Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

This Month in Filmmaking History – August 2022 Roundup

  • On this day in history

    Sam
        Mendes

    • Born on this day

    Sam Mendes -

    Happy birthday, Sir Samuel Mendes! Mendes is perhaps best known for his directorial accomplishments, but he’s also a talented producer and screenwriter. He first directed plays before moving on to directing mega-hit films, including “American Beauty,” “Skyfall,” “Spectre,” and the latest Oscar-nominated film for best screenplay, “1917,” which he also co-wrote with screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns.

  • On this day in history

    In the Heat
       of the Night

    screenplay by

    • Stirling Silliphant

    In the Heat of the Night -

    Stirling Silliphant wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for "In the Heat of the Night," which premiered on this day in history in 1967. The story is based on a novel by the same name authored by John Ball, though some parts of the movie differ. The plot centers on a black police detective who is wrongfully arrested for murder and later aids the police department in solving the crime. The film is historically significant not just for its theme that reflected that point in civil rights history but because it is thought to be the first Hollywood film shot in color that was properly lit for a Black person.

    Read the screenplay for "In the Heat of the Night."

  • On this day in history

      Cécile
           Aubry

    • Born on this day

    Cécile Aubry -

    The French screenwriter, director, actor, and author Cécile Aubry was born on this day in history in 1928. She got her big break as a dancer at the age of 20, and went on to act alongside Orson Welles in “The Black Rose,” and “Bluebeard,” which was one of the first French films in color. After having one child and divorcing her husband, Aubry admitted that she didn’t like acting much, and only did it so she could travel. She moved into writing children’s books and children’s television, including two popular shows, “Poly,” and “Belle and Sebastian,” in which her son had the leading role.

  • On this day in history

    Rear
       Window

    screenplay by

    • John Michael Hayes

    Rear Window -

    “Rear Window,” written by John Michael Hayes and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, premiered to prominent members of the social and entertainment worlds at Rivoli Theater in New York City on this day in history in 1954. It received four Academy Award nominations including Best Writing and ranked on AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movies list, among others. The story went on to inspire screenplays for generations, including “What Lies Beneath,” “Panic Room,” “The Girl on the Train,” and “Disturbia.”

  • On this day in history

    John
              Huston

    • Born on this day

    John Huston -

    Described as cinema’s “Ernest Hemingway,” John Huston was born on this day in history in 1906 and went on to make 37 feature films, almost of all which he also wrote. Huston’s background was in fine art, and he was known for crafting his scenes carefully by sketching them before he shot them, so most of his films required little editing in post-production. His best-known works include “The Maltese Falcon,” “The Treasure of Sierra Madre,” and “The Man Who Would Be King.”

  • On this day in history

    Venice
         Intl. Film
              Festival

    • Debuted on this day

    Venice Intl. Film Festival -

    On this day in history in 1932, Venice Film Festival debuted as part of the Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy. The Biennale is a showcase of art, dance, music, theater, and film, and has gained a reputation as one of the premier places to showcase artistic expression. The film festival, of course, is now also a famous fest in its own right. It has been the launchpad for many of today’s leading international filmmakers who’ve sought the prestigious Golden Lion Award and won – including recent films like “Roma” (Mexico), “The Woman Who Left” (Philippines), “From Afar” (Venezuela), and “A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence” (Sweden).

  • On this day in history

    The Man
    in Grey

    screenplay by

    • Margaret Kennedy
    • Leslie Arliss
    • Doreen Montgomery

    The Man in Grey -

    Considered one of the first "Gainsborough Melodramas," "The Man in Grey" debuted on this day in history in 1943. Doreen Montgomery adapted the story from Eleanor Smith's 1941 novel, and Margaret Kennedy and Leslie Arliss wrote the screenplay. "Gainsborough Melodramas" were a series of films by Gainsborough Studios, unrelated in story but similar in theme, usually based on female novelists' books. They were highly dramatic and emotional, focused chiefly on dialogue. The films were hugely popular in the United Kingdom, where mostly women were going to the theater. "The Man in Grey" is centered on a younger woman who marries out of convenience but later falls in love with a traveling actor.

  • On this day in history

    Romeo
        Muller

    • Born on this day

    Romeo Muller -

    Screenwriter and actor Romeo Muller was born on this day in history in 1928 He is perhaps best known for the screenwriting work that he did for Ranking/Bass Animated Entertainment, penning scripts for more than a dozen American holiday classics such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Frosty the Snowman," and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." He found his creativity early in life, writing plays and puppeteering while still in grade school. CBS Founder William S. Paley discovered Muller's talents after he wrote material for comedian Jack Benny, and Paley hired him to his first staff writing position on "Studio One."

