The Twilight Zone -
“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 -
Robert William Paul, born 150 years ago, is considered the father of British Film. When he realized Edison didn’t patent his kinetoscope in Britain, Paul made several copies of the device, which allowed people to view film through a viewfinder. But he ran short on films, so he built his own cameras and began to make movies of his own. A trained electrician and scientific instruments builder, Paul later developed a projection system so films could be viewed on-screen.
The Maltese Falcon -
John Huston wrote the screenplay for and directed “The Maltese Falcon,” released on this day in history in 1941. Huston based the story on a 1930 novel of the same name, by Dashiell Hammett. It follows a private detective in San Francisco and his encounters with three people who are all trying to get their hands on a jewel-encrusted falcon statuette. The film is considered one of the first major film noirs and is preserved in the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry.
Dr. No -
On this day in history in 1962, the world met Bond, James Bond, on the silver screen. “Dr. No” was the first film in the James Bond series, although not the first of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books. The adapted screenplay credits go to Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, and Berkely Mather, although Wolf Mankowitz was initially attached to an early draft. That draft was rejected because the writers had changed the villain, Dr. No, into a monkey. “Dr. No” established a look for the films, including the opening sequence and the theme music, which has carried on through 24 more Bond films.
Fight Club -
The narrator’s voiceover was nearly omitted from the “Fight Club” screenplay, adapted by Jim Uhls because industry experts at the time viewed the narration technique as hokey. It later became an integral part of the film’s ability to convey the story, which followed an unhappy white-collar worker who starts a fight club with a soap salesperson. Five revisions and one year later, and with lots of feedback from lead characters Brad Pitt and Edward Norton, Uhls finalized the script, based on the novel of the same name by Chuck Palahniuk.
“Sparticus” was one of Universal Studios’ highest-grossing films of all time until 1970, when “Airport” beat it. The screenplay was adapted by Dalton Trumbo, based on the original novel by Howard Fast, and followed a slave revolt against the Roman Republic. Trumbo was actually one of the Hollywood Ten and Hollywood had blacklisted him for his involvement in the Communist Party, but Bryna Productions, owned by the film’s star Kirk Douglas, hired him anyway. It was the beginning of the end of blacklisting in Hollywood when president-elect John F. Kennedy crossed picket lines to see the film.
Hey Arnold -
The 90s produced some of the best cartoon content on network television, and “Hey Arnold,” created by Craig Bartlett, is part of that nostalgia. Bartlett made the show for kids, yet it dealt with very real adult issues, including family, love, and friendship. Bartlett said he wanted the show to have feature magic realism, where characters made the most out of a not so good situation. He didn’t want to dampen a child’s experiences or talk down to his audience. “Hey Arnold” ran for eight years on Nickelodeon.
Ingmar Bergman wrote and directed this Swedish psychological drama, which ranks on Sight & Sound’s best-of list. It’s about a young nurse assigned to take care of a mute actress, and soon, their personas begin to meld. The script is full of monologues, given one of the stars has no lines whatsoever, and deals with themes of isolation, suffering, and reality. Bergman is said to have written the screenplay while confined to a hospital.
Donnie Darko -
“Donnie Darko,” written and directed by Richard Kelly, had a disastrous start. While it only cost $4.5 million to produce, the film only grossed just over $7 million at the box office. It received little marketing because the trailer showed a crashing plane and the September 11th attacks happened just one month before. It wasn’t until the film was released on DVD and VHS a year later that it finally found success. Now, the movie has a cult following and has been named to many best-of lists. It centers on a teenager who finds friendship with an imaginary, demon rabbit, and is convinced that the world will end in 28 days. It took 28 days to shoot the film as well, which was pure coincidence.
The Last Picture Show -
The screenplay for “The Last Picture Show” was written by Peter Bogdanovich, adapted from the novel by Larry McMurty. The story is a coming of age tale and was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture. It was shot in black and white, which was unusual for the time, to portray the story’s time period. To this day, it maintains a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 100 percent.
John Carpenter and Debra Hill wrote the screenplay for “Halloween” about a serial killer who escapes an insane asylum and returns to his hometown to stalk a babysitter and her friends. The pair completed the script in just a couple of weeks, drawing on their own childhood experiences for the setting, street names, and characters. It cost just $300,000 to produce the movie and grossed $70 million. It inspired seven more movies later, which gave viewers a more in-depth look into the antagonist, Michael Myers.
The images in this blog were modified and originally appeared on Wikimedia Commons.