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10 Popular Films That Inspired Television Series

A love of vintage/classic entertainment (Movies, TV and Music) is what inspires Glory write here at Hubpages!

A sampling of ten feature films that served as inspiration for latertelevision series. As you can see, the concept of turning a successful film into a series isn't a new one.

Some of these films and their inspired television counterparts are classics and have had a long life, with numerous DVD releases or continuing to pop up on television. Other series just didn't have the same staying power and have fallen into the category of forgotten television.

L–R: Arch Johnson, Bill Smith, and Jack Warden in the TV adaption of "The Asphalt Jungle" (1961).

L–R: Arch Johnson, Bill Smith, and Jack Warden in the TV adaption of "The Asphalt Jungle" (1961).

1. Film: The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

W.R. Burnett's 1949 novel of the same name inspired this 1950 film about a plot to steal a fortune in jewels. It was directed by John Huston and stars Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, and a young Marilyn Monroe in her breakthrough role.

In 2008, the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the United States National Film Registry citing it ad being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important."

TV: The Asphalt Jungle (1961)

A television adaptation of The Asphalt Jungle was produced and shown on ABC for a total of thirteen episodes in 1961. Starring Jack Warden, Arch Johnson, and Bill Smith, the series is more of a crime drama than anything else, following the exploits of New York City Police Department investigators.

The series has little in common with the movie, although there was an episode entitled "The Professor" that shared some of the elements of the film, and both the film and TV series were MGM properties.

Top: Lewis Wilson in 1943 / Bottom: Adam West in the 1960s.

Top: Lewis Wilson in 1943 / Bottom: Adam West in the 1960s.

2. Film: Batman (1943)

In 1943, Columbia Studios launched The Batman, a popular 15-part feature film series starring Douglas Croft as Batman and Lewis Wilson as his sidekick, Robin. This first series was so popular that it led to a second, Batman and Robin, with Robert Lowery as Batman and Johnny Duncan as Robin.

First TV Appearance: Batman (1966–68)

Batman, one of the most successful and campy programs of the 1960s, broadcast on ABC from January 12, 1966, until March 14, 1968. Audiences watched Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin combat a slew of villains like The Riddler, The Joker, Mr. Freeze, and The Penguin.

Batman has taken animated form numerous times on television, with one of the first incarnations being The Batman and Superman Hour airing on CBS from September 14, 1968, to January 4, 1969.

Top: Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in "Casablanca" (1942) / Bottom: Charles McGraw and Anita Ekberg in the 1955 televised version of "Casablanca."

Top: Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in "Casablanca" (1942) / Bottom: Charles McGraw and Anita Ekberg in the 1955 televised version of "Casablanca."

3. Film: Casablanca (1942)

Based on a never-produced play written by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison, this classic 1942 feature film stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. In 1989, the United States Library of Congress chose Casablanca as one of the first to be kept in the National Film Registry in 1989.

TV: Casablanca (1955)

In 1955, ABC aired the Casablanca TV series featuring Charles McGraw as Rick Blaine. The show was part of the Warner Brothers Presents programming block, but was cancelled after only ten episodes.

It is interesting to note that actor Marcel Dalio played the part of a croupier in the film, but in the television series he played Captain Renault.

TV: Casablanca (1983)

In 1983, NBC debuted Casablanca as a television series with David Soul (the blonde detective on Starsky and Hutch) starring as Rick Blaine. It couldn't find an audience and was canceled after only three episodes.

However, check out the introduction to the series below and you'll see a "blink and you'll miss it" credit for a young Ray Liotta (RIP).

Top: Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea in "Internes Can't Take Money" (1937) / Bottom: Richard Chamberlain and Lee Kurty in "Dr. Kildare" (1961–66).

Top: Barbara Stanwyck and Joel McCrea in "Internes Can't Take Money" (1937) / Bottom: Richard Chamberlain and Lee Kurty in "Dr. Kildare" (1961–66).

4. Film: Internes Can't Take Money (1937)

In 1936, writing under the pseudonym of Max Brand, author Frederick Schiller Faust debuted his character of Dr. Kildare. He wrote a short story that was featured in an issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, which came to the attention of Paramount Pictures.

