Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

This Month in Movie History – November Roundup

  • On this day in history

    Titanic

    screenplay by

    • James Cameron

    Titanic -

    “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 to pay for the scene where divers discover Rose’s necklace amidst the actual wreckage.

  • On this day in history

    Arrested 
    Development

    created by

    • Mitchell Hurwitz

    Arrested Development -

    Mitchell Hurwitz’ Arrested Development began airing on this day in 2003. The show ran for three seasons on Fox, followed by a series revival in 2013 on Netflix. It never picked up great viewership, but it did receive critical acclaim and developed a cult following for its ensemble cast and hilarious writing. The comedy follows a wealthy and dysfunctional family, helmed by son Michael Bluth, who has been forced to take over family affairs after his dad goes to prison. More than two dozen writers are credited with the episodes, which won six Primetime Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe. Time Magazine named it one of the greatest TV shows of all time.

  • On this day in history

    Tokyo Story

    screenplay by

    • Kogo Noda
    • Yasujiro Ozu

    Tokyo Story -

    Inspired by the 1937 American film “Make Way for Tomorrow,” Kogo Noda and Yasujiro Ozu wrote the screenplay for “Tokyo Story” over 103 days. It follows an elderly couple who go to Tokyo to visit their older children, only to be ignored by everyone but their widowed daughter-in-law. The story of “Make Way for Tomorrow” was similar but dealt more with depression-era themes. Critics consider the film to be director Ozu’s masterpiece, and Sight & Sound Magazine named it the best film of all time during its last director’s poll.

  • On this day in history

    Los Olvidados

    screenplay by

    • Luis Alcoriza
    • Luis Buñuel

    Los Olvidados -

    Considered a masterpiece of Latin American Cinema, “Los Olvidados” (or “The Young and the Damned” in the U.S.) premiered on this day in history to initial harsh criticism from the public and press, who said the film was “overly bleak.” The story, written and directed by Spaniard Luis Buñuel,  portrays child poverty in Mexico City. Critics didn’t like that a foreigner was exposing Mexico’s problem with poverty and crime. In 2002, someone discovered an alternate “happy ending” in the film warehouse at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. The movie re-screened for a limited audience in 2005 and a restored version of the film screened at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

  • On this day in history

    The Producers

    screenplay by

    • Mel Brooks

    The Producers -

    On this day in history, “The Producers” premiered to a wide audience, after a previous disastrous premiere in Pennsylvania one year prior. The story follows two schmuck producers who attempt to swindle older women out of money by producing a terrible play about Hitler, but the play, in turn, becomes a huge success. Early audiences didn’t find humor in a comedy film about Hitler, but Mel Brooks eventually went on to win Best Screenplay at the Academy Awards and the Writers Guild of America – East. The movie translated to “Springtime for Hitler” in Sweden, where the film became so popular that nearly all of Mel Brooks future films in the Country would be titled with “Springtime for …” (“Springtime for Sheriff” – Blazing Saddles; “Springtime for Space” – Spaceballs; “Springtime for Frankenstein” – Young Frankenstein).

  • On this day in history

    Raging Bull

    screenplay by

    • Paul Schrader
    • Mardik Martin

    Raging Bull -

    The first film to ever be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry, “Raging Bull” is considered Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece, but it all started with the story, championed by Robert De Niro and adapted for the screen by Mardik Martin and Paul Schrader. Studio execs first rejected the screenplay, saying it was x-rated and violent, and wouldn’t attract an audience. Soon after, De Niro and Scorsese spent two weeks on the island of Saint Martin to rebuild the story, and the rest is history. De Niro and Scorsese remain uncredited on the screenplay.  

  • On this day in history

    Network

    screenplay by

    • Paddy Chayefsky

    Network -

    Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network” film took home Best Screenplay at the Academy Awards, and was voted one of the 10 greatest screenplays of all time by the WGA. The satirical story follows a news network struggling with bad ratings. It’s most famous line, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore,” has been repeated in a number of later films and TV shows. The movie maintains a 92% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

  • On this day in history

    Unbreakable

    screenplay by

    • M. Night Shyamalan

    Unbreakable -

    “Unbreakable,” a deconstructed super-hero film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, is one of the most lucrative spec script deals ever made. Disney paid Shyamalan $5 million for the script, twice what they paid for his sleeper-hit “The Sixth Sense.” The sale went down during the height of “The Six Sense” success, leading Disney to believe they had another huge movie on their hands. The film grossed $248 million, with a $75 million production budget.

