Theater The Best Movies Based on Plays  

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2.5k votes 279 voters 21.4k views 58 items

List Rules Films that were based on a play, but NO musicals. Vote up the best movies that were originally stage / theatre productions.

There are tons of famous plays, and the glitz and glamour of attending the theatre is a truly unique experience. While few things are more powerful than the excitement of live theatre, many plays were just so good, they were begging to be turning into a movie. Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire were both made into successful film adaptations, and Glengarry Glen Ross was originally based on a David Mamet play. What are the best movies based on plays? Vote up the best films below and see where your favorites rank.
 
This movies on this list were all based on plays and have been ranked by users as the best. They span many genres as well, including films adapted from Shakespeare plays. Whether you like drama, thrillers, hilarious comedy, or even musicals, there is certainly a movie here that you will enjoy.
 
Vote up the best films below, that started life as a play for the stage, or add one you love that isn't already on the list.

list ordered by

1
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Marlon Brando, Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden Based on the Tennessee Williams play of the same name. A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1951 American drama film adaptation of Tennessee Williams's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 play of the same name. It is the story of a southern lady, Blanche Dubois, ...more

2
71 26
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Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Burl Ives Based on the Tennessee Williams play of the same name. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a 1958 American drama film directed by Richard Brooks. It is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name by Tennessee Williams adapted by Richard Brooks ...more

3
70 27
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Jeffrey Jones, Cynthia Nixon, Christine Ebersole Based on Peter Shaffer's play of the same name. Amadeus - Directors Cut is a 1984 biography drama film written by Peter Shaffer and directed by Milos Forman.

4
64 23
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Cary Grant, Peter Lorre, Raymond Massey Based on Joseph Kesselring's play of the same name. Arsenic and Old Lace is a 1944 American dark comedy film directed by Frank Capra, starring Cary Grant, and based on Joseph Kesselring's play Arsenic and Old Lace. The script adaptation was by ...more

5
57 26
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Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal Based on the Edward Albee play of the same name. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a 1966 American black comedy-drama film directed by Mike Nichols. The screenplay by Ernest Lehman is an adaptation of the play of the same title by Edward ...more

6
41 15
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Spencer Tracy, Gene Kelly, Harry Morgan Based on Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee's play of the same name. Inherit the Wind is a 1960 Hollywood film adaptation of the play of the same name, written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee, directed by Stanley Kramer. It stars Spencer Tracy as lawyer ...more

7
33 8
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but chickens double d added Bela Lugosi, Tod Browning, Carla Laemmle

Based on Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston's play of the same name.

Dracula is a 1931 vampire-horror film directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. The film was produced by Universal and is based on the 1924 stage play Dracula by ...more

8
38 13
Casablanca is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Movies Based on Plays
but chickens double d added Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre

Based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's play, Everybody Comes to Rick's.

Casablanca is a 1942 American romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and based on Murray Burnett and Joan Alison's unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick's. The film stars ...more

9
48 19
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Dustin Hoffman, John Malkovich, Charles Durning Based on Arthur Miller's play of the same name. Death of a Salesman is a 1985 CBS made for television film directed by Volker Schlöndorff, based on the 1949 play of the same name by Arthur Miller. It stars Dustin Hoffman, Kate Reid, John ...more

10
46 22
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Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Spacey Based on the David Mamet play of the same name. Glengarry Glen Ross is a 1992 American drama, adapted by David Mamet from his 1984 Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning play of the same name, and directed by James Foley. The film depicts two days ...more

11
31 9
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jonathan-guerra added Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Herb Edelman

Based on Neil Simon's play of the same name.

The Odd Couple is a 1968 American black comedy film written by Neil Simon, based on his play The Odd Couple, directed by Gene Saks, and starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. It is the story ...more

12
33 14
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but chickens double d added Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Jeremy Brett

Based on George Bernard Shaw's play, Pygmalion.

My Fair Lady is a 1964 American musical film adaptation of the Lerner and Loewe stage musical of the same name based on the 1938 film adaptation of the original 1913 stage play Pygmalion by ...more

13
21 5
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but chickens double d added Grace Kelly, Alfred Hitchcock, Ray Milland

Based on Frederick Knott's play of the same name.

Dial M for Murder is a 1954 3-D American crime thriller film in Warnercolor directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Ray Milland, Grace Kelly, and Robert Cummings. The screenplay and the ...more

14
21 7
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Tom Islava added Fences Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Stephen Henderson

Based on August wilson's play of the same name

15
23 11
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but chickens double d added Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Jack Nicholson

Based on Aaron Sorkin's play of the same name.

A Few Good Men is a 1992 American legal drama film directed by Rob Reiner and starring Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson, and Demi Moore, with Kevin Bacon, Kevin Pollak, James Marshall, J. T. Walsh, ...more

16
22 10
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but chickens double d added Sidney Poitier, Louis Gossett, Jr.

Based on Lorraine Hansberry's play of the same name.

