Dave Tompkins :: DVD Library :: Other Lists :: Writers Guild of America Top 101 Screenplays


(text-only version)

1.  Casablanca (1942)

Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

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2.  The Godfather (1972)

The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

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3.  Chinatown (1974)

A private detective investigating an adultery case stumbles on to a scheme of murder that has something to do with water.

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4.  Citizen Kane (1941)

Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

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5.  All About Eve (1950)

An ingenue insinuates herself in to the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theater friends.

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6.  Annie Hall (1977)

Neurotic New York comedian Alvy Singer falls in love with the ditsy Annie Hall.

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7.  Sunset Boulevard (1950)

A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity.

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8.  Network (1976)

A TV network cynically exploits a deranged ex-TV anchor's ravings and revelations about the media for their own profit.

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9.  Some Like It Hot (1959)

When two musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all female band disguised as women, but further complications set in.

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10.  The Godfather: Part II (1974)

The early life & career of Vito Corleone in 1920's New York is portrayed while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on his crime syndicate stretching from Lake Tahoe, Nevada to pre-Revolution 1958 Cuba.

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11.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Two Western bank/train robbers flee to Bolivia when the law gets too close.

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12.  Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

An insane general starts a process to nuclear holocaust that a war room of politicians and generals frantically try to stop.

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13.  The Graduate (1967)

Recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock is trapped into an affair with Mrs. Robinson, who happens to be the wife of his father's business partner and then finds himself falling in love with her teenage daughter, Elaine.

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14.  Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Epic rumination on a flamboyant and controversial British military figure and his conflicted loyalties during wartime service.

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15.  The Apartment (1960)

A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

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16.  Pulp Fiction (1994)

The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

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17.  Tootsie (1982)

An unemployed actor with a reputation for being difficult disguises himself as a woman to get a role in a soap opera.

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18.  On the Waterfront (1954)

An ex-prize fighter turned longshoreman struggles to stand up to his corrupt union bosses.

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19.  To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge, and his kids against prejudice.

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20.  It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would had been like if he never existed.

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21.  North by Northwest (1959)

A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive.

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22.  The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

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23.  Gone with the Wind (1939)

American classic in which a manipulative woman and a roguish man carry on a turbulent love affair in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

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24.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

A couple undergo a procedure to erase each other from their memories when their relationship turns sour, but it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with.

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25.  The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Dorothy Gale is swept away to a magical land in a tornado and embarks on a quest to see the Wizard who can help her return home.

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26.  Double Indemnity (1944)

An insurance rep lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions.

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27.  Groundhog Day (1993)

A weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again.

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28.  Shakespeare in Love (1998)

A young Shakespeare, out of ideas and short of cash, meets his ideal woman and is inspired to write one of his most famous plays.

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29.  Sullivan's Travels (1941)

A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about Life...which gives him a rude awakening.

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30.  Unforgiven (1992)

Retired Old West gunslinger William Munny reluctantly takes on one last job, with the help of his old partner and a young man.

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31.  His Girl Friday (1940)

A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying.

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32.  Fargo (1996)

Jerry Lundegaard's inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen's bungling and the persistent police work of pregnant Marge Gunderson.

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33.  The Third Man (1949)

Arriving in Vienna, Holly Martins learns that his friend Harry Lime, who has invited him, recently died in a car accident.

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34.  Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

A biting look at the ruthless world of a powerful and evil New York columnist.

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35.  The Usual Suspects (1995)

A boat has been destroyed, criminals are dead, and the key to this mystery lies with the only survivor and his twisted, convoluted story beginning with five career crooks in a seemingly random police lineup.

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36.  Midnight Cowboy (1969)

A naive male prostitute and his sickly friend struggle to survive on the streets of New York City.

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37.  The Philadelphia Story (1940)

When a rich woman's ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself.

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38.  American Beauty (1999)

Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis, decides to turn his hectic life around after developing an infatuation for his daughter's attractive friend.

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39.  The Sting (1973)

In 1930s Chicago, a young con man seeking revenge for his murdered partner teams up with a master of the big con to win a fortune from a criminal banker.

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40.  When Harry Met Sally (1989)

Harry and Sally have known each other for years, and are very good friends, but they fear sex would ruin the friendship.

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41.  Goodfellas (1990)

Henry Hill and his friends work their way up through the mob hierarchy.

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42.  Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Archeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the US government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.

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43.  Taxi Driver (1976)

A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as nighttime taxi driver in a city whose perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge to violently lash out, attempting to save a teenage prostitute in the process.

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44.  The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Three WWII veterans return home to small-town America to discover that they and their families have been irreparably changed.

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45.  One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

Upon arrival at a mental institution, a brash rebel rallies the patients together to take on the oppressive Nurse Ratched, a woman more a dictator than a nurse.

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46.  The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948)

Fred C. Dobbs and Bob Curtin, both down on their luck in Tampico, Mexico in 1925, meet up with a grizzled...

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47.  The Maltese Falcon (1941)

A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette.

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48.  The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

After settling his differences with a Japanese PoW camp commander, a British colonel co-operates to oversee his men's construction of a railway bridge for their captors - while oblivious to a plan by the Allies to destroy it.

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49.  Schindler's List (1993)

Oskar Schindler uses Jews to start a factory in Poland during the war. He witnesses the horrors endured by the Jews, and starts to save them.

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50.  The Sixth Sense (1999)

A boy who communicates with spirits that don't know they're dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist.

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51.  Broadcast News (1987)

Take two rival TV reporters: one handsome, one talented, both male. Add one producer, female. Mix well and watch the sparks fly.

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52.  The Lady Eve (1941)

Returning from a year up the Amazon studying snakes, the rich but unsophisticated Charles Pike meets con-artist Jean Harrington on a ship...

