Did a Film Version Ever Improve Upon Original?

BobNC Profile Photo
Lots of talk on the board about The Normal Heart and Jersey Boy. My all time favorite drama is a Torch Song Trilogy, my all time favorite comedy is Gemini, and my all time favorite musical is Nine (OBC with Raul Julia). The film versions of all three of my favorites left me extremely disappointed. My question: has anyone experienced a film version of their favorite Broadway show, drama, musical, or comedy which approximated or even surpassed the original?

Updated On: 6/1/14 at 10:46 AM
Broadway Legend
The Sound of Music



If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
darquegk Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
The common answer is definitely "Reefer Madness," possibly "The Sound of Music."
haterobics Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Chicago. Hedwig. Love Valour Compassion. History Boys.

Interestingly, though, I never saw Torch Song onstage, so I think the movie was wonderful. Again, with no basis for comparison...
Jeffrey Karasarides Profile Photo
Jeffrey Karasarides
Broadway Star
Movies and Plays=Apples and Oranges

The two mediums are never meant to compete with one another. The REAL question you should really be asking is "Does the stay true to its source material as well as successfully standing on its own?"
Smaxie Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Oliver is an improvement on the stage version. Just for the placement of Oom Pah Pah alone, on top of its other virtues.
Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.
BobNC Profile Photo
I hope you one day get to see TST on stage. Yes, of the three favorites I cited, the film version came closest.

Featured Actor
Broadway Legend
Jeffrey does make a good point. There are things that can be done onstage that just don't translate to screen and vice versa. I still think it's impossible to make a movie version of A Chorus Line because the material demands intimacy that can't be achieved on film.

Also, you have to separate performer from the material. Sometimes a stage play is brilliant because the acting lifts the material. You get a different actor in the role and it sinks. (Yes, I'm looking at you Doubt. Meryl and Philip just couldn't make it work.)
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
dramamama611 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
I totally disagree with Hair being better on film.

I think GREASE is actually a such better film than stage show. I'll second Sound of Music.

Wizard of Oz. (Did the stage show come first? I actually don't know!)
If we're not having fun, then why are we doing it? These are DISCUSSION boards, not mutual admiration boards. Discussion only occurs when we are willing to hear what others are thinking, regardless of whether it is alignment to our own thoughts.
Broadway Legend
With both Hair and Grease, you have to realize that the stage version and the movie are two completely different things.

The original stage version of Grease was meant to lampoon the 1950s. The movie did away with that aspect and turned it into a boys meets girl story. I like both for different reasons.

I think the Hair movie improved on the stage show because it made the piece more linear. It focused in more on the people and cut down on the stupid stuff like the Margaret Mead sequence, which I think still is a weak point of the stage show.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
Kad Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
I think the film of WSS improves upon the stage version.
tazber Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
I thought the film version of Hairspray was better than the original Broadway production.

Special mention to Cabaret for being re-imagined and equally as brilliant as the stage show (although of course I never saw the original Bway incarnation).
....but the world goes 'round
CarlosAlberto Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
West Side Story is a winner on film. The juxtaposition of Cool, Gee Officer Krupke and I Feel Pretty. The expansion of America to include the boys....all vast improvements. 10 Academy Awards were richly deserved.

Updated On: 6/1/14 at 11:27 AM
jnb9872 Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
AMADEUS is such a different beast on stage vs. the film, but both are amazing. So, in adaptation, Shaffer and Forman "improved" the play in such a way that works better for the film (the deathbed composition of the Requiem is an utterly astonishing cinematic accomplishment.) However, the "improvements" made for the film are difficult if not impossible to achieve onstage, while the stage script includes so much more direct address and the concept of the audience itself being Salieri's ghosts and confidantes. So I'd call AMADEUS a work that each iteration of is ideal for the form it takes.

Words don't deserve that kind of malarkey. They're innocent, neutral, precise, standing for this, describing that, meaning the other, so if you look after them you can build bridges across incomprehension and chaos. But when they get their corners knocked off, they're no good anymore…I don't think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.
Updated On: 6/1/14 at 11:50 AM
henrikegerman Profile Photo
Broadway Legend


The Lion in Winter


Updated On: 6/1/14 at 11:51 AM
IdinaBellFoster Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Funny Girl

The Sound of Music

"Oh look at the time, three more intelligent plays just closed and THE ADDAMS FAMILY made another million dollars" -Jackie Hoffman, Audience Awards
mjohnson2 Profile Photo
Broadway Star
Rabbit Hole
West Side Story
Anything regarding shows stated by this account is an attempt to convey opinion and not fact.
The Other One
Leading Actor
West Side Story (I've seen four stage productions and loved them, but the movie trumped them all)

Dinner At Eight


I love the film versions of The Sound of Music and Oliver!, but have never seen them on stage (I am NOT counting the live TV version of TSOM) so I can not vouch for them being improvements. I do prefer their cast recordings to their soundtracks, although not by much.
Brave Sir Robin2 Profile Photo
Brave Sir Robin2
Broadway Legend
The Sound of Music
West Side Story
Broadway Legend
Oliver is another one that is different on stage and on film. In the film, you have pretty redhead Shani Wallis playing Nancy. She plays it like Gidget having boy problems. Who wouldn't want that life, living in the squalor of the streets of London. Such fun!
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
devonian.t Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
Chicago? Absolutely not! It is a theatrical animal and the film suffocates it.

I agree about Hair and Hairspray. Spike Lee did a really nice job capturing Passing Strange, but it's great either live or on film.

But Phantom is the most wretched excrement ever committed to celluloid.
Broadway Legend
"But Phantom is the most wretched excrement ever committed to celluloid."

If only Patti LuPone had said "yes" when Andrew Loyd-Webber wanted her for Madame Giry.
If anyone ever tells you that you put too much Parmesan cheese on your pasta, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
I think that Gentlemen Prefers Blondes is a much better film than the stage production.
Borstalboy Profile Photo
Broadway Legend
The script for DANGEROUS LIASONS is tighter, more compelling, and more devastating than the talky play.
"It's now rather very common to hear people say 'I'm rather offended by that'. As if that gives them certain rights. It's actually nothing more than a whine. It has no meaning, no purpose. It has no reason to be respected as a phrase. 'I am offended by that'. Well, so f**king what?"--Stephen Fry
musicaljen Profile Photo
I don't believe that a cinematographic version can ever beat the original stage
production. As much as I love the sound of music on stage, I just loathe the
film. That being said my favourite movie musical has to be Les Miserables. I lost
count on how many times I watched it and I personally feel that if you go to see
the theatrical production without knowing the story, you won't understand what is
going on but if you watch the movie you will understand the show better.