ambiguous Hollywood stunt driver who spends his off time driving criminals around. The book and film are equally stylish and both classic noir. Ryan Gosling takes the lead in the arthouse action movie version of a short but dazzling novel that jumps around with the use of flashbacks.
John le Carré (1974) TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY Dir Tomas Alfredson (2011)
Here’s an author who knows how to translate his own Cold War service into credible and compelling spy novels. The search is on for a Soviet mole, implanted deep into British Intelligence decades ago by Moscow Centre, in this classic espionage novel. George Smiley is up against a powerful Soviet counterpart in Karla, the KGB master spy. In the 2011 film version it's Gary Oldman that plays Smiley.
Dennis Lehane (2001) MYSTIC RIVER Dir Clint Eastwood (2003)
We follow the lives of three friends growing up in an old rundown working-class neighbourhood of Boston, a city at war with itself. A terrible childhood incident returns to haunt them when, as adults, one of their own children is murdered. The movie has a stellar cast with Sean Penn, Kevin Bacon and Tim Robbins as the three school pals.
Frederick Forsyth (1971) THE DAY OF THE JACKAL Dir Fred Zinnemann (1973)
A man has been hired by the Operations Chief of the O.A.S. to murder Charles de Galle, a target it will be nearly impossible to get to. But this latest plot involves a lethal weapon; an assassin of legendary talent known only as The Jackal. But how do you track a man who exists in name alone?
In the movie, Edward Fox plays the eponymous hired killer and Michael Lonsdale is the police investigator Lebel.
John le Carré (1963) THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD Dir Martin Ritt (1965)
A gripping story of love and betrayal at the height of the Cold War. Alex Leamas has been out in the cold for years, spying in the shadow of the Berlin Wall for his British masters. Now Control wants to bring him in - but only after one last assignment. He must travel to the heart of Communist Germany and is soon caught up in politics beyond his imagining.
Scott Turow (1987) PRESUMED INNOCENT Dir Alan J Pakula (1990)
A portrait of big city political corruption that climaxes with a dramatic murder trial in which every dark twist of legal statute and human nature is convincingly revealed. A married prosecuting attorney’s affair with a colleague comes back to haunt him after she is brutally raped and murdered. Harrison Ford is the lead as Rozat "Rusty" Sabich, and Greta Scacchi plays the lover/victim.