Three Amazing Classic Thrillers That Need To Be Made Into Films Right Now (plus one underrated amazing spy film that you really need to see)
by Michael Ledwidge
Sometimes you come across a book that is so good you shake your head and wonder to yourself why isn’t this a movie? Here are three of them plus an underrated thriller film that truly needs to be looked at again.
To the White Sea by James Dickey
To the White Sea is a World War Two story of an American tail gunner who is forced to parachute into the enemy territory of fire-bombed Tokyo after his plane is shot out of the sky. What makes the story amazing is that the main character is not your typical soldier but a survivalist who was born and raised north of the Brooks Range in Alaska. His relentless will and skill at survival in such an insanely hostile environment will drop your jaw. This novel also contains one of the greatest escapes ever penned. Written by the poet James Dickey, whose other famous novel is the classic southern thriller Deliverance, (that made Banjo music terrifying) To The White Sea will blow your mind.
The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by Callum MacDonald
A nonfiction book based on true events, the story of how Nazi SS Officer Heydrich was taken out in Prague by the Czech resistance has actually been filmed twice. Only both times very badly. In this written version, MacDonald wisely and expertly tells the story as a game of cat and mouse between two humble Czech soldiers and one of the most evil and formidable human beings who has ever lived. The dramatic twists and turns will remind you of a thrilling World War 2 mix somewhere between Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds and Ken Follett’s classic, Eye of the Needle. This book is ridiculously great and is begging for a third film attempt using MacDonald’s precise and compelling ticking time bomb structure as the script.
The Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry
Beloved by spy genre fans since it came out in 1974, this classic thriller reads like a great mystery story, only with the dead body being JFK’s and the part of the detective played by an American CIA agent named Paul Christopher. The fearlessness Christopher displays as he jets across the globe trying to find out what happened (while several different factions seek to shut him down) is part James Bond part Phillip Marlowe. If you want to get an in depth read on spy craft, LeCarre is perhaps a better bet, but if you are down for the more chilling action parts of a spy thriller, this one will become a favorite. Why it is not a film is mind-boggling. Could it be because McCarry a former CIA employee hit on things his former bosses didn’t appreciate? One can only wonder.
Lastly, the film that already exists that needs to be revisited is 1959’s Our Man in Havana. Based on the novel by the genius Graham Greene, this darkly comic thriller film has the young Obi-Wan Kenobi Alec Guinness playing a British vacuum salesman in 1950s Havana who is hilariously indoctrinated into becoming a spy for the British crown. Over his head yet smart enough to see an opportunity to remove himself and his family from grim circumstances, Guinness soon finds himself juggling his MI6 handlers, murderous dictators, and German spies. The climatic booze bottle chess game/drinking contest alone is worth the streaming fee.
Michael Ledwidge has been writing crime novels and thrillers since the last century, over a dozen of them NY Times bestsellers written with James Patterson. His latest Stop At Nothing out March 3 was described by The Times of London as “a gloriously pulpy, no nonsense adventure” He can be followed on twitter @_mikeledwidge