Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

This Month in Filmmaking History – March 2021 Roundup

  • On this day in history

    The Sound
     of Music

    screenplay by

    • Ernest Lehman

    The Sound of Music -

    "The Sound of Music" spun into theaters and hearts on this day in history in 1965. Ernest Lehman wrote the screenplay based on the stage play based on Maria von Trapp's late 40s memoir, "The Story of the Trapp Family Singers." The musical drama was a massive hit with audiences, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1965 and breaking box office records in 29 countries. Audiences fell in love with the music and the story of the young woman who becomes a governess for a widower's seven children, falling in love with the widower in the process. The movie won Best Picture at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes, and a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Written American Musical.  

  • On this day in history

    Lola

    screenplay by

    • Jacques Demy

    Lola -

    The French New Wave film "Lola" was released on this day in history in 1961. Jacques Demy wrote and directed the romantic drama about a man who falls in love again with his ex-girlfriend, who is now a cabaret performer with a son. Critics had mixed reviews of the movie, saying that it didn't have the "intellectual rigor" of other French New Wave films and others saying it was the most "neglected major work" of that era. French New Wave films were known for experimenting with visual style, editing, and social and political narratives.  

  • On this day in history

    City
       Lights

    screenplay by

    • Charlie Chaplin

    City Lights -

    Charlie Chaplin's "City Lights" premiered in the US on this day in history in 1931. The film was silent despite "talkies" rising in popularity at the time. Chaplin's clumsy Tramp character led the film, falling in love with a blind woman and becoming friends with an alcoholic millionaire. It was the first movie for which Chaplin also composed a musical score, and film historians say that it was an "act of defiance" to make a movie with no dialogue at that time. He wasn't convinced that sound films would last, saying in an interview that he would "give talkies three years, that's all."

  • On this day in history

    Volver

    screenplay by

    • Pedro Almodóvar

    Volver -

    Pedro Almodóvar wrote and directed the comedy-drama "Volver," which he first showed on this day in history in 2006. Almodóvar was inspired by a story he heard from an actress in his film "The Flower of My Secret," as well as childhood memories. The film is a personal one for him, having been shot in his birthplace of La Mancha, Spain. It follows the story of a mother who returns from the dead to tie up loose ends with her family and has heavy themes of death, betrayal, and abandonment – from a woman's point of view. Almodóvar earned several awards for the film, including Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival.

  • On this day in history

    Monsters

    screenplay by

    • Gareth Edwards

    Monsters -

    Aliens became residents on this day in history in 2010 when Gareth Edwards' "Monsters" premiered at the SXSW Film Festival. Aliens invade earth, and six years later, a journalist and tourist traverse an infected zone in Mexico to get back to America. Edwards said he got the idea for the story while watching fishermen struggle to reel in a giant fish and imagining a terrible creature was inside the net instead.  He said he wanted the movie to take place post-monster, where people aren't running and screaming anymore but have learned to live with the aliens. He worked off a treatment rather than a full screenplay and allowed many of the extras to improvise their dialogue. He used a production crew of just six people and made the movie for under $500,000. After seeing the film at SXSW, a distributor acquired the rights, and the movie made more than $4 million at the box office.

  • On this day in history

    The Grapes
        of Wrath

    screenplay by

    • Nunnally Johnson

    The Grapes of Wrath -

    The film version of "The Grapes of Wrath" premiered on this day in history in 1940. Nunnally Johnson wrote the screenplay based on John Steinbeck's novel of the same name. The drama follows a family from Oklahoma who loses their farm and ends up in California during the Great Depression. While Johnson's screenplay stayed true to the first half of the book, the second half of the film is much different, including the ending. Many critics consider "The Grapes of Wrath" film to be much better than the novel and go so far as to say that it is one of the best American films of all time.

  • On this day in history

    Pink
        Flamingos

    screenplay by

    • John Waters

    Pink Flamingos -

    Nearly 50 years after it premiered on this day in 1972, audiences say "Pink Flamingos" is still shocking in its subject matter. The John Waters comedy film is considered "exploitation comedy," meaning it exploits obscene content to be over the top and extreme in its depiction of explicit and sometimes disgusting visuals. The movie is part of what Waters called his "Trash Trilogy," which includes the film "Female Trouble" and "Desperate Living." It stars the drag queen Divine who is attempting to retain the title of the filthiest person alive. While banned in some countries, the movie became a cult classic, especially in LGBTQ communities, where it's considered an important queer film for leading the way in early gay filmmaking.  

