The Best Movies Based on Short Stories  

Ranker Film
2.7k votes 325 voters 23.7k views 39 items

List Rules Films based on short stories and novellas. Vote and up the best movies that started out as a work of short fiction.

Some of the greatest movies in the history of film were based on a short story. Authors like Edgar Allan Poe have inadvertently shaped the film industry with their literary classics that were eventually turned into movies. What are the best movies based on short stories? Vote up the best films below and see where your favorites rank!
The movies on this list were all based on short stories or novellas and have been ranked by users as the best. The genres featured here range from classic black and white films to more recent box office hits. You might have read the short fiction or novella these films were based on, or maybe you are just learning that these movies were based on one.
This list features the best movies based on short stories including, The Shawshank Redemption, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Million Dollar Baby, Brokeback Mountain, and Minority Report. Vote up the best movies below or add one you love that isn't already on the list.

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Morgan Freeman, Rita Hayworth, Tim Robbins
Based on Stephen King's novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. The Shawshank Redemption is a 1994 American drama film written and directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. Adapted from the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and ...more
Stand by Me is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies Based on Short Stories
Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack
Based on Stephen King's novella, The Body. Stand by Me is a 1986 American coming of age comedy-drama adventure film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. Based on the novella ...more
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Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall
Based on Joseph Conrad's novella, Heart of Darkness. Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic adventure war film set during the Vietnam War. Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, and Robert Duvall. ...more
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Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside
Based on Philip K. Dick's story, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. Total Recall may refer to: Total recall (memory)
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Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell
Based on Philip K. Dick's short story of the same name. Minority Report is a 2002 American neo-noir science fiction mystery-thriller film directed by Steven Spielberg and loosely based on the short story of the same name by Philip K. Dick. It is set ...more
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Alfred Hitchcock, Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette
Based on Daphne du Maurier's short story of the same name. The Birds is a 1963 suspense/horror film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on the 1952 story "The Birds" by Daphne du Maurier. It depicts Bodega Bay, California, which is, ...more
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Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Mara
Based on Annie Proulx's short story of the same name. Brokeback Mountain is a 2005 American epic romantic drama film directed by Ang Lee. It is a film adaptation of the 1997 short story of the same name by Annie Proulx; the screenplay was written ...more
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Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken
Based on Washington Irving's short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Sleepy Hollow is a 1999 American fantasy horror adventure film directed by Tim Burton. It is a film adaptation loosely inspired by the 1820 short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington ...more
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Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney, Mel Blanc
Based on Truman Capote's novella of the same name. Breakfast at Tiffany's is a 1961 American romantic comedy film starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, and featuring Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen, Martin Balsam, and Mickey Rooney. The film ...more
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Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop
Based on Arthur C. Clarke's short story, The Sentinel. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was partially inspired by ...more
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Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
Based on Jonathan Nolan's short story, Memento Mori. Memento is a 2000 American neo-noir psychological thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan. The screenplay was written by Nolan based on his younger brother Jonathan Nolan's short story ...more
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looksharp added Jessica Biel, Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti
Based on Steven Millhauser's short story, Eisenheim the Illusionist.
The Illusionist is a 2006 American period drama film written and directed by Neil Burger and starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, and Jessica Biel. It is based loosely on Steven Millhauser's ...more
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Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson
Based on James M. Cain's story of the same name. Double Indemnity is a 1944 film noir crime drama directed by Billy Wilder, co-written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, based on James M. Cain's 1943 novella of the same name, which originally ...more
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Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank
Based on the short stories of Jerry Boyd. Million Dollar Baby is a 2004 American sports drama film directed, co-produced and scored by Clint Eastwood, and starring Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. This film is about an ...more
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Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Elle Fanning
Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story of the same name. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a 2008 American romantic fantasy drama film directed by David Fincher. The storyline by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord is loosely based on the 1922 short ...more
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Bootsdad added Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura
"Based on a short papeback story by Richard Bachman aka Steven King" The Running Man is a 1987 American science fiction action film loosely based on the 1982 novel The Running Man, written by Stephen King and published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. ...more
The Mist is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Movies Based on Short Stories
go_sullivan added Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden
The Mist is a 2007 American science fiction horror film based on the 1980 novella of the same name by Stephen King. The film was written and directed by Frank Darabont, who had previously ...more
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looksharp added Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, Jude Law
Based on the short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" by Brian Aldiss
A.I. Artificial Intelligence, also known as A.I., is a 2001 American science fiction film written, directed, and produced by Steven Spielberg, and based on Brian Aldiss's short story Super-Toys ...more
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looksharp added Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Logan Lerman
Based on the short story of the same name by Elmore Leonard
3:10 to Yuma is a 2007 western film directed by James Mangold and produced by Cathy Konrad, and stars Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in the lead roles, with supporting performances by Peter ...more
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Mark Ruffalo, Forest Whitaker, James Gandolfini
Based on Maurice Sendak's story of the same name. Where the Wild Things Are is a 2009 fantasy drama film directed by Spike Jonze. Written by Jonze and Dave Eggers, it is adapted from Maurice Sendak's 1963 children's book of the same name. It ...more
The Fly is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Movies Based on Short Stories
Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, David Cronenberg
Based on George Langelaan's film of the same name. The Fly is a 1986 American science fiction horror film directed and co-written by David Cronenberg. Produced by Brooksfilms and distributed by 20th Century Fox, the film stars Jeff Goldblum, ...more
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Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Joseph Cotten
Based on Graham Greene's novella of the same name. The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir, directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. It is considered one of the greatest films of all ...more
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looksharp added Jennifer Connelly, Keanu Reeves, Jon Hamm
Based on the short story "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates The Day the Earth Stood Still is a 2008 American science fiction film, a remake of the 1951 film of the same name. The screenplay is based on the 1940 classic science fiction short story ...more
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looksharp added Sean Penn, Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig
Based on the short story of the same name by James Thurber
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a 2013 romantic adventure comedy-drama cult film directed by, produced by, and starring Ben Stiller. Gore Verbinski served as executive producer. This is the ...more
Bartleby the Scrivener is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Movies Based on Short Stories
beorh.house added Bartleby the Scrivener