Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

This Month in Filmmaking History – February 2021 Roundup

  • On this day in history

    House of
      Cards

    created by

    • Beau Willimon

    House of Cards -

    "House of Cards," created by Beau Willimon, debuted all season one episodes on Netflix on this day in history in 2013. Willimon adapted the idea from the 1990 BBC miniseries of the same name, which focused on U.K. politics. Media Rights Capital bought the rights to "House of Cards" and pitched the idea to networks, including Showtime and HBO. Still, Netflix placed the highest bid, having said that the data it had on its viewers made this type of storyline, cast, and crew a perfect fit for its own original programming. Willimon was hired for his ability to capture the essence of Washington, D.C. politics, having been an aide to senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton. He was also the showrunner for the first four seasons. The show was the first original online-only series to be nominated for major Emmy awards, including Outstanding Drama Series and more. The last season was produced without lead actor Kevin Spacey following sexual misconduct allegations.

  • On this day in history

    La Dolce
       Vita

    screenplay by

    • Federico Fellini
    • Ennio Flaiano
    • Tullio Pinelli

    La Dolce Vita -

    "La Dolce Vita," Italian for "the sweet life," premiered on this day in history 61 years ago and is now considered one of the best films ever made. But its writers didn't follow the traditional three-or five-act structure, throwing the conventional wisdom that screenwriters should follow this strict set of rules out the window. Written by Federico Fellini, Ennio Flaiano, and Tullio Pinella, the film follows a paparazzo over seven days in Rome and his affairs with several women. There are seven "episodes" in addition to a prologue and epilogue. Some critics didn't like the structure or the lack thereof, but the movie was a massive box-office success. It claimed the Palm d'Or at Cannes in 1960 and the Oscar for Best Costumes.

  • On this day in history

    The General

    screenplay by

    • Buster Keaton
    • Clyde Bruckman
    • Al Boasberg, Charles Henry Smith

    The General -

    "The General" debuted on this day in history in 1927. The silent comedy film was written by Buster Keaton, who also co-directed and starred, and Clyde Bruckman, Al Boasberg, and Charles Henry Smith. Keaton was inspired by the true story of The Great Locomotive Chase that occurred during the US Civil War, and he was also fascinated with trains. Between the trains, the number of extras, the elaborate sets, and the many accidents that occurred during production, the film's budget ran up to $750,000, which was extreme for that time. Neither critics nor audiences liked the movie back then, going so far as to call it a flop. Nearly a century later, though, viewers have changed their tune, and it is now considered a classic from the end of the silent film era.

  • On this day in history

    The Kid

    screenplay by

    • Charlie Chaplin

    The Kid -

    Charlie Chaplin wrote, produced, directed, and starred in "The Kid," a silent comedy-drama film that debuted on this day in history 100 years ago. It was the second-highest-grossing movie in 1921 and is persevered in the United States National Film Registry. Experts say that it's one of Chaplin's most personal works, and it brilliantly blends comedy and drama as the story of an abandoned child and his adopted dad unfolds. Chaplin's firstborn son died just ten days before production on "The Kid" began. The preface to the film reads, "A picture with a smile – and perhaps, a tear."

  • On this day in history

    Pinocchio

    screenplay by

    • Ted Sears, Otto Englander
    • Webb Smith, William Cottrell
    • Joseph Sabo, Erdman Penner, Aurelius Battaglia

    Pinocchio -

    Ted Sears, Otto Englander, Webb Smith, William Cottrell, Joseph Sabo, Erdman Penner, and Aurelius Battaglia all had a hand in the Disney adaptation of "Pinocchio," based on the Italian children's novel; by Carlo Collodi. The film was the second animated Disney feature, following the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. While it's now considered one of the best animated films ever made due to its groundbreaking and realistic animation effects, the movie initially bombed. World War II had cut off distribution in overseas markets at the time. It finally turned a profit when it was re-released five years later.

  • On this day in history

    Taxi
    Driver

    screenplay by

    • Paul Schrader

    Taxi Driver -

    Screenwriter Paul Schrader wrote the script for "Taxi Driver," which premiered on this day in history in 1976. To this day, experts consider the film to be one of the best ever made for its compelling story and its ability to suspend viewers in a dream-like state. Roger Ebert said in an interview that it was one of the greatest films he had ever seen.  The psychological thriller centers on Travis Bickle, a war veteran who takes a nighttime taxi shift to deal with his insomnia and growing insanity. He plots to kill a presidential candidate and the pimp of a teenage prostitute. Some of the story was based on Schrader's own battle with insomnia while living in New York City and the diaries of Arthur Bremer. He shot presidential candidate George Wallace in the early 70s. Martin Scorsese directed.

