WGF Exhibits: Celebrating 50 Years of Hawaii Five-O

Fifty years ago this month, the very first episode of Hawaii Five-O (entitled “Cocoon”) aired on CBS as a two-hour television movie. Twelve seasons and one enormously catchy theme song later, the series became the longest-running procedural drama of its day. In turn, Hawaii, which had only become a state in 1959, gained many tourists from the mainland and around the world from the small-screen exposure.

Created by Leonard Freeman, the show’s concept—a small and scrappy unit of cops solving peculiar crimes in beautiful island locations—had so much fuel in its tank, the show still churns out stories in revival form on CBS today.

New in the display cases leading into the WGF Library is an exhibit honoring 50 Years of “Five-O” and the work of Mr. Freeman. The exhibit shines a light on the painstaking work that goes into developing a series from fledgling idea to a well-oiled story machine that keeps people delighted and engaged, all while simultaneously enriching our entertainment and cultural landscapes. Thanks to Rose Freeman who worked tirelessly to safeguard her husband’s creative legacy, this exhibit features 50 years of treasures.

The items on display include Mr. and Mrs. Freeman’s plane tickets for an initial research trip to Hawaii, scrapbook photos, correspondence, script pages, a piece of concept art from “Cocoon” and a letter from Rose Freeman to the producers of the new Hawaii Five-0, offering them her advice and encouragement. Also on display are a pitch document and annotated script pages from executive producer Peter Lenkov and the revival of Hawaii Five-0.

Archival materials are a kind of living road map for budding writers. From them we can glean inspiration, motivation and the knowledge that we can do it too. Writers engaging with this display can expect to find an elucidating paper trail behind 50 years of a beloved TV series. What could be more motivational when you’re walking into the front doors of a library to write your own film or television series?

So, hats off to Hawaii Five-O and special thanks to the Freeman Family and Peter M. Lenkov for loaning their materials for this exhibit. Catch it while it’s up and also check out our collection of original Hawaii Five-O scripts as part of the Leonard Freeman collection!

The Lone Arranger: Inside The Magic Cottage

In this new blog series, WGF Archivist Hilary Swett gives you a glimpse inside the WGF Archives, from newly unearthed treasures to her tips for preserving a writer’s collections. 

Hello there, boys and girls! In this age of reboots and re-imaginings, what’s old is new again. But back in the late 1940s, TV was just beginning and the landscape of shows and genres that we are so familiar with now were just being developed. Children’s shows are no exception. We all know the names of the famous shows and possibly grew up watching them—Howdy Doody, Captain Kangaroo, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and more. These friendly adults taught us lessons on how to live and how to get along with one another. One of the earliest examples of this is the subject of today’s blog post. Kids visited faraway lands, encountered talking creatures and learned lessons via The Magic Cottage.

Creator Hal Cooper was a prolific television director and worked on every famous sitcom from the 1960s through the 1980s. But before this, he helped solidify a template for TV children’s shows that still exists today. Along with his first wife, Pat Meikle, they were hired by the now defunct DuMont Network to produce a show aimed at preschoolers called Your Television Babysitter. It aired weekday mornings and was intended to give mothers a half hour where they could do housework uninterrupted. This show was such a success that the network asked them to create another show for older kids, which aired during primetime. The Magic Cottage aired on DuMont from 1949-1952 and then locally on WABD in New York from 1953-1955. Pat Meikle hosted the show and all of the episodes were written and produced by Hal Cooper. Each episode began with the almanac segment—a fact from that day in history. Then the fun would start. Meikle would begin by sketching a scene for the audience, and then the characters and fantasy scenarios would be acted out onscreen.

This episode synopsis was created for publicity purposes. Don’t you want to know more about the adventures of Barnaby Bobble and Clutchwell T. Gluefinger?

A story was broken up to span the five days of the week and were always fantastic fables and fairy tales, some well-known and some made up for the series. Like shows of today, there would be a moral lesson embedded in the story. This was revealed on Fridays, accompanied by a short song.

The series stuck with this format throughout its run, with episodes broken into three basic segments.

In the beginning of TV, everything was performed live, so recordings, also known as kinescopes, are rare. Only two for The Magic Cottage are known to exist: one episode is at the UCLA Film and Television Archive and the other is located at the Paley Center for Media.

Magic Cottage merchandise

Fortunately, Hal Cooper’s family has just donated 1,000 scripts to the WGF Library and Archive. This collection contains scripts for every episode that aired from 1950-1955 when Cooper worked on the show, all of which were written by him. Aside from scripts, the collection contains a small assortment of merchandise created for the show called “premiums.” There are several children’s stationery sets, pins, and “encoded” messages from one of the show’s sponsors, the Cocoa Marsh snack company.

