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WGA Lists Greatest Screenplays, From 'Casablanca' and 'Godfather' to 'Memento' and 'Notorious'

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by Sophia Savage
February 27, 2013 2:33 PM
14 Comments
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WGA best screenplays
'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,' 'The Godfather,' 'Thelma & Louise'

The Writers Guild lists the 101 Greatest Screenplays. Among them are many familliar classics, like "Casablanca," "The Godfather," "Chinatown," "Citizen Cane" and "All About Eve," which comprise the top five. Check out the top twenty below and the full list here.

The youngest scripts on the list are Charlie Kaufman's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" (2004) at #24, Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman's "Adaptation" (2002) at #77, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor's "Sideways" (2004) at #90 and Christopher Nolan's "Memento" (2000) at #100. The '90s also fared well with "Shakespeare in Love," "American Beauty," "Pulp Fiction," "The Sixth Sense," Being John Malkovich," "Forrest Gump," "L.A. Confidential," "Fargo," "The Usual Suspects," "The Shawshank Redemption," "Jerry Maguire" and "Thelma & Louise."

1. CASABLANCA
Screenplay by Julius J. & Philip G. Epstein and Howard Koch. Based on the play "Everybody Comes to Rick's" by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison

2. THE GODFATHER
Screenplay by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola. Based on the novel by Mario Puzo

3. CHINATOWN
Written by Robert Towne

4. CITIZEN KANE
Written by Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles

5. ALL ABOUT EVE
Screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Based on "The Wisdom of Eve," a short story and radio play by Mary Orr

6. ANNIE HALL
Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman

7. SUNSET BLVD.
Written by Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder and D.M. Marshman, Jr.

8. NETWORK
Written by Paddy Chayefsky

9. SOME LIKE IT HOT
Screenplay by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond. Based on "Fanfare of Love," a German film written by Robert Thoeren and M. Logan

10. THE GODFATHER II
Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo. Based on Mario Puzo's novel "The Godfather"

11. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID
Written by William Goldman

12. DR. STRANGELOVE
Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Peter George and Terry Southern. Based on novel "Red Alert" by Peter George

13. THE GRADUATE
Screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry. Based on the novel by Charles Webb

14. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA
Screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. Based on the life and writings of Col. T.E. Lawrence

15. THE APARTMENT
Written by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond

16. PULP FICTION
Written by Quentin Tarantino. Stories by Quentin Tarantino & Roger Avary

17. TOOTSIE
Screenplay by Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal. Story by Don McGuire and Larry Gelbart

18. ON THE WATERFRONT
Screen Story and Screenplay by Budd Schulberg. Based on "Crime on the Waterfront" articles by Malcolm Johnson

19. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Screenplay by Horton Foote. Based on the novel by Harper Lee

20. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
Screenplay by Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett & Frank Capra. Based on short story "The Greatest Gift" by Philip Van Doren Stern. Contributions to screenplay Michael Wilson and Jo Swerling
 

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14 Comments

  • makram | March 20, 2013 11:47 AMReply

    strange but 14 of the top twenty are written by couples! talent like tango much better by two

  • Bob Johnson | March 5, 2013 3:36 PMReply

    Great List of Movies!

  • Ron Newcomer | March 1, 2013 2:27 AMReply

    extramilemovies.com examines the first 15 WGA Greatest Screenplays, focusing on what makes a great story tick and the art of visual language in motion pictures.

  • Thomas Bechmann | February 28, 2013 3:22 PMReply

    It`s ironic that the man who wrote number 3 on the list, Robert Towne, ripped-off number 101, Notorious, when he wrote M:I-2...

  • alex | February 28, 2013 4:37 AMReply

    Thelma And Louise it's on of the worst scrrenplays of the history

  • mark | February 27, 2013 9:16 PMReply

    what, no Dinner at Eight, Dodsworth, The Lady Eve, or Bergman?

    Instead Rocky???? Shawshank? Forrest Gump?

    Must be joking.

  • John | February 27, 2013 11:47 PM

    You're clearly gay if you rate any of those films ahead of Shawshank and Gump.

  • Joe | February 27, 2013 7:10 PMReply

    It's Kane, writer who writes about movies for a job.

  • Patrick | February 27, 2013 6:42 PMReply

    Try proofreading before you typo the best movie of all time

  • dw | February 27, 2013 4:46 PMReply

    how is this news? this list came out like 6 years ago

  • CJG | February 27, 2013 8:32 PM

    That's what I thought, too...

  • SymphonyJ | February 27, 2013 3:47 PMReply

    I really dont agree with Groundhog Day being #27 on this list.... Really groundhog day is considered the 27th best screenplay in someones opinion.

  • spassky | February 27, 2013 3:28 PMReply

    Ugh...

    so much missing, so much that shouldn't be there...

  • Bernard O'Neill | February 28, 2013 2:30 AM

    I do think Stallone deserves for "Rocky" to have its high listing. But such egregious omissions in favor of popular titles of the moment from recent years instead of some of the best horror/sci-fi screenplays, namely "King Kong" (1933), "The Bride of Frankenstein" (1935), "Them!" (1954), "The Incredible Shrinking Man" (1957) and "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), some of the best comedies including the Marx Brothers films "Duck Soup" (1933) and "A Night at the Opera" (1935), "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" (1948), "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" (1975), "To Be Or Not To Be" (1942), "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1944, although done on Broadway first), Powell and Pressburger's "A Matter of Life and Death" (1946) and "Bringing Up Baby" (1938), great dramas including Rod Serling's "Planet of the Apes" (1968) and "Seven Days in May" (1964); Reginald Rose's "12 AngryMen" (1957) and Paddy Chayefsky's "Marty" (1955) (although those two were originally written for television), Lawrence Kasdan's "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980) and James Clavell's "The Great Escape" (1963) (those two also being possibly the worst omissions from the AFI's list of the 100 greatest movies), and although Hitchcock films are well represented on the list, I'm surprised by the absence of "Vertigo" (1958) and thought that "The Lady Vanishes" (1938) also deserved a listing.

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