Monday, July 2, 2012


DEBORAH CROMBIE: It's THRILLER WEEK here at Jungle Red! We have some great thriller writers coming up--Jeff Abbott, James Rollins, and Jon Land, so stay tuned.

And since we're talking thrillers, and all these authors' books are certainly candidates for movies, I thought it would be fun to think about what thrillers HAVE made the best translation into film.

Although I write very talky books with only the occasional action scene, I freely admit to being an action movie junkie.  I love spies and suspense and chase scenes and, honestly, things blowing up.  All these things seem so much easier to do on film than on the page, so my hat is off to those of you who write them well.

My fave books-to-movies choice is easy. BOURNE, BOURNE, AND BOURNE. I think I'm cheating a bit, because I haven't read the Robert Ludlum books in years, so I can't honestly make a comparison as to how well the stories translated from medium to medium. (I suspect that the movies are considerably better than the books...)  But I'm so geeky about these movies that I've not only watched them multiple times, I've seen all the extras, AND I love the director's commentaries. I think this is my frustrated film-maker persona coming out. (Of course it has nothing to do with Matt Damon....)

And you can bet I'll be in the theater in August to see THE BOURNE LEGACY. I do like Jeremy Renner, so am trying to keep an open mind about Damon's absence.

What about you, REDS? What are your picks for thriller movies based on books? And are there any must-sees on your list this summer?

HALLIE EPHRON: Tip top of my list: SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, based on Thomas Harris's novel by the same name. It's brilliantly structured, you can't look away; it's got humor and soul and a brilliant title that resonates throughout. Could there be a more memorable villain than the charming Hannibal Lecter? Or a more vulnerable hero than Jodie Foster's as the flinty former farm girl, bent on proving herself, Clarice Starling. Could Harris name characters of what?

Based on a Philip K Dick novel, I love-love-loved TOTAL RECALL. Made me a permanent Arnold fan until, well, you know. I see a remake with Colin Farrell is coming out in August. Definitely a must-see on the big screen.

RHYS BOWEN: I'm not a big action-movie fan, but I still
remember THE DAY OF THE CONDOR, (the book was called Three Days of the Condor, but one has to compress things for movies). Also THE IPCRESS FILE with a young Michael Caine. Maybe I just like gorgeous blond men!

LUCY BURDETTE: I admit, I'm a wuss--much much more likely to go see a romantic comedy than a thriller. I really don't enjoy being scared. (I suppose that's strange for a mystery writer!) Could not go to see SILENCE OF THE LAMBS...I did think the adaptation of Harlan Coben's TELL NO ONE made an excellent movie--though the French probably helped! And Hallie, I think they did an excellent job of making AND BABY WILL FALL from your NEVER TELL A LIE. Obviously, as a movie they couldn't replicate the nuances from the book, but the concept was well done, don't you think? 

HANK PHILLIPI RYAN: Oh, if you haven't seen it, go back and find DAY OF THE JACKAL. The real one, with Edward Fox, not the doepy one with Tom Cruise. It is--fantastic, perfectly done, and the suspense is incredible. You KNOW that the assassin WILL not succeed. You know it from moment one. And yet you STILL think--Maaayyybeeeee this time it'll work. And you are rooting for the bad guy! The whole way! I've seen it a million times and I am still mesmerized.

Runners up--THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR. (Which is based on the iconic James Grady's Six Days of the Condor. That they cut it to three always makes me laugh.) Robert Redford as the original "everyman" whose jb is to read books for the CIA to see if there are any plots the spooks could use...and is literally out ot lunch when the bad guys come. Faye Dunaway has one of the best lines ever--anyone remember? And it ends brilliantly ambiguously.

I love thrillers. Oh--EYE OF THE NEEDLE. And does A FEW GOOD MEN count? Oh, and THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE. (The old one.) And AIR FORCE ONE. DIEHARD! The one in National airport. Oh, my favorite kind of movie. Okay, I'm stopping now.

DEBS: Okay, I'm making my summer (um, make that post manuscript) movie list. Some of these I haven't seen, some I'd forgotten and would love to watch again.  Hallie, I actually like MANHUNTER, the adaptation of Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon, better than Silence of the Lambs. But neither Harris nor William Peterson were famous when it was released, so it didn't get much notice then.  A cult classic now, just brilliant.

Loved THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, but never read the novel on which it was based.  Books to add to the list, too. 

Ooh, and Hank, now I have to watch THE DAY OF THE JACKAL again! And THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR because I don't remember Faye Dunaway's line!!!!

What about you, readers? Did we leave out any of your faves?

And what are you going to see this summer?


  1. The Hunt for Red October is my fav. Eye of the Needle is runner up.

    I would love to see The Lock Artist adapted to film, just for the challenge of a main character who doesn't speak.

  2. My 02. didn't make it into the blog (slept late..) but I'm with Hallie on Silence and Debs on the original Manhunter. A little fuzzy on how we're defining thriller but if Dennis Lehane's books fall into that category - Mystic River and Gone baby Gone are two of my faves. the fate of the world is not hanging in the balance but so what?

  3. For those who like their thrills a bit closer to home, Cape Fear (the original) was based on The Executioners by John D. Macdonald. Single White Female was written by John Lutz.

  4. Three Days of the Condor - Ooooh - I just loved it!! And now I'm going to go re-read the novel.

    Would Shawshank Redemption be termed a thriller? No? More suspense that thriller, I guess. But if so - that's my number one pick.

    Die Hard - The first one.

