Thursday, June 3, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks-Best Original & Best Adapted Screenplay


Here is another biggie from the Oscar contenders which is writing. Let's face it, you can have the best actors and directors but, if the writing sucks, the movie will suck. Check out Wandering Through The Shelves to see what everyone else has chosen. Without further adieu, here are my 3 from each category with the first being Best Original Screenplay.


Well, this is a sore point for Herman and Orson since each claimed they wrote most of it and has become so legendary that a recent film was made about this (Mank-2020). This is considered the best film ever made (despite people now saying it is The Godfather-not a fav of mine) and I have to give credit to this brilliant film even though it is not one of my personal favourites. This is a somewhat veiled portrait of the huge newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst, who was so incensed by the film that he and Louis B Mayer tried to buy up the negatives to have it destroyed. The film is famous not only for the film itself but everything that happened backstage, as it were. Movies and documentaries have been made about this film and it is worth watching the film and then watching the documentaries about it. 


When I saw this film as a young teen, I fell for the smoldering James Mason who plays a crippled musician who teaches, mercilessly, his second cousin, the meek but very gifted Francesca(played by Ann Todd). He does his all to make her great but at the cost of any romance with anyone. He berates her and, finally breaks her where she ends up in the psych ward. Yeah, he's a peach! This is well acted and James Mason is one of the few that could make an a-hole somewhat romantic because, wait for it, it is also a love story. Today, he would be thrown in jail, justifiably. I found out that Muriel Box was not only a gifted writer but a female director when they were very few female directors around.


I love Mel Brooks who would probably not be able to get any film made today with all the political correctness out there. Not everyone likes Mel Brooks but I find him hilarious and this movie(which he later created into a Broadway musical winning many Tony's) shows him at one of his best. You have a con man, played by Zero Mostel, who bamboozles old, wealthy women of their money, to create stage shows by bamming them to happiness. Enter Gene Wilder, as a young tax auditor, who must never be away from his blanky. Soon the 2 are in cahoots to create such a bad show that it will close but they will make out like bandits. They find the perfect show in "Springtime For Hitler" which is all about poor misunderstood Adolph. It's absurd but you can't have it any other way.

Now onto Best-Adapted Screenplay...


One day, I will watch every film or TV remake of this classic novel, by Louisa May Alcott, so I can compare how each are. I have to admit, I do like this early sound film starring Katherine Hepburn as Jo who seems perfect for this character as the strong willed sister. You follow the lives of the 4 sisters but Jo is the star in every way. 


This film is based on Abby Mann's writing for a Playhouse 90 TV film (back when TV had some great shows on regular TV) which he based on the actual Nuremberg Trials. Of course there is some poetic licensing, but the brutality of these men (and women) against the Jewish people (as well as Germans who were Gay, mentally challenged or openly defied the Nazis)  really is shown in some graphic detail that was shocking back in the day (and even now). This film is intelligent and makes you question so much yet you are horrified at how many felt they were still in the right. It is truly worth watching.


To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my all-time favourite books, written by Harper Lee and this film is one of my favourites. Horton Foote(love this name!) made a faithful adaptation of this book with an outstanding performance by Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, a small town, widowed lawyer defending a black man accused of raping a white, trashy girl. You know the young man is innocent but when does that ever stop hate and bigotry? You view this film mostly through the eyes of his daughter, Scout, who questions everything and brings hope and love to those who need it, like Boo Radley. I have spoken about this film before but I had to include it here (just like I had to include Kane). Read the the film. 

Which films do you love for their writing?


  1. Hi, Birgit!

    I hope you had a wonderful birthday celebration, dear friend! I am here sitting in the balcony with you "At The Movies."

    I never got the memo that Citizen Kane has replaced Mars Needs Women as the best film ever made. We have discussed Citizen Kane in the past. I studied it in my college film course. I cannot honestly say it is one of my favorites, but I do respect the talents of Welles and Mank.

    The Seventh Veil looks like a cool movie. I enjoyed the trailer. James Mason takes tough love to the next level, doesn't he? Did that meany actually whack the knuckles of her piano-playing hands with his cane? I'll tell you this. Possessive, domineering misogynist Mason would finally meet his match if he ever came face-to-face with my militant feminist wife Mrs. Shady. She'd go full Lorena Bobbitt on him. :)

    With Mel Brooks, I wanted to love his films and comedy sketches more than I actually did. When I laughed, it was a "nervous laughter," a "I'm supposed to laugh" kind of laughter, not the spontaneous laughter that erupts after seeing or hearing something that genuinely tickles your funny bone.

    Judgement At Nuremberg is another film I studied at college, one with a relevant message that applies to what is happening around the world today. I also regularly watched Playhouse 90 on TV with my folks. To Kill A Mockingbird is yet another film we studied in my course at school. I love Greg Peck in all of his roles, and Atticus Finch is one of his greatest character portrayals.

    A few of my favorite original screenplays are The Apartment (with Jack & Shirley), Pulp Fiction, Usual Suspects and E-Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.

