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The Best Movies Based on Short Stories

Updated September 10, 2020 3.1k votes 404 voters 26.7k views51 items

List RulesFilms 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.

  • 1

    The Shawshank Redemption

    Morgan Freeman, Rita Hayworth


    Directed byFrank 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
  • 2

    Stand by Me

    Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman


    Directed byRob 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 The...  more
  • 3

    Total Recall

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone


    Directed byPaul 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
  • 4

    Apocalypse Now

    Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford


    Directed byFrancis 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. The...  more
  • 5

    2001: A Space Odyssey

    Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter


    Directed byStanley 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 Clarke's...  more
  • 6

    Sleepy Hollow

    Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci


    Directed byTim 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
  • 7
    looksharp added

    The Day the Earth Stood Still

    Jennifer Connelly, Keanu Reeves


    Directed byScott 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 "Farewell to...  more
  • 8

    The Birds

    Alfred Hitchcock, Tippi Hedren


    Directed byAlfred 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, suddenly and for...  more
  • 9

    Minority Report

    Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise


    Directed bySteven 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
  • 10

    Brokeback Mountain

    Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal


    Directed byAng 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 by...  more
  • 11


    Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss


    Directed byChristopher 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 "Memento...  more
  • 12

    The Dead

    Anjelica Huston, Colm Meaney


    Directed byJohn Huston

    Based on James Joyce's short story of the same name.
    The Dead is a 1987 film directed by John Huston, starring his daughter Anjelica Huston. The Dead was the last film that Huston directed, and it was released posthumously. According to Pauline Kael,...  more
  • 13

    Breakfast at Tiffany's

    Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney


    Directed byBlake 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 was...  more
  • 14

    Million Dollar Baby

    Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman


    Directed byClint 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
  • 15
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    The Running Man

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown


    Directed byPaul 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. Directed by...  more
  • 16

    Double Indemnity

    Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck


    Directed byBilly 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 appeared...  more
  • 17
    looksharp added

    3:10 to Yuma

    Christian Bale, Russell Crowe


    Directed byJames 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 Fonda,...  more
  • 18
    looksharp added

    The Illusionist

    Jessica Biel, Edward Norton


    Directed byNeil 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 short...  more
  • 19
    go_sullivan added

    The Mist

    Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden


    Directed byFrank Darabont

    The Mist is a 2007 American science fiction horror film directed by Frank Darabont, and based on the 1980 novella of the same name by Stephen King. After a storm of never-before-seen proportions...  more
  • 20

    Away from Her

    Nina Dobrev, Julie Christie


    Directed bySarah Polley

    Based on Alice Munro's short story, The Bear Came over the Mountain.
    Away from Her is a 2006 Canadian film which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and also played in the Premier category at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The feature-length...  more
  • 21
    Siersha 2 added

    Rear Window

    Grace Kelly, James Stewart


    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Rear Window is a 1954 American mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written by John Michael Hayes based on Cornell Woolrich's 1942 short story. Originally released by Paramount...  more
  • 22

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

    Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett


    Directed byDavid 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 story of...  more
  • 23

    The Third Man

    Orson Welles, Trevor Howard


    Directed byCarol 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 time,...  more
  • 24

    Death in Venice

    Dirk Bogarde, Silvana Mangano


    Directed byLuchino Visconti

    Based on Thomas Mann's novella of the same name.
    Death in Venice is a 1971 Italian-French drama film directed by Luchino Visconti and starring Dirk Bogarde and Björn Andrésen. It is based on the novella Death in Venice, first published in 1912 as...  more
  • 25

    John and the Hole

    Charlie Shotwell, Michael C. Hall


    Directed byPascual Sisto

    John and the Hole is a 2021 American drama film directed by Pascual Sisto. A coming of age psychological thriller that plays out the unsettling reality of a kid (Charlie Shotwell) who holds his...  more
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List Rules: Films based on short stories and novellas. Vote and up the best movies that started out as a work of short fiction.