  • On this day in history

    Unforgiven

    screenplay by

    • David Webb Peoples

    Unforgiven -

    David Webb Peoples’ “Unforgiven” came to life on screen as directed by Clint Eastwood on this day in 1992. The Writers Guild of America said the script for the film was one of the greatest ever written. It’s part of the United States National Film Registry and is named to AFI’s top 10 Westerns of all time.

  • On this day in history

        Chennai
                     Express

    screenplay by

    • Yunus Sajawal
    • Robin Bhatt

    Chennai Express -

    Screenwriters Yunus Sajawal and Robin Bhatt made history with their Hindi-language Bollywood film “Chennai Express” when it debuted on this day in 2013. The action-comedy broke box-office records to become the highest-grossing Bollywood film at that time – both in India and in foreign markets, including the UK, Pakistan, and United Arab Emirates, and it remains one of the top 20 highest-grossing films from India today. Sajawal has written several Bollywood blockbusters, and Bhatt has more than 60 film writing credits to his name.

  • On this day in history

    Robert
      Shaw

    • Born on this day

    Robert Shaw -

    Actor and novelist Robert Shaw was born on this day in history in 1927. He is probably most famous for his roles in the James Bond film, "From Russia With Love," and as Quint in "Jaws," but he appeared in dozens of films over his career until he passed away at just 51 years old in 1978. Shaw wrote novels and plays during his life as well and wrote the adapted screenplay for the 1970 action-thriller "Figures in a Landscape." His 1960 novel "The Hiding Place" was turned into the oddball comedy film "Situation Hopeless … But Not Serious."  

  • On this day in history

    Sunset
        Boulevard

    screenplay by

    • Charles Brackett
    • Billy Wilder
    • D.M. Marshman Jr.

    Sunset Boulevard -

    On this day in history in 1950, a screenwriter became the center of the storyline in “Sunset Boulevard,” written by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and D.M. Marshman Jr. The story, about a struggling screenwriter and an aging actress attempting a comeback, won an Oscar for Best Screenplay in 1951. It’s currently being remade by Paramount, with Glenn Close set to star as Norma, a role she previously played for the Broadway adaptation.

  • On this day in history

    American
    Graffiti

    screenplay by

    • George Lucas
    • Gloria Katz
    • Willard Huyck

    American Graffiti -

    Did you know that it was Francis Ford Coppola who urged George Lucas to write the screenplay for “American Graffiti”? While the two were working on “THX 1138,” Coppola challenged Lucas to write something that would appeal to mainstream audiences. Lucas thought back to his teenage years and decided to document the cruising culture in 60’s Modesto, California. The main characters in the films represent Lucas at various stages of his life. Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck added to the semibiographical elements in the script after Lucas hired them to help write the film treatment. The film was initially titled “Another Quiet Night in Modesto.” “American Graffiti” is one of the most profitable movies ever made, having been produced on a $777,000 budget.

  • On this day in history

    Mario Moreno
        “Cantinflas”

    • Born on this day

    Mario Moreno “Cantinflas” -

    Considered one of the most successful Mexican comedians to have ever lived, Cantinflas (real name: Mario Moreno) was born on this day in 1911. The writer, actor, and producer became known for his word games, and Charlie Chaplin called him the best comedian alive. He starred in “Around the World in 80 Days,” for which he won an Academy Award. His puns and double entendre even inspired the word “cantinflear,” which means to speak in circles and puns to confuse someone.

  • On this day in history

       Alfred
           Hitchcock

    • Born on this day

    Alfred Hitchcock -

    “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.” Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, was born on this day in history in 1899. His wife, Alma Reville, was born the day after and became a respected screenwriter herself. The pair collaborated on many of Hitchcock’s most famous films, including “Shadow of a Doubt” and “Suspicion.”  While Hitchcock often worked with other screenwriters on his movies, he closely monitored them and worked with them on the stories. He found the most joy in developing scripts and visuals and famously said, “Once the screenplay is finished, I’d just as soon not make the film at all. … When you finish the script, the film is perfect. But in shooting it, you lose perhaps 40 percent of your original conception.”  

  • On this day in history

    Bonnie
    and Clyde

    screenplay by

    • David Newman
    • Robert Benton

    Bonnie and Clyde -

    On this day in 1967, audiences watched as a waitress fell in love with an ex-con and started a crime spree that would live on in infamy. “Bonnie and Clyde,” written by David Newman and Robert Benton, was based on the true story and inspired later filmmakers to be more daring in their depictions of sex and violence. It’s now part of the 100 films in the U.S. National Film Registry.