  • On this day in history

    Rio
       Bravo

    screenplay by

    • Jules Furthman
    • Leigh Brackett

    Rio Bravo -

    The Western film "Rio Bravo," written by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, had a limited release starting on this day in history in 1959.  The script was based on a short story by B. H. McCampbell about a sheriff who arrests the brother of a powerful local rancher and must hold off that rancher's gang until the US Marshall arrives. A biography about the film's director, Howard Hawks, would later reveal that his daughter, Barbara McCampbell, wrote the original short story. The movie is known for its long, dialogue-less opening scene, and its stars John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Ricky Nelson. While critics said it was too slow-moving back then, it's since gained a reputation as one of the top 10 Western films ever made.

  • On this day in history

    Three
        Brothers

    screenplay by

    • Tonino Guerra
    • Francesco Rosi

    Three Brothers -

    Tonino Guerra and Francesco Rosi wrote "Three Brothers," an Italian film based on the work of communist writer Andrei Platonov that debuted in Italy on this day in history in 1981. Rosi also directed the film, which examines how three brothers react to their mother's death based on what's happening in their personal lives. The film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards and won the Italian Nastro d'Argento for Best Director.

  • On this day in history

                       The
    Godfather

    screenplay by

    • Mario Puzo
    • Francis Ford Coppola

    The Godfather -

    Upon its premiere on this day in history in 1972, "The Godfather" was the highest-grossing film ever made and launched the successful careers of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola and actor Al Pacino. Coppola co-wrote the screenplay with Mario Puzo, who wrote the original novel of the same name. Paramount bought rights to the novel before it was a best-selling book, hiring Coppola to direct after a few other candidates turned down the job. Puzo wrote a 150-page first draft of the screenplay, while Coppola worked on another version separately. The final draft was 163 pages long but still was missing some scenes when production began. The finished film is one of the most influential gangster films of all time for its portrayal of gangsters as complex human beings, perhaps only surpassed by The Godfather II, a critical success in its own right. It won an Oscar for Best Picture and Best Adapted screenplay and many more awards.

  • On this day in history

    Triumph of
      the Will

    screenplay by

    • Leni Riefenstahl
    • Walter Ruttman
    • Eberhard Taubert

    Triumph of the Will -

    The Nazi propaganda film "Triumph of the Will" premiered to German audiences on this day in history in 1935. To show Germany as a great world power, Adolf Hitler commissioned the feature-length film from director Leni Reifenstahl, who went to great lengths with a 170-person crew to film a rally in Nuremberg which was planned "not only as a spectacular mass meeting but as a spectacular propaganda film." Water Ruttman and Eberhard Taubert co-wrote the film which expectedly did well in Germany but did not attract enthusiastic crowds elsewhere. Later, filmmaker Frank Capra would use footage from "Triumph of the Will" to make a seven-part documentary titled "Why We Fight," to explain to US soldiers why the US was involved in the war.

  • On this day in history

    Tristana

    screenplay by

    • Julio Alejandro
    • Luis Buñuel

    Tristana -

    Spanish-Mexican filmmaker Luis Buñuel wrote and directed the drama film "Tristana," which premiered on this day in history in Madrid in 1970. Julio Alejandro co-wrote, and the story was based on Benito Pérez Galdós' novel of the same name. They submitted their script to Spanish censors in 1963, but the script was rejected because it featured dueling, so Buñuel abandoned the project. Five years later, producers revived the film with financing from Italian and French investors, so Buñuel and Alejandro finished the screenplay. The story followed a girl who is seduced by an older man who was supposed to take care of her after her mother dies. The movie was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film.

  • On this day in history

    Touch
    of Evil

    screenplay by

    • Orson Welles

    Touch of Evil -

    Orson Welles' crime-drama "Touch of Evil" had its first showing on this day in history in 1958. It's considered one of the last examples of classic American film noir (used to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas). Before choosing to make the movie, Welles had asked his producer to find him the worst script in the stack to prove he could make a good movie out of it. He found "Badge of Evil," based loosely on a Whit Masterson novel, rewrote it, and then took it into production. Though it wasn't a hit with everyone at first, modern reviewers say that it's one of Welles' best films and one of the best representations of film noir from the era.

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