Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

This Month in Movie History – December Roundup

  • On this day in history

    The Lord of the Rings:
    The Return of the King

    screenplay by

    • Fran Walsh
    • Philippa Boyens
    • Peter Jackson

    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King -

    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.

  • On this day in history

    Scarface

    screenplay by

    • Oliver Stone

    Scarface -

    Oliver Stone wrote the adapted version of “Scarface” while struggling with his own cocaine addiction. In fact, he moved from the U.S. to Paris to complete the job, fearing that being in the U.S. would not allow him to break his addiction. The film is a remake of a 1932 film by the same name but uses drugs as opposed to alcohol in a more modern immigrant gangster storyline. Initially, Al Pacino wanted to keep the time period of the original movie in the new one as well but realized it would be hard to pull off. “Scarface” is considered a cult classic, and is listed on AFI’s Top 10 Gangster Films.

  • On this day in history

         The Naked Gun:
    From the Files
        of Police Squad!

    screenplay by

    • David Zucker
    • Jim Abrahams
    • Jerry Zucker & Pat Proft

    The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! -

    Regarded as one of the greatest comedy films of all time, “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!” was written by David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker, and Pat Proft, based on the lead character from the T.V. series “Police Squad,” which they were also behind. The movie is known for its fast-paced, slapstick comedy, and its success with both critics and audiences led to two sequels, including “The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear,” and “Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult.”

  • On this day in history

    Adaptation.

    screenplay by

    • Charlie Kaufman

    Adaptation. -

    Charlie Kaufman wrote himself into his screenplay for the film “Adaptation.”, played by Nicolas Cage. While Kaufman was originally meant to adapt the nonfiction book “The Orchid Thief” by Susan Orlean, he struggled with writer’s block so badly that he could think of nothing else than to write about his struggle with adapting the book into a screenplay. The approach worked, and on this day in history, the film premiered to mostly delighted audiences, who called the script epic, original, and rare. The script was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards. The film has a 91 percent “Certified Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • On this day in history

    Tootsie

    screenplay by

    • Larry Gelbart
    • Murray Schisgal
    • Don McGuire

    Tootsie -

    “Tootsie” follows a difficult actor who can’t seem to get a job because of the poor reputation he’s built, so he decides to pretend to be a woman to score a role. The comedy was adapted by Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal from a story by Gelbart and Don McGuire. Barry Levinson and Elaine May also worked on the script, but are uncredited. The film was one of the most popular the year it debuted in 1982, and just before the turn of the century, the Library of Congress added it to the National Film Registry.

  • On this day in history

    The Lord of the Rings:
    The Two Towers

    screenplay by

    • Fran Walsh
    • Philippa Boyens
    • Peter Jackson & Stephen Sinclair

    The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers -

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers,” written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, and Stephen Sinclair, is the second installment in the trilogy, and debuted just one year after the first film, “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Crews shot the principal photography for the entire trilogy concurrently, then conducted pick up shots over the next couple of years. The writers didn’t adapt the film to be exactly like the book, because they felt chronology was important to understand the film. The screenplays are said to have evolved while the film was in production because the actors wanted to explore their characters more deeply.

  • On this day in history

    Million Dollar
        Baby

    screenplay by

    • Paul Haggis
    • F.X. Toole

    Million Dollar Baby -

    Paul Haggis wrote the screenplay for “Million Dollar Baby,” based on short stories by boxing trainer F.X. Toole. The Academy nominated the script for best screenplay, and while it didn’t win the category, the film went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actor. Haggis did win the Discover Screenwriting Award from the American Screenwriters Association, and Best Adapted Screenplay from the Satellite Awards.

  • On this day in history

        Edward
        Scissorhands

    screenplay by

    • Tim Burton

    Edward Scissorhands -

    Caroline Thompson wrote “Edward Scissorhands” as a spec script for Tim Burton while he was still in production on “Beetlejuice.” Burton had the initial idea for the character with hands made of blades while he was a teen growing up in Burbank, California. He drew a picture of the character, saying it depicted a person who felt alone like he did. Burton liked Thompson’s novel-writing style and invited her to write the screenplay. She wrote it as a “love poem” to Burton, and the film went on to win the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, and the Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Film.

