The Post Goes to the Movies

Many of Hollywood's greatest films began life as short stories, and many of America's greatest short stories first appeared in the Post. Here are 12 movies that jumped from our pages to the big screen.

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The Quiet Man (1952)

Maurice Walsh was an Irish novelist best known for the short story “The Quiet Man,” which first appeared in the February 11, 1933, issue of the Post. The tale centers on an American boxer who returns to his native Ireland and finds romance and a new life with a hot-headed Irish beauty. Director John Ford read Walsh’s story when released and purchased the rights. However, it wasn’t until 1952 that the romantic comedy starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara was made, largely in Ireland. The film became one of the year’s top-grossing pictures, received a total of seven Academy Award nominations, and won Ford his fourth Best Director Oscar.

Subscribers can read “The Quiet Man” in the February 11, 1933, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

Lassie Come Home (1943)

The author of many books and short stories, Eric Knight is best remembered for creating the captivating canine character Lassie, who first appeared in the short story “Lassie Come-Home” in the December 17, 1938, issue of the Post. The quintessential boy-and-his-dog story about a faithful collie’s arduous journey to be reunited with the boy she loves was so popular that Knight expanded it into a bestselling book. In 1943, MGM adapted the bestseller into a feature film, Lassie Come Home, starring Roddy McDowall and a young Elizabeth Taylor. The film was a box office hit and spawned a series of sequels and long-running TV series. Sadly, Knight was killed in a plane crash in 1943 before the film’s release while serving during WWII.

Subscribers can read “Lassie Come-Home” in the December 17, 1938, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

And Then There Were None (1945)

With more than 100 million copies sold, And Then There Were None is the world’s bestselling mystery. First appearing in the Post as a seven-part serial in 1939, the classic whodunit follows ten strangers who are invited to a remote island and mysteriously murdered one by one. The 1945 film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s suspense story did well at the box office and earned a four-star review from Leonard Maltin. With 66 detective novels as well as short stories — two in the Post — Christie earned the sobriquet “the queen of crime.” She also penned six bittersweet romance novels under the name Mary Westmacott — a pseudonym she kept a secret for almost 20 years.

Subscribers can read the serial “And Then There Were None” starting in the May 20, 1939, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

The Mouse That Roared (1959)

Leonard Patrick O’Connor Wibberley was the author of numerous short stories and more than 100 books, including his best-known work, The Mouse That Roared. The Cold War satirical novel first appeared in the Post in 1954-55 as a six-part serial under the title “The Day New York Was Invaded,” about the mythical Duchy of Grand Fenwick that decides the only way to survive a financial crisis is, with an army of 20 archers and four men at arms, to declare war on the United States and lose to get foreign aid — but things don’t go according to plan. The comic masterpiece helped establish Peter Sellers as an international star

Subscribers can read the serial “The Day New York Was Invaded” starting in the December 25, 1954, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

Call of the Wild (1935)

First published as a five-part series in the Post in 1903, The Call of the Wild is often regarded as Jack London’s masterpiece — and hailed by poet Carl Sandburg as “the greatest dog story ever written.” Set in the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush, the wilderness adventure follows Buck — a 140-pound Saint Bernard and Scotch Shepherd mix — who is stolen from his comfortable life in California and thrust into the brutal life of a sled dog, where he must learn to adapt to survive. Released in 1935, the film, starring Clark Gable and Loretta Young, was a major box-office success. Before writing Call of the Wild, publishers rejected London’s writing more than 660 times, but in his 40 years he published 51 books.

Read The Call of the Wild from the pages of the June 20, 1903, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

Today We Live (1933)

Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner published 20 short stories in the Post. Director Howard Hawks read Faulkner’s short story “Turn About” — in which two World War I officers compete for the same woman — in the March 5, 1932, issue, bought film rights, and hired Faulkner to write the screenplay. The result was Today We Live, starring Joan Crawford and Gary Cooper. Hawks invited Faulkner on an excursion with him and Clark Gable, who asked him to name the best living writers. Faulkner included himself. “Oh, do you write?” Gable asked. “Yes, Mr. Gable,” Faulkner replied. “What do you do?”