For those of you who want to write for children (or are young at heart), visit and peruse the Magic Cottage Collection to be steeped in fairy tales and get inspired to create your own fairy tale worlds. We have lots of current kids’ shows too—just take a look in the catalog! And to hear more anecdotes about the making of these shows, you can watch the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences oral history with Hal Cooper, recorded in 2003.

The Library also has a selection of other scripts for lost TV recordings. Check out:

  • My Living Doll – Several teleplays from this 1960s sitcom, including Episode 22, written and shot after the departure of star Bob Cummings
  • Major Dell Conway of the Flying Tigers – another DuMont series, from 1951
  • Curiosity Shop – A 1970s ABC children’s show from creator Chuck Jones (of Looney Tunes fame)
  • Meet Millie – a 1950s precursor to Mary Tyler Moore. Only a few episodes survive but we have 113 scripts!

Youth Spotlight: “Jumbo Shrimp” by Rosibel Villalobos

Rosibel Villalobos,18, and her poignant script for the short film Jumbo Shrimp came to us through Ghetto Film School, an award-winning nonprofit that identifies and educates young talent from local communities and provide them with the access, opportunity, and resources to pursue creative careers. 

Ghetto Film School specifically equips students for top universities and careers in the creative industries through two tracks: an introductory education program for high school students and early-career support for alumni and young professionals. 

We were struck by Rosibel’s talent and original voice, and not at all surprised to learn that she has been writing her entire life. She has made the transition from short stories to novels to scripts. And this fall, she will continue her journey as a screenwriter and will be attending UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.

Below is our interview with Rosibel about Jumbo Shrimp and her writing process.

What is this script about?
Jumbo Shrimp is the story of Liam, a young boy who pushes himself to grow up too fast in order to help his single mother.

What inspired you to write this story?
When I wrote Jumbo Shrimp, I had just gotten back from New York, where I spent two weeks last summer taking a film course. I was thinking a lot about being personal in my work and what that meant for me. I thought a lot about the guilt I felt growing up and the kids that I knew, and so Jumbo Shrimp and its protagonist, Liam, became a vessel for me to express that guilt in a way I never would be able to aloud.

What parts of writing this story did you find particularly challenging and why?
When I realized how much I related to what Liam was going through in my script, I suddenly felt like I wanted to stop writing. It was difficult to be so vulnerable and open in my work and to then share that with others. I felt like I was showing everyone an old scar, one that I had hidden for so long, and it was frightening, but also so fulfilling.

What scene or moment are you most proud of in this script?
The scene that I’m most proud of is one towards the beginning, where Elara is dropping Liam off at school. Very few words are exchanged by the two, and it’s such an everyday task, dropping your child off at school, but I think that for me it captured who the characters were at their very core. The way Liam takes note of what’s happening around him reflects the shame and guilt he carries with him everywhere, and Elara being late to a job interview, but walking her son to school, is such a small thing that also shows how much she loves him. I think it’s really the little things that count.

When and why did you become interested in writing?
Words have always been something that I’ve loved. I’ve always been a writer, it’s a part of me. In elementary school, I’d spend recess writing stories for my friends. In middle school, I’d spend my summers up until 6 a.m. trying to write a novel. My progression into film and screenwriting felt natural.

What makes your voice unique?
My experiences make my voice unique. The way I was raised, where I was raised, who I grew up around, the opinions and tastes that I’ve shaped myself—they make me who I am. And the person that I am always seems to sneak her way into the work that I’m producing, even if it isn’t always so obvious.

 

WGF Summer of Screenplays: Our Six Fave Tearjerkers

In this week’s Summer of Screenplays post, Library Intern Denise Curtis, recommends six films and their scripts to give your tear-producing glands a workout:

Eyes puffing up. Nose sniffling. Lump in your throat. Weird hiccup breathing thing that makes you look like a child. There’s nothing like a film that brings you to tears. I tend to be a stoic person, so it’s quite noteworthy when I connect to a film’s story and characters so much that I’m forced to fast-walk out of the theater to my car before anyone notices my smeared makeup and bloodshot eyes.

Because I am usually composed during movies, I found it difficult to compose this list of recommendations, but here are my top six. The order of the list goes from one to six with one being “Alright, cool, I only cried for 5 minutes” to six being a film where I cried so hard, I thought my eyes were going to pop due to high blood pressure. So, if you’re in the mood for a good sob session, you can read all of these screenplays in the WGF Library.

