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Spectacular, long (originally running for 205 minutes) and good enough to eat. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS by THOMAS HARRIS Published: 1988 Film adaptation: 1991 Director: JONATHAN DEMME Harris’s psychological thriller is made horribly gruesome yet archly witty in Demme’s 1991 blockbuster.
Jodie Foster’s clever but vulnerable Clarice Starling is the perfect counterpoint to Anthony Hopkins’s terrifyingly competent murderer, and together they redefine the traditional cop/killer dynamic. DANGEROUS LIAISONS (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) by PIERRE CHODERLOS DE LACLOS Published: 1782 Film adaptation: 1988 Director: STEPHEN FREARS Strictly speaking, Frears’s 1988 bodice-ripper is the film of the play of the book, but its tense elegance captures perfectly the spirit of Laclos’s 18th-century novel of sex and manipulation.
No film version of Dickens has ever matched Lean’s superlative realisation of Great Expectations.
Even though audiences still find it hard to negotiate its maze-like narrative, the real point of the exercise is to showcase Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart at their simmering, sexy best. THE 39 STEPS (The Thirty Nine Steps) by JOHN BUCHAN Published: 1915 Film adaptation: 1935 Director: ALFRED HITCHCOCK Adapting Buchan’s 1915 adventure story for the screen was one of Hitchcock’s earliest triumphs.From Orson Welles’s priestly cameo to Gregory Peck’s brilliantly unhinged Ahab, a fine cast is matched by an eerily bleached cinematography.Even a rather ropy model whale cannot diminish the power of this great film. BRIGHTON ROCK by GRAHAM GREENE Published: 1938 Film adaptation: 1947 Directors: John and Roy Boulting Brutally gritty, Terence Rattigan’s adaptation, done in partnership with the novel’s author, Graham Greene, shocked critics with its hard-boiled realism.A young Richard Attenborough excels as the odious Pinkie in a crime drama that is worlds away from the slick American noirishness cinemagoers were accustomed to in 1947. DRACULA by BRAM STOKER Published: 1897 Film adaptation: 1931 Director: TOD BROWNING Bela Lugosi is Dracula, since he seethed his way to stardom in Browning’s 1931 film.Necessarily cutting out some of Stoker’s extraneous material, this genre-defining horror classic turned out far scarier than the book.