  5. Look no farther than Alistair MacLean! Somebody told me he had more books turned into movies than any other non-series writer. (Laziness prevents me from trying to confirm this.) THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, FORCE 10 FROM NAVARONE, ICE STATION ZEBRA, and WHERE EAGLES DARE were all his, as were many lesser efforts. I hope and assume some producer somewhere is trying to reboot the NAVARONE movies; they were pretty good, but could be great with today's big-budget special effects.

  6. For a terrific movie that is NOT a thriller, I recommend THE INTOUCHABLES, which we saw last night. So NOT high concept but completely delightful!

  7. Night of the Hunter, an old movie (1950s) with Robert Mitchum, Lillian Gish, and Shelley Winters. The film was directed by Charles Laughton and adapted for the screen by James Agee from a great book by Davis Grubb based on a true story of a roving preacher who killed a bunch of women and children. Still one of the best thrillers I've seen from a book.

    Also, Day of the Jackal (the original) and Three Days of the Condor. The original manchurian Candidate, as well.

    I loved Thomas Harris' Red Dragon, but never knew they made a movie from it. Thanks, Debs!

  8. Oh, also, don't know if it falls into the thriller category, but the woman-made film of Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell is stunning!

  9. MAnchurian Candidate! OF COURSE! (Would you like to play a little solitaire?)

    And now--we must talk about JAck Reacher. Wouldn't it be fun if that movie were terrific?

  10. I have serious misgivings about the casting with Jack, Hank. Reacher's size is such an integral part of that character--part of the reason he's the person he is and the reason he can do what he does--that I have real misgivings over Cruise in the part. But it would be wonderful if somehow they could make it work because I really like the books.

  11. Ooh, Hank, thought about adding The Manchurian Candidate. I suppose we could have defined thrillers vs psychological suspense, but that a tough call...

  12. Now it can be told - I LOVE Die Hard! Total guilty pleasure movie.

    Manchurian Candidate..absolutely. If we're going back and expanding the definition, do Double Indemnity and Postman Always Rings Twice qualify? What IS a thriller anyway...?

  13. Sorry I missed yesterday, I had been hunched over a computer all week last week making a news deadline and was gone and blessedly OFF the computer for the entire weekend.

    I really, truly, do not like to be scared. But probably because I spent my youth working in a law office, I love legal thrillers - especially when they have a psychological edge..

    Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow. And actually, although I'm not as crazy about his novels, I think John Grisham's legal thrillers made excellent movies. I loved The Client, and there was one about a jury.....

  14. I've learned that there are few thrillers that I can watch and so I generally avoid them. Gone Baby Gone gave me nightmares for FOUR days. I can't see it again. Anything involving children is just more than I can handle,I guess.

    I do much better with spy thrillers.

    I DID love The Hunt for Red October,both the book and the movie and have seen/read it more than once.

    I think I've read all of Alistair MacLean's books but I can't recall if I have ever seen any of the movies made from them.

    Oneof my favorite movies was The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.And I loved the book The Day of the Jackal but can't remember if I saw the movie.

    In general,books are more memorable - and if the suspense gets to be too much for me,I can put it aside for a few hours or a day or two and then get bck to it!

  15. Love "Day of the Jackal" with Edward Fox - a great book turned into a great film. Enjoyed "The Eiger Sanction" as film, but the book by Trevanian is much better. The Third Man (if you accept that first was the script and then Graham Greene wrote the book after his script). I was born in Post-War Germany in 1962 when a lot of things had changed but some where still a bit like in those days the book describes and of course had to visit the canalisation when I first visited Vienna. On a later visít I interviewed the very charming owner of several bars and restaurants (and brothels...) in Vienna for a travel feature and he seemed to like me (which was a bit strange as he had a very bad reputation for his consorting with criminals - which was OTOH quite common in Vienna's High Society back then...). Still I said yes when he invited me on a guided tour through Vienna's underworld, complete with two bodyguards. What a night that was. I was about 25 back then and easily thrilled and he really showed me round. Crazy. especially when he showed me 5 keys which, as he told me, allowed you to move around Vienna's old town through subway passages from house to house, locked by doors that answered to one of those keys. Here he told me so much about post-war Viennese business dealings as the twon was divided in four zones held by the different allies... Wow! I was very glad that he stayed the perfect gentleman throughout and that we had the bodyguards with us - for it was eerie and fascinating at the same time. Whenever I see The Third Man I think of this and want to open another of those wonderful bottles of Viennese Schlumberger Champagne...
    Greetings from Bavaria, Bibiana

  16. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with Gary Oldman.

    Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher? Doesn't work for me. In my mind Reacher looks a lot like Lee Child.

  17. Marathon Man. And Dustin Hoffman was great in the movie.

    Not a fan of thrillers in general, though. I took my grandson to see Brave last week. Highly recommend it.

    This summer I'd like to see Moonrise Kingdom. It's getting great buzz.

  18. Bibiana, fascinating! Now I have to see The Third Man again. Or read the book.

  19. Linda.... yes! MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE - the original.

    Dialogue... so brilliant...

    Rosie: My full name is Eugenie Rose. Of the two names, I've always favored Rosie because it smells of brown soap and beer. Eugenie is somehow more fragile.
    Ben: Still, when I asked you what your name was, you said it was Eugenie.
    Rosie: It's quite possible I was feeling more or less fragile at that instant.

  20. I love Manhunter, Silence of the Lamb and The Shining.

  21. I love those three books also Dru. There is a great book that I hope they make into a movie, "The In-Ko-Pah Spirit" by Wally Runnels. The plot is so exciting and thrilling- it centers around the drug cartel, in fact it is about a mercenary who is paid to track down a rebellious member of a Mexicali drug cartel. So exciting!