 

A Walk to Remember – Screenplay by Karen Janszen; Based on the Novel by Nicholas Sparks

This movie feels scientifically engineered to make you cry. It’s about a troubled teenage boy and a quiet teenage girl crossing paths and falling in love, complete with a heartbreaking secret that puts their relationship to the test. This is a textbook example of a tearjerker in the sense that it’s built to make you weep and it delivers.

 

The Pursuit of Happyness – Written by Steven Conrad

The Pursuit of Happyness tells the true story of Chris Gardner, a homeless single father, who fights to provide for his son by taking a competitive unpaid stockbroker internship in which one of twenty candidates will receive a job at the end. Chris and his son Chris Jr. have such a loving and pure bond, it catapults the viewer into a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute you ugly cry, the next minute you cry of pure happiness.

 

Titanic – Written by James Cameron

Every time you hear that weepy Irish music, it’s your cue to start crying. Now, this is a tear-jerker that is carefully constructed to make you sob (and even though you try not to because you are aware of this fact, you do anyway). Titanic tells the tale of a young aristocrat falling in love with a poor artist on the ill-fated R.M.S Titanic. Even though I’ve seen this film so many times, there are several scenes that convey so much despair, it’s hard not to weep. The writing is just iconic. It’s got to be on the list.

 

Never Let Me Go – Screenplay by Alex Garland; Based on the Novel by Kazuo Ishiguro

Warning: This film will give you such a shocking and terribly sad ending that it will feel like you got pistol-whipped in the face. Never Let Me Go follows the lives of three friends from being children in a boarding school to their adulthood, facing the challenges of love and the haunting pre-determined future that is planned for them. The film is so beautifully written and creative, it burns itself into your mind and sticks with you for days.

 

Les Miserables – Screenplay by William Nicholson & Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg & Herbert Kretzmer; From the stage musical Les Miserables Based on the Novel by Victor Hugo

When I first saw this movie, every time a character opened their mouth to sing, the audience was treated to my lightly sobbing in the back of the theater. I promise, every time a song springs forth you’ll have to hold back tears. It’s an amazing workout. Just see it. Unless you hate musicals, then maybe stay away from this one.

 

Twelve Years A Slave – Screenplay by John Ridley; Based on Twelve Years a Slave by Soloman Northup

This film was the saddest film I’ve ever seen. Just thinking about the movie for this post makes me want to cry. This film conveys so much pain and suffering. It’s the saddest movie experience I’ve had to date. I have no words to describe it. Just see it for yourself.

That’s all she wept!  – Denise

Youth Spotlight: “Glamor” by Nadjee

Through our Volunteer and Mentorship Program, we pair WGAW members with likeminded organizations that provide writing, filmmaking and literacy services to youth and underserved communities. In our collaborations, it goes without saying that we meet incredible young creatives every day. Nadjee is one of them.

We met Nadjee, 23, during a visit with Digital Dove, a filmmaking and youth empowerment program at Covenant House California. During that session, writer Diana Mendez (Rizzoli & Isles, Rosewood) inspired the students to think about the role of conflict in storytelling and using personal experiences to inform their stories. Nadjee opened up about his personal experiences and overcoming the obstacles that led him to the inspiration for his script.

We invited Nadjee to tell us more.

More information about Digital Dove and how to get involved can be found on their Facebook page.

What is the script about? 
The screenplay “Glamor” is about two teens coming of age and coming to terms with their feelings in the final week of high school. The lead protagonist and his best friend are LGBTQ with very different personalities, but great chemistry. Running in parallel to their journey of self is a mystical force called glamor, the personal magic of soul and character. As the boys come to terms with who they are, they also come to terms with a spiritual power. 

What inspired you to write this story? 
Writing became like therapy to me as the floodgates of my own feelings were coming unhinged during high school, and I needed a creative outlet. I’m very introspective, accommodating spiritual ideas and psychology into my work by creative means. Though it all stays grounded and easily relatable. 

What challenged you most when writing the story? 
The most challenging part was finding a direct and simple approach to selling the main points of plot and character development without breaking the SHORT FILM mold. I learned to keep it simple, don’t beat around the bush, and grab peoples’ attention. 

What moment are you most proud of in the script? 
The scene I’m most proud of is probably the bedroom scene for its intimacy and vulnerability. Since I didn’t want to add sexual content, this scene cuts right to the point and shows the characters as open and honest. It felt natural to me as I read the action scenes and dialogue aloud. 