  • On this day in history

    The Great
       Train Robbery

    screenplay by

    • Edwin S. Porter

    The Great Train Robbery -

    Largely considered to be the first American action flick, “The Great Train Robbery” debuted this month in history in 1903. It was written, produced, and directed by Edwin S. Porter. The film’s run time is just 12 minutes, but it made history because of the cross-cutting technique used to show two different locations simultaneously. It was also one of the first films to be shot on-location, with dynamic camerawork that was different than what audiences were used to seeing.

  • On this day in history

    Heat

    screenplay by

    • Michael Mann

    Heat -

    “Heat” is a 1995 crime drama that follows a lifelong criminal and the detective trying to track him down. It was written, produced, and directed by Michael Mann, as a remake of a T.V. series he had worked on that was never released. Critics praised the script for its intellectual dialogue and its deep dive into good and evil, criminals versus cops. The film went on to inspire the hugely popular video game, Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto V. This year, Mann completed a prequel novel to “Heat,” which is expected to be released in 2020.

  • On this day in history

    Georges
    Méliès

    • 1861 - 1938

    Georges Méliès -

    Georges Méliès was born 158 years ago today and was known as one of the originators of the science fiction film genre. His films “A Trip to the Moon” and “The Impossible Voyage” both dealt with strange lands and adventure. He loved to use and create special effects and is responsible for making techniques like time lapses, dissolves, and hand-painted film popular.

  • On this day in history

    Apocalypto

    screenplay by

    • Mel Gibson
    • Farhad Safina

    Apocalypto -

    “Apocalypto,” written by Mel Gibson and Farhad Safina, follows the hero’s journey of Jaguar Paw, a young Maya, husband, and father who fights for his life when he’s threatened as a human sacrifice. The film is a unique action-adventure in that its main dialogue is in Mayan, translated for the audience with subtitles. Gibson, who also directed the film, wanted the audience to connect with what was happening in the visuals, not just the dialogue. Gibson and Safina got helped from a consultant who specialized in Maya history to make the film as accurate as possible.

  • On this day in history

    Gangs of
    New York

    screenplay by

    • Jay Cocks
    • Steven Zaillian
    • Kenneth Lonergan

    Gangs of New York -

    Director Martin Scorsese bought the rights to Herbert Asbury’s “Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld” 20 years before the film finally debuted. At the time, Scorsese wasn’t the huge name that he is today and had trouble getting the production to move forward. Jay Cocks, Steven Zaillian, and Kenneth Lonergan were brought on to adapt the book into the screenplay, which became a chart-topper on many best-of lists.

  • On this day in history

    The Wolf Man

    screenplay by

    • Curt Siodmak

    The Wolf Man -

    Perhaps responsible for the way werewolves are depicted in Hollywood today, “The Wolf Man” is a horror film written by Curt Siodmak, that went on to inspire many werewolf films after it. Siodmak wrote an eerie poem into the film that is also used in sequels, where he says the werewolf transformation happens when “the wolfbane blooms in autumn.” The visuals, however, were always tied to the full moon rising, even though it wasn’t the full moon that transformed the man into a werewolf. Experts believe this is where the full moon transformation stemmed from, which is often seen in later werewolf films.

  • On this day in history

    There Will
      Be Blood

    screenplay by

    • Paul Thomas Anderson

    There Will Be Blood -

    “There Will Be Blood” debuted on this day in history in 2007, written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. The story is loosely based on the first 150 pages of the book Oil! by Upton Sinclair, which describes the early 20th-century oil boom in Southern California. Anderson is said to have visited oil museums in Bakersfield to get a real feel for the story while he was writing it. He said he always wrote the lead character with actor Daniel Day-Lewis in mind to play the role. Day-Lewis won Best Actor at the 2008 Academy Awards for his portrayal of Daniel Plainview, and Anderson was nominated for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, plus five more nominations to bring the total count to eight.

