Read the Book, See the Movie: Part 1
With its first edition containing 1,037 pages, Gone with the Wind was one of the longest bestsellers of its time; likewise, the film version boasted the longest running time of any American sound film to that point: 220 minutes minus its overture, intermission and exit music. Though the events are faithful to the book, the famous line quoted above did not contain the word "frankly" in the original text. Producer David O. Selznick involved several directors on the film (including George Cukor early on, with Victor Fleming completing production). Read more about the adaptation process of the film, including correspondence with author Margaret Mitchell.
– Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) in "To Kill a Mockingbird" (Screenplay by Horton Foote)
Video: "To Kill A Mockingbird"
Margaret Mitchell wasn’t the only American female writer to achieve a major bestseller with her only published novel. Published in 1960, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, a story of racial upheaval in 1930s Alabama, won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize and became a successful 1962 film starring Gregory Peck and directed by Robert Mulligan. In the novel, the reclusive character of Boo Radley has a single line of dialogue ("Will you take me home?"), which was omitted from the film.
– Celie (Whoopi Goldberg) in "The Color Purple" (Screenplay by Menno Meyjes)
Video: "The Color Purple"
One of the most famous recent examples of an epistolary novel (which is written in the form of letters by its characters, in this case, the heroines Celie and Nettie), "The Color Purple" earned Oscar nominations for both Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. Two of the participants, Winfrey and composer Quincy Jones (who was responsible for convincing Steven Spielberg to direct the film), went on to co-produce a musical stage version of the book that ran on Broadway from 2005 to 2008.
– Cal Trask (James Dean) in "East of Eden" (Screenplay by Paul Osborn)
Photos: "East of Eden" and "A Place in the Sun"
The Motion Picture Production Code, which was enforced from 1934 through 1968, required filmmakers to adhere to a strict censorship code and often resulted in changes in story and dialogue when novels were transformed into films. Even the 1955 film of John Steinbeck’s bestseller East of Eden, which was directed by Steinbeck’s friend Elia Kazan, had controversial story elements involving prostitution and premarital sex muted for the screen.
Another major film with challenging subject matter was "A Place in the Sun" (1951), directed by George Stevens and starring Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor. The film was adapted from Theodore Dreiser’s 1925 novel An American Tragedy, which was also the inspiration for a 1926 theatrical production, a proposed Sergei Eisenstein film, a 1931 feature directed by Josef Von Sternberg, a 2004 opera and a 2010 stage musical. Read more about these films' censorship in this Production Code correspondence.