Great Screenplays

Below you can read some of the best produced screenplays. Each of them gives bold lessons in writing direction, dialogue, character development, and anything else that moves us on screen.

The pace of the films are nearly flawless. Read them as if you've never seen them.

Many of them may use conventions such as CAMERA call outs, which I don't recommend. Just remember, these are mostly either shooting scripts or close to it, so there may be some things here the newbie writer shouldn't do.

The Thing (1982) - Great use of subheadings to move through direction. Capitalizes practically NOTHING in the direction; sound effects, people, nothing. Slugs are usually short and to the point.

Brick (2005) - Incredible dialogue! Nothing "on the nose" here.

Airplane! (1980) - Comedy it tough to write anyway. Notice how the writer uses SLUGLINES to move the action along, as if the slug is the first part of a complete sentence.

The Fast and the Furious (2001) - A clinic in how to write action sequences.

Alien (1979) - Pay attention to how the action pieces are written. Short, choppy sentences that are often incomplete. Don't try this at home.

Whiplash (2014) - Nominated for an Oscar.

The Blues Brothers (1980) - The movie is over two hours long, but the screenplay is only 52 pages! See if you can figure out why.

Se7en (1995)

Chinatown (1974) - My favorite movie. Considered the best screenplay ever written. The great Robert Towne won the Academy Award for this gem.

Fight Club (1999)

In the Heat of the Night (1967) - Stirling Silliphant won the Academy Award for this one.

The Terminator (1984) - This screenwriter uses "CUT TO:" at each scene change! He can't do that! Then again, he's James Cameron, so . . .