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.
1. CITIZEN KANE WRITTEN BY ORSON WELLES AND HERMAN MANKIEWICZ-1941
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.
2. THE SEVENTH VEIL BY SYDNEY & MURIEL BOX-1945
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.
3. THE PRODUCERS BY MEL BROOKS-1967
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...
1. LITTLE WOMEN BY SARAH Y. MASON & VICTOR HEERMAN-1933
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.
2. JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG BY ABBY MANN-1961
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.
3. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD BY HORTON FOOTE-1962
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 book...watch the film.
Which films do you love for their writing?