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Read the Book, See the Movie: Part 4

Beyond the Page: Famous Quotes
Moby Dick

Photos: "Moby Dick"

Die Hard

Photos: "Die Hard" and "The Towering Inferno"

From hell's heart I stab thee

– Captain Ahab (Gregory Peck) in "Moby Dick" (Screenplay by Ray Bradbury and John Huston)
Photos: "Moby Dick"

Widely cited by scholars as the greatest American novel, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick; or, The Whale (1851) is a seafaring adventure story filled with layers of symbolism. Three film adaptations have been made, though the most widely seen is the 1956 film directed by John Huston with Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab. The screenplay was written by Huston and Ray Bradbury, one of the 20th century’s most noted science fiction writers, who transformed the experience of making the film into his 1992 novel, Green Shadows, White Whale.

“I promise, I will never even think about going up in a tall building again!”

– John McClane (Bruce Willis) in "Die Hard" (Screenplay by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza)
Photos: "Die Hard" and "The Towering Inferno"

The adaptation process of an action film can often be much more complex than it first appears. For example, "The Towering Inferno" (1974) was financed by two studios, Twentieth Century-Fox and Warner Bros., which had both optioned novels about fires raging in skyscrapers (The Glass Inferno by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson and The Tower by Richard Martin Stern). Another explosive film set in a skyscraper, "Die Hard" (1988), is based on the novel Nothing Lasts Forever (1979) by Roderick Thorp, but invents the main character of John McClane. (In the novel the hero is Joe Leland, a character earlier played by Frank Sinatra in the 1968 film The Detective.) The film’s 1990 sequel, Die Hard 2, is also based on a novel without the John McClane character: 58 Minutes, a 1987 novel by Walter Wager.

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