On Friday, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby will get its most recent film treatment, this time in the hands of director Baz Luhrmann. The Jazz Age masterpiece is a tale of excess, splendor, and the unattainable American dream. Luhrmann’s vision promises to be a 3D spectacle that brings Gatsby’s infamous parties to life through brilliant color, modern music, and over-the-top cinematography.

But The Great Gatsby is not the only Great American Novel to be turned into a film. In fact, many, if not most of the novels you read in High School English have all gotten the Hollywood treatment. Let’s take a look at some of the best adaptations.

The Great Gatsby (1974)


From the way people are talking about it, you would think that Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby is the first film incarnation of the Fitzgerald novel. In fact, the 2013 rendition is the fifth time Jay Gatsby has vied for Daisy Buchanan’s affections on the silver screen. The most memorable attempt is the 1974 film, starring Robert Redford as Gatsby, Mia Farrow as Daisy and Sam Waterston as Nick Carraway.

The movie was praised for its great writing and tendency to stay true to the beloved novel (thanks to screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola), but ultimately forgotten over time as a boring homage to the exciting Jazz Age. Hopefully the current adaptation can recapture the excitement and grandeur that Fitzgerald described so vividly.

Little Women (1994)


Little Women is based on the classic novel by Louisa May Alcott, and has been adapted for the screen a grand total of five times. The most popular version is the 1994 adaptation, which packs in Winona Ryder, Claire Danes and Kirsten Dunst as three of the March sisters, Susan Sarandon as their mother, and a sweet-faced Christian Bale as little Laurie.

Anyone who has read Little Women understands that the novel is a heartwrencher, and seeing it on screen is an even worse fate. Don’t cut your hair, Jo/Winona! It’s your only beauty! There are other ways to save the family!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)

When Truman Capote wrote a tiny novella about a 1940s café society girl named Holly Golightly, did he ever know he was creating a cultural phenomenon? On screen, Audrey Hepburn turned Holly into a household name, and Tiffany’s into a dream destination.

The 1960s film classic has never been touched again, and with good reason. Hepburn, despite playing a character that is somewhat of a prostitute, has become a cultural symbol of class and sophistication. Her black dress and pearls are more famous than the book that inspired them, thanks to the film adaptation. Although, an update would be welcomed, if only to get rid of Mickey Rooney’s “Mr. Yunioshi” character altogether.

Of Mice and Men (1992)


Of Mice and Men has made it to the big screen twice, in 1939 and 1992. The nineties version, starring Gary Sinise and John Malkovich as George and Lennie, had the most lasting impact for its powerful portrayal of the Great Depression-era tale.

George and Lennie are ranch hands who want to one day own a farm of their own. Lennie, an unusually large man with massive strength and intellectual disabilities, is cared for by his smaller, smarter friend. Though the film was critically acclaimed, it didn’t do well in the box office. Sinise and Malkovich will be pleased to know that their literary adventure still lives on in the hearts and classrooms of 10th grade English students nationwide, who are both fascinated and horrified by the pivotal scene where Lennie gets too enthusiastic while trying to quiet Curley’s wife. You know the scene.

Gone with the Wind (1936)


There is perhaps no larger film in American cinema to come out of a novel than Gone with the Wind. The 1939 movie, born from the 1936 Pulitzer Prize-winner of the same name, is a true film classic. Starring Vivian Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara and Clark Gable as Rhett Butler, the film tells a story of passion and love set against the backdrop of the Civil War and Reconstruction Era South.

The film received 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress for Vivian Leigh. Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award when she took home Best Supporting Actress, as well. The movie broke records as the highest grossing film of its time.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)


Every American teenager remembers reading To Kill a Mockingbird in high school, and the impact that seeing Harper Lee’s story come to life on screen had on the entire experience. The powerful 1962 film, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, tells a faithful reading of the 1930s novel, getting its messages of racial injustice and the necessity of kindness and equality, as well as the experiences of its young narrator, Scout, across perfectly.

The film also introduces a young, unknown Robert Duvall to the scene as Boo Radley, an iconic role that he is not given much credit for. Peck was hailed for his masterful turn as Atticus Finch; in 2003 the American Film Institute named Finch the greatest movie hero of the 20th century.