When and why did you start writing? 
I began writing with a purpose back in 2012 when I started on my first novel, which this screenplay is based on. I started writing to let loose some of the racing energy I had. Many frustrations plagued my mind when I started, and it was sort of like venting. Later, I saw it as a way to redeem my thoughts from the selfish, racy and confused mess they were to something people would be patient with, interested in and try to understand.  

What makes your voice unique?  

My voice is willing to go places I feel many people overlook or ignore. I consider myself a heartful writer with vulnerable, and courageous content. 

WGF Summer of Screenplays: Our Five Fave Sisters on Screen

This week, our Director of Programs and Community Outreach, Libbie Anderson, explores her favorite portrayals of sisters in film in honor of National Sisters Day on Sunday, August 5.

Growing up, I had a hard timing believing my mom when she would promise that someday my sisters would be my best friends. There seemed to be a canyon-sized gap between us and the loving, hilarious Tanner sisters on Full House, who could cleanly settle their disputes before the next commercial break.

Instead, I found solace in the beautifully imperfect portrayals of sisters to be found in books and elsewhere on screen that seemed to prove that, under the loving optimism, there could be layers of deeper emotion, chaos and confusion that are exquisitely unique to sisterhood. And it’s precisely the turmoil we endured together that makes my sisters my most trusted confidantes today.

Below are a few of my favorite portrayals of sisters on screen. You can read the screenplays for each in the WGF Library.

THE VIRGIN SUICIDES (1999) written by Sofia Coppola

There are few sisters in pop culture who are as affecting as the Lisbons. In The Virgin Suicides, Sofia Coppola perfectly captures the dreaminess of being a young girl, and at the same time takes deadly serious the angst of teenhood. In their parents’ and community’s attempts to keep the sisters pure and safe, the Lisbon girls are bonded in their suppression. Where young female characters are often written at arms-length, Coppola brings a richness to and respect for her teenage characters scarcely captured before.

MARGOT AT THE WEDDING (2007) written by Noah Baumbach

Margot at the Wedding is a film that perfectly captures the truly schizophrenic emotional dynamics that can exist between sisters. In a single exchange, years of resentment dissolves into genuine admiration and back again. The decades of secrets, judgement, affection and care that has entangled this sisterhood are glaring, but nothing from the past is laid out in tedious exposition. Sisterhood is incoherent and messy, and I love that Noah Baumbach doesn’t try to make much sense of it.

MISTRESS AMERICA (2015) written by Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig

In Mistress America, Noah Baumbach again explores sisterhood, or rather, soon-to-be step-sisterhood. As the product of a blended family, I relate to the fascination and skepticism Tracy has for her elder step-sis. Tracy becomes a passenger to Brooke’s antics and is simultaneously intoxicated by Brooke’s moxie and horrified by her life choices. They quickly and easily slip into the love-and-judgment feedback loop that is quintessential to sisterhood.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962) written by Lukas Heller

Okay, this is a worst case scenario as far as sisterhoods go, but it’s a classic to be sure. Joan Crawford and Bette Davis channel their real life drama through their characters, Blanche and Jane Hudson, to take sibling rivalry to uncharted territory. The claustrophobic film oozes with contempt and despair, and provides a truly frightening view of how fame and jealousies can warp what could otherwise be a powerful bond (that goes for on screen and off.)

THE COLOR PURPLE (1985) written by Menno Meyjes

The Color Purple demonstrates the power of sisterhood at a time and place where it would be seemingly impossible to thrive. Set in the early 1900’s in the south, Celie’s sister Nettie is ripped away from her at a young age. Alone, Celie is forced to face horrific abuse and demoralization at the hands of her father, then by her husband. Gradually, in her sister’s absence, Celie finds strength and support from other women, forging new bonds and definitions of sisterhood. It’s the very loss of her sister at a young age that informs her path to come, made that much more powerful when the two are reunited in the end.

Search for these screenplays and more in our Library Catalog

WGF Summer of Screenplays: Our Five Fave School Movies

In this week’s Summer of Screenplays post, Library Intern, Olive Sherman, reflects on her five favorite high school and college set films: 

Before there were movies for me there were Disney Channel Movies. Watching movies in my young life meant a Shrek 2 DVD or High School Musical on the TV while leaning against the costume trunk. It was really only Disney that could make the world of the teenager look magical. Where, on a school trip to Rome, the lead female protagonist finds a Roman boyfriend and sings a sparkling triumphant pop number in a convertible skirt for one hundred thousand people with a real life Italian pop star. In what was almost my earliest understanding, movies served an anticipatory if not aspirational purpose, in that the story projected on the screen often reflected a near future, a high school future, a college future, thus making it (and later movies more generally) completely fascinating.

