By the Book

By the Book

67 Episodes

You’ve read—or at least meant to read—the book. Now see the movie. Just in time for the start of school, we’ve collected some of the all-time great page-to-screen adaptations, encompassing English 101 classics like “Great Expectations” and “Lord Of The Flies,” world-literature masterpieces like “War and Peace” and “Pather Panchali,” modern best sellers like “The Virgin Suicides” and “The Hours,” and more. While faithful transpositions abound, there are plenty of surprising spins on canonical titles, such as Akira Kurosawa’s Japan-set retelling of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot,” John Huston’s hallucinatory take on Malcolm Lowry’s “unfilmable” “Under the Volcano,” and Chantal Akerman’s fascinating postcolonialist reimagining of Joseph Conrad’s “Almayer’s Folly.” Each is a distinguished work of art in its own right, as worthy of appreciation as its celebrated source.

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By the Book
  • By the Book Teaser

    Episode 1

  • The Count of Monte Cristo

    Episode 2

    Directed by Rowland V. Lee • 1934 • United States
    Starring Robert Donat, Elissa Landi, Louis Calhern

    En garde! Alexandre Dumas’s classic tale of injustice and retribution gets a stirring adaptation in this spirited swashbuckler. Robert Donat stars as officer Edmond Dantes, who is imprisoned on t...

  • The 39 Steps

    Episode 3

    Directed by Alfred Hitchcock • 1935 • United Kingdom
    Starring Robert Donat, Madeline Carroll, Lucie Mannheim

    A heart-racing spy story by Alfred Hitchcock, THE 39 STEPS follows Richard Hannay (Robert Donat) as he stumbles upon a conspiracy that thrusts him into a hectic chase across the Scottish ...

  • La bête humaine

    Episode 4

    Directed by Jean Renoir • 1938 • France
    Starring Jean Gabin, Simone Simon, Julien Carette

    Based on the classic Emile Zola novel, Jean Renoir’s LA BÊTE HUMAINE was one of the legendary director’s greatest popular successes, and earned star Jean Gabin a permanent place in the hearts of his country...

  • Of Mice and Men

    Episode 5

    Directed by Lewis Milestone • 1939 • United States
    Starring Burgess Meredith, Lon Chaney Jr., Betty Field

    George and Lennie are California migrant workers on the run from the law because of something the simple-minded giant Lennie did. They find work at a local ranch, where they dream of making ...

  • Great Expectations

    Episode 6

    Directed by David Lean • 1946 • United Kingdom
    Starring John Mills, Finlay Currie, Martita Hunt

    One of the great translations of literature into film, David Lean’s GREAT EXPECTATIONS brings Charles Dickens’s masterpiece to robust on-screen life. Pip, Magwitch, Miss Havisham, and Estella populate...

  • The Killers

    Episode 7

    Directed by Robert Siodmak • 1946 • United States
    Starring Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Edmond O’Brien

    Ernest Hemingway’s gripping short story “The Killers” has fascinated readers and filmmakers for generations. Its first screen incarnation came in 1946, when director Robert Siodmak unleashed TH...

  • Oliver Twist

    Episode 8

    Directed by David Lean • 1948 • United Kingdom
    Starring Robert Newton, Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh

    Expressionistic noir photography suffuses David Lean’s OLIVER TWIST with a nightmarish quality, fitting its bleak, industrial setting. In Dickens’ classic tale, an orphan wends his way from cruel appr...

  • Anna Karenina

    Episode 9

    Directed by Julien Duvivier • 1948 • United Kingdom

    He loves me, he loves me not... Anna Karenina risks her marriage, social standing, and a relationship with her son all for the illicit love of a young cavalry officer. As expected, things get complicated.

  • The Heiress

    Episode 10

    Directed by William Wyler • 1949 • United States
    Starring Olivia de Havilland, Montgomery Clift, Ralph Richardson

    Directed with a keen sense of ambiguity by William Wyler, this film based on a hit stage adaptation of Henry James’s “Washington Square” pivots on a question of motive. When shy, emo...

  • The Passionate Friends

    Episode 11

    Directed by David Lean • 1949 • United Kingdom

    David Lean's THE PASSIONATE FRIENDS tells the story of a married woman (Ann Todd) who struggles to end an affair with the man she loves.

  • The Idiot
    2:46:44
    Episode 12

    The Idiot

    Episode 12

    Directed by Akira Kurosawa • 1951 • Japan

    In post-World War II Japan, childlike veteran Kinji suffers from post-traumatic stress-induced seizures, and, after treatment at a mental health institution in Okinawa, he returns to his hometown. There he meets and becomes romantically caught up with tw...

