Now that we’re officially up-and-running, it seemed like a good moment to offer up some inspiration. This is a pile of amazing scripts from across movie history - there are lots of examples of genius and failure hiding in these pages as well as crazy film trivia you never thought you’d have access to. Full disclosure, I have NOT read all of these, and I certainly don’t expect any of you to. What this represents is a very good starting place for anyone who wants to look at the evolving art of screenwriting.
This script is probably cited on the first page of ‘screenwriting for dummies’ - simply everyone has read it. Funny thing - considering that the script in its full form has never existed (read the cover page for details) - but Casablanca is probably the movie that will forever define that ultra glamorized ‘Golden Age’ melodrama of the 1930s and 40s, and it’s hard to call yourself a screenwriter if you haven’t flipped through it.
All About Eve
So massive was the impact of this movie in its day that my middle name is ‘Eve’. This is a quiet story that packs an incredible punch, and if you ever find yourself wondering how to create conflict without alien invasions, Nazis, or knife wielding maniacs, just pick this one up. It effortlessly takes a playwriting style and translates it to the silver screen.
I’ll have to confess some bias including this one - it’s the first screenplay I read (seventh grade I think?) and the movie that made me want to pick up a camera. Nonetheless, Hitchcock’s original slasher is as sexy and as thrilling as ever, and it is a masterclass on doing a lot of terror with only a little violence.
Woody Allen is a brilliant writer, and this is his most brilliant script…..it’s almost a pity that he showed us all of his tricks way back in 1977, because I think he’s always been trying to get back to this one. Nonetheless, it’s a genuine masterpiece, and your life will be richer for its inclusion.
For the 80s, I decided to include this little gem: Written in just 16 days, this script is a fast dirty draft for a fast dirty movie, and it’s definitely the odd one out in this distinguished company. But - for all its flaws - Halloween 4 is a perfect example of the type of writing that pays a lot of bills but wins very few awards. Also, 80s slashers are kind of my thing….so the 80s one had to be a slasher (sorry)
There can be no doubt that - if we can pick only one 90s script - it must be Tarantino. Even if you hate his films, you will love his scripts. There is not another writer from any era has as much fun writing as Tarantino...you can feel the stupid, weird, boyish love dripping out of every word. These pages read themselves. No matter how many times you’ve seen this movie - you’ve not seen it until you’ve finished the screenplay.
The script for the 2000s was actually written (and released) in the 90s, so it’s a bit of a cheat, but absolutely every sci fi movie that came out between 2000 and 2007 was trying to be The Matrix (including its own sequels!). This is the biggest lightning-in-a-bottle political sci fi flick since Blade Runner, and - in my opinion - it’s never been surpassed.
A little more cheating, I realize, but screenwriting in the 2010s has been largely defined by TV series binge-watching, and I cannot think of two bigger series’ for this decade than Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones, and I’ve provided both pilot scripts.
Game of Thrones
There you have it, lads and ladies - a gigantic pile of reading to go with your gigantic pile of writing. And...like I said, I haven’t read them all yet, so - if you’ll excuse me……….