The five selections below make up my favorite school movie scripts in the Writers Guild Foundation Library. To varying degrees of reality, comedy and drama, they describe the stories of high school and college students in ways that illuminate the components of school and what they mean to people who are growing.

Juno (2007) – Written by Diablo Cody

Juno is the first movie I ever loved, like really truly loved like I owned it. It’s not about the unplanned pregnancy, abortion, adoption or the baby… in my opinion at least. It’s about Juno MacGuff, effervescent, clever. Under her gaze, high school — in all of its threats and its palaver — becomes obvious, dynamic, lucid and meticulously appreciated by weird girls. Juno’s every line gleams with a youthful, terrestrial wisdom, rendering the script endlessly quotable. Particularly special is her relationship with her best friend Paulie Bleeker, which is among the most caring, earnest and most romantic relationships depicted on screen to date.

 

Damsels in Distress (2011) – Written by Whit Stillman

Damsels in Distress, like all of Whit Stillman’s films, is concerned first and foremost with order, and encourages a theoretical framework in which order takes precedence over contradiction and chaos. A collegiate environment is a particularly interesting setting in which to investigate such a framework seeing as both poles (dis/order) exist there simultaneously. Here, three prim pastel college girls adopt a sophomore transfer student and collectively proselytize their heathen frat boy and suicidal-depressive peers into a life that is structured and proper, meanwhile experiencing and contending with their own forms of disarray. What results is a film that probes at the question of artifice and mechanics in order. It asks if order is at all organic, and if there is a way for us humans to follow it naturally?

 

American Graffiti (1973) – Written by George Lucas and Gloria Katz & Willard Huyck

From the date of its 1973 release, American Graffiti, a film set in the Summer of 1962 seems to have provoked one overwhelming declaration. “Things are different now,” a friend and I agreed last week after a screening of the movie in Santa Monica. But of course, we’re all wrong about our changing times, and the better question gets at what exactly has stayed the same? What to do with the timelessness of high school? For American Graffiti is ultimately a film about high school friendships, their tenuousness, their questionable lasting power. After graduation, is there any point to our high school friendships? If there is one thing to take away from American Graffiti’s big dance scenes in the school gym, in which Steve, Laurie and Curt drift in a sea of barely familiar 17 and 18 year-olds, it’s that we’re mostly friends with each other in high school so that we don’t have to show up to things alone. All of the relationships in the movie feel somewhat ephemeral, or at least in danger of being so, begging the question about what truly keeps us attached to people and places, more than just school and the structure of the day? What makes a relationship permanent?

 

Dear White People (2014) – Written by Justin Simien

For me what is most interesting about Dear White People is how it addresses issues of identity politics, political correctness, etc. by pointing to the complex existential problems that arise with Blackness in contemporary America, particularly through the lens of elite college campuses. In the film a new randomized housing policy puts a traditionally African American dorm in danger of white encroachment, prompting polarized protests across the student body lead mostly by Sam White, the newly elected Head of Armstrong-Parker house whose radio show “Dear White People” serves as narration throughout the movie.

The movie references a history of White fixation with Black culture and the White-manufactured stereotypes of Black life that lead to racist American folktales, practices such as blackface minstrelsy, and the several blackface college parties that have actually occurred on real college campuses. Such a fixation, as is illuminated in the film, is a form of cultural imperialism, dangerous in part because of the way it forces Blackness into the realm of performance. Through cultural appropriation, and similar acts of othering, white students attempt to coerce students of color into confusion about their racial identity (is it innate, entirely performative?), thereby rejecting their humanity, their need need to reckon a personal identity with that of the collective. But, as the movie shows, a culture can also empower a marginalized group to resist their oppressors, and unite in their own experience of difference.

 

American Teen (2008) – Written by Nanette Burstein

American Teen, a 2008 documentary, follows the lives of five high school seniors as they navigate college applications, high school romances, prom and basketball in small town Warsaw, Indiana. It initially garnered criticism for feeling sensationalized or stagey (in one poster, the five cast members pose as the Breakfast Club characters), but I’ve found that it is this exact “fake” feeling that makes the movie feel so valuable in our collective consciousness regarding high school. The movie’s real “big reveal” is that there is no mystery about high school: it’s not nice, there is a fit/no-fit mentality, information spreads, sports are important, these are all things we knew all along, but we never saw them feel so insular. American Teen reminds us that high school is basically its own little world with problems that recycle within the school, but that we are basically mostly freed from upon graduation. It’s the perfect subject for a movie, because movies do the exact same thing: they show you a new world that’s yours for a moment, then leave you with something small.

xoxo — Olive

WGF Summer of Screenplays: Our Six Fave Road Movies

I find it helpful to view a story as a jagged line between two points.

