Q. So this raises a question for me--considering that an excellent movie is a synthesis of excellent writing, excellent directing, excellent acting, etc. Are there any movies that you can tell had a great screenplay, but were poorly executed?
A few, but very rarely, because a great script rarely survives a bad director. Directors generally have carte blanche to hire rewriters, and they have the rewriter take the script off in a direction it doesn't want to go. The result is a mish-mash Frankenstein monster that no one can direct well. It takes a good director to realize
that a good script is good the way it is and not have it rewritten to suit his "vision."
I do remember watching Toys
and thinking that the script itself was actually quite funny, but Barry Levinson's lugubrious dramatic direction killed the humor.
I also remember seeing Basic Instinct
and being shocked that Verhoeven followed the script word for word
; possibly one reason the movie is so effective.
I was dismayed to see Charlie Kaufman's "Adaptation" on the list. I love some of his other work, but I thought "Adaptation" was a only two thirds of a good film.
What interests me the most is that the greatest screenplay ever written, in WGA's eyes at least, is one that was being constantly rewritten onset minute by minute to the point that Ingrid Bergman had no idea whom her character really loved (perhaps a reason for her performance's strength) and that didn't have its famous final line added until weeks after principal photography. The lesson, I suppose; it's not over till it's over.
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