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First Draft: Five Must-Read Classic Holiday Movie Screenplays

Scrooged (1988)

In this modern take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is a wildly successful television executive whose cold ambition and curmudgeonly nature has driven away the love of his life, Claire Phillips (Karen Allen). But after firing a staff member, Eliot Loudermilk (Bobcat Goldthwait), on Christmas Eve, Frank is visited by a series of ghosts who give him a chance to re-evaluate his actions and right the wrongs of his past.

The Essential Holiday Movie Elements

Scrooged is the underappreciated classic of this bunch. A Christmas Carol adaptations are holiday season traditions—sacred. The story has been handled by Shakespearean-trained actors, Oscar winners, Disney animated characters, and even the Muppets, so why not let ole Bill Murray have a shot? The story is the ultimate redemption tale, taking an otherwise unlikable character and showing him the error of his ways throughout most of his life, only to see him redeemed in the end. The magic element is present with ghosts and time travel. The atmosphere is uniquely holiday-themed by placing the initial holiday settings within a television Christmas production, and then carrying that over with Frank’s journey through his life and wrongdoings. The tropes and cliches are sent up within the comedy of the situation, and the sense of hope is showcased later on in the story as Frank hopes for redemption, gets it, and leaves us all hoping that he’ll get the redemption most “scrooges” in this story earn.

Interesting Screenplay Trivia

Before Bill Murray signed on, he requested that the script be re-worked. “We tore up the script so badly that we had parts all over the lawn,” Murray told Starlog. “There was a lot I didn’t like. To remake the story, we took the romantic element and built that up a little more. It existed in the script’s original version, but we had to make more out of it. The family scenes were kind of off, so we worked on that.”

Click here to read the screenplay for ScroogedMM

This post originally appeared on the blog ScreenCraftScreenCraft is dedicated to helping screenwriters and filmmakers succeed through educational events, screenwriting competitions and the annual ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship program, connecting screenwriters with agents, managers and Hollywood producers. Follow ScreenCraft on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

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1 Comment

  1. Tom Luca

    December 15, 2017 at 6:54 am

    Love this article, Thank You very much and I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season! Love reading MovieMaker. Only filmmaking magazine I read enthusiastically aside from American Cinematographer and Make-up Artist Magazine.

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