Movies That Inspired Me to Write

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird was a very meaningful book for me. The book was published in 1960 and the movie came out in 1962. When I first read it in high school, there were no video store rentals and even when they emerged a few years later, older movies like this one weren’t available. I had to scan the T.V. Guide to find out when it might be shown on Television. I finally found it in 1982 or so and watched it with great interest. The movie did a decent job of following the book. The casting was very good, especially Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch. I remember reading that Harper Lee, who was present at the shooting, was so captivated by Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus, a character modeled after her father, that she gave him her father’s pocket watch which he wears in the movie.

The Godfather

The Godfather (novel) was published in 1969. It covers the events in the Corleone crime family of New York from 1945-1955. This was the first ‘adult’ novel that I ever read in about 1972. I was only 10. I remember the book being passed among my mom’s brothers and sisters in anticipation of the movie. They went to see it as a group. It seemed to spur a lot of conversation my family. I had to read the book as soon as I could and I was captivated from the beginning. I finally got to see The Godfather and The Godfather Part II in about 1980. I was amazed at how true to the book (almost scene for scene) the movie was. The casting was brilliant and did justice to the storytelling in the book. It went to show the painstaking detail that a director can go to to recreate an author’s vision.

Of Mice and Men

John Steinbeck’s book was written in 1937. It has inspired 5 wide-release film versions spanning from from 1939 to 2014. I read this book in my senior year of high school and was struck by the sadness of the tale of the lovable Lenny who didn’t know his own strength and had to be taken down by his best friend, George, for his own survival and for those around him. The book was a captivating read even though it is one of the most challenged books in history due to its profanity. I have seen all of the film iterations and I still favor the original 1939 version with the great Burgess Meredith and Lon Chaney, Jr. as George and Lenny respectively. The story is simple, yet poignant and is well told via film.

Harry Potter Series

The seven Harry Potter books span the time period from 1997 to 2007. The eight movies span from 2001 to 2011. Even though the books were considered young adult, I read them all as my older children were becoming interested in them. I heard the stories how they were anti-Christian and promoted witchcraft. I knew from the first page that they were something special and that J.K. Rowling’s gift for telling a story spanned generations and genres. The books were fantastic and I sped through each as soon as they were released. The movies were very well done and, though many details were left out, they were a loving tribute to the writing and very well done. I have read other YA book series like The Hunger Games. Rowling set the standard but also opened the door for this level of writing to become mainstream with adults and children alike.


This is an unusual entry, but I have it here for a reason. Jaws is the only entry on this list where I saw the movie before reading the book. The book is more about the relationships among the characters and the shark is secondary. The movie, which I saw in the theater in 1975 when it came out, is more of an action/horror adventure that centers on killing the shark. Much of the intricacy of the book’s relationships are not part of the film making it very different from the book. Jaws, for me, was an example of how an author’s work can be diluted in a movie. Peter Benchley, the 1974 book’s author, was a screenwriter on the film which indicates that he was likely in agreement with much of the change from the book to the film. I’m sure Benchley made a fortune from the film and its sequels. As an author, I suppose he had to make a decision between being true to his vision and cashing in on the opportunity.

So how about you? What movie/book combinations have inspired you? These are just a few of mine, but they were among the most meaningful for various reasons.

34 thoughts on “Movies That Inspired Me to Write

  1. Movies that show the different sides inside every person and how they struggle against wach other inspire me a lot. These movies include: Original Sin, Girl Interrupted, Split, Black Swan and shows like Orange is the New Black and Breaking Bad!

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  2. Wonderful post, Don. Hands down the movie and book combo that stayed with me for years was “On the Beach,” by Neville Shute. Prior to reading the story, I was used to happy endings and very little inner conflict between hope and despair. Of course, the real world is soaked in the theme of the book and suddenly I was aware that good stories dealt with many more emotions than simple love and hate. The movie had Ava Gardner and Georgory Peck. How could one go wrong?

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  3. Great choices. There are many for me but would include Gone With The Wind, even though it deviated from the book somewhat, Pride and Prejudice (all of them) and Anne of Green Gables (the made for TV series with Megan Follows). Number one would be Dr. Zhivago, saw the movie at a young age, then devoured the book.

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  4. Good choices….I’m seen excerpts but I’ve have to get to see all of Mice & Men to check if that’s truly where Warner Bros Looney Tunes got their Big Goofy character from, who called everyone ‘George’.
    My own choices are
    ‘Glory’ based on the Civil War regiment 54th Mass. composed of American Americans (with white officers- of course)… the scene ‘Give ’em hell 54th!!’ always sends shivers up and down.
    ‘Aliens’ – one film where the aliens are killable by ordinary soldiers; great cast, everyone giving their all even the minor parts and…… ‘Get away from her you bitch!’
    ‘Bringing up Baby’- The screwball movie of all time! Packed with folk with their own funny lines and gloriously improbable plot.

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