  • On this day in history

    Good Bye,
       Lenin!

    screenplay by

    • Bernd Lichtenberg, Wolfgang Becker
    • Achim von Borries, Henk Handloegten
    • Chris Silber

    Good Bye, Lenin! -

    The German tragicomedy "Good Bye, Lenin!" debuted on this day in history in 2003, written by Bernd Lichtenberg and Wolfgang Becker, with collaboration credits for Achim von Borries, Henk Handloegten, and Chris Silber. The film's premise takes place in East Germany, where a son attempts to protect his mother from the shock of the Berlin Wall's fall since she was in a coma when it happened. One of the film's themes was Ostalgie, which is a nostalgia felt by some for the way things were in East Germany before it all changed. The movie won Best Film at the European Film Awards and the German Film Awards and dozens more wins and nominations.

  • On this day in history

    Live and
        Become

    screenplay by

    • Alain-Michel Blanc
    • Radu Mihaileanu

    Live and Become -

    Alain-Michel Blanc and Radu Mihaileanu wrote the screenplay for the French drama "Live and Become," which premiered on this day in history in 2005. The movie, about an Ethiopian Christian boy who pretends to be an Ethiopian Jew to emigrate to Israel, performed very well on the festival circuit, winning the Audience Award for an international film at the Vancouver Film Fest and the runner-up position at the Toronto Film Fest for People's Choice. It also won Best Original Screenplay at the César Awards and the World Audience Award at the Lumières Awards.

  • On this day in history

    Head-On

    screenplay by

    • Fatih Akin

    Head-On -

    Fatih Akin wrote and directed the German-Turkish drama, "Head-On," which premiered on this day in history in 2004. The film gets its name from the beginning of the story, where the lead intentionally drives his car head-on into a wall. A dramatic love story follows, which critics called a provocative portrayal of immigrants who are caught between traditional and modern values. "Head-On" won The Golden Bear for Best Film at the 54th Berlin International Film Festival, as well as Best Film and the Audience Award at the European Film Awards.

  • On this day in history

    Cabaret

    screenplay by

    • Jay Presson Allen

    Cabaret -

    The musical drama "Cabaret" premiered to rave reviews on this day in history in 1972. Jay Presson Allen wrote the screenplay, based loosely on the Broadway musical of the same name. Director Bob Fosse was not a fan of Allen's script, so he hired Hugh Wheeler to revise it and make it more faithful to the original story, just before production began. Wheeler is given credit as a "research consultant" on the film. Ultimately, the film was significantly different from the Broadway play, but still immediately successful. Critics said it didn't follow the cliches of typical musicals. It went on to earn ten Academy Award nominations, winning eight of them.

  • On this day in history

    Paradise
      Now

    screenplay by

    • Hany Abu-Assad
    • Bero Beyer
    • Pierre Hodgson

    Paradise Now -

    The 2005 psychological drama "Paradise Now" premiered on this day in history. It was written and directed by Hany Abu-Assad, and co-written by Bero Beyer and Pierre Hodgson. It was the first Palestinian film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The story is about two friends, who are also suicide bombers, preparing for an attack in Israel. Abu-Assad said he wanted to humanize a very complicated issue and said he might have become a suicide bomber himself had he been raised in Palestinian territories rather than Nazareth. He said he hoped the film would help viewers recognize that Palestinians deserve liberty and equality. The film won the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Golden Globes and Best Screenplay at the European Film Awards.

  • On this day in history

    The Seventh
    Seal

    screenplay by

    • Ingmar Bergman

    The Seventh Seal -

    Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman wrote and directed "The Seventh Seal," a historical fantasy that debuted on this day in history in 1957. The story is based on Bergman's play, "Wood Painting," about a knight who plays a chess game with Death personified. It put Bergman on the map as a respected director and is now considered one of the greats of World Cinema. He reportedly wrote the screenplay while he was hospitalized for stomach issues, but it was rejected. He wrote five more drafts before getting the green light to make the movie on a strict 35-day, $150,000 budget. The Vatican included the film on its list of 45 great films because of its biblical themes.

  • On this day in history

    La Roue

    screenplay by

    • Abel Gance

    La Roue -

    "La Roue," which means "The Wheel" in French, premiered on this day in history in 1923. The silent film was written, directed, and produced by Abel Gance, a filmmaking pioneer who was best known for his use of montages. "La Roue" was no different, utilizing groundbreaking lighting effects and rapid scene changes. The story follows a railroad engineer and his son, both who fall in love with the engineer's adopted daughter, and the disasters that ensue. The original film is somewhere between seven and nine hours long, though many versions were made to cut down the film's length. The seven-hour version was restored in 2019 and played at the Lumière Film Festival.

  • On this day in history

    The Crowd

    screenplay by

    • King Vidor
    • John V.A. Weaver

    The Crowd -

    "The Crowd" premiered on this day in 1928. It was nominated for several awards at the first Academy Awards in 1929 and was also one of the first films to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry. King Vidor wrote and directed the silent feature, with co-writing help from John V.A. Weaver, about the hopes and dreams of an ordinary couple trying to make a life in New York City. Studio execs felt the subject matter was too bleak and forced Vidor to come up with multiple different endings. Theaters could then choose which version they wanted to show, but Vidor said they rarely chose to show the happy ending.