  • The Life of Oharu

    Episode 13

    Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi • 1952 • Japan
    Starring Kinuyo Tanaka, Toshiro Mifune, Masao Shimizu

    A peerless chronicler of the soul who specialized in supremely emotional, visually exquisite films about the circumstances of women in Japanese society, Kenji Mizoguchi had already been directing mov...

  • Robinson Crusoe

    Episode 14

    Directed by Luis Buñuel • 1954 • United States, Mexico
    Starring Dan O’Herlihy

    Master director Luis Buñuel’s first color film (and first of only two he made in English) is a fascinating, unjustly neglected adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s classic survival novel. His take on the story—in which the epo...

  • Senso
    2:03:28
    Episode 15

    Senso

    Episode 15

    Directed by Luchino Visconti • 1954 • Italy
    Starring Alida Valli, Farley Granger

    This lush, Technicolor tragic romance from Luchino Visconti stars Alida Valli as a nineteenth-century Italian countess who, during the Austrian occupation of her country, puts her marriage and political principle...

  • Pather Panchali

    Episode 16

    Directed by Satyajit Ray • 1955 • India
    Starring Subir Banerjee, Kanu Banerjee, Karuna Banerjee

    With the release in 1955 of Satyajit Ray’s debut, PATHER PANCHALI, an eloquent and important new cinematic voice made itself heard all over the world. A depiction of rural Bengali life in a style insp...

  • Aparajito
    1:50:06
    Episode 17

    Aparajito

    Episode 17

    Directed by Satyajit Ray • 1956 • India
    Starring Pinaki Sengupta, Kanu Banerjee, Karuna Banerjee

    Satyajit Ray had not planned to make a sequel to PATHER PANCHALI, but after the film’s international success, he decided to continue Apu’s narrative. APARAJITO picks up where the first film leaves of...

  • The Burmese Harp

    Episode 18

    Directed by Kon Ichikawa • 1956 • Japan
    Starring Rentaro Mikuni, Shoji Yasui, Taniye Kitabayashi

    An Imperial Japanese Army regiment surrenders to British forces in Burma at the close of World War II and finds harmony through song. A private, thought to be dead, disguises himself as a Buddhist mo...

  • Apur Sansar

    Episode 19

    Directed by Satyajit Ray • 1959 • India
    Starring Soumitra Chatterjee, Sharmila Tagore, Alok Chakraborty

    By the time APUR SANSAR was released, Satyajit Ray had directed not only the first two Apu films but also the masterpiece THE MUSIC ROOM, and was well on his way to becoming a legend. This ext...

  • Purple Noon

    Episode 20

    Directed by René Clément • 1960 • France, Italy
    Starring Alain Delon, Maurice Ronet, Marie Laforêt

    Alain Delon was at his most impossibly beautiful when PURPLE NOON was released and made him an instant star. This ripe, colorful adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s vicious novel “The Talented Mr. R...

  • Zazie dans le métro

    Episode 21

    Directed by Louis Malle • 1960 • France
    Starring Catherine Demongeot, Philippe Noiret

    A brash and precocious ten-year-old (Catherine Demongeot) comes to Paris for a whirlwind weekend with her rakish uncle (Philippe Noiret); he and the viewer get more than they bargained for, however, in this ana...

  • The Cloud-Capped Star

    Episode 22

    Directed by Ritwik Ghatak • 1960 • India
    Starring Supriya Choudhury, Anil Chatterjee, Bijon Bhattacharya

    Directed by the visionary Bengali filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak, THE CLOUD-CAPPED STAR tells the story of a family who have been uprooted by the Partition of India and come to depend on their eldes...

  • Divorce Italian Style

    Episode 23

    Directed by Pietro Germi • 1961 • Italy
    Starring Marcello Mastroianni, Stefania Sandrelli, Daniela Rocca

    Baron Ferdinando Cefalù (Marcello Mastroianni) longs to marry his nubile young cousin Angela (Stefania Sandrelli), but one obstacle stands in his way: his fatuous and fawning wife, Rosalia (D...

  • Lord of the Flies

    Episode 24

    Directed by Peter Brook • 1963 • United Kingdom
    Starring James Aubrey, Tom Chapin, Hugh Edwards

    In the hands of the renowned experimental theater director Peter Brook, William Golding’s legendary novel about the primitivism lurking beneath civilization becomes a film as raw and ragged as the los...