    A few of my fave adaptations are Cuckoo's Nest, The Silence Of The Lambs, The Exorcist, Psycho, Hidden Figures, M*A*S*H, Schindler's List and The Remains Of The Day.

    Enjoy the rest of your birthday week, dear friend BB!

    1. I’m glad you like my picks and, yes, the James Mason character would get a thumping from me. I do spontaneously laugh at all the Mel Brooks movies..maybe I am a bad girl. I love all your picks and almost went with Pulp Fiction and Schindler’s List. I still have to see Spotless mind. Love your other choices.

  2. I know about half of these films, and the ones I know are fantastic. I should check out that version of Little Women. It is such a classic. Hope June has started well for you Birgit!

    1. I do like this version of Little Women. Glad you saw the films I chose. June starts off with my birthday but got news and will need a hysterectomy.

  3. I think Brooks is hilarious - Blazing Saddles is one of my favorite movies and no, it could not be made today.
    Adapted would have to be the LOTR movies.

    1. Youbare so right about the great Blazing Saddles. I love, love love the LOTR trilogy

  4. To Kill A Mockingbird really was excellent!

  5. To Kill A Mockingbird is my favorite of these picks! I loved that movie. Judgement at Nuremberg was great too. I've never seen the original Producers, but I liked the remake, even though I know a lot of people didn't. Citzen Kane I wasn't found of, I found it to be overhyped.

    1. Citizen Kane is like the Mona Lisa of movies. You hear so much about it, it is everywhere you go and when you finally see it you are underwhelmed. Even though I am not jumping at the chance to see it, it is worth the look. I still have to see the remake but I love the original Producers.

  6. Great picks. My son wanted me to read To Kill A Mockingbird and I tried, but I got so tired of seeing the N word I just gave up.
    Hope today is a good day for you.
    I'd love a shout out on FB. Thank you.

    1. Yes, I will do a shout out on Facebook..just send me the info and I will post it! It does have that N word but it is not there for gratuitous reasons. It is the South in the 30s(I think) and shows how horrible racism is.

  7. Hi Birgit, I see from the first comment that your birthday must have just passed. Hope it was a great one!

    A whole flock of fantastic choices!

    I think Citizen Kane is a victim of its fame and reputation. It's a very strong film full of innovation but the expectation when first viewing it is so sky high because of its anointing year after year as the best it puts far too heavy a burden on it.

    LOVE James Mason! The Seventh Veil is right in his wheelhouse when he has his dastardly hat on. Of course he was able to modulate his suavity to suit either the hero or the villain.

    I like The Producers without feeling any great need to see it very often. Zero and Gene are ideal in their roles.

    There are SO many versions of Little Women it's hard to judge any of them for originality any more but this one is fine. I do weary of Kate Hepburn constantly proclaiming "Christopher Columbus". For authenticity I prefer the Winona Ryder film though I have a soft spot for the 40's one even if June Allyson is far too old to be playing Jo.

    I was gripped by Judgement at Nuremberg which held me in its thrall the entire running time but despite that once in a lifetime cast I can't envision ever wanting to watch it again. Far too bleak.

    I should give To Kill a Mockingbird another look. I thought it was fine but wasn't blown away however so many people love it passionately perhaps with the passing of the years it might make more of an impact on me now.

    I stuck to three and all original screenplays which happened to win in consecutive years. I guess it's a bit of a mini theme too since all three are crime stories.

    The Sting (1973)-David S. Ward-When their mutual friend is murdered in 30’s Chicago small-time crook Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) teams with seasoned conman Henry Gondorff (Paul Newman) to exact revenge on crime boss Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) who ordered the hit. Joining with an odd assortment of colorful associates they formulate a long con to settle the score. Jaunty caper flick was a reuniting for the stars and director of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid ending up being showered with Oscars (7 in total including Best Picture as well as three other nominations) and leading to a jazz revival courtesy of its Scott Joplin musical score.

    Chinatown (1974)-Robert Towne-What he assumes will be a routine infidelity stakeout soon becomes an incredibly complex web of deceit and murder for L.A. private eye Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) when he discovers he was hired by an imposter and is being used as a pawn in a game with deadly stakes. Smart, stylish mystery amassed 11 Oscar nominations but only Towne won for his original screenplay.

    Dog Day Afternoon (1975)-Frank Pierson-Young and desperate Sonny Wortzik (Al Pacino) and his not terribly bright buddy Sal Naturile (John Cazale) attempt to pull off a bank heist in Brooklyn that quickly goes wrong. Trapped inside with the tellers a standoff, first with NYPD Sgt. Moretti (Charles Durning) and then FBI agent Sheldon (James Broderick) escalates into a media circus leading to a tense conclusion. Forceful, incisive drama garnered six Oscar nominations but again only Pierson actually picked up the award for his screenplay.

