"Never judge a book by its movie," said someone called J. W. Eagan, who appears to be famous only for saying that one thing. But he (she?) is absolutely right. It's a war that has been waged since the beginning of movies. Do movies steal the souls of books? Are books forever doomed to live in the shadows of their movies? Do we "stay true" to the source material or do we invent new, cinematic ideas? Or worse, what happens to all that stuff that gets lost in translation from page to screen? After all, we're talking two entirely different art forms with different approaches; the only thing they have in common is a narrative flow: a start, middle and ending.
Perhaps these questions are the reason I tend to like movies based on short stories. It's impossible to get a 400-page novel into a 120-page screenplay without losing something, but short stories are far more adaptable to the screen; instead of cramming and condensing, a movie can stretch out with a short story. Some terrific movies have come from short stories: In Old Arizona (1929), Freaks (1932), Bringing Up Baby (1938), Stagecoach (1939), The Killers (1946), All About Eve (1950), Rashomon (1950), Rear Window (1954), Witness for the Prosecution (1957), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), The Birds (1963), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), A Christmas Story (1983), Re-Animator (1985), Babette's Feast (1989), A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) and Minority Report (2002), not to mention Robert Altman's Short Cuts (1993), woven from a selection of Raymond Carver stories.