Professor Firstdraft’s GOODTIME SCRIPTORIUM

Dispatches from the far reaches of the WGF.

Screenplay 101: HANNAH AND HER SISTERS

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If you’re my age, 1986 was probably one of the better movie years of your youth. ’86 was the year of STAR TREK IV, TOP GUN, ALIENS, STAND BY ME, FERRIS BEULLER’S DAY OFF, BACK TO SCHOOL, PLATOON… the list goes on. Oh yeah, and THE COLOR OF MONEY! AN AMERICAN TAIL! POLICE ACADEMY 3! Fine, maybe I’m getting a little carried away. Still, though. You get the point.

But only one movie on the WGA’s list of the 101 best screenplays is on the list – number 95 on the list, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS by Woody Allen.

Today’s installment is the first two pages of the script (from an undated draft), which feature Elliot (Michael Caine) waxing sorta-poetic about the object of his desire, Lee (Barbara Hershey), before being interrupted by – surprise! – his wife, Hannah (Mia Farrow).

It’s a great scene, since the script (aided by Caine’s unforgettably desperate performance) wraps us up so completely in Elliot’s unrequited (for now, at least) obsession with Lee that the sudden appearance of Hannah is a shock. And in the first two pages, we’re immersed headfirst in the emotional conflict of the film. What’s held back, at least for these opening two pages, is the relationship between Lee and Hannah – which I won’t spoil for those of you who haven’t seen the movie.

Hannah and Her Sisters_1_undated Hannah and her Sisters_2

Here’s the deal: Throughout 2014, we’re posting pages from every script on the WGA’s list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays, as chosen by Guild membership, because we have every one in our library. Sure, we have other scripts that didn’t make it onto the list, either because they didn’t make the cut or because they were produced after the list was generated (presumably SHARKNADO, which we totally have a copy of, is only in the latter category).