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Writers Heart "Casablanca": WGA Ranks 101 Greatest Screenplays

E! Online, April 10, 2006

If you ask Hollywood scribes, Casablanca has the write stuff.

The 1942 Kleenex classic, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, tops the Writers Guild of America's inaugural list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays of all time, the guild announced Friday.

The beginning of a beautiful friendship indeed. And who could blame them?

Casablanca's Oscar-winning screenplay, penned by Julius Epstein, Philip Epstein and Howard Koch, offered up unmatched repartee and some of the most memorable lines in movie history.

A small sampling: "Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she had to walk into mine"; "Kiss me. Kiss me as if it were the last time"; "We'll always have Paris"; and capping off the coolest-sounding brush-off speech ever: "Here's looking at you, kid." (The line "Play it again, Sam," as cinephiles know, isn't actually in the flick but comes from the 1972 movie of the same name written and starring Woody Allen).

This poll, voted on by members of the WGA's East Coast and West Coast branches, was created to honor the best of the written word on the big screen.

In second place was a script Tinseltown writers couldn't refuse, Francis Ford Coppola's 1972 Mafia masterpiece, The Godfather, written by Coppola and Mario Puzo.

Rounding out the top five: Robert Towne's Chinatown; Orson Welles and Herman Mankiewicz's Citizen Kane; and Joseph Mankiewicz's All About Eve.

"This list and the films on it are meant to be scrutinized and criticized, dissected and collected, viewed and reviewed," WGA West President Patric Verrone said. "They are the literature of our industry and the legacy of our union."

The WGA countdown is similar in vein to annual lists released by the American Film Institute, such as its 100 Best American Films, 100 Best Thrillers, and 50 Greatest Actors (which Bogie finished atop), and Best Love Stories, on which Casablanca ranked number one.

The WGA's 101, which was cosponsored by Premiere magazine, was unveiled at a gala tribute Thursday night at the Writers Guild Theater, hosted by comic actor, writer, director and radio host Harry Shearer.

A who's-who of writers attended, including George Lucas, Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark), Nora Ephron (When Harry Met Sally...), Buck Henry (The Graduate), Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential), Bob Gale (Back the Future trilogy), Nicholas Pileggi (Goodfellas), Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) and Curtis Hanson (Wonder Boys).

The 101 finalists were compiled from 1,400 screenplays nominated by members for consideration. The only eligibility requirement was that the script had to have been produced. A total of 45 scripts were originals, while 56 were adaptations, with dramas and thrillers being favored heavily over comedies.

Coppola, Allen and Billy Wilder had four scripts apiece make the cut, while Charlie Kaufman, William Goldman and John Huston each had three.

The list:

  1. CASABLANCA (1942)
    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 (1972)
    Screenplay by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola. Based on the novel by Mario Puzo.
  3. CHINATOWN (1974)
    Written by Robert Towne.
  4. CITIZEN KANE (1941)
    Written by Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles.
  5. ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)Review
    Screenplay by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Based on "The Wisdom of Eve," a short story and radio play by Mary Orr.
  6. ANNIE HALL (1977)
    Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman.
  7. SUNSET BLVD. (1950)
    Written by Charles Brackett & Billy Wilder and D.M. Marshman, Jr.
  8. NETWORK (1976)
    Written by Paddy Chayefsky.
  9. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959)
    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 (1974)
    Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo. Based on Mario Puzo's novel "The Godfather".
  11. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)
    Written by William Goldman.
  12. DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)
    Screenplay by Stanley Kubrick and Peter George and Terry Southern. Based on novel "Red Alert" by Peter George.
  13. THE GRADUATE (1967)
    Screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry. Based on the novel by Charles Webb.
  14. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962)
    Screenplay by Robert Bolt and Michael Wilson. Based on the life and writings of Col. T.E. Lawrence.
  15. THE APARTMENT (1960)
    Written by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond.
  16. PULP FICTION (1994)
    Written by Quentin Tarantino. Stories by Quentin Tarantino & Roger Avary.
  17. TOOTSIE (1982)
    Screenplay by Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal. Story by Don McGuire and Larry Gelbart.
  18. ON THE WATERFRONT (1954)
    Screen Story and Screenplay by Budd Schulberg. Based on "Crime on the Waterfront" articles by Malcolm Johnson.
  19. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1961)
    Screenplay by Horton Foote. Based on the novel by Harper Lee.
  20. IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)
    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.
  21. NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)
    Written by Ernest Lehman.
  22. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (1994)
    Screenplay by Frank Darabont. Based on the short story "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption" by Stephen King.
  23. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939)
    Screenplay by Sidney Howard. Based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell.
  24. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)
    Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman. Story by Charlie Kaufman & Michel Gondry & Pierre Bismuth.
  25. THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)
    Screenplay by Noel Langley and Florence Ryerson and Edgar Allan Woolf Adaptation by Noel Langley. Based on the novel by L. Frank Baum.
  26. DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944)
    Screenplay by Billy Wilder and Raymond Chandler. Based on the novel by James M. Cain.
  27. GROUNDHOG DAY (1993)
    Screenplay by Danny Rubin and Harold Ramis. Story by Danny Rubin.
  28. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (1998)
    Written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard.
  29. SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS (1941)
    Written by Preston Sturges.
  30. UNFORGIVEN (1992)
    Written by David Webb Peoples.
  31. HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940)
    Screenplay by Charles Lederer. Based on the play "The Front Page" by Ben Hecht & Charles MacArthur.
  32. FARGO (1996)
    Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen.
  33. THE THIRD MAN (1949)
    Screenplay by Graham Greene. Story by Graham Greene. Based on the short story by Graham Greene.
  34. THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1957)
    Screenplay by Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehman. From a novelette by Ernest Lehman.
  35. THE USUAL SUSPECTS (1995)
    Written by Christopher McQuarrie.
  36. MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969)
    Screenplay by Waldo Salt. Based on the novel by James Leo Herlihy.
  37. THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)
    Screenplay by Donald Ogden Stewart. Based on the play by Philip Barry.
  38. AMERICAN BEAUTY (1999)
    Written by Alan Ball.
  39. THE STING (1973)
    Written by David S. Ward.
  40. WHEN HARRY MET SALLY (1989)
    Written by Nora Ephron.
  41. GOODFELLAS (1990)
    Screenplay by Nicholas Pileggi & Martin Scorsese. Based on book "Wise Guy" by Nicholas Pileggi.
  42. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981)
    Screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan. Story by George Lucas and Philip Kaufman.
  43. TAXI DRIVER (1976)
    Written by Paul Schrader.
  44. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946)
    Screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood. Based on novel "Glory For Me" by MacKinley Kantor.
  45. ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST (1975)
    Screenplay by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman. Based on the novel by Ken Kesey.
  46. THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948)
    Screenplay by John Huston. Based on the novel by B. Traven.
  47. THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)
    Screenplay by John Huston. Based on the novel by Dashiell Hammett.
  48. THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957)