  • On this day in history

    Lina Wertmüller

    • Born on this day

    Lina Wertmüller -

    Lina Wertmüller was born on this day in 1928, cementing herself as a respected Italian screenwriter and director. She is the first woman to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director and only the second female director ever to be honored with an Academy Honorary Award. Wertmüller was heavily influenced by the renowned Italian auteur Federico Fellini, with whom she considered a mentor. Her work often depicts Italian working-class people and the economic and political repercussions they face, as well as the battle of the sexes. Her most famous films include "Swept Away" and "Seven Beauties."

  • On this day in history

        Ben
           Affleck

    • Born on this day

    Ben Affleck -

    HDB, Ben Affleck! Though the actor and filmmaker started his career much earlier, he really broke into Hollywood after co-writing and starring in “Good Will Hunting” with his longtime friend Matt Damon. The film won a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Later, the pair established Pearl Street Films production company, with credits on films including “Manchester by the Sea,” and “Jason Bourne.” Although he’s had some real drama of his own in his personal life, Affleck continues to have a successful career, having appeared in more than 50 films so far. 

  • On this day in history

    Norman
       Wexler

    • Born on this day

    Norman Wexler -

    Screenwriter and playwright Norman Wexler was born on this day in history in 1926. His most famous film is "Saturday Night Fever," a story he adapted from a New York Magazine article about the disco lifestyle. This article later turned out to be fabricated. He also wrote the popular films "Joe" and "Serpico," earning Oscar nominations for both. Wexler struggled in his personal life, though, suffering from bipolar disorder, and even getting arrested at one point in the 70s for threatening to shoot then-President Richard Nixon.

  • On this day in history

         James
            Cameron

    • Born on this day

    James Cameron -

    HBD, James Cameron! James Cameron is one of the most prolific auteurs in Hollywood, but early success did not come easy for him.  He started in community college in the early 70s to study physics but dropped out a year later. He wanted to write, so he picked up odd jobs being a truck driver and janitor so he could have free time to focus on screenwriting. After seeing “Star Wars” a few years later, Cameron was inspired to go all-in. He directed his first film in 1978, and went on to write and direct some of the world’s most successful movies ever, including “Avatar,” “Titanic,” and “The Terminator.” 

  • On this day in history

    Monty Python’s
              Life of Brian

    screenplay by

    • Graham Chapman, John Cleese
    • Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle
    • Terry Jones, Michael Palin

    Monty Python’s Life of Brian -

    Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” debuted on this day in history in 1979 to both fanfare and protests. The story followed a Jewish boy born on the same day, and next to his neighbor, Jesus Christ, and the confusion that ensues. The comedy was a big box office success, but some religious groups protested the story as blasphemous. Still, it’s considered one of the best comedy films of all time to this day for hitting just the right notes of the hilarity Monty Python was known for, and irreverent satire. The final line in the movie, “I said to him, ‘Bernie, they’ll never make their money back on this one,’” was a jab at the film’s original backers, who pulled financing one day before production began. Former Beatle George Harrison stepped in to fund it instead, saying it was a movie that he’d like to see.

  • On this day in history

    Anita
      Loos

    • Born on this day

    Anita Loos -

    One of the earliest known female staffed scriptwriters in Hollywood, Anita Loos was born on this day in 1888. She earned $75 per week at the Triangle Film Corporation, plus a bonus for every produced script, getting her first screen credit on an adaptation of Shakespeare's "Macbeth." Though she has dozens of screenwriting credits and playwriting credits to her name over her career, Loos is perhaps best known for her novel, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," which started as a series published in Harper's Bazaar. The story went on to become the wildly successful film of the same name starring Marilyn Monroe.

  • On this day in history

                Ring
                 Lardner Jr.

    • Born on this day

    Ring Lardner Jr. -

    Ring Lardner, Jr. was born on this day in 1915. At one point, he was one of the highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood, earning $2,000 per week (approximately $23,000 today) while working for 20th Century Fox in the late 40s. But his fall from success was swift when he was blacklisted from Hollywood for holding communist views, along with the infamous Hollywood Ten. He continued to write though under different pen names and with fellow blacklisted filmmakers, penning “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” “The Adventures of Sir Lancelot,” and other TV shows. Later, he’d be taken off the blacklist for getting public screenwriting credit on “The Cincinnati Kid.” He won two Best Screenplay Academy Awards during his lifetime for “M*A*S*H” and “Woman of the Year.”  

