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).
Today’s meaty, manly installment is THE WILD BUNCH by Sam Peckinpah and Walon Green. Directed by Peckinpah and starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine and Warren Oates, the movie was released in 1969 – the same year as the genre-sharing and thematically sort-of-overlapping BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, #11 on the list – and became at once a cult favorite and broadly beloved classic.
Posted here are the first two pages of the script. Notice how dramatically the long character descriptions differ from anything you’d learn in a screenwriting class today. Peckinpah and Green take their time describing Pike’s gang here, noting that Pike’s “values are not ours” and his companions as “without loyalty or honor, to anyone except each other and that is limited.”
Not what you’d learn to write in a modern screenwriting class. But riveting, and worthy of placement in the top screenplays of all time.