  • On this day in history

    The Lord of the Rings:
    The Fellowship of the Ring

    screenplay by

    • Fran Walsh
    • Philippa Boyens
    • Peter Jackson

    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring -

    “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” debuted on this day in history 18 years ago. Adapted from the book trilogy by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, and Peter Jackson, the writing team, significantly condensed the book’s story. It changed certain elements chronologically to make the screenplay flow better. J.R.R. Tolkien’s original book wasn’t meant to be a trilogy but was split into three by the publisher, so the first book in the series ended anti-climactically, which needed to be changed for the film. The movie is considered one of the greatest fantasy films ever made.

  • On this day in history

    Wall Street

    screenplay by

    • Stanley Weiser
    • Oliver Stone

    Wall Street -

    Oliver Stone and Stanley Weiser, “Wall Street” debuted on this day in history in 1987. It’s based on 80’s Wall Street, with the lead character Gordon Gekko based on several people, including Stone himself. Stone originally brought on Weiser to write a script about quiz show scandals, but later suggested Weiser research Wall Street and write a screenplay about that instead. Weiser wrote the first draft, and Stone wrote the second. For historical accuracy, both spent weeks interviewing investors at brokerage houses. Michael Douglas won best actor at the Academy Awards that year for his portrayal as Gekko.

  • On this day in history

    The Godfather:
    Part II

    screenplay by

    • Francis Ford Coppola
    • Mario Puzo

    The Godfather: Part II -

    The first sequel to ever win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, “The Godfather: Part II” was co-written by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo, based in part of Puzo’s novel “The Godfather.” The film also won Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor that year. Some critics say the film is even better than the first. The script is unique in that it is both sequel and prequel, telling the story of the rise of the mob family under their father, and the fall of the family under the son, simultaneously.

  • On this day in history

    Rain Man

    screenplay by

    • Ronald Bass
    • Barry Morrow

    Rain Man -

    “Rain Main,” written by Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow, won Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor at the Academy Awards, and was the highest-grossing film of 1988. The story is about two brothers, one who’s a savant and inherits his dad’s fortune, and the other who didn’t even know the former existed. The film got the green light based solely on the pitch.

  • On this day in history

    A Beautiful
    Mind

    screenplay by

    • Akiva Goldsman
    • Sylvia Nasar

    A Beautiful Mind -

    “A Beautiful Mind” is based on a book by the same name, written by Sylvia Nasar. Akiva Goldsman adapted the story of Economics Nobel Laureate John Nash into the movie we know today. Producer Brian Grazer chose Goldsman to write the script because he showed a strong passion for it. It was his idea to prevent viewers from knowing that they were watching an alternate reality until a certain point in the movie. Goldsman won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the film won Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actress that year, too.

  • On this day in history

    The Aviator

    screenplay by

    • John Logan

    The Aviator -

    “The Aviator,” written by John Logan and directed by Martin Scorsese, follows the true story of aviator and film producer Howard Hughes, including his rise to success and his internal battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Logan received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay for the story, and the film was nominated for ten additional Academy Awards that year. Logan’s agent reportedly wrote a provision into the “The Aviator” contract that guaranteed Logan sole writing credit on the film. This also blocked producers from hiring other writers to revise Logan’s original work.

  • On this day in history

    Philadelphia

    screenplay by

    • Ron Nyswaner

    Philadelphia -

    “Philadelphia” was a huge success at the box office, grossing more than $206 million on a $26 million budget. Ron Nyswaner wrote the screenplay, based loosely on the lives of attorneys Geoffrey Bowers and Clarence B. Cain. Roger Ebert praised the film, giving it three and a half out of four stars and saying the film could be responsible for broadening the understanding of AIDs. Nyswaner is openly gay and an advocate for gay rights, having worked on several projects with topics around homophobia and AIDs. “Philadelphia” was nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, but won for Best Actor and Best Original Song.

