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  • Writer's pictureBenjamin Fife

ReadingMagic -What was the first movie turned into a book that you read the book? - Day 11

This May seem a little backwards, but we all come to books in a different way. After my post yesterday lamenting a movie that butchered the book, I wanted to give a nod to great movies... that after the fact get turned into a book. And I'm not sure which book I read first that meets that description - either the original Star Wars Trilogy, or as pictured here, LadyHawke. And for the deciding vote, LadyHawke wins because I still own the copy I read (which I think was my oldest brother's copy originally, and he got it second hand as a discard from our local library). Also, I vividly remember the first time I saw the movie years before, whereas Star Wars... I actually have memories from when I was 3 seeing Return of the Jedi in the theatre with my family - a tale for another time, suffice to say that Star Wars was part of my awareness before I became fully aware of anything.

But LadyHawke... I'm pretty sure goes way back to when movie rental was the basic way we consumed movies... And it also included renting the VCR because we didn't have one until 1991. I'm thinking I was between 8-10 years old when we rented it and the VCR from our local Grocer (Redbox stole that business model). The movie came out in 85 & when we watched it as a family, I adored it. Probably what cements the memory of watching it as a family was the penultimate scene (I don't think I've ever used that word in a sentence before - new level of nerdiness achieved). If you haven't seen it or read it, I'm going to drop a mild spoiler here. Somebody gets a sword chucked at him like a javelin & is pinned against a wall obviously fatally wounded. In the couple of seconds before it happened, my dad uttered "now open your mouth and let the blood out." And remarkably to my prepubescent brain, the character obeyed. Now... As an adult I realize two things - first, there is a chance that perhaps my dad had seen it before, and second, it wouldn't have been that hard to guess anyway. But his declaration made a memory for me that I still think every time I've watched the movie in the ensuing 3 plus decades. (I still adore the movie, even with its very 80's synth soundtrack).

I think it was sometime in my Junior High days that I noticed it on the shelf & decided to give it a go. I also hadn't really realized books to movies was a thing, so I thought I was reading the original until I got to the end & then actually read some of the cover material. The author (Joan D Vinge) did a wonderful job translating the movie to an engaging and exciting book, adding in a few plot points that didn't depart ridiculously from the movie but would have made it more of a LOTR length kind of thing. I loved it as much as the movie. And the one major departure she made from the movie - I loved it even more. But I'm not going to spoil that one for you. But the author took the perfect poetic license with it to administer some poetic justice.

Not every movie is made into a book & not every book is made into a movie, and both are probably good. Some movies are only fit for MST3K treatment, and some books just shouldn't be tainted by a misguided moviemaker. But when they work, they work. (Profound, Eh?)

If you're interested in more books that came after the movie that I have enjoyed through the years, here are a few I can think of:

2001: A Space Odyssey (if you don't like the movie, you probably won't go for the book either. But if ever you want to fully appreciate Wall-E, at least watch the movie - Minimum of 5 direct references to 2001 in the movie)

Every Star Wars Film - Benefits from some similar poetic license that adds some cool if decidedly non-canon elements

Most Star Trek Films (I haven't read them all, but they've probably done one for all of them. Nemesis might actually benefit from a book instead of the movie... or not. I don't think I'll risk it - considering the actor who played Shinzon nearly killed himself over the reaction to the movie)

An Astronaut in King Arthur's Court (I've never read the original Mark Twain version, but we had this one on our shelf & I discovered it before I watched the Disney Movie - I wonder if its on Disney Plus now?)

What about you? Is there a book written after the movie that you've particularly enjoyed? One that was particularly abysmal we should all avoid?


Orrin Bradford
Jan 27, 2021

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ladyhawke. I’m amazed how many books you’ve kept from childhood.


Jan 27, 2021

The Firm - The book was way better!


Jan 27, 2021

I can't think of even one. But I will put my two cents in and say the the movie Princess Bride is way better than the book!

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