  • On this day in history

    The Haunting

    screenplay by

    • Nelson Gidding

    The Haunting -

    Screenwriter Nelson Gidding's "The Haunting" left audiences absolutely terrified when it premiered on this day in 1963. Gidding based the horror film on Shirley Jackson's novel "The Haunting of Hill House," which follows a group of people who a paranormal expert invites to investigate a supposedly haunted house. Gidding changed several parts of the story, with the inclusion of mental breakdowns, the exclusion of much ghost activity occurring on screen, and making most of the action occur within the house, so the audience had a greater feeling of confinement. The terrifying nature of the movie may have worked against it at the box office, where the film was only a so-so success. Critics said the screenplay had significant plot holes, but the movie has more recently come into favor. Director Steven Spielberg said it's the "scariest film ever made." The 1999 remake was heavily criticized.

  • On this day in history

    Bambi

    screenplay by

    • Felix Salten, Perce Pearce, Larry Morey
    • Vernon Stallings, Mel Shaw, Carl Fallberg
    • Chuck Couch, Ralph Wright

    Bambi -

    “Bambi,” Disney’s fifth animated feature, premiered on this day in history in 1942. It was adapted from the book “Bambi, a Life in the Woods,” written by Felix Salten. Perce Pearce, Larry Morey, Vernon Stallings, Mel Shaw, Carl Fallberg, Chuck Couch, and Ralph Wright all helped write the final screenplay, which some of the writers recall going off on tangents many times. From an ant civilization destroyed by Bambi, to talking autumn leaves and a family of grasshoppers, there were so many elements eventually cut from the film to get the classic that we know and love today.

  • On this day in history

    Rashomon

    screenplay by

    • Akira Kurosawa
    • Shinodu Hashimoto

    Rashomon -

    On this day in history in 1951, audiences watched as four different people recounted different versions of a man’s murder and the rape of his wife in “Rashomon.” Written by Akira Kurosawa and Shinodu Hashimoto, the film brought Japanese cinema into the international spotlight and inspired the term “Rashomon Effect,” used to describe the often fickle and unreliable accounts of eyewitnesses.

  • On this day in history

            The Big
               Sleep

    screenplay by

    • William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett
    • Jules Furthman, Raymond Chandler

    The Big Sleep -

    The version of “The Big Sleep” that debuted on this day in history in 1946 was actually version two, but audiences wouldn’t see the first version until 1997 when it was discovered in the UCLA Film and Television Archive. William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, and Jules Furthman wrote the screenplay based on Raymond Chandler’s novel by the same name. After finishing the film, which went unreleased, it was re-scripted and re-shot to take advantage of the chemistry between Humphry Bogart and Lauren Bacall, a couple whom audiences had grown to love. But the already confusing script was now made even more confusing by the scenes that were cut to re-work version two, and to this day, the screenplay is known for its complicated and convoluted plot.

  • On this day in history

    Pather
         Panchali

    screenplay by

    • Satyajit Ray

    Pather Panchali -

    On this day in history in 1955, “Pather Panchali” debuted to Indian audiences and became one of the first Indian films to receive widespread international acclaim. Satyajit Ray wrote and directed the movie, which is set in a rural, impoverished Indian village and centers around a young boy named Apu and the women in his family who shaped his growth while his father left home to seek a better life. It was nominated for best film at the 1958 BAFTAs and won “Best Human Document” at 1956 Cannes. The film is part of the Apu Trilogy, with “Aparajito” and “The World of Apu” coming later.

  • On this day in history

    The Wizard 
      of Oz 

    screenplay by

    • Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson
    • Edgar Allan Woolf

    The Wizard of Oz -

    On this day in 1939, we learned from Dorothy that there’s no place like home. “Wizard of Oz,” was adapted for the screen by Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf. Library of Congress says it is the most-seen film in movie history.

  • On this day in history

    Tim
         Burton

    • Born on this day

    Tim Burton -

    HBD, Tim Burton! Tim Burton’s films are almost always instantly recognizable. His gothic and fantastical style is consistent across movies such as “Beetlejuice,” “Edward Scissorhands,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” and “Corpse Bride,” and he often works with the same actors (Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter) and composer (Danny Elfman). As a child, Burton was introverted but found happiness in writing, painting, and making stop-motion animation films – he made his first film at the age of 13. He was heavily influenced by Dr. Seuss and Roald Dahl, which you can see in his work today. And, in addition to films, his artwork has been featured at museums around the world, including most recently at an October 2019 exhibition at the Neon Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

