I love movies that are adaptations of plays. Obviously, the scripts are extremely dialogue driven. The language used is often-times philosophical, witty, and beautiful. The plots are heavily centered on the characters and the relationships with one another. Many classic films are based on theatrical works and feature some fine acting and storytelling. I’ve listed five of these superb movies according to release date. Enjoy!
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Starring: James Stewart, Margaret Sullivan
Original play: “Parfumerie” by Nikolaus Laszlo
“The Shop Around the Corner” is a sweet and romantic tale of pen-pals who fall in love while writing letters to each other, but have never met personally. This premise was later used in the popular Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan flick, “You’ve Got Mail.” However, this classic film is better than its successor, in my opinion. It features a wonderful story full of surprises and a great performance by James Stewart.
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Starring: Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh
Original play: “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams
This film is perhaps known for its controversial subject content as well as its stellar performances by Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh. The story is about a woman who visits her sister in New Orleans. Once there, she meets her sister’s husband, Stanley, and they clash almost immediately. It’s a tragic piece of work which delves into complicated characters and their psyches, holding fast your attention.
Julius Caesar (1953)
Starring: James Mason, Marlon Brando
Original play: “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare
Many people are intimidated by Shakespeare and his complex and sometimes confusing language. But, he is undoubtedly a master storyteller and his work has remained popular for centuries. “Julius Caesar” tells the tale of the Roman emperor’s downfall at the hand of conspirators and betrayers. The film follows the perspectives of two camps: those who dislike Caesar and those who are loyal to him. While the dialogue will cause you to pay close attention, this is a great film with very solid performances from a large cast.
12 Angry Men (1957)
Starring: Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb
Original play: “Twelve Angry Men” by Reginald Rose
Henry Fonda is one of my favorite actors because of his cool demeanor and tendency to play characters that stand up for what is right. “12 Angry Men” is a fantastic story of 12 jurors who have the task of determining whether the subject of their murder case is guilty or not. The interesting thing about this play is that it takes place entirely in one room. The dialogue between jurors and the strong moral message make for a fine film.
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead (1990)
Starring: Gary Oldman, Tim Roth
Original play: “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead” by Tom Stoppard
This is one of my all-time favorite movies. I can’t say enough about the performances and interaction between Gary Oldman and Tim Roth. Their timing, humor, and dialogue are a joy to watch. This film was adapted by the playwright himself, Tom Stoppard. He does a marvelous job for his directing debut and, naturally, stays true to his original play. The story is about two minor characters, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” These two characters spend their time throughout the play trying to figure out who they are and what their purpose is. Filled with witty and clever dialogue and a thought-provoking plotline, this is one film I’d recommend everyone to see!