  • On this day in history

    Glory

    screenplay by

    • Kevin Jarre

    Glory -

    “Glory,” written by Kevin Jarre and directed by Edward Zwick, is a Civil War movie based on the true story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. The film follows the second African American regiment in the war and their heroism in the Second Battle of Fort Wagner. Jarre visited the monument to the unit and was inspired to write the film. He based it off of two different historical books, as well as the personal letters of the regiment’s commanding officer, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. The film is said to be the first major movie to focus on the Civil War story of black U.S. soldiers fighting for their freedom.

  • On this day in history

    Young
            Frankenstein

    screenplay by

    • Gene Wilder
    • Mel Brooks

    Young Frankenstein -

    Written by Gene Wilder and Mel Brooks, “Young Frankenstein” is a comedic take on the horror story “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley. It’s been named to several best of comedy lists and was even chosen for preservation in the Library of Congress National Film Registry. Wilder came up with the idea for a story about Victor Frankenstein’s grandson, and what would happen if he inherited his grandfather’s research and lab but wanted nothing to do with it. He and Brooks finished the screenplay together at his Bel Air Hotel bungalow.

  • On this day in history

    Avatar

    screenplay by

    • James Cameron

    Avatar -

    James Cameron’s “Avatar” was revolutionary for many reasons, including the scope of special effects, the Na’vi language, and the box office success. Cameron broke his box office record for “Titanic” by bringing in more than $2.7 billion worldwide. Cameron had the initial idea for “Avatar” in the late 90s but held off making the film until the special effects technology was more advanced. He worked with a linguist at USC to develop more than 1,000 words for the Na’vi to use in his script. In 2021, Cameron is set to release Avatar 2, followed by Avatar 3 in 2023.

  • On this day in history

    James
        Mangold

    • Happy Birthday!

    James Mangold -

    Happy birthday, James Mangold! We have Mangold to thank for his scripts for films, including “Cop Land,” “Girl Interrupted,” “Kate & Leopold,” and “Walk the Line.” He also directed those films and more, including this year’s “Ford v Ferrari.” Mangold’s writing on the 2017 “Logan” Marvel Comics film was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay that year.

  • On this day in history

    Magnolia

    screenplay by

    • Paul Thomas Anderson

    Magnolia -

    “Magnolia” debuted on this day in history 20 years ago. The film was written, directed, and co-produced by Paul Thomas Anderson. He said he was inspired to write the story as post-production on “Boogie Nights” was concluding. He reportedly had the title of “Magnolia” in his head before he even started writing. New Line Cinema gave him a virtual blank slate to make whatever kind of film he wanted because of “Boogie Nights” huge success. He said Aimee Mann’s music largely inspired him, and he used some of her lyrics in the screenplay.

  • On this day in history

    The Simpsons

    created by

    • James L. Brooks
    • Matt Groening
    • Sam Simon

    The Simpsons -

    “The Simpsons,” created by Matt Groening, Sam Simon, and James L. Brooks, has employed dozens of writers over the years, including celebrities Conan O’Brien, Ricky Gervais, Seth Rogan, and Evan Goldberg. The writers’ room reportedly consists of 16 writers who all pitch ideas once a year, then one writer per episode is tasked with writing the first draft. Later, group rewriting sessions commence. “The Simpsons” is the longest-running American sitcom and scripted television series, with 671 episodes to date. It’s currently in its 31st season.

  • On this day in history

    Barry Lyndon

    screenplay by

    • Stanley Kubrick

    Barry Lyndon -

    The film “Barry Lyndon” was written and directed by Stanley Kubrick, and today is considered one of his crowning achievements. The story is based on William Thackeray’s “The Luck of Barry Lyndon” novel and follows an Irish rogue who marries a rich widow to assume her ex-husband’s elite status. Critics have called the film’s cinematography “groundbreaking” for its settings (modeled after William Hogarth paintings) and use of natural candlelight.

