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The Academy Award for Best Story


Kid Dabb
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Watching the intro to The Brave One (1956), I slipped on over to Wiki and found this little bit of trivia, and it got me wondering.. 

 

The Brave One was the last film to win the Academy Award for Best Story before the award was discontinued, and was nominated for two other Academy Awards: Best Film Editing and Best Sound.

 

The Academy Award for Best Story was an Academy Award given from the beginning of the Academy Awards until 1957, when it was eliminated in favor of the Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay, which had been introduced in 1940.

 

These two Awards overlapped for 17 years. Does anyone know if, in a single year, both Awards were awarded? Or was it one or the other?

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Watching the intro to The Brave One (1956), I slipped on over to Wiki and found this little bit of trivia, and it got me wondering.. 
 
The Brave One was the last film to win the Academy Award for Best Story before the award was discontinued, and was nominated for two other Academy Awards: Best Film Editing and Best Sound.
 
The Academy Award for Best Story was an Academy Award given from the beginning of the Academy Awards until 1957, when it was eliminated in favor of the Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay, which had been introduced in 1940.
 
These two Awards overlapped for 17 years. Does anyone know if, in a single year, both Awards were awarded? Or was it one or the other?

 

 

I'm not sure what you're asking. From 1940-57 both awards were given out. No film won both awards.

 

How many here have seen Marie-Louise? Or even heard of it? It won the 1945 Oscar for best original screenplay.

 

The 1954 Oscar for best story went to Philip Yordan for Broken Lance. Broken Lance is simply a western reworking of House of Strangers. How original was his story?

 

And Yordan was just a front anyway. People who knew him claim he was barely literate.

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I'm not sure what you're asking. From 1940-57 both awards were given out. No film won both awards.

Thanks, Richard. That's partly what I was trying to find out. So, in the same year, one film could win the Story Award and another the Screenplay Award - and this went on for 17 years.. until they did drop the Story Award.

 

With both Awards overlapping, it's confusing.

 

Since both were awarded, but not to the same picture, I'd like to know more about the decision making process behind this - why, for instance, would one Award be conferred as opposed to the other. Why didn't the Academy drop the Story Award when they instituted the Screenplay Award - that's what's nagging me.

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Thanks, Richard. That's partly what I was trying to find out. So, in the same year, one film could win the Story Award and another the Screenplay Award - and this went on for 17 years.. until they did drop the Story Award.

 

With both Awards overlapping, it's confusing.

 

Since both were awarded, but not to the same picture, I'd like to know more about the decision making process behind this - why, for instance, would one Award be conferred as opposed to the other. Why didn't the Academy drop the Story Award when they instituted the Screenplay Award - that's what's nagging me.

Was the story seen as something apart from the screenplay? Sometimes a film will have an actual prose story/treatment written, before the actual dialogue/text part. (I don't mean a short story upon which the film was based).

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Was the story seen as something apart from the screenplay? Sometimes a film will have an actual prose story/treatment written, before the actual dialogue/text part.

 

You still see story credits today, there just isn't an Oscar for it anymore.

 

As the Writer's Guild got more power it streamlined credits to just screenplay and story, and the Academy eventually followed suit, finally dropping the story category in 1957. In the '30s you might see separate credits for screenplay, story, adaptation, dialogue, and (in the early talkies) scenario, all on one film.

 

I understand how conceiving the original story and writing dialogue are different, but as for the differences between screenplay, adaptation, and scenario, your guess is as good as mine.

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You still see story credits today, there just isn't an Oscar for it anymore.

 

As the Writer's Guild got more power it streamlined credits to just screenplay and story, and the Academy eventually followed suit, finally dropping the story category in 1957. In the '30s you might see separate credits for screenplay, story, adaptation, dialogue, and (in the early talkies) scenario, all on one film.

 

I understand how conceiving the original story and writing dialogue are different, but as for the differences between screenplay, adaptation, and scenario, your guess is as good as mine.

I'll venture a guess regarding screenplay vs adaptation vs scenario...

 

A screenplay is a completely original story from the author(s)' imagination. 

 

An adaptation is a screenplay that is based on another source (short story, novel, play, etc.)

 

I always think of a scenario as just being the setting, time frame, weather, etc. that the story takes place in.  These are outside factors that directly influence the action of the film.

 

I know that in the studio system, there were a series of people whose job it was to write out a "treatment" or basically a description of the characters, setting, time frame, etc. of the story without the dialogue written out.  The screenplay was written after the treatment had been completed and approved by the producer.  Was the "Best Story" Oscar given out to people who had written the best treatment? I wasn't even aware that these treatments ever left the confines of the studio, I thought it was more of an outline, like what a writer would use for their novel. 