    Screenplay by Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson. Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle.
  49. SCHINDLER'S LIST (1993)
    Screenplay by Steven Zaillian. Based on the novel by Thomas Keneally.
  50. THE SIXTH SENSE (1993)
    Written by M. Night Shyamalan.
  51. BROADCAST NEWS (1987)
    Written by James L. Brooks.
  52. THE LADY EVE (1941)
    Screenplay by Preston Sturges. Story by Monckton Hoffe.
  53. ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN (1976)
    Screenplay by William Goldman. Based on the book by Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward.
  54. MANHATTAN (1979)
    Written by Woody Allen & Marshall Brickman.
  55. APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)
    Written by John Milius and Francis Coppola. Narration by Michael Herr.
  56. BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985)
    Written by Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale.
  57. CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS. Written by Woody Allen.
  58. ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)
    Screenplay by Alvin Sargent. Based on the novel by Judith Guest.
  59. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)
    Screenplay by Robert Riskin. Based on the story "Night Bus" by Samuel Hopkins Adams.
  60. L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (1997)
    Screenplay by Brian Helgeland & Curtis Hanson. Based on the novel by James Ellroy.
  61. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)
    Screenplay by Ted Tally. Based on the novel by Thomas Harris.
  62. MOONSTRUCK (1987)
    Written by John Patrick Shanley.
  63. JAWS (1975)
    Screenplay by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb. Based on the novel by Peter Benchley.
  64. TERMS OF ENDEARMENT (1983)
    Screenplay by James L. Brooks. Based on the novel by Larry McMurtry.
  65. SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (1952)
    Screen Story and Screenplay by Betty Comden & Adolph Green. Based on the song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown.
  66. JERRY MAGUIRE (1996)
    Written by Cameron Crowe.
  67. E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982)
    Written by Melissa Mathison.
  68. STAR WARS (1977)
    Written by George Lucas.
  69. DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975)
    Screenplay by Frank Pierson. Based on a magazine article by P.F. Kluge and Thomas Moore.
  70. THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951)
    Screenplay by James Agee and John Huston. Based on the novel by C.S. Forester.
  71. THE LION IN WINTER (1968)
    Screenplay by James Goldman. Based on the play by James Goldman.
  72. THELMA & LOUISE (1991)
    Written by Callie Khouri.
  73. AMADEUS (1984)
    Screenplay by Peter Shaffer. Based on his play.
  74. BEING JOHN MALKOVICH (1999)
    Written by Charlie Kaufman.
  75. HIGH NOON (1952)
    Screenplay by Carl Foreman. Based on short story "The Tin Star" by John W. Cunningham.
  76. RAGING BULL (1980)
    Screenplay by Paul Schrader and Mardik Martin. Based on the book by Jake La Motta with Joseph Carter and Peter Savage.
  77. ADAPTATION (2002)
    Screenplay by Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman. Based on the book "The Orchid Thief" by Susan Orlean.
  78. ROCKY (1976)
    Written by Sylvester Stallone.
  79. THE PRODUCERS (1968)
    Written by Mel Brooks.
  80. WITNESS (1985)
    Screenplay by Earl W. Wallace & William Kelley. Story by William Kelley and Pamela Wallace & Earl W. Wallace.
  81. BEING THERE (1979)
    Screenplay by Jerzy Kosinski. Inspired by the novel by Jerzy Kosinski.
  82. COOL HAND LUKE (1967)
    Screenplay by Donn Pearce and Frank Pierson. Based on the novel by Donn Pearce.
  83. REAR WINDOW (1954)
    Screenplay by John Michael Hayes. Based on the short story by Cornell Woolrich.
  84. THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987)
    Screenplay by William Goldman. Based on his novel.
  85. LA GRANDE ILLUSION (1937)
    Written by Jean Renoir and Charles Spaak.
  86. HAROLD & MAUDE (1971)
    Written by Colin Higgins.
  87. 8 1/2 (1963)
    Screenplay by Federico Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano, Brunello Rond. Story by Fellini, Flaiano.
  88. FIELD OF DREAMS (1989)
    Screenplay by Phil Alden Robinson. Based on the book by W.P. Kinsella.
  89. FORREST GUMP (1994)
    Screenplay by Eric Roth. Based on the novel by Winston Groom.
  90. SIDEWAYS (2004)
    Screenplay by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor. Based on the novel by Rex Pickett.
  91. THE VERDICT (1982)
    Screenplay by David Mamet. Based on the novel by Barry Reed.
  92. PSYCHO (1960)
    Screenplay by Joseph Stefano. Based on the novel by Robert Bloch.
  93. DO THE RIGHT THING (1989)
    Written by Spike Lee.
  94. PATTON (1970)
    Screen Story and Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H. North. Based on "A Soldier's Story" by Omar H. Bradley and "Patton: Ordeal and Triumph" by Ladislas Farago.
  95. HANNAH AND HER SISTERS (1986)
    Written by Woody Allen.
  96. THE HUSTLER (1961)
    Screenplay by Sidney Carroll & Robert Rossen. Based on the novel by Walter Tevis.
  97. THE SEARCHERS (1956)
    Screenplay by Frank S. Nugent. Based on the novel by Alan Le May.
  98. THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940)
    Screenplay by Nunnally Johnson. Based on the novel by John Steinbeck.
  99. THE WILD BUNCH (1969)
    Screenplay by Walon Green and Sam Peckinpah. Story by Walon Green and Roy Sickner.
  100. MEMENTO (2000)
    Screenplay by Christopher Nolan. Based on the short story "Memento Mori" by Jonathan Nolan.
  101. NOTORIOUS (1946)
    Written by Ben Hecht.

2006 E! Online

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