Soon they released the first Dr. Kildare film, Internes Can't Take Money, starring Joel McCrea and Barbara Stanwyck. In 1938, MGM bought the rights to the character and made nine more movies with Lew Ayres starring as Kildare.

TV: Dr. Kildare (1961–66)

Beginning on September 28, 1961 and lasting until August 30, 1966, the handsome Richard Chamberlain took on the role of Dr. Kildare in the series of the same name.

Two faces of "The Mask": Jim Carrey in the 1994 film (top) and the animated Mask.

Two faces of "The Mask": Jim Carrey in the 1994 film (top) and the animated Mask.

5. Film: The Mask (1994)

Jim Carrey played Stanley Ipkiss, a shy and insecure bank employee who was constantly teased and taunted by his coworkers, in this comedy from 1994. When he receives a bizarre wooden mask, his life is changed. He becomes The Mask, a mischievous green-skinned cartoon caricature of himself..

TV: The Mask: Animated Series (1995–97)

Rob Paulsen voiced Stanley in The Mask: Animated Series, which aired on CBS from August 12, 1995, through August 30, 1997.

Top: Elizabeth Taylor in "National Velvet" (1944) / Bottom: Lori Martin in the early '60s TV series of the same name.

Top: Elizabeth Taylor in "National Velvet" (1944) / Bottom: Lori Martin in the early '60s TV series of the same name.

6. Film: National Velvet (1944)

Enid Bagnold's 1935 novel, National Velvet, inspired the 1944 MGM film of the same name, which featured a young Elizabeth Taylor as Velvet Brown, a horse-obsessed 12-year-old girl from the English village of Sewels. She enters a raffle and wins a spirited horse that she names Pie, and who she trains for the Grand National Steeplechase.

TV: National Velvet (1960–62)

The television series National Velvet aired on NBC from September 18, 1960, to September 17, 1962. Lori Martin took on the role of Velvet Brown, who lived on a dairy farm with her parents. Velvet owned a thoroughbred stallion named King who she hoped to race in the Grand National Steeplechase.

Top: Jack Lemmon (left) and Walter Matthau in "The Odd Couple" film from 1968 / Bottom: Jack Klugman and Tony Randall in a promotional shot for the '70s TV series.

Top: Jack Lemmon (left) and Walter Matthau in "The Odd Couple" film from 1968 / Bottom: Jack Klugman and Tony Randall in a promotional shot for the '70s TV series.

7. Film: The Odd Couple (1968)

1968's The Odd Couple is based on the 1965 play of the same name by Neil Simon. The plot has two friends sharing an apartment: Oscar is a laid-back slob, and Felix is a high-strung neat freak. The movie was a critical and box office success and the third highest grossing film of 1968.

First TV Appearance: The Odd Couple (1970–75)

The Odd Couple was a television sitcom that premiered on ABC on September 24, 1970, and ran until March 7, 1975. Oscar Madison was played by Jack Klugman, and Felix Unger was played by Tony Randall.

The Oddball Couple was a cartoon based on the TV show and it ran on ABC from September 6, 1975, until December 6, 1975.

The New Odd Couple, a remake of the original series, ran on ABC from October 29, 1982, through May 26, 1983. Oscar was played by Demond Wilson (Lamont from Sanford and Son) and Felix was played by Ron Glass (Ron Harris from Barney Miller).

The Odd Couple: Together Again (1993)

Jack Klugman and Tony Randall worked together again in 1993 for the TV movie, The Odd Couple: Together Again.

In the 1998 feature film, The Odd Couple II, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau reprised their roles as Felix and Oscar. It was a critical and commercial flop.

Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon played Oscar and Felix, respectively, on the CBS Odd Couple reboot series, which aired from February 19, 2015, through January 30, 2017.

Oscar and Felix: Movie or TV?

Top: Charlton Heston and Linda Harrison in the 1968 "Planet of the Apes" film / Bottom L–R: Ron Harper, Roddy McDowell, and James Naughton from the '74 TV series.

Top: Charlton Heston and Linda Harrison in the 1968 "Planet of the Apes" film / Bottom L–R: Ron Harper, Roddy McDowell, and James Naughton from the '74 TV series.