Like a map, the line is the road a character takes to get from point A to point B. That road is often demarcated by landmarks, stops, highs, lows, setbacks, and unexpected changes of plans. The events – foreseen and unforeseen – along the road are moments of personal transition and transformation. The trip can be internal and/or external. It might even be an external manifestation of an internal conflict. Either way, one thing is certain. The characters won’t be the same after the events of the story when they reach their inevitable destination. The journey, the story and the road fundamentally change a person.

I’ve heard many writers posit that, in a sense, all movies are road movies. Some movies just happen to be more road movie-ish than others. With the spirit of travel and wanderlust in the Summer air, I offer you my favorite road movies and their screenplays, all of which you can read and study in the WGF Library.

 

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934) Screenplay by Robert Riskin; Based on the Short Story Night Bus by Samuel Hopkins Adams

IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT is the Ford Model T of road movies. One of the most influential films of the 20th Century, it lays the pavement and establishes the tropes and characteristics that so many other road movies follow. A recently fired newspaper reporter vows to reunite a spoiled heiress with her millionaire fiancé if she promises to give him exclusive access to her story. Through traveling down the road, staying in shoddy cabins and hitchhiking rides – including one in a Ford Model T – the pair of opposites unexpectedly falls for each other (which leads to trouble when they arrive at their destination).

I love the title of this movie. It illustrates how on a casual evening, somebody you dislike can do something that changes your opinion of them. On a casual evening, you can surprise yourself by feeling compelled to do something out of character yourself. As writers, one of the most essential things we can strive to capture is the moment that it happens one night, “it” being subtle, consequential character change that causes the story to shift course.

 

THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940) Screenplay by Nunnally Johnson; Based on the novel by John Steinbeck

In many of his stories and novels, John Steinbeck helps to define the very idea of the American road narrative. In THE GRAPES OF WRATH, a family of “Okies” leaves their dustbowl-ravaged home, hitting Route 66 in a beat-up homemade Sedan-truck combo. Their objective? A better life, picking fruit in California. In the driver’s seat sits Tom Joad — the second son in the Joad family — who comes home after serving jail time for a homicide. Traveling west with his folks, Tom undergoes a radical personal transformation. He begins the story a convict, but after witnessing the humanity and inhumanity of his fellow Americans on the road, he becomes a crusader for social justice. Nunally Johnson’s adapted screenplay illustrates how the American dream doesn’t always come true and that reaching your destination doesn’t always equate better life, but getting there can help a person realize their soul. It’s a great script to study for character arc.

 

PAPER MOON (1973) Screenplay by Alvin Sargent; Based on the novel by Joe David Brown

PAPER MOON feels like Charlie Chaplin’s THE KID (1921) set on the road. When a young girl’s mother is killed, a con man resolves to return her to her Aunt in St. Joseph, Missouri. Along the way, he finds the stoic, streetwise kid to be an asset to his cons and to his life. I’m including this script on my list as it’s a near perfect depiction of a father/daughter pair of opposites who quarrel with one-another, but ultimately create a familial bond on the road. Traveling in a Model A convertible, the pair finds that their destination doesn’t necessarily resolve their problems, thus they choose to keep moving along down the road. It’s a screenplay that recognizes the line doesn’t end at point B, but rather transforms into a new storyline that ventures on to other points.

 

THELMA & LOUISE (1991) Written by Callie Khouri

It’s a road movie that feels like a country music ballad. THELMA & LOUISE flips classic outlaw road movies like BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID and EASY RIDER on their heads. The southern-set film tells the story of a waitress and a housewife who use the road to liberate themselves from their repressed lives. Like Tom Joad in THE GRAPES OF WRATH, at different junctures, their eyes are opened to new skills, capabilities and a fighting spirit they never knew existed dormant within themselves. In her script, Callie Khouri proves exceptionally adept at creating setbacks for her characters. Beginning with Louise shooting a man who assaults Thelma in a honky-tonk parking lot, the friends evade capture in a 1966 Ford Thunderbird and save each other one trial and low point after another. By the conclusion of the story, the outlaws make the ultimate escape and their trip never really ends.

