1: Apocalypse Now
“We train young men to drop fire on people. But their commanders won't allow them to write "fuck" on their airplanes because it's obscene!” As said by Marlon Brando’s super-AWOL Colonel Walter E. Kurtz as Martin Sheen’s character goes in for the kill with a knife.
All the best scripts have something more than dialogue between people; they have wise observations on the world. Francis ford Coppola’s War Film is full of criticisms on the stupidity of blowing people up. The screenplay was based on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. By setting the story of Belgium’s exploitation of Africa in Vietnam – the director was saying the U.S. led war was the same old imperialist stuff.
A top 10 of the best ever film scripts would not be complete without this classic blockbuster about an American in Morocco that runs a posh drinking and gambling den. It’s full of some of the all time best movie quotes, we all know “Play it again Sam” and “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine” The film was made in middle of the Second World War and is full of world-weary word-play. Humphrey Bogart’s says his lines in a state of seen-it-all nonchalance. One of the best bits of dialogue is; Ugarte (local crook) you despise me, don't you? Rick (Humphrey Bogart) If I gave you any thought I probably would”
3: Some like It Hot
The script for this 1950’s comedy about two musicians dressed as women on the run from the mob after witnessing a shoot-out is as bubbly as a bottle of Champagne. The film’s main star Marilyn Monroe gets the best lines and delivers them as flirtatiously as her curves are voluptuous. The best scene is at the end, when they escape the mob on a boat. Jerry (Jack Lemmon) “You don’t want me Sugar. I’m a liar and a phony, a saxophone player. One of those no-good-niks you keep running away from” Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) “I know every time” Jerry (Jack Lemmon) “Do ya self a favor, go back where the millionaires are, the sweet end of the lollipop, not the coleslaw in the face, the old socks and the squeezed out tube of toothpaste “
4: Citizen Kane
Imagine Lord of the Rings without massive Ork armies, giant bats, weird volcanoes and talking trees to liven things up a bit. It would be boring as hell; the epic trilogies screenplay is a bit dry. It relies on FX to make it tolerable. Black and white films needed better scripts as they didn’t have CGI to make it more exciting. We rarely hear film dialogue as deep and profound as found in Orson Welles classic about a Newspaper Tycoon nowadays. You don’t hear lines as good as this anymore in movies “I can remember everything. That's my curse, young man. It's the greatest curse that's ever been inflicted on the human race: memory.”
Classic Gangster flick about a kid who grows up and joins the mafia in 1950’s Brooklyn. Dreams come true. Fortunes are made, then things go tits-up and they all end up in the slammer, betraying each other, murdering old allies, or dead. The script manages to make the life of a mobster seem romantic. This bit does anyway. “Those goody-good people who worked shitty jobs for bum paychecks and took the subway to work every day and worried about their bills were dead. I mean they were suckers. They had no balls. If we wanted something, we just took it. If anyone complained twice they got hit so bad, believe me, they never complained again.”
About a newsreader preaching his crazed gospel live on TV. This speech says all you need to know. “Petro-dollars, electro-dollars, multi-dollars, Reichmarks, Yen, Rubles, Pounds, and Shekels. It is the international system of currency which determines the totality of life on this planet. That is the natural order of things today. That is the atomic and subatomic and galactic structure of things today! And YOU have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU WILL ATONE! Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today.”
7: Pulp Fiction
Quentin Tarantino’s film about two loser hit-men crossed with four stories about LA lowlife is quality. The screenplay bursts with cod wisdom and pop philosophy wrapped-up in glossy and violent words. The Californian film makers stuff since arguably hasn’t been as good because the scripts haven’t been as fun as this classic. The best line is delivered by Samuel L Jackson in the Big Kahuna Burger scene: “Yes you did. Yes you did! You tried to fuck him. And Marcellus Wallace don't like to be fucked by anybody except Mrs. Wallace.”
8: Taxi Driver
Scorsese’s film about a seriously pissed-off Vietnam vet, who winds up in New York City and becomes a Taxi Driver, he takes a disliking to senator Charles Palantine and attempts to assassinate him. The dialogue revolves around how Robert De Niro’s character feels about the world and his dislike of lowlife and sleaze. This quote sums up what Travis is all about “You know what I mean? Sometimes I go out and I smell it, I get headaches it's so bad, you know...They just never go away you know...It's like...I think that the President should just clean up this whole mess here. You should just flush it right down the fuckin' toilet”
9: The Godfather Parts I and II (III is utter bobbins)
It’s strange how all the best screenplays involve mobsters, violent men and lunatics on the fringe of society. Watching this trilogy about a mega New York crime family is like reading an intellectual book, you need to concentrate, and when you do it’s very rewarding, it’s very subtle.
One of the best lines is in the first installment when Emilio Barzinia addresses the five families. “If Don Corleone had all the judges, and the politicians in New York, then he must share them, or let us others use them. He must let us draw the water from the well. Certainly he can present a bill for such services; after all... we are not Communists.
10: The Waterfront
If you have seen that pretentious Renault advert with people staring at a dangling white Clio, you would have heard Marlon Brando saying “You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am. Let’s face it” That line is taken from this film about dock workers. Based on articles by a New York Sun journalist, it bangs on about greed and inequality. It’s all very angry and real. Another great line is “You want to know what's wrong with our waterfront? It's the love of a lousy buck. It's making love of a buck - -the cushy job - -more important than the love of man!”