Now available from Applause Books, this series of four, massive yet surprisingly affordable tomes, reprints George P. Garrett, O.B. Hardison Jr. and Jane R. Gelfman’s 1971 Film Scripts books. The series was later reprinted in 1989 and the screenplays herein have since garnered the designation of classics, an especially accurate term for these scripts featuring the work of such venerable writers as William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, and Gore Vidal. The collection also features a script by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, and frankly, what collection of noteworthy screenplays would be complete without that? From Shakespeare to The Beatles, from westerns to courtroom dramas, the Film Scripts Series offers an incredible variety of materials that will interest cinephiles and budding filmmakers/screenwriters alike.
Each volume features a 35-page introduction by Garrett, Hardison and Gelfman. (It should be noted, though, that the same introduction appears in all volumes, which is useful if your interest lies only in select volumes.) Therein, the series’ editors provide a brief history of film as it developed through the decades into a medium dependent on screenplays and they explain their motivation behind compiling these books in 1971, which was done primarily for educational purposes. After all, before we had the internet or DVDs with behind-the-scenes featurettes, much of the specifics about the process of filmmaking was a mystery to most non-industry folk.
The purpose of the Film Scripts Series was therefore to give film lovers and prospective filmmakers an insight into the process by providing them with access to shooting scripts (i.e. the final version of the script with details about camera direction, etc. that the crew references during production). While filmmaking is no longer so mysterious—in fact anyone could theoretically make a movie with the access to cheap equipment the digital age has afforded us—it’s still necessary for aspiring filmmakers to understand how texts such as shooting scripts are formatted. And who better to learn from than some of the greatest screenwriters/filmmakers in history? Sure, the format of a shooting script has changed some since the 1970s, but honestly not that much, and, as this series reveals, not everyone does it the same anyway.
There’s much to be learned from the Film Script Series, even it’s just a matter of gaining some insight into how one of your favorite films made it to the screen the way it did, or to see where the final product differed from the film as it had been conceived on paper. To this end, each screenplay featured in the series is also afforded its own introduction. This typically gives a brief overview of the film, its reception, and perhaps even the career of the director/screenwriter responsible for the project, not to mention specific notes on what makes each screenplay stand out from the others.
The cover price of each volume is a reasonable $27.99. Film Scripts One collects the screenplays for Henry V (1944), which was adapted for the screen by Laurence Olivier and Reginald Beck; The Big Sleep (1946) by William Faulker, Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman; and A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) by Tennessee Williams with Oscar Saul. Film Scripts Two collects High Noon (1952) by Carl Foreman, Twelve Angry Men (1957) by Reginald Rose, and The Defiant Ones (1958) by Nathan E. Douglas and Harold Jacob Smith. Film Scripts Three collects The Apartment (1960) by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, The Misfits (1961) by Arthur Miller, and Charade (1963) by Peter Stone. Film Scripts Four collects A Hard Day’s Night (1964) by Alun Owen, The Best Man (1964) by Gore Vidal, and Darling (1965) by Frederick Raphael.