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The Best Movies Based on Short Stories

Updated September 10, 2020 2.8k votes 377 voters 25.4k views50 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.

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  • The Shawshank Redemption1
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    23

    The Shawshank Redemption

    Morgan Freeman, Rita Hayworth

    Released1994

    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... more on Wikipedia

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  • Stand by Me2
    119
    26

    Stand by Me

    Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Feldman

    Released1986

    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... more on Wikipedia
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey3
    67
    29

    2001: A Space Odyssey

    Arthur C. Clarke, Leonard Rossiter

    Released1968

    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... more on Wikipedia
  • Total Recall4
    68
    31

    Total Recall

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone

    Released1990

    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... more on Wikipedia

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  • Apocalypse Now5
    75
    39

    Apocalypse Now

    Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford

    Released1979

    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... more on Wikipedia

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  • Brokeback Mountain6
    100
    70

    Brokeback Mountain

    Anne Hathaway, Jake Gyllenhaal

    Released2005

    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... more on Wikipedia
  • Sleepy Hollow7
    67
    40

    Sleepy Hollow

    Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci

    Released1999

    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... more on Wikipedia
  • The Birds8
    69
    42

    The Birds

    Alfred Hitchcock, Tippi Hedren

    Released1963

    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... more on Wikipedia

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  • Minority Report9
    58
    36

    Minority Report

    Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise

    Released2002

    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... more on Wikipedia

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  • Memento10
    53
    37

    Memento

    Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss

    Released2000

    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.... more on Wikipedia
  • Million Dollar Baby11
    52
    38

    Million Dollar Baby

    Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman

    Released2004

    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... more on Wikipedia

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  • Breakfast at Tiffany's12
    53
    41

    Breakfast at Tiffany's

    Audrey Hepburn, Mickey Rooney

    Released1961

    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... more on Wikipedia
  • The Running Man13
    42
    35

    The Running Man

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown

    Released1987

    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... more on Wikipedia

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  • Double Indemnity14
    36
    29

    Double Indemnity

    Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck

    Released1944

    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... more on Wikipedia

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  • The Fly15
    35
    30

    The Fly

    Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum

    Released1986

    Directed byDavid 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... more on Wikipedia

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  • 3:10 to Yuma16
    31
    25

    3:10 to Yuma

    Christian Bale, Russell Crowe

    Released2007

    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,... more on Wikipedia
  • The Illusionist17
    31
    26

    The Illusionist

    Jessica Biel, Edward Norton

    Released2006

    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... more on Wikipedia
  • The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance18
    24
    18

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

    John Wayne, James Stewart

    Released1962

    Directed byJohn Ford

    The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is a 1962 American Western film directed by John Ford... more on Wikipedia

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  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button19
    40
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    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

    Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett

    Released2008

    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... more on Wikipedia
  • Death in Venice20
    33
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    Death in Venice

    Dirk Bogarde, Silvana Mangano

    Released1971

    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... more on Wikipedia

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  • Rear Window21
    11
    4

    Rear Window

    Grace Kelly, James Stewart

    Released1954

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Rear Window is a 1954 American mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written... more on Wikipedia
  • The Third Man22
    28
    27

    The Third Man

    Orson Welles, Trevor Howard

    Released1949

    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,... more on Wikipedia

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  • The Mist23
    18
    15

    The Mist

    Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden

    Released2007

    Directed byFrank Darabont

    The Mist is a 2007 American science fiction horror film directed by Frank Darabont, and based... more on Wikipedia
  • The Emperor's Club24
    30
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    The Emperor's Club

    Kevin Kline, Patrick Dempsey

    Released2002

    Directed byMichael Hoffman

    Based on Ethan Canin's short story, The Palace Thief.
    The Emperor's Club is a 2002 American drama film directed by Michael Hoffman and stars Kevin... more on Wikipedia
  • The Quiet Man25
    2
    0

    The Quiet Man

    John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara

    Released1952

    Directed byJohn Ford

    The Quiet Man is a 1952 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by John Ford. It stars... more on Wikipedia