  • On this day in history

    Scream

    screenplay by

    • Kevin Williamson

    Scream -

    Kevin Williamson’s “Scream” is credited with bringing the horror genre back to life in the mid-90s, when other slasher films were going straight to video and not making much money. Williamson wasn’t making much money himself at the time and reportedly holed up in a home in Palm Springs for three days to write the script, hoping he’d be able to sell it to pay his bills quickly. He also wrote an outline for two sequels, thinking it might convince buyers that the story had legs. While Williamson’s agent told him the script was too gory to sell, Miramax thought otherwise and bought it. “Scream” opened in limited theaters in December 1996, and after a re-release in April the following year, it ended up grossing more than $170 million on a $15 million budget.

  • On this day in history

    A Clockwork
         Orange

    screenplay by

    • Stanley Kubrick

    A Clockwork Orange -

    Stanley Kubrick wrote, produced, and directed “A Clockwork Orange,” which he adapted from a novel by the same name written by Anthony Burgess. The American publication of the novel, however, was missing the final chapter, so Burgess felt like film treatment didn’t get the closure it deserved. The film was given an X-rating upon release, so Kubrick replaced certain footage that was considered explicit to bring the rating down. It ended up being a box office success and was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards that year.

  • On this day in history

    Platoon

    screenplay by

    • Oliver Stone

    Platoon -

    Oliver Stone wrote “Platoon” based on his experiences in the Vietnam War. It was the first in a trilogy of Vietnam War films and was the first U.S. film to be written and directed by a Vietnam vet. Stone wrote a screenplay shortly after he returned home from Vietnam, and though it was never made, it laid the groundwork for “Platoon” years later. The film won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound, and Best Film Editing.

  • On this day in history

    It's a Wonderful
       Life

    screenplay by

    • Frances Goodrich
    • Albert Hackett
    • Frank Capra

    It's a Wonderful Life -

    A holiday tradition for many, “It’s a Wonderful Life” debuted on this day in history 73 years ago. Frank Capra, Frances Goodrich, and Albert Hackett wrote the screenplay based on the short story “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. Publishers rejected Van Doren Stern’s original story, so he printed 200 copies himself and sent it around to family and friends. It eventually made it into the hands of Capra, and the rest is history. The film is considered to be one of the 100 best American films ever made.

  • On this day in history

        Once Upon a Time
    in the West

    screenplay by

    • Sergio Donati
    • Sergio Leone

    Once Upon a Time in the West -

    “Once Upon a Time in the West,” by Sergio Donati and Sergio Leone, is an Italian Western film, also known as a Spaghetti Western. Leone also directed the film, and his signature style can be seen throughout, including a slower pace and a more somber theme. The movie didn’t open to rave reviews but became a cult hit in later years. Many auteurs, including Quentin Tarantino and George Lucas, say the film influenced their projects. Later, it was named to Time Magazine’s 100 Greatest Films of All Time list.

  • On this day in history

    Lawrence of
    Arabia

    screenplay by

    • T.E. Lawrence
    • Robert Bolt
    • Michael Wilson

    Lawrence of Arabia -

    “Lawrence of Arabia” is considered an important film in the history of cinema, for its epic story, its performances, and its cinematography. It has a perfect score on Metacritic and has been named to many best-of lists. Michael Wilson first wrote the film, but director David Lean was unhappy with the focus on historical events as opposed to character. Robert Bolt rewrote the screenplay to focus more heavily on the T.E. Lawrence’s character, writing nearly all of the dialogue spoken in the film.

  • On this day in history

    The Graduate

    screenplay by

    • Calder Willingham
    • Buck Henry

    The Graduate -

    Roger Ebert called “The Graduate” the funniest American comedy of the year when it debuted on this day in 1967. Written by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry, the story follows a new college grad who falls for a girl but not before being seduced by the girl’s mother. The movie was a box-office hit, and ranks number 17 on the American Film Institute’s “100 Years … 100 Movies” list. It won Best Director at the Oscars and was nominated for six more categories.