  • On this day in history

    Things to
      Come

    screenplay by

    • H. G. Wells

    Things to Come -

    H. H. Wells wrote the screenplay for "Things to Come," which premiered on this day in 1936. The black and white science-fiction film takes place in the future, following a second world war, from 1940 to 2036, although Wells' screenplay ended in the year A.D. 2054. His script was based on several of his previous works about social and political "possibilities." There were several versions of the film with varying lengths, but the original film treatment and script were published as a book afterward so audiences could read the untruncated version.

  • On this day in history

    It Happened
        One Night

    screenplay by

    • Robert Riskin

    It Happened One Night -

    Robert Riskin wrote the screenplay for the romantic comedy "It Happened One Night," which premiered on this day in 1934. The story follows an heiress who attempts to run away from her family with the help of a man who turns out to be a newspaper reporter searching for a story. The movie is one of the last romantic comedies made before the Hays Code was implemented, which heavily censored stories that the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America deemed unacceptable and morally questionable. It is one of only three films to win all five major Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay, and it was the first to do so.

  • On this day in history

    42nd
       Street

    screenplay by

    • Rian James
    • James Seymour

    42nd Street -

    The backstage musical "42nd Street" premiered on this day in 1933, written by Rian James and James Seymour, with music and lyrics by Harry Warren and Al Dubin, respectively. The American Film Institute lists it among the top musicals ever made. The movie is called a backstage musical because it features the behind-the-scenes drama of a stage show, with occasional breaks for musical numbers. "42nd Street" followed the story of an actress who suffers an injury and is replaced by a younger unknown actress who steals the show. Though it didn't win, the movie was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

  • On this day in history

           The Lady
       Eve

    screenplay by

    • Preston Sturges

    The Lady Eve -

    The screwball comedy "The Lady Eve," written and directed by Preston Sturges, debuted on this day in history in 1941. It's based on a 19-page story by Monckton Hoffe about an odd couple who meet on an ocean liner. Sturges had disagreements about the script with the film's producer at first, who told Sturges that the first two-thirds of the screenplay would need to be rewritten entirely. But Sturges stood his ground, and the producer relented. Later, the Hays Office censors would make Sturges rewrite parts of the script because of the apparent love affair between the two leads that the office considered to be lacking in moral values.

  • On this day in history

    The Cabinet
       of Dr. Caligari

    screenplay by

    • Carl Mayer
    • Hans Janowitz

    The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari -

    Screenwriters Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz's real-life experiences inspired the German silent horror film "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," which premiered on this day in 1920. The story centers on a hypnotist who uses a sleepwalker to commit murders. Still, some experts say the story is symbolic of the German war government and its ability to condition soldiers to kill. Both writers were distrusting of authority following World War I. They wrote the script in just six weeks, although neither had film industry experience. The movie's backgrounds feature sharp yet twisted forms, and the film is considered a perfect example of German Expressionist cinema. Historians say the movie is the first true horror film, and it had a significant influence on the horror and film noir genres after it.

You may also be interested in...

On this day in history

Ernest
    Tidyman

  • Born 93 years ago

This Month in Filmmaking History – January 2021 Roundup

For someone who never made it past seventh grade, author and screenwriter Ernest Tidyman proved that you could be successful with enough practice, even without a formal education. Tidyman was born on this day in 1928, and after dropping out of junior high, he started working as a copyboy at just 14 years old. He'd later work as a crime reporter before writing his most well-known story, "Shaft." The novels-turned-screenplay followed an African-American detective, "a black hero who thinks of himself as a human being, but who uses his black rage as one of his resources, along with intelligence ...

On this day in history

The Lord of the Rings:
The Return of the King

screenplay by

  • Fran Walsh
  • Philippa Boyens
  • Peter Jackson

This Month in Movie History – December Roundup

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, December 1, 2003 - Like the two films in the trilogy before it, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” was written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson. It is the first fantasy adventure film to ever win an Oscar for Best Picture, and it maintains a record-breaking number of Oscar wins, including Best Screenplay plus nine other categories. The film won every category for which it was nominated at the 2004 Oscars. It’s considered a landmark in fantasy filmmaking. Scarface, December 1, 1983 - Oliver Stone wrote the adapted version of ...

On this day in history

Titanic

screenplay by

  • James Cameron

This Month in Movie History – November Roundup

Titanic, November 1, 1997 - “Titanic” is a movie of epics: epic story, epic costs, and epic profits. It debuted on this day in history in Tokyo and went on to gross more than $2 billion worldwide. At the time, it was the most expensive film ever made, and the first film to ever reach the billion-dollar mark, though studio execs initially thought it wouldn’t turn a profit. Writer and director James Cameron always had a fascination with shipwrecks and wanted to dive down to the Titanic to see it for himself. So, with some funding from Hollywood and a story pitch, he did just that and convinced 20th Century Fox ...

Comments