Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

This Month in Filmmaking History - September 2021 Roundup

  • On this day in history

    Toronto Film

    • founded 45 years ago

    Toronto Film Festival -

    The very first Toronto International Film Festival, or TIFF as it’s often abbreviated, happened on this day in history in 1976. Nearly half a million people attend the event every year. The event has morphed into a permanent aspect in Toronto as well, occupying a space in the downtown area that offers year-round screenings, workshops, and industry support. TIFF drew 35,000 people and 127 films from 30 different countries in its first year, but Hollywood did not show up. American filmmakers felt that the Canadian audience would have too conservative a view to appreciate its projects. The event is now one of the largest and most respected film festivals in the world.

  • On this day in history

    The Descendants

    screenplay by

    • Alexander Payne
    • Nat Faxon
    • Jim Rash

    The Descendants -

    Screenwriter and Director Alexander Payne debuted his comedy-drama film “The Descendants” on this day in history in 2011 at the Toronto International Film Festival. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash also worked on the Oscar-winning adapted script, based on a 2007 novel written by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Many critics called the film the “best of 2011,” citing the performances, writing, and editing. The story follows the misadventures of a landowner in Hawaii who is faced with a decision to sell the land while dealing with his two daughters and comatose wife.

    Read the shooting draft screenplay for “The Descendants.”

  • On this day in history


    screenplay by

    • Steve McQueen
    • Abi Morgan

    Shame -

    Steve McQueen and Abi Morgan wrote the screenplay for “Shame,” which premiered on this day in history at the Venice Film Festival. The story follows a sex addict whose private life starts to deteriorate when his sister comes to town. The Motion Picture Association gave the film an NC-17 rating, meaning no one under the age of 17 would be allowed to see it due to its explicit nature. Still, critics felt the film truthfully depicted addiction, calling it “the most wholesome film made about unwholesomeness.” While the studio could have made cuts to the movie and appealed for a less restrictive R-rating, Fox Searchlight said NC-17 was a badge of honor, and it was about time it became more “usable in a serious manner.”

    Read the screenplay for “Shame.”

  • On this day in history

    Tinker Tailor
    Soldier Spy

    screenplay by

    • Bridget O’Connor
    • Peter Straughan

    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy -

    The Cold War spy thriller “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” debuted on this day in history in 2011, written by Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan based on a John le Carré novel. The story centers on the hunt for a double agent embedded in the British Secret Service. The movie earned an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay and won the BAFTA Award for Best British Film. British screenwriter and playwright Peter Morgan (“The Queen,” “Frost/Nixon”) wrote the initial script but dropped out of the project once it went to production. O’Connor and Straughan redrafted the screenplay, and critics praised it for condensing a complex story into a suspenseful espionage thriller. O’Connor passed away during production, so the final film was dedicated to her.

    Read the screenplay for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” 

  • On this day in history

    The Baker’s

    written by

    • Jean Giono

    The Baker’s Wife -

    The French film “The Baker’s Wife” premiered on this day in history in 1938, directed by Marcel Pagnol and based on the novel “Blue Boy” by Jean Giono. The black and white comedy-drama follows a French baker whose younger wife leaves him just as he starts his bakery business. Unable to bake due to the grief, the town sets off to find his wife so the baker can make bread again. Orson Welles called it the “perfect movie,” and the National Board of Review and New York Film Critics Circle Awards agreed, giving Pagnol the honors for Best Foreign Language Film in 1940.

  • On this day in history


    screenplay by

    • Bernard Rose

    Candyman -

    Bernard Rose wrote and directed the supernatural horror film “Candyman,” which premiered on this day in 1992. He based the story of the ghostly Candyman on a short story by Clive Barker called “The Forbidden.” It centers on a grad student who is studying urban legends and accidentally awakens the fabled monster. Critics call the film a classic horror that “benefits from an interesting premise.” Where Barker’s short story featured themes of the British class system, Rose revised the story to focus on racism and social class in inner-city Chicago. There were two sequels made, with a third by director Jordan Peele in the works.

    Read the screenplay for “Candyman.”

  • On this day in history

    The Docks
    of New York

    screenplay by

    • Jules Furthman

    The Docks of New York -

    The silent drama “The Docks of New York” premiered on this day in history in 1928, chronicling the story of a blue-collar worker whose life changes after stopping a woman from committing suicide on the New York waterfront. Jules Furthman adapted the screenplay from John Monk Saunder’s “The Dock Walloper.” Furthman worked with “Docks” director Josef von Sternberg on later films as well, including “Morocco” and “Blonde Venus,” but “The Docks of New York” was one of the last films of the silent era. The film is still praised for its emotional but straightforward filmmaking style.

    Read the transcript for “The Docks of New York.”

  • On this day in history


    screenplay by

    • Richard Maibaum
    • Paul Dehn

    Goldfinger -

    “Goldfinger,” the first James Bond blockbuster, premiered on this day in history in 1964. In it, Bond investigates a gold smuggler and uncovers a plot to contaminate the gold supply at Fort Knox. Though not the first in the series, this film paved the way for later Bond movies that featured many gadgets, the longer pre-credit sequence,  exotic filming locations, and sarcastic humor. Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn wrote the screenplay based on Ian Fleming’s novel. Maibaum co-wrote the previous two films and is credited with fixing the plot hole in the “Goldfinger” novel in his adapted screenplay. But the producer wasn’t happy with Maibaum’s version and brought Dehn in to write another draft, which the director reportedly felt was more British. Actor Sean Connery (James Bond) didn’t like that draft either, so Maibaum came back to revise it yet again. Based on its box-office success, the final version of the script eventually became the blueprint for Bond films that would follow.

    Read the transcript screenplay for “Goldfinger.”

  • On this day in history


    screenplay by

    • Alvin Sargent

    Ordinary People -

    Screenwriter Alvin Sargent penned the Oscar-winning adapted screenplay for “Ordinary People,” which premiered on this day in history in 1980. The story is based on a Judith Guest novel about a wealthy family that falls apart after the accidental death of one of the sons. The movie marked Robert Redford’s directorial debut, and a successful one at that: He won Best Picture and Best Director at the Academy Awards. The script was praised for its character development and arcs. The National Board of Review named it one of the top 10 films of the year.

    Read the second draft screenplay for “Ordinary People.”

  • On this day in history


    screenplay by

    • Sidney Howard
    • Robert Wyler

    Dodsworth -

    The 1936 romantic drama “Dodsworth” debuted on this day in history, recounting one retired couple’s European vacation and the things they discover about each other on the journey. Sidney Howard based the screenplay on the stage adaptation of the Sinclair Lewis novel. Robert Wyler also helped with the screenplay but is uncredited on the film. Critics today laud the film for its honest portrayal of a struggling relationship that probably made viewers uncomfortable at the time since it was taboo to talk about wanting out of a marriage. Howard earned an Oscar nomination for the screenplay.

    Read the transcript for “Dodsworth.”

  • On this day in history

    A Star
         Is Born

    screenplay by

    • Moss Hart

    A Star Is Born -

    Many writers have touched the scripts for the various adaptations of “A Star Is Born,” but Moss Hart wrote the version that premiered on this day in history in 1954. It was a remake of the original 1937 film. The musical drama tells the story of a film star who helps an aspiring singer rise to fame while his own career spirals. The film tugged at audiences’ heartstrings, and critics loved the entertaining musical interludes. Judy Garland stars, and many have called it her best performance. Singer Barbra Streisand would star in the 1976 version and Lady Gaga in the 2018 remake.

    Read the transcript for “A Star is Born.”

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