    1. Citizen Kane is the Mona Lisa of movies because of the hype. I will almost always watch something else other than Citizen Kane but I do appreciate the film. James was so versatile and when he was a villain, he was still romantic in a weird way. I am glad you like The Producers even if you won't see it again. I could see you not loving Mel Brooks. Nuremberg is bleak but so well acted and written. I do want to see all the Little Women version and have not seen the latest 2 which includes the Ryder one. I could not get into June Allyson's Jo because she is just too damn perky:).
      I love your picks and all in sequence! The Sting, to me, is the best of the 3 because it was so detailed in its heist that the writer could easily have slipped up. Chinatown seems almost t be a horror film in the end when everything comes out into the open, sort of speak. The evil that permeates through is shocking and the writing truly takes you on a noir voyage. I have to see Dog Day again but I remember being engrossed in the film which is taken from real life events.
      Hey..I got the book "A Cast of Killers" which I plan on reading after I am done a bio about Peter O'Toole.

    2. I'll be waiting to hear what you think of the book!!! I'll be anxiously anticipating!! :-)

    3. I'm variable on Mel Brooks. I hated everything in Blazing Saddles that didn't include Madeline Kahn but there are some of his films I love-To Be or Not to Be & Silent Movie, then others that I enjoyed-Young Frankenstein, Producers, High Anxiety, but have no real desire to see again any time soon. But I do think he's a very gifted man with a sharp eye for talent.

    4. I am almost finished the O'Toole bio and then I will start on Cast of Killers and will let you know how I like it. I am surprised that there has not been a movie about this event. My brother is like you on Mel Brooks. I think one either loves him or hates him kind of thing. At least you see his talents which I knew you would.

  8. Gosh you have some wonderful movies this week Birgit and I have seen some of them, but one I haven't is Judgement at Nuremburg and I would love t see that one. Loved To Kill a Mocking Bird....well it did have Gregory Peck in it, hope all is well with you, Kate x

    1. It is an excellent film but a sombre one. Gregory Peck is one of my favourite actors.

  9. I started watching Mank, but I haven't finished it yet. I'm not enamored with Citizen Kane, but it was well worth the watch. At least I know what they're talking about in Mank :)

    Oh man, The Producers. I saw that before they came up with the stage version, and I had no idea. I didn't laugh out loud, but I did find it delightfully absurd.

    1. I have to watch Mank which, I bet, would be a bore if you don't know the history of Citizen Kane. The Producers is absurd which I love.

  10. I've actually never seen any of these, but I love how you immortalize some of them. I really want to see Citizen Kane if it ever shows on Turner Films. Like you, I love Mel Brooks. His humor is subtle at times and in-your-face other times. Great synopses.

    1. I bet Turner Classic films will show Citizen Kane again. The Producers is all in your face and absurd which I love.

  11. I've seen all your picks for these categories and they are good ones. This is somewhat difficult for me as there are so many choices and many of them I'd have to look up to see where the stories came from.

    For best adapted screenplay I'm going to go with:

    No Country for Old Men--the Coen's did an excellent job of bringing Cormac McCarthy's book to life.

    Deliverence--based on the novel by James Dickey, the screenplay was almost the book verbatim but I guess having the same author helped.

    Best original screenplay:

    I, Tonya--just watched this last night so it's fresh on my mind. Loved the ways the screenwriter brought the story together from so many points of view.

    The Greatest Showman--Love this movie so might as well add it for this category.

    Pulp Fiction--not that I like Tarantino all that much, but this film was a good tribute to the pulp fiction genre.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  12. BIRGIT ~

    This one is a tough call for me because I don't always know what is an original screenplay and what has been adapted.

    Going just off the top of my headbone here, without spending too much time in contemplation, I think I'll mention...

    'It's A Wonderful Life'
    I suppose someone could argue that it's an "adaptation" since it was fleshed out from a very, Very short story in a Christmas card. But because the story was so bare-bones, I'm going to call the full screenplay an original.

    It was brilliant the way the story transitioned back and forth in different timelines!

    It's starts in the present on Earth; moves to the present in Heaven; goes to the past on Earth; back to the present on Earth, but it's an alternate present; and then returns to the normal present on Earth.

    Such an intricate timeline, beautifully and flawlessly executed.

    I think another good time-travel choice would be the 'Back To The Future' Trilogy.

    'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'
    Just an absolutely marvelous story that was modified for the screen and won the vast majority of the important Oscars including 'Best Adapted Screenplay'.

    Without thinking any more about it, I feel comfortable with these choices.

    ~ D-FensDogG

  13. I blush to admit I've never seen Citizen Kane. Sounds like it would be a worthwhile investment of time.
    YOU have a great one.

  14. I have never seen Citizen Kane but I've been intrigued by it for a long time. To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic. I was a teenager when I first saw the movie (after reading the book) and I was just blown away by it.

  15. Original:
    Almost Famous
    The Usual Suspects
    Dead Poets Society

    The Philadelphia Story
    Kramer vs. Kramer

    Without a doubt, some of my favorite films are on those lists. Good writing saves bad acting far more often than the other way around.

    Then there's the one that didn't win...

    I still think Stand by Me is one of the most beautifully written movies I've ever seen. It lost to A Room with a View.

  16. I like To Kill a Mockingbird, but I never understood Citizen Kane's popularity. One day perhaps I will do a rewatch.

  17. So many great picks. I've seen The Producers, Citizen Kane and To Kill a Mockingbird which I all enjoyed.