5 Best William Goldman Screenplays

Celebrating Goldman’s birthday! Although he was originally known as a novelist, Goldman broke out into screenplay writing in the late 60s to great success.

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Although he was originally known as a novelist, Goldman broke out into screenplay writing in the late 60s to great success. He has written many legendary titles and is responsible for some of the finest titles in the 20th century. Here are his five best works, to celebrate what would have been his birthday.


1) ‘Marathon Man’ (1976)

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This thriller, starring Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier, is adapted from Goldman’s 1974 novel of the same name. It tells the story of a young man (Dustin Hoffman) who gets entwined in a scheme by a Nazi (Lawrence Olivier), to steal back diamonds from the Nazi’s late brother. It is called “Marathon Man”, because the main character, Babe, is an avid runner. The film explores themes of revenge, war, and maturity. It is notable for Babe’s realistic character development . It was a critical and box office success, earning Olivier an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.



2) ‘Misery’ (1990)


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Based on the 1987 Stephen King novel of the same name, Goldman joined the production team to write the adapted screenplay after being invited by the film’s director, Rob Reiner. It tells the story of a well known author who is kidnapped and held hostage by a crazed fan and forced to write stories for her. Although Goldman honored the original source and played to its strengths, he toned down some of the original violence of the novel to make it more viewable on screen to audiences. The film was a critical and commercial success, and is known for launching Kathy Bates’ career.


3) ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ (1969)


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Goldman’s first major breakthrough in screenwriting, this partially true Western stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford. It tells the story of a pair of train robbers fleeing to Bolivia. The film is notable for being one of the first mainstream tellings of the anti-hero, where the story is written so that the audience takes the side of the “bad guy”, usually by making him a sympathetic main character. It was selected by the American Film institute as the seventh greatest Western of all time and has been documented as being historically significant by the Library of Congress.



4) ‘The Princess Bride’ (1987)


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Based on Goldman’s 1973 fantasy book of the same name, this film tells the story of a farmer and peasant named Westley as he attempts to rescue his true love from the evil Prince Humperdinck. The film is known for its clever, witty, sharp and unique comedy. Although it achieved critical acclaim upon its release, it was only a modest success at the box office. However, it has since acquired cult status and is now regarded as one of the funniest movies of all time. In 2016, it was introduced into the National Film Registry for being historically significant.



5) ‘All the President’s Men’ (1976)


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Based on the 1974 non-fiction book by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two journalists who uncovered the Watergate scandal, All The President’s Men is based on a true story of the takedown of Richard Nixon. It stars Robert Redford as Woodward and Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein. It is known for its accurate storytelling that was groundbreaking and highly important for its generation. It was a hit both critically and in the box office, and was deemed by the National Film Registry to be historically significant.

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