 

THE STRAIGHT STORY (1999) Written by John Roach & Mary Sweeney

I’m including THE STRAIGHT STORY on this list because who says that characters must travel exclusively by car in road movies? Here, the protagonist, Alvin Straight (deemed too sick and infirm to drive) inventively takes to the road in a John Deere tractor to see his faraway brother who’s recently suffered a stroke. Part of his motivation for taking the trip is just to prove that he can. Like the best road movie characters, Alvin meets all manner of people on the road. While discovering small-town America, he discovers himself. The sweet, salt of the earth nature of John Roach & Mary Sweeney’s screenplay makes THE STRAIGHT STORY one of director David Lynch’s most enjoyably “straightforward” films.

 

WILD (2014) Screenplay by Nick Hornby; Based upon the book by Cheryl Strayed

I can’t conclude this list without also mentioning 2014’s WILD. Adapted by Nick Hornby from Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, the script and the film challenge the very molecular structure of road movies. Like Dante climbing the mountain of Purgatory in his DIVINE COMEDY, Cheryl takes to the PCT to face her vices and demons after the death of her mother. The resultant story uses Cheryl’s brain to jump in and out of memories, feelings and hallucinations. In a culture saturated with images and narratives about male wayfaring, Wild is a road movie about the spiritual evolvement of a female vagabond.

I truly could continue to ramble on and on about road movies. If you’re looking for a few more to round out this list, I recommend CENTRAL STATION (1998), A GOOFY MOVIE (1995), THE LAST DETAIL (1973) and REMEMBER THE NIGHT (1940).

Safe travels! – Lauren

WGF Summer of Screenplays: Our Five Fave Romantic Comedies

What can I say—I’m a sucker for rom-coms. Some might consider them formulaic and frivolous, but to me, that is the epitome of a fun summer flick. Plus, so many romantic comedies are filled with incredible wit, nuanced observations, and memorable characters that are as likely to be found in more “serious” fare.

Because I’m such a fan of the genre, it was truly difficult to pick just five to recommend. These choices are in no particular order. They all just happen to pass my test of “Could I watch this movie over and over without tiring of it?” Answer yes to these five picks and read their screenplays in the WGF Library this summer.

Clueless (1995) – Written by Amy Heckerling 

I was a teenager when this movie came out, so I was definitely its target audience. While there may have been updates in cell phone technology and girls aren’t quite pining after Luke Perry anymore, this movie, inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma, still manages to bring in serious laughs with unforgettable catch phrases (“As if!”) and one-liners. Admit it, “You’re just a virgin who can’t drive” remains one of the most epic takedowns ever. Clueless includes the requisite romance, both unrequited and not, but you mostly fall in love with Cher’s colorful world and take on life.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006) – Screenplay by Aline Brosh McKenna, based on the book by Lauren Weisberger

Speaking of epic takedowns and classic lines, this 2006 gem not only introduced us to the brilliant Emily Blunt, but also gave us the gift of withering clapbacks care of steely editrix Miranda Priestly (played by Meryl Streep). The true romance (okay, maybe it’s more of a love-hate relationship) that’s revealed is not between any two characters, but rather with fashion and its ability to transform as well as masquerade our inner selves. McKenna’s screenplay also blessed us with a monologue that had us all ruminating over the greater meaning behind those lumpy blue sweaters.

Love Actually (2003) – Written by Richard Curtis

I know this is considered a Christmas or holiday movie, but I don’t care. LOVE IS SEASONLESS. AND IT’S EVERYWHERE. And that point is clear from the movie’s first lines: “If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” If the charming English ensemble cast nor the numerous sweet (and sometimes speechless as seen in the scene below) proclamations of affection don’t melt your heart, then why on earth are you reading a list of rom-coms?

The Philadelphia Story (1940) – Screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart, based on the play by Philip Barry 

I had to include this classic, which launched my woman crush on Katharine Hepburn. Playwright Philip Barry wrote the character of Tracy Lord with Hepburn in mind, which not only imbued the independent, sharp-tongued socialite with the confidence that the actress naturally commanded, but also with this surprising vulnerability. It made lines like below even more impactful. Almost eighty years later and Tracy’s sentiment still rings true in almost every  romantic comedy out now.

