All About Eve (winner)
The Asphalt Jungle
Father of the Bride
Well, it’s not a bad collection of nominations for Adapted Screenplay for 1950, but I would still like to improve it a little. I think a case might be made for Cyrano de Bergerac, and I do prefer it to one of the nominations, but it’s not one that I’d add. I’d be much more inclined to nominate the screenplay for Harvey, which is about as feel-good as a movie screenplay can be. If I can add only a single movie, though, the one I’m going to add is Rashomon, a script so good it’s spawned a host of imitators.
Weeding through the Nominees
5. Of the five nominations, the one that I think belongs the least is Father of the Bride. Oh, it’s a harmless little film, of course, but that’s kind of the point. It’s a harmless little film. There’s a lack of substance here, and I think that might well be a problem for something that we might want to consider as a legitimate contender for an Oscar winner. I admit that Harvey is fluff, too, but it’s better, funnier, and more entertaining fluff. If we need to have something lightweight in the category, that’s a better choice.
4. My main problem with Broken Arrow is that it feels unresolved at the end. There’s a little bit of a sense of that with Rashomon as well, but Rashomon does it better and would be a better selection. Honestly, I don’t have serious issues with Broken Arrow as a film or as a screenplay. The truth is that there are three nominations I like better and two movies without nominations that I like better, too. It wouldn’t make my list of five, even if it’s a pretty good western.
3. On a different day, I might flip second and third place, but today, I’m putting Born Yesterday in third. I like this movie quite a bit, and I love the screenplay for it. Of course, the main draw here is the near-perfect work of Judy Holliday, but a lot of her comes from that screenplay. There’s a darkness to this screenplay below the humor, though, and I appreciate that because on the surface, it shouldn’t work. It does, though. The whole thing works and it works very well. In another year, I might well have it winning.
2. At first glance, The Asphalt Jungle doesn’t look that impressive. It’s certainly not nearly as quotable as many other films noir, which very much seems like a downgrade in terms of what we expect from a good noir. But that’s the point. The characters here come across not as movie stereotypes but as real people in a real situation and their dialogue reflects that reality. It’s far more natural than a lot of films. It’s not upping the pretense and giving our characters cool things to say to look cool. It strives for reality and comes very close to achieving it. .
1. But if we’re going to talk about all-time great movies with all-time great screenplays, All About Eve is difficult to top. The plot of All About Eve is a good one, of course, but it’s the characters that truly make this one of the great movies of its decade. There’s even a strange similarity to Rashomon in the sense that we get the story from multiple viewpoints. This is about as close as you’re going to find to a perfect screenplay perfectly performed. It was the right choice.