It's a cliché that movies made from books are always worse than the book. But I do think there are exceptions. For instance,
I really enjoy the movie The World According to Garp, with Robin Williams (and transgendered John Lithgow!) from the early or mid 80s. It's a weird movie in that you can interpret it entirely differently depending on your mood at the time. Is it a comedy with some serious moments or a tragedy with a little quirk? It goes back and forth. But then I read the John Irving novel, and, well, I never even finished it. I think I gave up when the bears at the hotel jumped on unicycles. Or something.
And there's The Razor's Edge with Bill Murray. Another great movie that really challenges one's world view. Is it a tragedy or a Buddhist meditation on non-attachment or what? Many layers. I read M. Somerset Maugham's original, but it didn't live up to the movie.
The Jurassic Park movie was better than Crichton's novel, too. Crichton stretched the chaos theory metaphor far more than it could be stretched. When you've got dinosaurs running around eating people, it's hard to step back and worry about chaos.
One theme here is that I saw the movie first and read the novel later. But despite very well regarded authors (at least for what they do) in Irving, Maugham, and Crichton, I won't re-read these books, but I will see the movies again one day. I wonder if there are any books/movies where I read the book first, but liked the movie better. I'll have to stew on that.
How about you? Any movies from books where you like the movie better?