  • On this day in history

     Way Down
          East

    screenplay by

    • Joseph R. Grismer
    • Anthony Paul Kelly
    • D.W. Griffith, William A. Brady

    Way Down East -

    "Way Down East," a silent romantic drama, premiered on this day in 1920. It was the third time Lottie Blair Parker's 19th century stage play had been adapted for the screen, but not the last. D.W. Griffith wrote and directed the film, with writing help from Anthony Paul Kelly and the adaptation by Joseph R. Grismer. The movie is best known for its ice-floe sequence, where the lead character Anna is shown floating down a river on an ice sheet toward a waterfall before being rescued. The scene was shot in Vermont, where crews had to dynamite the ice to get the ice sheets Griffith desired. Lillian Gish, who played Anna, suffered permanent damage to her hand from the cold water, and D.W. Griffith was frostbitten on his face. It was one of Griffith's most successful films at the box office and the second most expensive silent film ever produced.

  • On this day in history

         Roman
           Holiday

    screenplay by

    • Ian McClellan Hunter
    • John Dighton
    • Dalton Trumbo

    Roman Holiday -

    Though he’s given credit, Ian McClellan Hunter didn’t actually write “Roman Holiday,” which debuted on this day in history in 1953. And, though he’s given credit now, Dalton Trumbo was never recognized as the official screenwriter on the film until 2011. John Dighton and Dalton Trumbo actually wrote the script, but Trumbo had been blacklisted from Hollywood for being named as a communist, so Hunter stepped in to cover him and agreed to send Trumbo his fee. Nine years ago, Trumbo and Hunter’s sons fought to have the record corrected through The Writers Guild of America and won, 58 years after the film premiered. 

  • On this day in history

    Mary Poppins

    screenplay by

    • Bill Walsh
    • Don DaGradi

    Mary Poppins -

    "Mary Poppins" floated into Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles on this day in history in 1964, but Walt Disney's first live-action feature didn't have an easy road. The musical was based on P.L. Travers' book series by the same name, and Bill Walsh and Don DaGradi wrote the screenplay. It took 20 years for Disney to convince Travers to sell him the film rights to her series, but Disney had promised his daughters that he would make a film based on their beloved books. Travers finally agreed, demanding script approval rights. Disney and Travers' contentious relationship throughout the production was dramatized in the 2013 Disney film, "Saving Mr. Banks."

    Read the screenplay transcript for "Mary Poppins.”

  • On this day in history

      12 Years
         a Slave

    screenplay by

    • John Ridley

    12 Years a Slave -

    “12 Years a Slave,” written by screenwriter John Ridley based on the memoir by Solomon Northup, is a true story about a free African American man who is abducted and sold into slavery in the 1840s. The biographical drama premiered on this day in history in 2013, and received nine Oscar nominations and won three, including the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Following the win, rumors swirled that Ridley and director Steve McQueen had been fighting over credit on the script, with McQueen asking for shared credit, and Ridley declining. Later, Ridley said the Writers Guild of America’s rules were solely responsible for the credit given to him alone.

  • On this day in history

    Michael Jackson:
              BAD

    written by

    • Richard Price

    Michael Jackson: BAD -

    Considered one of the greatest music videos of all time, “Bad,” performed by Michael Jackson, is more of a short film featuring some of Hollywood’s most celebrated filmmakers. It debuted on this day in history in 1987. Screenwriter and novelist Richard Price (“The Night Of,” “The Wire”) wrote the screenplay for the 18-minute video, and Martin Scorsese directed it. Wesley Snipes appeared in the video, too. The story of the song and the video was inspired by a true story that Jackson came upon, which described a poor teen who tried to overcome poverty by going to private school but ends up being killed when he goes back home. The video also had “West Side Story” influences.

  • On this day in history

    The Battle
      of Algiers

    screenplay by

    • Franco Solinas
    • Gillo Pontecorvo

    The Battle of Algiers -

    The historical war drama "The Battle of Algiers" premiered on this day in history in 1966 and documented the Algerian fight for independence from the French government in the 1950s. Franco Solinas and Gillo Pontecorvo wrote the screenplay, inspired by Saadi Yacef's accounts as a French prisoner during the Algerian War. Yacef also starred in the film, which mainly consisted of amateur actors who had survived the actual Battle of Algiers. The film was shot in a style reminiscent of a newsreel to lend to its historical nature, and experts say it's an excellent representation of urban guerrilla warfare. The film was banned in France for five years after its release due to the political nature of the commentary.

    Read the screenplay transcript for “The Battle of Algiers.”

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