Sometimes they do take a look, though. It's particularly fun to see pictures of cast members actually reading the original novel, and wonder what they thought of it and if any inspiration gained from the book made it into their performance. So just for fun, here's a sampling of some classic movie stars with the books (both fiction and nonfiction) that served as source material for the films they were appearing in:
Gregory Peck reads To Kill a Mockingbird, with what looks like the Maycomb set in the background.
Jane Wyman with The Yearling.
Greer Garson and Margaret O'Brien look at a biography of Madame Curie while in costume for the movie.
Author William L. White (right) discusses his book They Were Expendable with John Wayne and director John Ford on set of the (excellent) film adaptation.
Clark Gable appears to be a bit puzzled by Gone With the Wind.
Gary Cooper looks even less enthusiastic about Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.
On the other hand, Greer Garson and Janet Leigh are apparently engrossed by Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga on set of That Forsyte Woman.
Humphrey Bogart takes a look at Dark Passage. (I saw the movie, but I hadn't even realized it was a book.)
Now this one with Loretta Young and Alan Ladd cracks me up a little. Somebody was VERY anxious people should know that a movie called And Now Tomorrow was based on the novel by Rachel Field. I venture to guess that copy is large print.
This one is rather intriguing. Barbara Stanwyck is holding a copy of Executive Suite, a book whose film adaptation she appeared in...but what do all the other books mean? Were they all adapted into movies too? I can't make out most of the titles, but I do spy Gone With the Wind, Grand Hotel and possibly Random Harvest.
Photos courtesy of