101 Greatest Film Screenplays
of All Time

by the Writer's Guild of America

(part 2, by reverse ranking)

#
Film Title
(Year and Director)
Scriptwriter(s) and Original or Adapted Source Material Memorable Line of Dialogue
(Performer/Film Character)
75
High Noon
(1952; dir. Fred Zinnemann)
Screenplay by Carl Foreman, based on short story "The Tin Star" by John W. Cunningham
"You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again….. And in the end you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street. For what? For nothing. For a tin star."
— Lon Chaney as Martin Howe
74
Being John Malkovich
(1999; dir. Spike Jonze)
Written by Charlie Kaufman "Do you know what a metaphysical can of worms this portal is?"
— John Cusack as Craig Schwartz
73
Amadeus
(1984; dir. Milos Forman)
Screenplay by Peter Shaffer, based on his play "Forgive me, majesty. I am a vulgar man. But I assure you my music is not."
— Tom Hulce as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
72
Thelma & Louise
(1991; dir. Ridley Scott)
Written by Callie Khouri "You get what you settle for."
— Susan Sarandon as Louise Sawyer
71
The Lion in Winter
(1968; dir. Anthony Harvey)
Screenplay by James Goldman, based on the play by James Goldman "I've snapped and plotted all my life. There's no other way to be alive, king, and fifty all at once."
— Peter O'Toole as Henry II
70
The African Queen
(1951; dir. John Huston)
Screenplay by James Agee and John Huston, based on the novel by C.S. Forester "Well I ain't sorry for you no more, you crazy, psalm-singing, skinny old maid!"
— Humphrey Bogart as Charlie Allnut
69
Dog Day Afternoon
(1975; dir. Sidney Lumet)
Screenplay by Frank Pierson, based on a magazine article by P.F. Kluge and Thomas Moore "Attica! Attica!"
— Al Pacino as Sonny
68
Star Wars
(1977; dir. George Lucas)
Written by George Lucas "I find your lack of faith disturbing."
— James Earl Jones (voice) as Darth Vader
67
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
(1982; dir. Steven Spielberg)
Written by Melissa Mathison "E.T. phone home."
— E.T.
66
Jerry Maguire
(1996; dir. Cameron Crowe)
Written by Cameron Crowe "Show me the money!"
— Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire
65
Singin’ in the Rain
(1952; dir. Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly)
Screen Story and Screenplay by Betty Comden & Adolph Green, based on the song by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown "Well, if it isn't Ethel Barrymore."
— Gene Kelly as Don Lockwood
64
Terms of Endearment
(1983; dir. James L. Brooks)
Screenplay by James L. Brooks, based on the novel by Larry McMurtry "My daughter is in pain. Can't you understand that? Give my daughter the shot!"
— Shirley MacLaine as Aurora Greenway
63
Jaws
(1975; dir. Steven Spielberg)
Screenplay by Peter Benchley and Carl Gottlieb, based on the novel by Peter Benchley "You’re gonna need a bigger boat."
— Roy Scheider as Chief Brody
62
Moonstruck
(1987; dir. Norman Jewison)
Written by John Patrick Shanley "Snap out of it!"
— Cher as Loretta Castorini
61
The Silence of the Lambs
(1991; dir. Jonathan Demme)
Screenplay by Ted Tally, based on the novel by Thomas Harris "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti."
— Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter
60
L.A. Confidential
(1997; dir. Curtis Hanson)
Screenplay by Brian Helgeland & Curtis Hanson, based on the novel by James Ellroy
"Something has to be done, but nothing too original. Because, hey, this is Hollywood."
— Danny De Vito as Sid Hudgens
59
It Happened One Night
(1934; dir. Frank Capra)
Screenplay by Robert Riskin, based on the story "Night Bus" by Samuel Hopkins Adams "I was just wondering what makes dames like you so dizzy."
— Clark Gable as Peter Warne
58
Ordinary People
(1980; dir. Robert Redford)
Screenplay by Alvin Sargent, based on the novel by Judith Guest "A little advice about feelings, kiddo. Don't expect it always to tickle."
— Judd Hirsch as Dr. Tyrone Berger
57
Crimes and Misdemeanors
(1989; dir. Woody Allen)
Written by Woody Allen "Where I grew up in Brooklyn, we were too unhappy to commit suicide."
— Woody Allen as Cliff Stern
56
Back to the Future
(1985; dir. Robert Zemeckis)
Written by Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale "I guess you guys aren't ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it. "
— Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly
55
Apocalypse Now
(1979; dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
Written by John Milius and Francis Coppola, narration by Michael Herr "The horror, the horror."
— Marlon Brando as Col. Walter Kurtz
54
Manhattan
(1979; dir. Woody Allen)
Written by Woody Allen & Marshall Brickman "I've never had the wrong kind [of orgasm]…My worst one was right on the money."
— Woody Allen as Isaac Davis
53
All the President’s Men
(1976; dir. Alan J. Pakula)
Screenplay by William Goldman, based on the book by Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward "We're under a lot of pressure, you know. And you put us there. Nothing's riding on this except the… first amendment to the Constitution, freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country. Not that any of that matters. But if you guys f--k up again, I'm going to get mad. Goodnight."
— Jason Robards as Ben Bradlee
52
The Lady Eve
(1941; dir. Preston Sturges)
Screenplay by Preston Sturges, story by Monckton Hoffe "I need him like the ax needs the turkey."
— Barbara Stanwyck as Jean Harrington
51
Broadcast News
(1987; dir. James L. Brooks)
Written by James L. Brooks "It was like great sex."
— William Hurt as Tom Grunick

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