A Raisin in the Sun is a 1961 drama film, starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Claudia McNeil, Diana Sands, Roy Glenn, and Louis Gossett, and adapted from the play of the same name by Lorraine ...more

17
15 5
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Chris Langham added Kate Winslet, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal Hamlet is a 1996 Shakespearean tragedy film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars in the titular role as Prince ...more

18
18 10
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but chickens double d added Jane Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda

Based on Ernest Thompson's play of the same name.

On Golden Pond is a 1981 American drama film directed by Mark Rydell. The screenplay by Ernest Thompson was adapted from his 1979 play of the same title. Henry Fonda won the Academy Award for ...more

19
19 9
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but chickens double d added Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin, Robby Benson

Based on Frederick Knott's play of the same name.

Wait Until Dark is a suspense-thriller film directed by Terence Young and produced by Mel Ferrer. It stars Audrey Hepburn as a young blind woman, Alan Arkin as a violent criminal searching for ...more

20
15 7
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JoséValente added Katharine Hepburn, Jason Robards Jr., Dean Stockwell

Based on Eugene O'Neill's play of the same name.

Long Day's Journey into Night is a film by Canadian director David Wellington, released in 1996. An adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's play Long Day's Journey into Night, the film starred William ...more

21
23 17
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Helen Mirren, Ian Holm, Rupert Everett

Based on Alan Bennett's play, The Madness of George III.

The Madness of King George is a 1994 film directed by Nicholas Hytner and adapted by Alan Bennett from his own play, The Madness of George III. It tells the true story of George III's ...more

22
19 11
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but chickens double d added Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart

Based on Philip Barry's play of the same name.

The Philadelphia Story is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by George Cukor, starring Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and James Stewart and featuring Ruth Hussey. Based on the ...more

23
19 12
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but chickens double d added Anthony Hopkins, Katharine Hepburn, Peter O'Toole

Based on James Goldman's play of the same name.

The Lion in Winter is a 1968 historical drama film made by Avco Embassy Pictures, based on the Broadway play by James Goldman. It was directed by Anthony Harvey and produced by Joseph E. Levine ...more

24
22 16
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Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Ewan McGregor Based on Tracy Letts's play of the same name. August: Osage County is a 2013 American drama film written by Tracy Letts and based on his Pulitzer Prize–winning play of the same name, and directed by John Wells. It is produced by George ...more

25
19 15
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Garvin added Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift

Based on Tennessee Williams's play of the same name.

Suddenly, Last Summer is a 1959 American Southern Gothic mystery film based on the play of the same title by Tennessee Williams. The film was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and produced by Sam ...more

26
13 8
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Lisa Finlinson added Morgan Freeman, Dan Aykroyd, Jessica Tandy

Based on Alfred Uhry's play of the same name.

Driving Miss Daisy is a 1989 American comedy-drama film adapted from the Alfred Uhry play of the same name. The film was directed by Bruce Beresford, with Morgan Freeman reprising his role as ...more

27
28 28
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Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Chazz Palminteri Based on Chazz Palminteri's play of the same name. A Bronx Tale is a 1993 American crime drama film set in the Bronx during the turbulent era of the 1960s. It was the directorial debut of Robert De Niro that follows a young Italian-American ...more

28
34 33
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Mel Gibson, Helena Bonham Carter, Glenn Close Based on the William Shakespeare play of the same name. Hamlet is a 1990 drama film based on the Shakespearean tragedy of the same name directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Mel Gibson as the eponymous character. The film also features Glenn ...more

29
20 18
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Gary Oldman, Tim Roth, Richard Dreyfuss Based on Tom Stoppard's play of the same name, which was based on William Shakespeare's Hamlet. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is a 1990 comedy-drama film written and directed by Tom Stoppard based on his play of the same name. Like the play, the film depicts two minor characters ...more

30
28 27
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Kevin Bacon, Sam Rockwell, Michael Sheen Based on Peter Morgan's play of the same name. Frost/Nixon is a 2008 British-American historical drama film based on the 2006 play of the same name by Peter Morgan, who also adapted the screenplay. The film tells the story behind the ...more

31
10 7
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but chickens double d added Kirk Douglas, Jane Wyman, Arthur Kennedy

Based on Tennessee Williams's play of the same name.

