For as many Hollywood creators who only direct or write, there are just as many who fulfill the dual function of director and screenwriter. Their career and talent may be farther off on one side of the pendulum than the other, but it remains common practice. However, that doesn’t mean that they always fulfill both roles for every project they are involved in.
There are many films where at least one of the credited writers was himself a director, but they did not direct the film in question.
ten Martin Scorsese directed four Paul Schrader screenplays
Martin Scorsese and Paul Schrader are both New Hollywood directors, but while Scorsese started out in practical cinema, Schrader came into academia and criticism under the wing of Pauline Kael. Their first collaboration, 1976’s Taxi driver, was appropriately directed by Scorsese and written by Schrader. Scorsese’s fifth film and Schrader’s second, Taxi driver was the blow in the arm that both careers needed.
By the time they met on Angry bull by 1980, Schrader had become a director, making his debut in 1978 with Blue collar. The two worked together two more times; in 1988, on a transcendent adaptation of The last temptation of Christ then in 1999 the Bring out the dead. As Taxi driver, Bring out the dead talks about an insomniac’s journey through New York. So this is a fitting conclusion for the partnership of Scorsese and Schrader, a partnership that includes some of the best work from their two careers.
9 Schrader also wrote for Peter Weir on Mosquito Coast
Scorsese isn’t the only director Schrader has teamed up with. In 1986, Schrader wrote a screenplay adapting Paul Theroux’s novel Mosquito Coast, following the eccentric and stubborn inventor Allie Fox who moves his family to Central America, dooming them in the process.
Although he has had five films under his belt at this point, Schrader did not direct the screenplay; instead, Australian director Peter Weir did it. For Allie Fox, Weir chose Harrison Ford, with whom he had worked the previous year Witness. While the role certainly played against the guy, Ford defends the film to date as one of the best he’s ever starred in.
8 James Cameron wrote Rambo: First Blood Part II
James Cameron is the best and most important action director of his generation. His influence even extends beyond the films he has made. In 1985 he co-wrote the screenplay for the awkward title Rambo: First Blood Part II alongside star Sylvester Stallone; George P. Cosmatos directed their screenplay.
While the film is not in the same league in terms of quality as films directed by Cameron, its influence cannot be denied. It was the film that transformed the Rambo series into an action franchise fueled by testosterone and xenophobia, and which made Stallone an action star.
7 Sisters Wachowski and Brian Helgeland wrote Assassins, directed by Richard Donner
The only thing we remember Assassins is the scene of Miguel Bain (Antonio Banderas) leaning back in excitement from his laptop; since the dawn of social media, the moment has been immortalized as a GIF. The film was certainly not lacking in talent, in front of and behind the camera.
The script was originally written by Lana and Lilly Wachowski, but when it was picked up Brian Helgeland rewrote the script in a standard action vehicle. The result, produced by Richard Donner, has been exhausted and forgotten, including by the Wachowskis themselves.
6 Steven Spielberg has handed over the management of Poltergeist to Tobe Hooper
Fighting spirit was born from an unrealized project by Steven Spielberg titled Night sky. The film, about a family terrorized by aliens, was split into HEY and Fighting spirit. Thanks to contractual problems, Spielberg only managed the first; although Spielberg is still credited as a writer and producer, Fighting spirit was directed by Tobe Hooper, a horror specialist best known for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
A long-standing urban legend has it that Hooper was just a shadow director for Spielberg, but others have defended Hooper against the charge.
5 Quentin Tarantino scripted True Romance, Tony Scott directed it
It may be surprising that a director as idiosyncratic as Quentin Tarantino ever let any of his scripts be directed by anyone else. Yet this is what happened in 1993 with True romance, a Tony Scott film based on a specific script written by Tarantino.
Indeed, without True romance, Tarantino may never have succeeded as a director; he financed his debut Tank dogs with the sale of True romance script, even if production time meant Tank dogs released first.
4 Tarantino also wrote Oliver Stone’s natural born killers.
The second script Tarantino sold became Oliver Stone’s Born killers. contrary to True romance, however, the script has been heavily edited by Stone, Richard Rutowski, and David Veloz.
Tarantino was only given one story credit and has since officially declared his rejection of the film. For those curious about juicier but dubious details, the film’s production is recounted in producer Jane Hamsher’s revealing “Killer Instinct” memoir.
3 George Lucas has return of the Jedi writer’s credit, but Richard Marquand has realized
Star wars is George Lucas’ baby, although there were plenty of other cooks in the kitchen who helped make the trilogy the classic it is today. Indeed, the only one of the original films that Lucas has directed is the eponymous 1977 original film. After a very stressful production, he took a step back to The Empire Strikes Back let Irvin Kershner lead; to Empire, Lucas only has one story and one producer credit.
Lucas was more involved with the trilogy capper, Return of the Jedi, evidenced by his credit to the script. Even still, the film’s credited director is Richard Marquand.
2 John Carpenter has handed over as director of Halloween II to Rick Rosenthal
It is well known that John Carpenter intended Halloween be an anthology series, but the immediate success of the first film demanded a more direct sequel. While Carpenter turned down the opportunity to direct, he handpicked his replacement Rick Rosenthal (after his initial choice, Halloween art director Tommy Lee Wallace, declined) and wrote the screenplay with his partner (in writing and otherwise) Debra Hill.
Carpenter’s script includes the infamous twist that Laurie Strode is the long lost sister of Michael Myers; Carpenter said he went with this idea to get past the writer’s block, but regrets it all the same.
1 The Coen brothers reworked the Spielberg spy bridge
Joel and Ethan Coen are as precise and meticulous about filmmaking as directors can be. Sometimes some of their scripts fell into the hands of other filmmakers, from Michael Hoffman Gambit at George Clooney Suburb-generally not with good results.
However, they were also co-writers of Steven Spielberg. Bridge of spies alongside Matt Charman; this endeavor earned the brothers an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay.
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