  • On this day in history

    The Thin
       Red Line

    screenplay by

    • Terrence Malick

    The Thin Red Line -

    “The Thin Red Line” brought writer and director Terrence Malick back from a 20-year hiatus in filmmaking. The story is fictional but takes place during the real Battle of Mount Austen during World War II. It’s based on a book by the same name, written by James Jones. It reportedly took Malick five months to write the script, for which producers paid him $250,000.

  • On this day in history

    Dirty Harry

    screenplay by

    • Harry Julian Fink
    • Rita M. Fink
    • Dean Riesner

    Dirty Harry -

    “Dirty Harry,” written by husband and wife team Harry and Rita Fink as well as Dean Reisner (with uncredited work by Terrence Malick and John Milius), stars Clint Eastwood as a ruthless cop who will stop at nothing to take down a murderous psychopath. The film is considered a neo-noir action thriller and is perhaps best known for kicking off a new genre of law enforcement movies. The film has been both criticized and praised for the question it raises: how far is too far for law enforcement to protect safety?

  • On this day in history

    Good Morning
         Vietnam

    screenplay by

    • Mitch Markowitz

    Good Morning Vietnam -

    Named one of America’s 100 funniest movies by the American Film Institute, “Good Morning Vietnam” is a comedic war film written by Mitch Markowitz and starring Robin Williams. Markowitz based his script on the real-life story of Adrian Cronauer, an American Forces Radio Service D.J., though it was never meant to be a completely true story. Williams improvised a lot of his lines during production. Cronauer, who had written the original story treatment, said he was pleased with the resulting film.

  • On this day in history

    Aristocats

    screenplay by

    • Ken Anderson, Frank Thomas
    • Larry Clemmons, Vance Gerry
    • Eric Cleworth, Julius Svendsen, Ralph Wright

    Aristocats -

    “Aristocats” was the last film to get the go-ahead by Walt Disney before he passed away in 1966. Seven people are credited with contributing to the film’s screenplay, and five of the original “Nine Old Men” (the studios’ longest-standing core animators) helped bring the story to life. The script, by Ken Anderson, Frank Thomas, Larry Clemmons, Vance Gerry, Eric Cleworth, Julius Svendsen, and Ralph Wright, was originally meant to be performed as a live-action episode for Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color. Still, after several rewrites, Disney felt the story was better suited for animation and greenlit the project shortly after wrapping up “The Jungle Book.”  

  • On this day in history

         To Kill
    a Mockingbird

    screenplay by

    • Horton Foote

    To Kill a Mockingbird -

    Screenwriter Horton Foote adapted Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which premiered in Los Angeles on this day in history. The film won Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor, and Best Art Direction at the Academy Awards. Foote was also responsible for Robert Duvall’s film debut as Boo Radley, whom he had met at a playhouse in New York City.  He recommended Duvall for the part. After several more storytelling achievements, Foote would go on to receive the U.S. National Medal of Arts nearly 40 years later. 

  • On this day in history

    The Exorcist

    screenplay by

    • William Peter Blatty

    The Exorcist -

    William Peter Blatty adapted his novel by the same name to create the screenplay for “The Exorcist.” It’s now considered one of the greatest horror films of all time and was placed in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Blatty said the story is based on the true events of Roland Doe, a young boy whose family was convinced the devil possessed him. He said witnesses verified most of the events that appear in the film. Roland Doe’s gender and age were changed for the story. The film won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay.

  • On this day in history

    Chicago

    screenplay by

    • Bill Condon

    Chicago -

    Bill Condon wrote the screenplay for the musical film “Chicago” based on the stage play he had seen decades earlier. He was a fan of Broadway shows since a child, but “Chicago” would be his first made-for-the-movies musical. He struggled with making the musical scenes feel believable until he was inspired by a device used in Dennis Potter’s “Pennies from Heaven,” and it clicked. He’d make the musical scenes a figment of Roxy Hart’s imagination. The film was a smashing success, winning six Oscars, including Best Picture. It renewed the world’s interest in the musical film genre and ushered in many musicals over the last two decades.

