In no particular order, my top three picks:
1. Where Eagles Dare by Alistair Mclean. This is one of the best action/suspense films ever imo. The film came out just one year after the books release due to the author writing the screenplay as well as the book. The first time you watch you find yourself saying “What the heck is going on?” a lot without being frustrated by it. Not easy to do.
Fun side note: While traveling in Wales back in the early 90’s, I met a couple who knew the parents of the actor Donald Houston
that falls to his death during the cable car fight. Apparently, the actor’s mother couldn’t bear to watch her son fall to his death even within a fictional environment. Both the Donald Huston and Richard Burton were Welshmen. Houston it turns out is from the same small mining town where my great-great-grandparents were from – Tonypandy, South Wales.
2. Star Wars. I purchased this first run copy on the 2nd floor of O’Neils department store at the Chapel Hill Mall in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (home of Chryssie Hynde and Devo by the way). Back in the day when you had to really work at finding scifi books and posters and suffer through grungy head shops with foul smelling owners and one-eyed dogs and musty basements managed by geeky old men whose knowledge of fiction was both wide and deep.
The book floored when when I kept referring to the back page that it was soon to be a major motion picture. I kept wondering how in the world the producers were going to turn all of those special effects into reality. You have to remember this was 1976 and special effects pretty much sucked with few exceptions in those days. Then 1977 rolled around and changed film dramatically forever.
3. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Like Star Wars, there was just no way those books could ever be produced. Ever. Then Wingnut Films and Peter Jackson comes along and once again we find film production (and both our appetites and expectations) changed forever.
There are a few other examples that I will post to this thread later.