8. Film: Planet of the Apes (1968)

This 1968 film was partially based on the 1963 French novel La Planète des Singes by Pierre Boulle. Michael Wilson and Rod Serling adapted the novel to create their own version of the story of a planet that is remarkably similar to Earth and is controlled by intelligent apes. Linda Harrison, Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, James Whitmore, and James Daly comprised the cast.

TV: Planet of the Apes (1974)

The television series of the same name consisted of 14 one-hour episodes that aired on CBS from September 13 to December 20, 1974. Ron Harper, James Naughton, Roddy McDowall, Mark Lenard, and Booth Colman comprised the cast.

An animated series called Return to the Planet of the Apes aired on on Saturday mornings on NBC from September 6 to November 29, 1975.

21st Century Revival

Since 2001, the Planet of the Apes franchise has not only rebooted, it has far eclipsed its initial impact—at least commercially. The following films have been released, with one additional film confirmed to be in production:

  • Planet of the Apes (2001, directed by Tim Burton)
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
  • War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
  • Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024, in production)
Top: Lewis Hayward played Simon Templar in 1938's "The Saint in New York" / Bottom: Roger Moore revived Templar for "The Saint," a TV series that ran throughout the '60s.

Top: Lewis Hayward played Simon Templar in 1938's "The Saint in New York" / Bottom: Roger Moore revived Templar for "The Saint," a TV series that ran throughout the '60s.

9. Film: The Saint in New York (1938)

Between 1938 and 1941, RKO Pictures produced eight B-movies featuring The Saint (aka Simon Templar), the creation of author Leslie Charteris. In The Saint in New York, the original film from 1938, actor Louis Hayward portrayed Templar.

In the second film, The Saint Strikes Back (1939), George Sanders took over the role, which he continued to do in the next four films in the series. The British actor, Hugh Sinclair, then finished out the RKO series, playing Templar in the last two films.

TV: The Saint (1962–69)

The Saint TV series ran on British TV from October 4, 1962, through February 9, 1969. It starred Roger Moore as Templar, a few years before he'd go on to international fame as James Bond.

Like Doctor Who, the Templar character has been brought back several times with a new actor in the lead role:

  • On September 10, 1978, Templar came back with Ian Ogilvy in the title role. The Return of the Saint ran for 24 episodes, ending on March 11, 1979.
  • In 1987, the TV film, The Saint in Manhattan, starred Andrew Clarke as Templar. It was a pilot for a series that was never picked up.
  • Between 1987–90, six made-for-television movies were broadcast with Simon Dutton playing Templar.
  • In 1997, Val Kilmer stared as Templar in the feature film, The Saint.
  • In 2017, The Saint returned as a television movie with Adam Rayner starring as Templar.
Top L–R: Cary Grant, Roland Young, and Constance Bennett in 1937's "Topper" / Bottom Standing: Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling, Bottom Seated L–R: Leo G. Carroll, Neil the dog, and Lee Patrick. This was the cast of TV's "Topper" (1953–55).

Top L–R: Cary Grant, Roland Young, and Constance Bennett in 1937's "Topper" / Bottom Standing: Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling, Bottom Seated L–R: Leo G. Carroll, Neil the dog, and Lee Patrick. This was the cast of TV's "Topper" (1953–55).

10. Film: Topper (1937)

Based on Thorne Smith's novel, this spooky comedy from 1937 follows the afterlife adventures of Constance Bennett and Cary Grant as George and Marion Kerby, a wealthy young couple who die in a car crash but return as ghosts.

Knowing that they must perform a good deed in order to enter heaven, they decide to liven up the routine of their rich pal, Cosmo Topper (Roland Young).

TV: Topper (1953–55)

Topper, the television series, aired on CBS from October 9, 1953, to July 15, 1955. It had Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling as Marion and George Kirby, and Leo G. Carroll as Topper.

In the series, Topper and his wife Henrietta (Lee Patrick) move into a house haunted by its former owners, Marion and George, who perished in an avalanche. Once again, the Kirby's goal is to inject some excitement into Topper's life.

In 1979, Kate Jackson (Charlie's Angels) starred with her then-husband Andrew Stevens in a television movie with the possibility of it becoming a series, but it never happened.

© 2022 Glory Miller