While screenplays are the backbone of any good movie, we hardly give screenwriters the credit they deserve. Only at awards ceremonies are their names mentioned and even then, most people don’t give them much thought. From time to time, though, the question is raised as to whether or not authors should write the screenplay adaptations of their novels and non-fiction works. The vote tends to swing toward yes, as many screenplays written by authors have done very well. Some have even won Oscars.
John Irving has written only one screenplay, but it is certainly one he can be proud of. In 1999, he adapted his 1985 novel The Cider House Rules into a screenplay. The film version, which starred Toby McGuire and Michael Caine, did very well and has endured almost as well as the book has. Irving received the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work. Many people wish he could have adapted more of his books for the screen.
One of the most popular books and movies of 2015 falls into the same category. Gillian Flynn began writing while working as a journalist for Entertainment Weekly. When the rights to her book were sold, she wanted to adapt it herself and director David Fischer didn’t object. This proved to be a wise choice. Flynn did not receive an Oscar nomination for her work on the screenplay, but many thought she should. The film was nominated for other awards, though, and did extremely well at the box office.
Some authors go beyond screenwriting; they also direct. Such was the case for Stephen Chbosky. Chbosky started his career as a screenwriter while dabbling in directing. He did not achieve any critical acclaim until The Perks of Being a Wallflower was published in 1999. Years later, he would go on to adapt it for the screen and even direct it.
One of the most iconic films in American history was adapted by the same author who wrote the book it was based off of. This comes as no surprise. Mario Punzo’s crime novel The Godfather was so popular and still is, to a degree, but it has not endured to the extent that its film has. With the help of director Francis Ford Coppola, Punzo crafted a masterful screenplay that followed his skillful novel very closely. He also did most of the writing for its sequel, The Godfather Part II, which is almost as iconic.
On the subject of iconic books being adapted into iconic films, here’s one for the children among us. Ronald Dahl did most of the writing for the screenplay of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, inspired by his beloved novel. Dahl didn’t write the catchy songs that have become so popular, but that doesn’t mean the film wasn’t great. Both the book and it’s adaptation have endured over decades, so much so that it was remade in 2005, although that version did not do as well, likely because it was missing Dahl’s personal touch.
Featured image courtesy of thefilmexperience.com.