Subscribers can read Faulkner’s short story “Turn About” in the March 5, 1932, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

One of the first atomic monster movies, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms was based loosely on Ray Bradbury’s short story of the same name published in the Post on June 23, 1951. In the film, nuclear tests awaken a prehistoric dinosaur and set it on a path of destruction. A monster at the box office, the movie helped usher in the creature feature craze of the 1950s. Bradbury said the idea for the story came from seeing the ruins of a demolished roller coaster — the tracks suggested a dinosaur skeleton.

Subscribers can read Bradbury’s short story “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” in the June 23, 1951, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

True Grit (1969)

Written by Charles Portis, True Grit appeared in the Post in 1968 as a three-part serial, was published as a novel in 1969, and was adapted to film the same year, starring John Wayne, Robert Duvall, Kim Darby, and Glen Campbell. In the classic Western, 14-year-old Mattie Ross enlists a grizzled, one-eyed U.S. Marshal named Rooster Cogburn to help her hunt down her father’s murderer. The film garnered two Oscar and three Golden Globe nominations, with Wayne nabbing both awards for Best Actor. Mia Farrow turned down the role of Mattie Ross and later called it “the biggest personal and professional mistake of my life.” Elvis Presley was considered for the role of La Boeuf; however, his manager insisted Presley get top billing, above Wayne — so the role went to Glen Campbell.

Subscribers can read Portis’ serial “True Grit” starting in the May 18, 1968, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954)

The preeminent chronicler of the Jazz Age, F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote 65 short stories for the Post, including “Babylon Revisited” in the February 21, 1931, issue. The story follows Charlie Wales, a recovering alcoholic and newly successful businessman, who returns to Paris shortly after the stock market crash to win back custody of his daughter. In 1954, the story was adapted into the film The Last Time I Saw Paris, starring Van Johnson and a 22-year-old Elizabeth Taylor. The movie marked the American debut of then-unknown Roger Moore, who went on to star in seven Bond films.

Subscribers can read Fitzgerald’s short story “Babylon Revisited” in the February 21, 1931, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

Notorious (1946)

Notorious is a classic Hitchcock post-war psychological suspense thriller starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains as three people whose lives become intimately entangled during an espionage operation. The 1946 film was loosely based on the short story “The Song of the Dragon” by author and screenwriter John Taintor Foote, published in the Post in November 1921. The legendary on-again, off-again kiss between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman was designed to skirt the Hayes Code that limited on-screen kisses to no more than three seconds each. Recalling the scene, Bergman later said the stars “nibbled on each other’s ears and kissed a cheek, so that it looked endless and became sensational in Hollywood.” The “master of suspense” made a cameo appearance — as he did in most of his films -— gulping down a glass of champagne during the party sequence.

Read The Song of the Dragon from the November 12, 1921, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

Dark Passage (1947)

Author David Goodis got his break in 1946 with the publication of Dark Passage, first serialized in the Post from July 20 to September 7, 1946. The noir thriller is about a man wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder who escapes from San Quentin, undergoes plastic surgery, and sets out to clear his name. Released in 1947, the film starred Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall — the third of four films the couple made together. During filming, Bogart­ ­— then the highest-paid actor in Hollywood ­—  began to lose his hair due to a vitamin deficiency and was forced to wear a wig.

Subscribers can read Goodis’ serial “Dark Passage” starting in the July 20, 1946, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

Gun Crazy (1950)

Gun Crazy is a film noir about the crime spree of a gun-toting husband and wife, based on a short story by MacKinlay Kantor published in the February 3, 1940, issue of the Post. The screenplay was written by Kantor and blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo — credited as Millard Kaufman. Shot on a $400,000 budget in 30 days, the film was released in 1949 to little fanfare. Director Martin Scorsese called Gun Crazy “a great movie that never set out to be one.” In 1998, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Subscribers can read Kantor’s short story “Gun Crazy” in the February 3, 1940, issue of The Saturday Evening Post.

This article is featured in the July/August 2022 issue of The Saturday Evening PostSubscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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  1. Anyone notice how many of these films were produced near the decade of 1950’s ?

  2. Published in 1932, wouldn’t “Turn About” take place in WWI rather than II?


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