  • On this day in history

    Stan Lee

    • Born 97 Years Ago Today

    Stan Lee -

    Stan Lee, the creative force behind comic book superheroes including the Hulk, the X-Men, Black Widow, Black Panther, Ant-Man, and more, would have been 97 years old today. Lee led Marvel Comics to be the huge media company it is today over two decades. Under his direction, Marvel created characters who were innately flawed and forced to overcome those issues and more serious themes. He’s also credited with giving more credit to the entire team of people who made a comic book possible, not just the writer. He passed away last year. Lee received the National Medial of Arts in 2008.

  • On this day in history

    Aguirre,
    the Wrath of God

    screenplay by

    • Werner Herzog

    Aguirre, the Wrath of God -

    “Aguirre, the Wrath of God,” was written and directed by Werner Herzog and debuted at nearly the same time both on television and in theaters in Germany. It later debuted in the U.K. and in the U.S., where it developed a cult following. Herzog was inspired to write the script after reading a story about Lope de Aguirre, although most of the details in the story are made up. He reportedly wrote the script, which has minimal dialogue, in less than three days while he was on a bus trip with his football team. As the story goes, he had to throw several of his pages out the window of the bus after a drunken teammate threw up on them.

  • On this day in history

    Ivan the Terrible,
                   Part I

    screenplay by

    • Sergei M. Eisenstein

    Ivan the Terrible, Part I -

    “Ivan the Terrible, Part 1” was written and directed by Sergei M. Eisenstein at the request of Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Premier at the time. Stalin reportedly admired Ivan IV of Russia and felt Ivan’s leadership style was similar to his own. The story depicted Ivan the Terrible as a national hero, and Stalin was pleased. Stalin wouldn’t receive Part II as well as he did Part I, holding back its release for more than ten years because he didn’t like the portrayal of Ivan. Part III was almost completely destroyed.

  • On this day in history

    One Froggy
       Evening

    story by

    • Michael Maltese

    One Froggy Evening -

    “One Froggy Evening” is a 1955 animated short by Michael Maltese. It doesn’t include any dialogue, except that of the frog singing. Director Chuck Jones would later name the frog Michigan J. Frog, because of the song written for the film titled “The Michigan Rag.” It follows a man who tries to make money off a singing and dancing frog, but the only person who can see these performances is him. The film debuted in technicolor. It later became the mascot for the W.B. Television Network in the 90s.

The images in this blog were modified, and originally appeared on Wikimedia Commons.

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  • 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 ...

On this day in history

The Twilight
Zone

created by

  • Rod Serling

This Month in Movie History - October Roundup

“The Twilight Zone,” created by Rod Serling, ran for five seasons and 156 episodes. Serling wrote or co-wrote 92 of the stories in the anthology, in all of which the protagonist faced some bizarre or fantastical situation with climactic twists. He also narrated the series. Still today, we say we’re in “The Twilight Zone” if something strange is happening to us. WGA ranked the show number three on its list of Best Written TV Series of all time, and it got a reboot in 2019 with Jordan Peele narrating. Robert William Paul, born 150 years ago, is considered the father of British Film. When he realized Edison...

On this day in history

A Trip to the
    Moon

screenplay by

  • Georges Méliès

This Month in Movie History – September Roundup

On this day in history 117 years ago, filmmaker Georges Méliès introduced the world to science fiction, in his 18-minute long hand-colored silent film about traveling to the moon. Méliès became famous for his theatrical style, fancy sets, and special effects. Although the film was silent, it was meant to be presented alongside a live orchestra and narrator, so the score varied from theater to theater. Méliès pioneered the style of leaving the camera stationary, aimed at a single set, to mimic the perspective of an audience member. The scene of the space capsule landing in the moon’s eye is considered...

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