"Lucky Jim" vs. _Lucky Jim_
Of course, it was British, and set in the early '50's, but it still rang true. It seemed the perfect length for a movie -- just an hour and a half, and yet everything got nicely resolved. I so enjoyed it that I was determined to find the novel on which it was based.
I have a theory about seeing films made from books. It does no good at all the have read the book first -- invariably, they will have pruned out your favorite minor character or scene in order to squeeze the whole story into a reasonably normal movie running time. I mean, a good movie can turn you onto a good book, but if you've read a good book before seeing the film made from it, you'll almost invariably be disappointed with the movie. And besides, you'll almost always prefer the book to the movie, anyway.
Well, Lucky Jim was, alas, the exception that proves the rule. It wasn't a horrible book (I can't usually get past the first few pages of a really awful book), but it sure wasn't as clever as the film.
The film managed to take the best bits of the book, massage them slightly, and even add in a few little bits, and come out with a nicely self-contained whole that did a better job than the book of conveying the story. The film was actually pretty much true to the book, but succeeded in fixing up a ridiculous bit of silliness over the phone about a dance, and even managed to stuff in a happy ending for Jim's erstwhile girlfriend. It was entirely an improvement on the book.
[The book apparently got mixed reviews when it appeared. It'd be interesting to read a few to see how folks felt about it.]