Favorite Screenplays

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Mira
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Favorite Screenplays

Post by Mira » September 21st, 2010, 10:35 pm

The thread at Nathan's today got me thinking about screenwriters. Even more than authors, they tend to labor in obscurity. I can't think of a single screenwriter that I know of.

Anyway, I thought maybe folks might like to share screenplays they liked.

Probably one of the few screenplays that I thought was better than the book was the Wizard of Oz. I recently read the book, and it's very charming, but the movie is a stronger work, imho. I admire how they adapted it - they cut and trimmed and added personality, and created one of the most beloved films in existence. Good on them! :)

The screenplay writers for the Wizard of Oz were: Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf. Yay them!

Any other nominations?

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Re: Favorite Screenplays

Post by unwieldy » September 22nd, 2010, 2:09 am

What a fun subject. It's probably cliche to say it, but Citizen Kane was a great screenplay. Orson Welles co-wrote the screenplay as well as being the star actor. But lauding that film is a lot like saying Ulysses is the best novel of all time. Most people don't really enjoy it that much. It's not very approachable; it's just the quintessential classic.

On that note, I'll nominate a more recent film, The Usual Suspects. Watching that movie the first time is about as good as it gets. The story is so intricately woven, and then the ending just shatters your view of the entire narrative. It's not a very good film the second time around though, because you know the big spoiler.

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Re: Favorite Screenplays

Post by J. T. SHEA » September 22nd, 2010, 7:36 pm

The 1939 MGM WIZARD OF OZ movie was indeed better than Frank L. Baum’s novel, and it’s not the only example of a movie bettering the book on which it’s based. BTW, Baum was himself an early novelizer, moving easily between novels and plays. MGM boss Samuel Goldwyn watched the completed 1939 move and reputedly said ‘Great movie, except for one thing. Lose that stupid Rainbow song!’!

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Re: Favorite Screenplays

Post by Mira » September 22nd, 2010, 8:25 pm

unwieldy - I think Citizen Cane is amazing - I found it enjoyable, and I still have goosebumps from 'Rosebud'. I haven't seen The Usual Suspects, but it's on my list.

J. T. - I didn't know Baum wrote plays. That's interesting. Wizard of Oz folklore is fun. I heard the 'munkins' were completely out of control.

So, I was thinking of another kid's book that I liked better as a movie - Ronald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The first one, not the dark second version. The one with Gene Wilder and music. Much better than the book. What's interesting is that the screenwriter was Ronald Dahl! He adapted his own book, and made it better, imho.

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Re: Favorite Screenplays

Post by steve » September 23rd, 2010, 3:24 pm

CHINATOWN by Robert Towne
Read one of the best stories by Borges.

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Re: Favorite Screenplays

Post by J. T. SHEA » September 23rd, 2010, 3:56 pm

Yes, Mira. A bunch of 'munchkins' were hired to cavort on top of the movie theater marquee at the premiere. They got bored, got whisky, got drunk and started cavorting in earnest. 'Munchkin catchers' were hastily drafted to stop the little drunks hitting the pavement.

BTW Roald Dahl also adapted one of the first movies I ever saw in a movie theater, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. Much better than Ian Fleming's book, which was little more than a padded novella. If there had been a novelization of the script, I would have bought it.

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Re: Favorite Screenplays

Post by One of the Mad Ones » September 23rd, 2010, 5:25 pm

Sophia Coppola for LOST IN TRANSLATION, which won the Oscar for screenwriting in 2004.

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Re: Favorite Screenplays

Post by Quill » September 23rd, 2010, 5:53 pm

Paddy Chayefsky's NETWORK was probably the first screenplay to blow my mind.

Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, David Mamet, and the Coen brothers have each done it multiple times since.

I also really liked Lawrence Kasdan's and Barbara Benedek's THE BIG CHILL.

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Re: Favorite Screenplays

Post by cheekychook » September 23rd, 2010, 7:45 pm

Mira---while it's true that screenwriters often don't get nearly the amount of recognition they deserve, you actually know many more screenwriters than your probably think you do. Countless famous films were actually written by those who either directed or star in them, or occasionally both. Steven Spielberg wrote Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Poltergeist...Woody Allen writes (and previously directed and starred in) most of his films...Sylvester Stallone wrote (and starred in) Rocky...Ben Affleck and Matt Damon wrote (and starred in) Good Will Hunting....Rob Reiner wrote (and directed) This is Spinal Tap... Martin Scorcese wrote (and directed) Casino and Goodfellas.... James Cameron wrote (and directed) Avatar and Titanic... Nora Ephron wrote (and directed) Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail and Julie and Julia...John Hughes wrote (and directed) The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller and countless other classic 80's films.

To answer your question about what comes to mind/favorites Good Will Hunting is definitely up there on my list.

And yes, gotta go with quill on loving THE BIG CHILL (which Kasdan not only co-wrote but also directed).
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Re: Favorite Screenplays

Post by Sommer Leigh » September 23rd, 2010, 8:25 pm

My favorite novel to movie screenplay adaptation is Stardust. The novel by Neil Gaiman is my least favorite of anything he's ever written. I'm a huge Gaiman fan and it kills me to say I didn't like something he wrote.

That being said, Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn did such an amazing job adapting it for the screen. It is one of my favorite movies of all time, right up there with Pan's Labyrinth (which is written and directed by my hero, Guillermo del Toro)

Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn also did the screenplay for Kick Ass, another movie I enjoyed.
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Re: Favorite Screenplays

Post by Mira » September 24th, 2010, 11:48 am

cheekychook wrote:Mira---while it's true that screenwriters often don't get nearly the amount of recognition they deserve, you actually know many more screenwriters than your probably think you do. Countless famous films were actually written by those who either directed or star in them, or occasionally both.
That's an impressive list. You're right. I do know most of those, and they are great movies. :)

For comedy, I love the U.S. version of the Birdcage. That was written by Elaine May.

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Re: Favorite Screenplays

Post by Nathan Bransford » September 24th, 2010, 9:23 pm

My favorites are Casablanca, Groundhog Day, Rushmore, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

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Re: Favorite Screenplays

Post by cheekychook » September 24th, 2010, 10:25 pm

Nathan Bransford wrote:My favorites are Casablanca, Groundhog Day, Rushmore, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Groundhog Day! Love that movie. And Harold Ramis (who co-wrote Groundhog Day) is another shining example of a screenwriter who writes (and stars in) films...Ghostbusters...Stripes....classic.
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Re: Favorite Screenplays

Post by unwieldy » September 25th, 2010, 1:08 am

Nathan Bransford wrote:Rushmore
I love that movie. The Royal Tenenbaums is also excellent. Wes Anderson has amazing vision. Casting Bill Murray every time doesn't hurt, either.

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