The Glass Menagerie is a 1950 American drama film directed by Irving Rapper. The screenplay by Tennessee Williams and Peter Berneis is based on the 1944 Williams play of the same title. It was ...more

32
18 19
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Mary-Louise Parker, Jeffrey Wright, Justin Kirk Based on Tony Kushner's play of the same name. Angels in America is a 2003 HBO miniseries adapted from the play of the same name by Tony Kushner. Kushner adapted his original text for the screen, and Mike Nichols directed. Set in 1985, the ...more

33
10 10
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but chickens double d added Mickey Rooney, Olivia de Havilland, James Cagney A Midsummer Night's Dream is a 1935 American romance fantasy film of William Shakespeare's play, directed by Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle, and starring Ian Hunter, James Cagney, Mickey ...more

34
6 6
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Carlos Eduardo Montenegro added Michael Caine, Carol Burnett, Christopher Reeve Noises Off is a 1992 comedy film directed by Peter Bogdanovich. The screenplay by Marty Kaplan is based on the 1982 play of the same name by Michael Frayn. An ensemble cast includes Michael ...more

35
10 11
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but chickens double d added Christian Bale, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench Henry V is a 1989 British drama film adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh, based on William Shakespeare's play of the same name about King Henry V of England. The film stars ...more

36
13 15
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Toshiro Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Isuzu Yamada

Based on William Shakespeare's play, Macbeth.

Throne of Blood is a 1957 Japanese film directed by Akira Kurosawa. The film transposes the plot of William Shakespeare's play Macbeth to feudal Japan, with stylistic elements drawn from Noh

37
9 10
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but chickens double d added Laurence Olivier, Robert Newton, Leslie Banks Henry V is a 1944 British Technicolor film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same name. The on-screen title is The Chronicle History of King Henry the Fift with His Battell Fought ...more

38
2 2
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naslaughs added Kate Beckinsale, Denzel Washington, Keanu Reeves Much Ado About Nothing is a 1993 British/American romantic comedy film based on William Shakespeare's play of the same name. It was adapted for the screen and directed by Kenneth Branagh who ...more

39
16 20
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Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts, Jude Law Based on Patrick Marber's play of the same name. Closer is a 2004 romantic drama film written by Patrick Marber, based on his award-winning 1997 play of the same name. The movie was produced and directed by Mike Nichols and stars Julia ...more

40
1 2
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Sierra Burgess Is a Loser Shannon Purser, RJ Cyler, Noah Centineo

Based on Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand.

Sierra Burgess Is a Loser is a 2018 American teen comedy film directed by Ian Samuels, and a modern retelling of the Cyrano de Bergerac story. A case of mistaken identity results in unexpected ...more

41
13 17
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Aaron Eckhart, Matt Malloy, Stacy Edwards Based on Neil LaBute's play of the same name. In the Company of Men is a 1997 Canadian/American black comedy written and directed by Neil LaBute and starring Aaron Eckhart, Matt Malloy, and Stacy Edwards. The film, which was adapted from a ...more

42
9 12
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but chickens double d added Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer, George Sanders

Based on Marcel Achard's play, L'Idiote.

A Shot in the Dark is a 1964 comedy film directed by Blake Edwards and is the second installment in The Pink Panther series. Peter Sellers is featured again as Inspector Jacques Clouseau of the ...more

43
18 24
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but chickens double d added Leonardo DiCaprio, Paul Rudd, Brian Dennehy Romeo + Juliet is a 1996 American romantic drama film adaptation of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. It was directed by Baz Luhrmann. The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in ...more

44
7 11
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but chickens double d added Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Nick Adams

Based on Mac Hyman's play of the same name.

No Time for Sergeants is a 1958 American comedy film directed by Mervyn LeRoy starring Andy Griffith and featuring Myron McCormick, Don Knotts and most of the original Broadway cast. Warner ...more

45
6 10
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but chickens double d added John Gielgud, Laurence Harvey, Flora Robson Romeo and Juliet is a 1954 film adaptation of William Shakespeare's play of the same title. It was directed by Renato Castellani and stars Laurence Harvey as Romeo, Susan Shentall as Juliet, ...more

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1 4
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The Seagull Saoirse Ronan, Annette Bening, Corey Stoll The Seagull is a 2018 American drama film directed by Michael Mayer, based on the novel by Anton Chekhov. During one summer visit to her brother and her son (Billy Howle), an aging actress ...more

47
10 16
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Julianne Moore, Wallace Shawn, Brooke Smith Based on Anton Chekhov's play, Uncle Vanya. Vanya on 42nd Street is a 1994 film by Louis Malle and Andre Gregory. The film is an intimate, interpretive performance of the play Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov as adapted by David Mamet. The ...more

48
9 16
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Richard Burton, Jenny Agutter, Joan Plowright Based on Peter Shaffer's play of the same name. Equus is a 1977 British-American drama film directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Richard Burton. Peter Shaffer wrote the screenplay based on his play Equus. The film also featured Peter Firth, ...more

49
7 14
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Peter O'Toole, Harry Andrews, Alastair Sim Based on Peter Barnes's play of the same name. The Ruling Class is a 1972 British black comedy film. It is an adaptation of Peter Barnes' satirical stage play of the same title which tells the story of a paranoid schizophrenic British ...more

50
9 17
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Will Smith, Heather Graham, Ian McKellen Based on John Guare's play of the same name. Six Degrees of Separation is a 1993 American comedy-drama film directed by Fred Schepisi. It serves as a film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated John Guare play of the same title, which ...more