Go Into The Story Resource: Guides to Classic Movies

Selected by GITS readers, a compilation of notable movies from the 1930s through 1990s, plus some classic international films.

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On May 16, 2019, 2019, Go Into The Story turns 11 years old — you can read the very first blog post here. I led with this paragraph:

Welcome to Go Into The Story! Right now, it’s nothing but a humble, threadbare blog, but I hope it will evolve into an active resource for aspiring screenwriters, as well as a community for anyone interested in storytelling and the creative life.

And evolve it did! To the point where it has been named “Best of the Best” Scriptwriting Website in the 20th Annual Writer’s Digest Best Websites for Writers list.

To celebrate 11 years of blogging about screenwriting, writing, Hollywood, movies, TV, and the creative life, each day in May, I’m going to feature a piece of Go Into The Story trivia, plus a writing resource you can find in the site’s archives. This is not an exercise in self-congratulations so much as I figured readers could use some tips about how to best use the site. With — to date — 26,291 articles and over 100 archive topics, there is a LOT of content here. Hopefully, these posts for the next 31 days will clue in more recent followers and remind long-time readers about resources you can use to facilitate deepening your understanding of the writing craft.

Today’s trivia: The person responsible for the blog’s name is my son Luke. As the story goes, when Luke was just about three years old, I was attending to his bath, somewhat preoccupied about a story I had been developing. I jokingly asked Luke the following:

Me: Hey, Luke, you know, tomorrow I’m starting to write a new screenplay and no matter how many times I start a new story, I always get a bit nervous. So, got any advice for your dad?

Without any hesitation, Luke stared up at me with his big blue eyes and said:

Luke: Go into the story and find the animals.

God as my witness, that’s what my son said.

Now who knows what Luke was really thinking at the time. Stupidly I didn’t follow up with him, flummoxed as I was at his comment. I remember mulling it over and thinking that the whole idea of going into a story is precisely what a writer does, immersing themselves in a narrative universe that they create. That has always seemed just right to me, both in its simplicity and profundity, which is frankly in part why I named this blog Go Into The Story.

Today’s Go Into The Story resource: Guides to Classic Movies.

Over the years, dozens of blog readers have selected some of their very favorite movies and written reflections about them which I have posted here. Each article includes background information on the movie in question as well as analysis and observations.

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Here are links to those series:

Classic 30s Movies
Classic 40s Movies
Classic 50s Movies
Classic 60s Movies
Classic 70s Movies
Classic 80s Movies
Classic 90s Movies
Classic International Movies

Resource Tip: There are many reasons why a screenwriter needs to watch a LOT of movies. Here’s one of the most important: Because almost every time you discuss your script project with anyone involved in the Hollywood development community, they will bring up movies.

That scene you’re discussing in your script? Remember that scene in the motel room with the blanket in It Happened One Night? Why not something like that?

That problematic plot point your script has in Act Two? Why not he discovers she’s cheating on him with his boss like in The Apartment?

The flat dialogue in your script’s denouement? Maybe do something like Ferris does at the end of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Movies get referenced ALL THE TIME in Hollywood. Script notes meetings, general meetings, with your reps, producers, execs, talent.

You simply have to had watched thousands of movies to be able to keep up with the people you’re working with.

But where to start? Check out the Guides to Classic Movies above. You can browse through posts until you read about one which grabs your attention. Then get on your favorite online service (e.g., YouTube, Amazon Prime, Netflix), rent the movie, then watch it. Make a To Watch list and knock off at least one movie per week. Better yet, two. At that rate — along with current movies in theaters — you can watch 125–150 movies per year and really up your cinematic vocabulary.

Finally, each day this month, I want to take the opportunity to thank you for supporting Go Into The Story. I’d love to hear from you in RESPONSES. When did you start following the blog? What are your favorite features? And as always, if you have any suggestions, feel free to suggest away.

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