 

In regard to The Brave One, it was actually written by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (who was part of "The Hollywood Ten").  He used the pseudonym Robert Rich to submit his screenplays.  He also used a front writer, Ian Hunter McLellen to submit screenplays, like with Roman Holiday.  Both "Robert Rich" and Ian Hunter McLellen won Oscars for Best Screenplay.

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Was the story seen as something apart from the screenplay? Sometimes a film will have an actual prose story/treatment written, before the actual dialogue/text part. (I don't mean a short story upon which the film was based).

In my mind,  the screenplay and the story are the same - aside from a book it may have been based on. Now what I just said just made me realize.. perhaps the Story Award was given for the story/adaptation the movie was based on. That makes sense, and it would seem to be redundant for one film to receive both Awards. Also makes sense. Maybe I've just answered my own question.

 

I'll have to research a bit more.

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In my mind,  the screenplay and the story are the same - aside from a book it may have been based on. Now what I just said just made me realize.. perhaps the Story Award was given for the story the screenplay/movie was based on. That makes sense, and it would seem to be redundant for one film to receive both Awards. Also makes sense. Maybe I've just answered my own question.

 

I'll have to research a bit more.

Maybe the Story award is for the person who came up with the overall concept of the film? But lacked the writing skills to produce a workable screenplay?

 

It would seem that the Story award would have to go to an original story and couldn't go to an adaption, unless the adaptation strays so far from the source material that it's almost an original idea?

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I'll venture a guess regarding screenplay vs adaptation vs scenario...

 

A screenplay is a completely original story from the author(s)' imagination. 

 

An adaptation is a screenplay that is based on another source (short story, novel, play, etc.)

...

Thanks, speedracer. That does clarify things, in my mind anyway. The screenplay is an original work, not an adapted story.

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I'll venture a guess regarding screenplay vs adaptation vs scenario...

 

A screenplay is a completely original story from the author(s)' imagination. 

 

An adaptation is a screenplay that is based on another source (short story, novel, play, etc.)

 

These are not accurate, at least as far as Hollywood credits of the '30s are concerned.

 

The adaptation credit might appear on a script that was not adapted from another medium. It may have referred to work done by someone who was not the original writer, but that's just a guess.

 

A script did/does not need to be "original" (that is, not based on material from another medium) to be called a screenplay.

 

 

I always think of a scenario as just being the setting, time frame, weather, etc. that the story takes place in.  These are outside factors that directly influence the action of the film.

 

I'm still not quite certain what a scenario is, but I'm pretty sure it's not that.

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Maybe the Story award is for the person who came up with the overall concept of the film? But lacked the writing skills to produce a workable screenplay?

 

It would seem that the Story award would have to go to an original story and couldn't go to an adaption, unless the adaptation strays so far from the source material that it's almost an original idea?

 

A story credit is for the basic concept of the film. It can be a general idea or a specifically detailed plot.

 

It has nothing to do with lacking writing skills. The prolific Larry Cohen dreamed up the plots for several classic Columbo episodes, but was busy working on other scripts and directing, so the actual screenplay jobs were given to other writers.

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Re: Pygmalion (1938)

 

The Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay has Cecil Lewis, W.P. Lipscomb, and George Bernard Shaw winning for scenario; Shaw also for dialogue.

 

I Googled 'Academy Award for scenario' and it defaulted to Screenplay - HERE - with the above information.

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Screenwriter Stewart Stern (Rebel Without A Cause) has died. This is his obituary:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/08/movies/stewart-stern-92-screenwriter -of-rebel-without-a-cause-dies.html?_r=0

 

From the obit:

 

In creating the screenplay, which was based on Irving Shulman’s adaptation of a story by Ray, Mr. Stern looked to his own disaffected youth.

 

Some years ago I read a book about the production of RWAC, which detailed the film's screenwriting process. Ray wanted to make a film a juvenile delinquents in the suburbs. Shulman was hired for the job on the basis of having written the classic J.D. novel The Amboy Dukes (filmed in 1949 as City Across The River). He produced some material which Ray was not satisfied with, as it was more suited to urban characters like those in City Across The River or Knock On Any Door.

 

Shulman left the project and was replaced by Stern. Shulman received an "adaptation" credit, though in literal terms it was actually Stern who was adapting Shulman's work.

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