Under the Tuscan Sun (2003) – Screenplay by Audrey Wells, based on the book by Frances Mayes 

Whenever I have a bad day or feel overwhelmed by horrible news headlines, I watch this rom-com to live vicariously through the main character Frances (played by Diane Lane). Sure, there are tons of films that take place in the land of la dolce vita, but the whole premise of leaving life’s mess behind for a Tuscan villa and romance on the Amalfi coast is peak escapism. I especially loved the small moments that gave the movie local color and held in themselves a bit of romance as well.

Browse these screenplays plus more in our Library catalog. Vive l’amour!  – Enid

 

WGF Summer of Screenplays: Our Five Favorite Horror Films

With warm temperatures upon us and TV fellowship deadlines passed, we’ve noticed that many of our library users are interested in reading feature screenplays. Thus, we’ve started a Summer blog series dedicated to recommending our favorite films and scripts across a myriad of genres and topics to give you inspiration for your next perusal of our shelves. This week, everyone’s favorite Library Manager Javier Barrios scares up his five favorite horror films.

Michael Gingold, managing editor and then editor-in-chief for 20 years of Fangoria Magazine (It’s okay if you’ve never heard of the publication) famously said, “1979 was the year horror became mainstream again with the premiere of Alien.” That comment seems true since a slew of notable (and not so notable) horror films followed. Their titles are recognizable even to those who’ve never actually seen them—Evil Dead, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street, just to name a few.

Since the birth of film, the horror genre has risen and fallen repeatedly in popularity. It has been said that horror films are truly great when times in society aren’t so great. Today, even with hit titles such as The Conjuring, A Quiet Place and Get Out, it’s not exactly clear if horror is “back” or not, but one thing that seems constant throughout time is that a well-reviewed (and scary) horror film almost always manages to draw a crowd. With that spirit in mind, I thought I’d talk a little bit about 5 horror films that seem to fit these criteria.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920) – Written by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer

Caligari has many claims to fame. It is considered to be the very first true horror film (Nosferatu was released two years later). The film is also credited as being the quintessential example of German Expressionism. Expressionism, with its non-realistic sets, crazy geometrical angles and painted walls and floors representing both shadows and light, is said to have paved the way for film noir in the United States. To me, the most interesting aspect of this cinematic gem is that it contains one of the first twists in cinema. Twists are a ploy used in many horror/thrillers and I won’t spoil this one by revealing it here.

The Omen (1976) – Written by David Seltzer

Taking a cue from the element that made Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist so deliciously frightful, The Omen contains one of the scariest ingredients you can possibly use in this genre—Satan. I mean, doesn’t everything evil come from or lead to hell and Satan? The scene where the nanny commits suicide—apparently commanded by Satan—is one of the creepiest and disturbing scenes in horror. But to me, the most interesting aspect of this film is that—even though the script was commissioned—writer David Seltzer is still credited with an original screenplay. That may not seem like a big deal, but if you look at almost any credit from horror films during the 60s and 70s, most of them were based on novels.

Halloween (1978) – Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill

A good friend of mine claims that he watches Halloween once a year. Before I can catch myself saying, “That’s weird,” I realize I sort of do too. This same friend calls Halloween a “horror machine,” and he’s right. That’s exactly what this film is. The film doesn’t bother wasting time setting up how Michael Myers got to Haddonfield after he escaped. Somehow, he’s just able to drive a car 150 miles (having never driven a car before) to start his killing spree. But we don’t care, because from the moment he begins to stalk Laurie to the final frame of the film, we are literally at the edge of our seats. And even though this script was written some 40 years ago, it reads very modern with little description but lots of suspense.

The Lost Boys (1987) – Screenplay by Janice Fischer & James Jeremias and Jeffrey Boam; Story by Janice Fischer & James Jeremias

It’s quirky—funny at times, scary at times. It’s kind of a mess, but ultimately, it’s The Lost Boys! What more can you say? The style of this film is spectacular and if you were a teenager in 1987, you definitely went to see this film and loved it… or thought you loved it. To me, the most notable aspect of this movie is that it’s 80s nostalgia at its absolute purest. One could say, it had the look!

The Conjuring (2013) – Written by Chad Hayes & Carey W. Hayes

Aside from it being one of the scariest films I’ve ever seen (with a surprisingly emotional scene thrown somewhere in there), what I found most impressive is how the writers, who are twin brothers, were able to keep the action and scares confined to the house. There’s a lot of talk these days about keeping things contained (I assume for budgetary reasons), and this is a great example of how to do that, but with honors. They use every nook and cranny of that big old house and managed to freak out enough people to launch a franchise.

The next time you have 10+ free hours, go ahead and watch some of these gems. Or better yet, come read the scripts right here in the library!

Sweet dreams! – Javier