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The Best Movies Based on Short Stories 

Ranker Film
Updated February 3, 2020 3k votes 352 voters 24.7k views 49 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

Released: 1994

Directed by: Frank Darabont

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

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Stand by Me is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Movies Based on Short Stories
Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman, John Cusack

Released: 1986

Directed by: Rob Reiner

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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Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kate Mara

Released: 2005

Directed by: Ang Lee

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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Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, Robert Duvall

Released: 1979

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

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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Alfred Hitchcock, Tippi Hedren, Suzanne Pleshette

Released: 1963

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

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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Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside

Released: 1990

Directed by: Paul Verhoeven

Based on Philip K. Dick's story, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. Total Recall is a 1990 American science fiction action film directed by Paul Verhoeven. In 2084, a construction worker, Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger), suddenly finds himself embroiled in ...more

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Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken

Released: 1999

Directed by: Tim Burton

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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Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter, Ed Bishop

Released: 1968

Directed by: Stanley Kubrick

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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Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell

Released: 2002

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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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Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney, Mel Blanc

Released: 1961

Directed by: Blake Edwards

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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Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

Released: 2000

Directed by: Christopher Nolan

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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Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Hilary Swank

Released: 2004

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

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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Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson

Released: 1944

Directed by: Billy Wilder

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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Bootsdad added Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura

Released: 1987

Directed by: Paul Michael Glaser

"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

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Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Elle Fanning

Released: 2008

Directed by: David Fincher

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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16
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looksharp added Jessica Biel, Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti

Released: 2006

Directed by: Neil Burger

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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17
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Mark Ruffalo, Forest Whitaker, James Gandolfini

Released: 2009

Directed by: Spike Jonze

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

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looksharp added Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, Jude Law

Released: 2001

Directed by: Steven Spielberg

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

Released: 2007

Directed by: James Mangold

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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20
The Fly is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Movies Based on Short Stories
Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, David Cronenberg

Released: 1986

Directed by: 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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21
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Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Joseph Cotten

Released: 1949

Directed by: Carol Reed

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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22
The Man Who Shot Liberty... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Movies Based on Short Stories
John Wayne, James Stewart, Lee Marvin

Released: 1962

Directed by: John Ford

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a 1962 American Western film directed by John Ford starring James Stewart and John Wayne. The black-and-white film was released by Paramount Pictures. The ...more

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23
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looksharp added Jennifer Connelly, Keanu Reeves, Jon Hamm

Released: 2008

Directed by: Scott Derrickson

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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Mackenzie Davis, Finn Wolfhard, Brooklynn Prince

Released: 2020

Directed by: Floria Sigismondi

The Turning is a 2020 American supernatural horror film directed by Floria Sigismondi, based on the novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. A young woman (Mackenzie Davis) hired to nanny ...more

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25
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Siersha 2 added Laura Dern, Levon Helm, Mary Kay Place

Released: 1985

Directed by: Joyce Chopra

Smooth Talk is a 1985 drama film, loosely based on Joyce Carol Oates' 1966 short story Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?, which was in turn inspired by the Tucson murders committed by ...more