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Today's Screenplay Idea

Basic concept is: Intrepid but obscure bathrobe-clad blogger discovers that White House is covering up science data and muzzling scientists involved in a new study of the planet Venus, where surface temperatures approach 900 degrees. Huge spine-tingling revelation: Scientists have discovered source of Venus's thick blanket of carbon dioxide -- strip mines. Unmistakable evidence that, sometime in the distant past, the planet had a thriving coal industry. Also oil fields. Black gold, Texas tea. Blogger breaks story, laughs in face of ossified press corps. But the Military-Industrial Complex and political fiends gang up on blogger, force blogger to get fully dressed and run for life. There's a car chase involving (IRONY ALERT) lots of SUVs pursuing blogger's hybrid.

I SEE BOFFO BOX OFFICE IF WE CAN GET HANKS OR CRUISE OR DENZEL AS THE BLOGGER. OBVIOUSLY A ROLE IN THERE SOMEWHERE FOR FRED THOMPSON.


Meanwhile, back on Earth...

The Writers Guild of America has just announced the 101 Best Screenplays of all time. Let the arguing commence.

The list strikes me as too inclusive of recent films. With all due respect to the great Charlie Kaufman, it's kind of early to canonize "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" and "Adaptation" and "Being John Malkovich." It's just a little jolting to see "Double Indemnity" at 26 and "Groundhog Day" at 27; the one's a classic, the other will probably become a classic if everyone steps back and lets it breathe.

Back at the top of the list, was it really the screenplay that made "Casablanca" so fabulous? Gosh, I thought it was Bogart. Love "The Godfather" as much as anyone else, but wasn't it the acting that carried the film? "Chinatown" is on everyone's Best Screenplay list, and it's wonderful, but Towne was channeling Raymond Chandler. I'd put "His Girl Friday" higher, and flip "Manhattan" with "Annie Hall."

Where is "The Shop Around the Corner"?

"Badlands"?

"Blood Simple"?

The bigger problem with the Writer's Guild list is that it's not so much a ranking of the best screenplays as it is of the best screenplays lucky enough to be turned into great movies. What about all the great screenplays that never even got sold and are still languishing in a drawer somewhere? Or still reside in the brains of the screenwriters who would get around to writing them if they weren't too busy bartending?

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 10, 2006; 7:29 AM ET
 
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