  • On this day in history

    Ben-Hur

    screenplay by

    • Karl Tunberg
    • Lew Wallace

    Ben-Hur -

    “Ben Hur,” adapted by Karl Tunberg from the 1880 novel by Lew Wallace, was the highest-grossing film of 1959 and continues to be one of three films tied for the winningest at the Academy Awards with 11 Oscars (it was nominated for 12 of 15 categories that year). Four more writers were brought in to tone down the “too-modern” dialogue in later drafts, including playwright Maxwell Anderson, playwright S.N. Behrman, writer Gore Vidal, and poet and playwright Christopher Fry. More than 12 versions of the script were written before it was finalized at an epic 230 pages.

  • On this day in history

    One Flew Over 
    the Cuckoo’s Nest

    screenplay by

    • Lawrence Hauben
    • Bo Goldman
    • Ken Kesey

    One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest -

    Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman wrote the adapted screenplay for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” based on the novel of the same name by Ken Kesey. The film was the first in more than 40 years to win “The Big 5” Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. Author Kesey reportedly never saw the film, because he was upset about the adapted screenplay’s version of the story. The movie is considered to be one of the best films ever made.

  • On this day in history

    Toy Story

    screenplay by

    • Joss Whedon
    • Andrew Stanton
    • Joel Cohen & Alec Sokolow

    Toy Story -

    “Toy Story,” written by Joss Whedon, Andrew Stanton, Joel Cogen, and Alec Sokolow, based on a story by Stanton, John Lasseter, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft, was the first entirely computer-animated movie and the debut film for Pixar. Disney approached Pixar to make the film, based on the success of its 1988 computer-animated short “Tin Toy.” The original concept for the film featured Tinny, paired with a ventriloquist’s dummy and villain named Woody. The members of Pixar’s story team had very little experience with feature writing and heavily relied on screenwriter Robert McKee’s three-day seminar on storytelling principals. Woody’s character was updated in later drafts to become the loveable cowboy we know today.

  • On this day in history

    Rocky

    screenplay by

    • Sylvester Stallone

    Rocky -

    “Rocky,” written by and starring Sylvester Stallone, was the highest-grossing film of 1976 despite its modest $1 million production budget. It won the Best Picture Oscar that year and resulted in seven sequels, six of which Stallone wrote. Stallone wrote the first screenplay in just three days, and the sale to United Artists was contingent upon Stallone also securing the lead role. His family also played minor characters in the film.

  • On this day in history

    Frankenstein

    screenplay by

    • Garrett Ford
    • Francis Edward Faragoh
    • Robert Florey, John Russell

    Frankenstein -

    One of the most famous horror stories ever, “Frankenstein” was adapted by Garret Ford and Francis Edward Faragoh from the play by Peggy Webling, which was based on the novel by Mary Shelley. Robert Florey and John Russell also helped write the screenplay, although they remain uncredited. The film inspired countless sequels and was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the United States Film Registry.

  • On this day in history

     Bicycle 
           Thieves

    screenplay by

    • Vittoria De Seca, Oreste Biancoli
    • Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Adolfo Franci
    • Gherardo Gherardi, Gerardo Guerrieri

    Bicycle Thieves -

    The Italian film “Bicycle Thieves” was adapted by Vittoria De Seca, Oreste Biancoli, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Adolfo Franci, Gherardo Gherardi, and Gerardo Guerrieri from a novel written by Luigi Bartolini. It centers on a young father who searches Rome for his stolen bicycle, on which he relied to get to work. The writers wanted to portray poverty and unemployment in post-WWII Italy. The film won an Honorary Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and made Sight & Sound Magazine’s list for Greatest Films of All Time.  

  • On this day in history

    Casablanca

    screenplay by

    • Julius J. Epstein
    • Philip G Epstein
    • Howard Koch

    Casablanca -

    The screenplay for “Casablanca,” written by Howard Koch and twin brothers Julius and Philip Epstein, didn’t have an ending when filming began. The three eventually settled on a way to wrap up the story, which was based on the never-produced play “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. The twins worked together, but never alongside Howard Koch. The film won the Academy Award for Best Picture that year, as well as Best Adapted Screenplay. Actor Humphrey Bogart’s famous line, “Here’s looking at you kid,” was not in the screenplay, but was reportedly something he often said to actor Ingrid Bergman while he was teaching her how to play poker on set.

  • On this day in history

    Terrence Malick

    • Happy 76th Birthday!

    Terrence Malick -

    Writer, producer and director Terrence  Malick turns 76 years old today. He’s perhaps most well-known for his film “Days of Heaven,” starring Richard Gere. Malick has a distinctive style, which often includes philosophical overtones, character voiceovers and the battle between reason and instinct. He’s been nominated for three Oscars, including Best Director twice, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

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

You may also be interested in...

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...

On this day in history

The Wizard
of Oz

screenplay by

  • Noel Langley
  • Florence Ryerson
  • Edgar Allan Woolf

This Month in Movie History – August Roundup

Sixty-five years ago, “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. 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.” M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller “The Sixth Sense” solidified the filmmaker’s signature style for surprise endings. In a rare...

Comments