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53.  All the President's Men (1976)

Reporters Woodward and Bernstein uncover the details of the Watergate scandal that leads to President Nixon's resignation.

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54.  Manhattan (1979)

A divorced New Yorker currently dating a high-schooler brings himself to look for love in the mistress of his best friend instead.

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55.  Apocalypse Now (1979)

During the on-going Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Green Beret who has set himself up as a God among a local tribe.

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56.  Back to the Future (1985)

In 1985, Doc Brown invents time travel; in 1955, Marty McFly accidentally prevents his parents from meeting, putting his own existence at stake.

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57.  Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989)

An opthamologist's mistress threatens to reveal their affair to his wife, while a married documentary filmmaker is infatuated by another woman.

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58.  Ordinary People (1980)

The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.

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59.  It Happened One Night (1934)

A spoiled heiress, running away from her family, is helped by a man who's actually a reporter looking for a story. But then he falls for her...

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60.  L.A. Confidential (1997)

A shooting at an all night diner is investigated by three LA policemen in their own unique ways.

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61.  The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

A young FBI cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

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62.  Moonstruck (1987)

A widowed Brooklyn book-keeper is torn between her fiancÚ and his brother.

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63.  Jaws (1975)

When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.

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64.  Terms of Endearment (1983)

Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Beginning with Emma's marriage...

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65.  Singin' in the Rain (1952)

A silent film production company and cast make a difficult transition to sound.

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66.  Jerry Maguire (1996)

When a sports agent has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it, he decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent with the only athlete who stays with him.

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67.  E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

A group of Earth children help a stranded alien botanist return home.

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68.  Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)

Luke Skywalker leaves his home planet, teams up with other rebels, and tries to save Princess Leia from the evil clutches of Darth Vader.

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69.  Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

A man robs a bank to pay for his lover's operation; it turns into a hostage situation and a media circus.

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70.  The African Queen (1951)

In Africa during WW1, a gin-swilling riverboat owner/captain is persuaded by a strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.

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71.  The Lion in Winter (1968)

1183 AD: King Henry II's three sons all want to inherit the throne, but he won't commit to a choice. They and his wife variously plot to force him.

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72.  Thelma & Louise (1991)

An Arkansas waitress and a housewife shoot a rapist and take off in a '66 Thunderbird.

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73.  Amadeus (1984)

The incredible story of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, told in flashback mode by Antonio Salieri - now confined to an insane asylum.

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74.  Being John Malkovich (1999)

A puppeteer discovers a portal that leads literally into the head of the movie star, John Malkovich.

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75.  High Noon (1952)

A marshall, personally compelled to face a returning deadly enemy, finds that his own town refuses to help him.

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76.  Raging Bull (1980)

An emotionally self-destructive boxer's journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring, destroys his life outside it.

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77.  Adaptation. (2002)

A lovelorn screenwriter turns to his less talented twin brother for help when his efforts to adapt a non-fiction book go nowhere.

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78.  Rocky (1976)

A small time boxer gets a once in a lifetime chance to fight the heavyweight champ in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

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79.  The Producers (1968)

Producers Max Bialystock (Mostel) and Leo Bloom (Wilder) make money by producing a sure-fire flop.

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80.  Witness (1985)

A young Amish boy is sole witness to a murder; policeman John Book goes into hiding in Amish country to protect him until the trial.

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81.  Being There (1979)

Chance, a simple gardener, has never left the estate until his employer dies. His simple TV-informed utterances are mistaken for profundity.

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82.  Cool Hand Luke (1967)

A man refuses to conform to life in a rural prison.

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83.  Rear Window (1954)

A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

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84.  The Princess Bride (1987)

A classic fairy tale, with swordplay, giants, an evil prince, a beautiful princess, and yes, some kissing (as read by a kindly grandfather).

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85.  Grand Illusion (1937)

During 1st WW, two French officers are captured. Captain De Boeldieu is an aristocrat while Lieutenant Marechal was a mechanic in civilian life...

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86.  Harold and Maude (1971)

Young, rich, and obsessed with death, Harold finds himself changed forever when he meets lively septuagenarian Maude at a funeral.

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87.  8 1/2 (1963)

A harried movie director retreats into his memories and fantasies.

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88.  Field of Dreams (1989)

An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago Black Sox come.

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89.  Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny, eludes him.

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90.  Sideways (2004)

Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment, embark on a week long road trip through California's wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle.

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91.  The Verdict (1982)

A lawyer sees the chance to salvage his career and self-respect by taking a medical malpractice case to trial rather than settling.

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92.  Psycho (1960)

A young woman steals $40,000 from her employer's client, and subsequently encounters a young motel proprietor too long under the domination of his mother.

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93.  Do the Right Thing (1989)

On the hottest day of the year on a street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, everyone's hate and bigotry smolders and builds until it explodes into violence.

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94.  Patton (1970)

The World War II phase of the controversial American general's career is depicted.

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95.  Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

Between two Thanksgivings, Hannah's husband falls in love with her sister Lee, while her hypochondriac ex-husband rekindles his relationship with her sister Holly.

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96.  The Hustler (1961)

An up-and-coming pool player plays a long-time champion in a single high-stakes match.

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97.  The Searchers (1956)

As a Civil War veteran spends years searching for a young niece captured by Indians, his motivation becomes increasingly questionable.

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98.  The Grapes of Wrath (1940)

A poor Midwest family is forced off of their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression.

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99.  The Wild Bunch (1969)

An aging group of outlaws look for one last big score as the ''traditional'' American West is disappearing around them.

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100.  Memento (2000)

A man, suffering from short-term memory loss, uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife.

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101.  Notorious (1946)

A woman is asked to spy on a group of Nazi friends in South America. How far will she have to go to ingratiate herself with them?

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Count: 101 / 101