03. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Director Frank Darabont’s breakthrough movie has been sitting pretty at the top spot on IMDb for years, and while in most cases the court of public opinion is suspect, we as a people didn’t do too bad a job on this one.
Adapted by Darabont from King for a cool grand, The Shawshank Redemption is quite faithful to its source material with one major exception: the character of Red (played by Morgan Freeman, who would be Oscar-nominated for his work here) was written as a white man in King’s novella. It’s hard to imagine a world where Red is played by anyone other than Freeman, and his friendship with Tim Robbins’ Andy is one of the greatest the big screen has ever produced.
Much like the novella on which it’s based, Shawshank is all about perseverance and hope, something best echoed in those final lines from both the King’s original tale and Darabont’s adaptation. The movie often veers into dark territory regarding the lives of its inmates, but the happy ending delivered to its leads is absolutely earned. I hope you’ve enjoyed this movie as much as we have over the years.
King’s Consensus: “But even after he received Darabont’s screenplay, King had doubts about the movie’s potential. I thought, ‘Oh man, no chance they’re going to make a movie out of this puppy. It’s too talky. It’s great, but it’s too much talking.’ King said of Darabont’s script. Now that thought just makes for a funny story. And King never had to cash that check. ‘Everybody made a lot of money, and I had Frank’s $1,000 check framed and sent it back to him.'” —The Huffington Post, September 2014